Saturday, February 25, 2017

Doug McArthur – Tears Like Rain

Tears Like Rain

My direct involvement in the folk music scene started circa 1970 when I began volunteering at the Yellow Door, a Montreal coffee house that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a marvelous homecoming concert that I helped to MC.

Doug McArthur was one of the artists that I first encountered at the Yellow Door. He was playing there one weekend in the early-‘70s when a girl named Debbie brought her Sweet 16 birthday party to the Yellow Door. While Debbie may have wanted to hear folk music, most of her friends couldn’t have cared less; so it wasn’t the normally attentive audience we were used to in that little basement folk club. Doug, though, took it in stride, played the night and later parlayed the story of “Debbie’s Birthday Party” into a hilarious comedy routine.

“Tears Like Rain” was one of the songs I remember hearing Doug play at the Yellow Door in those days. It had opening lines, “Mr. Conductor, your train runs too slow, I paid for my ticket, I’m ready to go” and a chorus, “Oh Lord, tears like rain, Linda’s got the blues again,” that have stuck with me as an earworm for about 45 years. The earworm would always hit whenever I’d be on a train – particularly while the train sat in the station. For some reason, though, Doug never released the song on any of the albums he’s done over the years and I don’t recall hearing him do it live after the ‘70s.

Finally, though, the song has turned up as the title track of Tears Like Rain, a marvelous 10-song, 45-minute collection that includes several previously-released songs along with the newly-released material.

This version of “Tears Like Rain” has a swampier arrangement than I remember from the Yellow Door, but the almost-spoken lyrics remain compelling and it’s great to hear the full song again.

Among my other favorites on this CD is “Stumble From Vesuvio,” originally recorded on Angels of the Mission Trail, an elegant song-cycle Doug recorded with Jeffra that evokes earlier times in California. “Stumble From Vesuvio” imagines a literary café in San Francisco where time-out-of-place writers like Jack Kerouac, Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack London mingle.

Another old favorite is “Boots & Saddles” – this version rearranged and rerecorded – a song set at a roadside diner and gas station run by Betty and Joe. Bill Monroe stops there in 1949 and Elvis Presley eight years later. Betty and Joe wish they could leave with Bill or Elvis – but they can’t. In the final verse, Doug represents all the singer, songwriters and musicians who, years later, are inspired by the likes of those legends.

Among the other highlights are “The Morning I Left Galway,” a beautiful song about leaving that city in Ireland (it could be sung by an emigrant leaving home or even by a tourist captivated by the city and country) and “The Big Canoe,” a spoken-word piece set against atmospheric music that draws on folkloric legends (or perhaps imagined folkloric legends) inspired by the river that runs through Wakefield, Quebec, the village north of Ottawa where Doug lives, and the Algonquin indigenous people who traditionally lived in the area.

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--Mike Regenstreif

Monday, February 20, 2017

Folk Alliance International Conference

I’ve just returned from an inspiring five days in Kansas City attending the 2017 Folk Alliance International Conference from February 15 to 19.

International Folk Music Awards

Mike Regenstreif
The conference began with the International Folk Music Awards and I was deeply honored to be one of the broadcasters inducted into the Folk DJ Hall of Fame in its inaugural year. As noted in the conference program book, “The Folk DJ Hall of Fame has been established to recognize radio DJs who have made an outstanding contribution to the preservation, promotion, and preservation of Folk music, and who have demonstrated and inspired leadership in the broadcast field.”

Kris Kristofferson performs during the Awards Ceremony.

I was not only deeply honored to be one of the first Folk DJ Hall of Fame inductees but to share the honor with colleagues I’ve been privileged to know and deeply respect for many years. The late Oscar Brand hosted “Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival” on WNYC in New York for more than 70 years (and Oscar’s Canadian TV show, “Let’s Sing Out,” was a big part of my introduction to folk music as a kid in the 1960s); the late Howard and late Roz Larmon who hosted “FolkScene” on KPFK in Los Angeles for more than four decades; Rich Warren, who already had a strong history in folk radio when he became host of “The Midnight Special” on WFMT in Chicago in 1983; and Gene Shay, whose legendary folk music shows on several radio stations in Philadelphia ran from 1962 until 2015.

David Amram
It was also particularly meaningful to me that several of the other award recipients this year were friends I’ve been honored to know since the 1970s. They included the late Malvina Reynolds, who I presented in concert in Montreal in 1973 and David Amram, the always-amazing classical-jazz-folk-world-music composer-conductor-performer who I met at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 1974, who received richly deserved Lifetime Achievement Awards (I was so pleased that I was seated next to David Amram during the ceremony.); Bruce Cockburn, who received the People’s Voice Award; and Si Kahn who received a Spirit of Folk Award.

Bruce Cockburn
Other honorees – all so richly deserving – included The Clearwater Festival, which received the inaugural Clearwater Award; and Barbara Dane, Chloe Goodyear, Michelle Conceison, Ramy Essam, and Sonia disappear fear (Sonia Rutstein) who received Spirit of Folk Awards.

Daytime programs

Daytime programs at the conference included some tremendous panel discussions and special presentations. Among the presentations I found particularly inspiring were talks by Ani DiFranco, Billy Bragg and Nora Guthrie (discussing her father, Woody Guthrie) on the intersection of folk music and activism – and the Wisdom of the Elders panel with Barbara Dane, Len Chandler and Ron Cohen.

Wisdom of the Elders (Photo: Art Menius)
Wisdom of the Elders is an annual oral history session at the conference created by the amazing Sonny Ochs to present “elders of our community in an intimate forum to share perspectives from a lifetime in folk music.” I was deeply honored to co-moderate the Wisdom of the Elders panel with Sonny this year.

Official Showcases

Each night featured multi-artist official showcase concerts in nine different locations.

Susan Werner
I got to MC one of the Thursday night concerts and introduced performances by Elle Márjá Eira from Norway; Kortchmar, Postell & Navarro (Danny Kortchmar, Steve Postell and Dan Navarro); Susan Werner; Masters of Hawaiian Music (George Kahumoku, Jr., Nathan Aweau and David “Kawika” Kahiapo); Gaby Moreno from Guatemala; and Hermitage Green from Ireland.

Some of the other official showcase artists I particularly enjoyed hearing on the nights I wasn’t MCing included Sonia disappear fear; Ellis Paul; OSOG, an eight piece folk-rock band from Israel; Plainsong; Heather Rankin; John McCutcheon; Vance Gilbert; Jimmy LaFave; and Barbara Dane. There were literally dozens of official showcases I wished I could have been at as there were more than 200 different official showcases with nine different ones happening at any given moment.

Private Showcases

Vance Gilbert
Late nights – from about 10:30 pm until 4 am – in dozens and dozens of locations there was an overwhelming number of private showcases. I didn’t stay up on Wednesday night but among my favorite performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were short sets by Sonia disappear fear; Orit Shimoni; Sharon Goldman; Vance Gilbert; Carrie Elkin; The Once; Ben Caplan; David Olney; Robinlee Garber; Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer; Sussex; Maria Dunn; Eve Goldberg; Joe Newbury & April Verch; and a Local 1000 song circle that included – amongst others – John McCutcheon, Tom Paxton, Tret Fure and Joe Jencks.

And, again, there were dozens and dozens of other private showcases I wish I could have made it to.

Kansas City Folk Festival

Tribute to Woody Guthrie
After the conference, Folk Alliance International presented the Kansas City Folk Festival on multiple, simultaneous stages in the conference hotel. I got to see two inspiring presentations on the “tribute stage” before we had to checkout and head to the airport.

First was a tribute to Phil Ochs, hosted by actor-singer Zachary Stevenson who is developing a stage show based on Phil. Other participants included Billy Bragg, Sonia disappear fear, Tom Paxton, Greg Greenway, and Joe Jencks.

The other was a tribute to Woody Guthrie, with songs and readings, performed by Jimmy LaFave, Betty Soo, Ray Bonneville and Sam Baker.

It was an intense and inspiring five days at the Folk Alliance International Conference.Special thanks to Folk Alliance International Executive Director Aengus Finnan and staff members Jennifer Roe, Cindy Cogbill, Ana Miura and all the rest. 

Visit my Facebook Folk Alliance album at this link for more photos. There are also some photos in my Facebook music friends album.

Find me on Twitter.

And on Facebook.

--Mike Regenstreif

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday Morning with Mike Regenstreif – CKCU – Saturday February 4, 2017

Saturday Morning is an eclectic roots-oriented program on CKCU in Ottawa heard live on Saturday mornings from 7 until 10 am (Eastern time) and then available for on-demand streaming. I am one of the four rotating hosts of Saturday Morning and base my programming on the Folk Roots/Folk Branches format I developed at CKUT in Montreal.

CKCU can be heard at 93.1 FM in Ottawa and on the web.

This episode of Saturday Morning can be streamed on-demand at

Corin Raymond- There will Always be a Small Time

Eva Cassidy- Early Morning Rain
Imagine (Blix Street)
Doug McArthur- The Morning I Left Galway
Tears Like Rain (Doug McArthur)
Lynn Miles- Drunks and Fools
Black Flowers Vol. 3 (Lynn Miles)
Moore & McGregor- Don’t Let Us Get Sick
Dream with Me (Ivernia)
Jack Williams- Sing-Song World
Far Away, Long Ago (Wind River)

Missin' Cousins- I Ain’t Got No Home/Old Man Trump (Missin’ Cousins)
Tim Grimm- Woody’s Landlord (Tim Grimm)
Paul Siebel- The Ballad of Honest Sam
Woodsmoke and Oranges (Elektra)
Tom Russell- Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall
Wounded Heart of America (HighTone)

Tom Paxton- Silent Night
New Songs for Old Friends (Reprise)
Maria Dunn- I Cannot Tell You
Piece By Piece (Distant Whisper)
Guy Clark- Immigrant Eyes
Old Friends (Sugar Hill)
Martha Trachtenberg w/Dede Wyland- Ticket Back
It’s About Time (Mom and Pop)

Sharon Goldman- Pillar of Salt
Kol Isha/A Woman’s Voice (Sharon Goldman)
The Klezmatics- Apikorsim (Heretics)
Apikorsim/Heretics (World Village)

The rest of the show was a celebration of the songs and musical influence of Mississippi John Hurt (circa 1892-1966), one of the greatest and most influential of the blues and folk songsters.

Michael Jerome Browne- Sliding Delta
Sliding Delta (Borealis)
Jackson Delta- Ain’t No Tellin’
Jackson Delta Live (Jackson Delta)
Bruce Cockburn- Avalon, My Home Town
Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt (Vanguard)
Bill Bourne- Uncle John’s Gospel
Farmer, Philanthropist & Musician (Blue Streak)
Mississippi John Hurt- Corrinna, Corrinna
Today (Vanguard)
Tom Paxton, Anne Hills & Bob Gibson- Did You Hear John Hurt?
Best of Friends (Appleseed)

Adam Karch- Louis Collins
Moving Forward (Bros)
Dave Van Ronk- Spike Driver Blues
Live in Monterey (Omnivore)
Rosalie Sorrels- I’m Satisfied
Miscellaneous Abstract Record No. 1 (Green Linnet)
Martin Grosswendt- Pay Day
Pay Day! (Martin Grosswendt)
Mississippi John Hurt- Talking Casey
Today (Vanguard)
Rory Block- Everybody Loves John

Bill Morrissey- If You Don’t Want Me
Songs of Mississippi John Hurt (Philo)
Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur- C-H-I-C-K-E-N
Penny’s Farm (Kingswood)
Maria Muldaur- Richland Woman Blues
Richland Woman Blues (Stony Plain)
Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur- Frankie
Penny’s Farm (Kingswood)
Mississippi John Hurt- Coffee Blues
Today (Vanguard)
Peter Keane- Poor Jessie
Walkin’ Around (Flying Fish)

Manitoba Hal Brolund- Let the Mermaids Flirt with Me
Flirting with Mermaids (Hal’s Kitchen)
Tim Williams- Pallet on the Floor
Evenings Among Friends (Cayuse)
David Essig- Candy Man
Redbird Country & High Ground (Appaloosa)
Mississippi John Hurt- Keep On Knocking
The Immortal Mississippi John Hurt (Vanguard)
Rory Block- Stagolee
Eve Goldberg- My Creole Belle
Ever Brightening Day (Sweet Patootie)

Happy & Artie Traum- Mississippi John
Hard Times in the Country (Rounder)

I’ll be hosting Saturday Morning next on March 4. I’ll also be co-hosting Canadian Spaces next with Chris White on March 25 (10 am-noon).

Find me on Twitter. @MikeRegenstreif

--Mike Regenstreif