I’ve just returned from almost three weeks away and among the news items waiting for me were reports that two of my folk music friends are being significantly honoured.
Arthur McGregor, a multi-talented folk musician, proprietor of the Ottawa Folklore Centre since it’s founding in 1976, and organizer of myriad folk-related endeavours over the decades, is the 2012 recipient of the Ontario Council of Folk Festival’s Estelle Klein Award. The award is given annually to “an individual or group that has made significant contributions to Ontario’s folk music community.” I have certainly been aware of Arthur’s lifetime of contributions to the folk music scene since his days running the Rooster’s Coffee House at Carleton University in the early-1970s. Under his direction, the Ottawa Folklore Centre quickly became – and has remained for more than 35 years – the focal point of Ottawa’s folk music scene.
William “Grit” Laskin, the 2010 recipient of the Estelle Klein Award, has been named a member of the Order of Canada “for his contributions as a musician and internationally recognized instrument builder and his promotion of folk music in Canada.” My first memories of Grit date from the early-1970s when he was the only Canadian-born member of the Friends of Fiddler’s Green, purveyors of mostly-traditional music of the British Isles operating from their home base at the Fiddler’s Green folk club in Toronto. Since then, Grit has become an important folk-rooted songwriter, and, as noted, a world class luthier. Grit’s guitars have been among the most sought-after handcrafted instruments for decades. Grit is also a partner in Borealis Records.
Both Arthur and Grit are among the founders and organizers of the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Congratulations to Arthur and Grit for these well-deserved honours.