I’m happy to share my family’s immigration story “The Incredible Journey”… from Klein-Zundert, Netherlands to Middleton, Nova Scotia, Canada. Read all about it in today’s Chronicle Herald newspaper > Incredible Journey
Now in it's 81st year, the Zundert Bloemencorso is the oldest and most elaborate flower competition in the world. This year, 2017, marked the 5th occasion in which I've had the privilege and opportunity to participate in the construction of a large dahlia sculpture. Our neighbourhood team (Laarheide) entered the competition with their float "Chased Away" and was awarded 7th prize.
Survival is imperative for the large gorilla attempting to escape the destructive path of a habitat destroying forest fire. This animated flower sculpture is executed to initially appear as billows of smoke from which a gorilla's head emerges and transforms out of the plume. Additional effects of smoke and burnt trees added to the overall ambience and impression.
The 2017 overall winner was "Carried on a Pedestal" constructed by neighbourhood team Schijf. Over one hundred animators, dressed as tribesmen, carried the large reclining emperor throughout the streets of Zundert. The emperor's head turns from side to side as his eyes open and close to sneak a glimpse of the audience. During the grand procession the tribesmen beat their drums while chanting. It was also awarded the first Public's Prize.
The colourful and emotional subject matter of "Under Attack" was created by team Helpt Elkander. The large sad faces of refugees peer out from behind barb wired fencing and screened glass. Led by masses of refugee animators walking with the few belongings they have. It was awarded second place and also second Public's Prize.
One of my favourite spots to stop while in Amsterdam is for homemade appeltaart at the Café Winkel (Noordermarkt 43). Located in the beautiful and tranquil Jordaan area, this is quite possibly the best apple tart in Amsterdam! Raisins and large chunks of cinnamon rolled apples are packed into a perfect crumbly crust and topped with fresh whipped cream. The apple tart goes great with a cappuccino before hitting the Saturday morning market at the Noordermarkt. Make sure to arrive here early in order to avoid the long line-ups. While inside the Café Winkel, large apple pies are cut into hefty slices and placed on the many waiting plates as orders begin to fly off the counter. After the Noordermarkt stop over at the nearby Lindenmarkt and pick-up a fresh bunch of dahlias or tulips.
On February 20, 1989, the Old Bathurst Post Office in Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada was designated a Provincial Historic Site and its history shares ties to the Confederation of Canada. The Old Bathurst Post Office is clearly the most significant historic building in the city of Bathurst. 2015 will mark the 130 year anniversary since this iconic building was strategically constructed where the Village and Station Bridges (today's Causeway) meet. For the next 130 years the Old Bathurst Post Office has stood the test of time and throughout time it has become the highly recognizable and iconic landmark of the City of Bathurst. The Romanesque Revival styled structure was commissioned by the federal government under Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald and designed by Thomas Fuller, the country's chief architect at the time (1881 - 1896). Thomas Fuller (B: March 8, 1823 - D: September, 1898) is one of Canada's most prolific architects and is famously known as the architect responsible for the design of our majestic Parliament Buildings (Library of Parliament & House of Parliament) in Ottawa. Other notable buildings designed by Fuller include the Royal Military College (Kingston, ON), Halifax Armoury (Halifax, NS), and New York State Capitol Building (Albany, New York, USA).
The Old Bathurst Post Office is 1 of 81 unique and individually designed post offices constructed as part of a government initiative which was carried out in the early days of confederation and a period considered to be "the golden age of federal architecture in Canada" (1881 - 1896). Today, less than half of the federal post office buildings (34) have survived with 10 in Atlantic Canada and only 4 remaining in the Province of New Brunswick (Miramichi, St. Stephen, Sussex, & Bathurst). Today, these government buildings are most often utilized for their original intent (ie. post offices) but also as town halls, cultural/information centres, military barracks, and/or to house various municipal departments. The City of Bathurst is privileged to own a Thomas Fuller building with ties to our nation's early beginnings.
The strategic property at the corner of Douglas Avenue and Main Street was first acquired from A.J.H. Stewart at a cost of $990. In November 1884, a construction contract was awarded to builder John Black from Hull, Quebec who supervised production. The building materials consist of red brick made locally by a Mr. Heffner and sandstone which was shipped from a quarry in Grand-Anse by way of a schooner. The masonry structure of 2.5 stories was built over a five year period and part of the costs were voted on and raised by the citizens of Bathurst (Pop. 4,800 at the time). In 1889, the cost of the 4-faced clock was $2,000 and the building and grounds were approximately $33,706. Notable architectural details include a mansard roof, Italian bracket and hipped roof, basement cut of solid stone, voussoir arched windows and doors, soffits decorated with serrations, circular and spiral staircases between the main floors, decorative sheet metal ceiling, 4-story tower, half-circle miniature tower, and capped with a 4-sided illuminated clock face.
For most of its existence the building served as a Post Office and Customs House until 1959 when postal operations moved to a new building and the Department of National Defence purchased it to serve as an armoury for the 2nd Battalion Royal New Brunswick Regiment. The DND utilized the building for 35 years until a new armoury was constructed in 1994. A few years later on March 10, 1997, The Department of National Defence gifted this historic building to the city of Bathurst in exchange for the city’s commitment to preserve and restore the building’s heritage value. Jessica Ryan of the Bathurst Heritage Trust Commission Inc. was instrumental in helping make this initiative happen. The most recent tenant of the property was the Nepisiguit River Company.
In 1991, a Dutch/Canadian clock designer by the name of Wilhelmus "Bill" Bongers (1933 - 2012), originally from Hoorn, Netherlands, moved to the city of Bathurst. Mr. Bongers, who was often referred to as the "Clock Man", took on the daunting challenge of trying to make the old town clock operational again. Bill Bongers was successful in this restoration initiative and exactly 20 years ago (January 1, 1994), the 4-sided illuminated clock of the Old Bathurst Post Office began ticking once again.
In recent years, the City of Bathurst has struggled to find a tenant for this prime real-estate property and so it has unfortunately remained vacant. In December 2013, it was announced that a newly formed non-profit community radio station, Phantom FM 103.3 (Bathurst Radio Inc.) would become the new tenant of the Old Bathurst Post Office.
The Musée Océanographique in Monaco-Ville first opened its doors to the public in 1910. This impressive museum was built by Monaco's Prince Albert the 1st but it is often associated with famed French explorer and naval officer Jacques Cousteau, who served as the museum's director from 1957 - 1988. Cousteau's little yellow submarine still sits on display in front of this massive stone building, which is dramatically perched on the cliff side overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The lower-level aquarium area is home to 4,000 different species of fish (starfish, seahorses, turtles, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, eels, etc.) including a massive shark tank which can be viewed from all sides. On the upper floors of the museum one can view a variety of interesting displays from Prince Albert and Cousteau's collections including model ships, animal skeletons, tools, and weapons. It's easy to spend a few hours here and still not see everything.
The tiny principality of Monaco never ceases to amaze me with all it has to offer. On my fourth visit to this lavish area of the world, I finally manage to find my way to what has eluded me all these visits, Le Jardin Exotique du Monaco. Le jardin exotique was first opened to the public in 1933 and boasts over 1,000 species of plants from tropical locations around the world (Mexico, South Africa, and the Middle East). The collection of plants in these gardens actually began earlier in 1895. Perched high-up on a cliffside, the exotic gardens provides soothing breezes and amazing glimpses of the sparkling turquoise ocean (Baie des Anges) and Monaco-Ville (The Rock). Winding down the cliff on a series of winding pathways, I take in the details of hundreds of giant cacti and succulents on this hot sunny afternoon. There is no right or wrong way to navigate through the gardens, as all paths lead you down to an observation deck and a huge cavern in the cliffside. I await the tour guide who brings me down a staircase and deep into the grotto. Inside, stalactites and stalagmites hang from the cavernous ceiling. Approximately 100 steps back up to the surface proves to be a challenging hike but well worth the visit.
Since 1955, the independent non-profit organization, World Press Photo has selected, judged, and promoted the best of international photojournalism. Every year from early April to mid-June, WPP kicks off its worldwide travelling exhibit at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Attending the World Press Photo launch has become one of my favorite traditions while visiting the Netherlands. This past summer I took in my third WPP exhibit of striking and profound images documenting the battle for Libya, the aftermath of Japan’s Tsunami, scenes from North Korea, and an inside view of Mexican drug cartels. This year’s “Photo of the Year” is of a Yemen tear gas victim, by New York Times correspondent, Samuel Aranda. For more information on World Press Photo visit: www.worldpressphoto.com
We arrive in remote Keflavik (Iceland) on a red-eye flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. From the lack of sleep and time difference, fatigue settles in quickly during the early bus ride into a barren and rocky landscape. In the distance we see steam rising near a mountain range. On this sunny June morning, we arrive at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa where we experience the exclusive lounge. From our private room we enter the warm lagoon and exit through a side door out into a turquoise landscape. Enjoying the cool Icelandic air and steam as we swim through a rock cave and under a bridge out into the open waters. We apply the white muddy silica to our faces and float around in the mineral-rich seawater for a few hours. Under the high morning sun, a drink at the floating bar and rinse under the waterfall finishes off the experience. A perfect way to kill a ten hour stopover.
Later, at the Lava Restaurant, we take on the lunch buffet of whale, salmon, herring, roast lamb, and an assortment of Icelandic specialities. A rooftop patio provides a panoramic view of the spa and surrounding area. We head back to the Keflavik Airport well rested and refreshed for our next leg of the journey, the Netherlands.
Attended the 2012 Nuit Blanche arts & culture event held in Amsterdam, Netherlands on the evening of June 16. A beautiful summer night out exploring this great city and searching unique events in interesting venues. Throughout the night we took in a wide variety of art exhibits, music, live performances, and sampled exotic culinary delights. The night began at the floating pagoda style Sea Palace for supper, live music, dance performance, and a fashion show. At het Ruyterhuis a tattoo artist demonstrated his inking skills on a pigs head.
After searching a series of small streets near the Rokin, we finally locate Brakke Grond. A Belgian arts & culture centre where Lucha Libre style wrestling is about to begin. The shows begins and after a while the smell of Belgian fries and sweat prevails. The crowd screams as they are edged on by a taunting wrestler. After a few matches we head into the red light district where we visit the Bethanienklooster, a former 15th century monastary. In the dark space, a bearded man sits meditating and confined in a box as odd sounds ring throughout the vaulted space. To end the night we cross a few canal bridges towards the Oude Kerk where we hear the sounds of Red Light Radio playing. In the inner courtyard a bbq with homemade beer is served until noise complaints close the place down. We call it a night and head back to the houseboat.
Story and Photography: Andrew Herygers
Publisher: Saltscapes, Canada's East Coast Magazine
A bright orange sun rises over the Bay of Chaleur and harbour shores. Sunbeams illuminate Indian Island and the city of Bathurst in the distance. In these peaceful, early morning hours, cormorants hurriedly fly by, heading towards the island and downtown peninsula.
Welcome to Daly Point Nature Reserve, a protected, natural oasis within Bathurst’s city limits, in Northeastern New Brunswick. Despite the relatively small size of the reserve – 100 acres – it features diverse habitats, and hundreds of plant, bird and animal species. Six kilometres of trails wind through pristine salt marsh, wild fields, and mixed Acadian forests. There are six designated trails – Field, Salt Marsh, Warbler, Woodland, White Pine, and Coastal.
On the Field Trail, lined with white birch, you might get a glimpse of a rabbit munching on grass or, if you’re lucky, a white-tailed deer grazing. The fields were farmland 300 years ago, and are slowly reverting to woodlands. In summer they’re awash with yellow hawkweeds, oxeye daisies, and pink wild roses. The warblers, sparrows and robins that nest here bustle from shrub to shrub; the ruffed grouse prefers fallen apples and Hawthorn berries. Hazelnuts, bunchberries and blackberries are found in abundance. This trail leads to an observation tower that provides a panoramic view of the salt marsh and surrounding harbour. From here, the trail breaks off into a variety of directions, all leading on a slope towards the salt marsh.
The marsh resembles a grassy prairie, entwined with streams and small ponds. It was once used for grazing dairy cattle – its golden hay was harvested by Acadian settlers up until the 1930s. The twice-daily tidal fluctuations cleanse the salt marsh, leaving the mud flats exposed and open for feeding by plovers, greater yellowlegs, gulls, herons and snipes. Salt marshes are extremely productive habitats that filter pollutants, stabilize coastal banks and reduce flooding. Plants such as beach grass and sea-lyme grass help to prevent erosion, protecting the shore. A boardwalk takes you alongside the marsh and over a bridge – watch for the small, tan-coloured Maritime ringlet butterfly, exclusive to the Bay of Chaleur region, feeding on the nectar of sea lavender.
An initiative to protect Daly Point's habitats began in the late 1980s as a unique stewardship between industry – Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corporation and the Department of Natural Resources. Local forest ranger Ron Gauthier had a vision to preserve the area and, with the help of volunteers, was instrumental in the reserve’s early development. Daly Point Nature Reserve officially opened in September 1989. The secluded, dense warbler trail is dedicated in memory of Gauthier and his lasting conservation efforts. Today, partners include Ducks Unlimited Canada, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund.
The reserve is open year-round; organized activities include full moon walks, tours, and educational games for all ages. “We are currently working on an outreach program that involves talks in schools," says Janet Doucet, program coordinator at the interpretive centre.
Down on the shore, a painter sits with his easel, observing the exposed mud flats and capturing the birds in watercolor paint. Feeding at the mud flats of Ronald’s Cove, a great blue heron stands still, focused. With slow strides, he stalks his lunch in the muck. Shellfish remnants along the beach may have been left by muskrats traversing the inner ponds and waterways. You can hear the sounds of birds overhead; snipes and black-bellied plovers scramble along the grassy shore to find their last bit of grub before the tide fills in. The atmosphere changes quickly as a thick cool fog enters the harbour via the bay channel, and the tide begins to rise. Shrouded in fog, small islands and sandbars appear lively with the activity of gulls and terns. Rustling in the nearby cord grass reveals a small red fox hunting for mice. It hurriedly makes its way onto the boardwalk, stopping to give a glance before hightailing it into the woods.
The lush Warbler Trail is alive with the sounds and movements of black-capped chickadees—at least 18 variations of warblers are known to reside there. The looped Coastal path takes you along the bay’s edge with refreshing breezes and wonderful glimpses of the harbour, cove and estuary. The gulch is a natural phenomenon, worn down by fresh water springs rising through the ground; its steeply sloped banks provide shelter for critters such as porcupines. (The gulch area was once dammed during the winter months; the frozen water cut to supply ice for local residents). There's movement in the distance as a spry white-tailed deer pops its head over the tall marsh grass, its neck fully extended and ears pointed. The deer are plentiful and very much at home, but keep a watchful eye on visitors. As the sun sets and night slowly settles in, cormorants begin to make their exit through the narrow channel, and off into the open bay.
For more information about Saltscapes Magazine visit: http://www.saltscapes.com/
The Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) will be hosting their National Annual General Meeting at the Delta Beausejour. As a professional level, Certified Graphic Designer, I have recently been nominated to the Atlantic Chapter Executive as the National Representative. I look forward to meeting graphic designers from across the country in my home province of New Brunswick this coming April (2012).
I was shocked and saddened to hear that Canadian photographer Andrew MacNaughtan passed away while in L.A. on a shoot with legendary rock band RUSH. Andrew was the official photographer of RUSH drummer Neil Peart and a photo contact while I was Design Manager with Sabian Cymbals. I was often in touch with Andrew when in need of Neil Peart images for upcoming Sabian advertisements and he photographed our "What's Your Sound?" campaign. MacNaughtan was only 47 years old and a rising star of the rock 'n' roll photography world. R.I.P. Andrew, your images live on forever.
Story & Photography: Andrew Herygers
Publisher: Muzik Etc. Magazine
This issue we are on the east coast visiting multi-talented singer-songwriter Jenn Grant, who has just returned home from the Middle East, Cairo, Egypt. I am curious to discover what else has been happening with Jenn in the year or so since the release of her darker and more reflective album Echoes.
On a spring afternoon, Jenn greets me from behind a bright yellow door and is quickly followed by Charlie, her rambunctious Australian Labradoodle puppy. Grant is happy to be back at home in Halifax. Judging from Charlie’s excited demeanour, he’s pleased she’s home as well. “There is nothing as good as coming home to Nova Scotia,” Jenn says, “and going for a quiet walk where I can look at painterly houses and breathe in the salty air. There is a sense of peace that comes with being home, heightened because of all the time I spend away from it.”
Indoors, she drops a CD into the player, Rose Cousins’ album The Send Off. Ms. Grant makes a great avocado sandwich and we chat about her Egyptian adventure, riding camels, and what’s next musically. “Egypt was a chance to see how other people live and to understand their culture better,” Jenn says. “And the chance to be a foreigner is important: I have become accustomed to being a part of the majority and this was a chance for me to get a new perspective.”
Currently, she is in the early phases of writing material for her third album and she’s already developed melodies and basic song structures. Soon, her fellow band-mates will add their musical expertise and creative take. “I love my band,” she enthuses. “I am so lucky to play with such talented, interesting, gorgeous people. We are a little family. Kinley Dowling plays violin, viola, sings, and adds percussion. David Christensen plays keys, flute, and sings. Sean MacGillivray plays bass and lends vocal harmonies. He’s also a full-time member of Classified. Sean can fix anything and prevent disasters that I cause whenever we are in front of people or otherwise. Mike Belyea is our newest member. He is a dynamic drummer and he tried to hide his beautiful voice. But I heard it and so I try to get him to sing more. I can’t wait to play new songs with him.”
Originally from Prince Edward Island, Jenn Grant’s earliest creative interests included drawing and writing. Then came music. “I used to play piano when I was seven,” she tells me. “I wasn’t interested in the way it sounded, though, but in the way I looked when I was playing it! Now I am trying to focus on learning about the notes that are on the piano. I started playing guitar when I was 12. I got it in a plaid case. As soon as I touched it I was changed forever.”
Jenn Grant’s quick rise to popularity stemmed from Jenn Grant and Goodbye Twentieth Century, which she recorded in 2005 with Glen Meisner at CBC Halifax’s Studio H. Musical collaborators included Jason MacIsaac and Dave Christensen of the Halifax pop-orchestral group The Heavy Blinkers, Jill Barber, Ron Sexsmith, Matt Mays, Rose Cousins, and Dale Murray.
In 2006, Jenn Grant won Best New Artist and Best Female Artist at the Nova Scotia Music Awards. Her success magnified with the release of her “official” debut album Orchestra for the Moon, which included the attention-grabbing single “Dreamer”.
“The Heavy Blinkers taught me how to tour,” says Jenn, “but they tricked me because they took me to Europe and we lived in a haunted castle. Then there was the cold green room at The Casbah in Hamilton, Ontario... There is something special about all of these venues, like they are holding the ghosts of songs past. Like when I play the Rebecca Cohn (ed: Halifax auditorium), Jill Barber is there somewhere.” (www.jillbarber.com).
Grant continues her tale and we come to the story of her latest release Echoes. In this she had a considerable help from producer Jonathan Goldsmith (Bruce Cockburn, Jane Siberry, Bourbon Tabernacle Choir). “Jonathan is a secret force of the universe,” Jenn states. “I hope we will make another record someday. He is an exceptional person and producer.” Indeed, Echoes is a rich blend of musical styles, soulful melodies, and captivating sounds. The natural acoustics of the instruments are beautifully captured and a warm analog vibe. Jenn’s voice seems effortless and pristine amid a dream-like ambiance. The highly emotive Echoes is a particular treat with headphones.
A recent performance with Symphony Nova Scotia stands as a career highlight.“The SNS show was amazing,” Jenn exclaims. “I was lucky to be able to work with David Christensen... I was a little nervous when heading off to meet the symphony for rehearsals, but the more we practised the less scary they were. Eventually, it was like playing with a big, expensive, amazing band. It was great to be able to just sing and feel as if I was floating away on the sounds of the orchestra. The songs were taken to a new and exciting level, giving them a new life—for me and for the audience.”
The concert was memorable for another reason. The CBC commissioned Jenn, David Christensen, and Rich Terfry, aka Buck 65, to write a six-minute piece entitled “One Million Years”. Jenn tells me she is grateful to Rich, who currently hosts a prime time weekly radio spot. “Rich is a very dear friend,” she says. “I am a huge fan of his work and his contribution to supporting Canadian music on Radio 2. It was an honour to share the stage with him and it was a very special night that will remain one of the most heart-warming experiences of my life.”
As ambassador for the Halifax institution, the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital for Children, Jenn Grant has written a song supporting the IWK mission and she appears on a television awareness campaign. “I was a camp counsellor for children with special needs for five summers,” Jenn says, “so the children’s hospital is something I care deeply about. Whatever I can do to give back to them is good for everyone. (The presence of) a song and a campaign, which kids can see, will make them feel more at ease about going there... make the hospital a safe and joyful place.”
Earlier I referred to Jenn Grant’s artistic inclination. She’s sustained it through the years. In 2006, she graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She intimates, “I like to paint dark places and light places—somewhere magical I can get to only by letting go. I like to paint because it gives me the same feeling as singing. It’s like I am flying and no one can touch me.”
Talk turns to her upcoming album. “I have twelve songs right now that I’m excited to record,” she reveals. “They are a lot different from each other. Some of them are joyful, some sad. Some of them are quiet, some of them are rock and roll. It will be a diverse collection of secret stories. “When I write a song and sing it, in those first stages especially, it is the closest I will ever come to being free. It is the most powerful and strangest feeling and I wouldn’t change it for all the money in the world.”
Writer: Majorie Simmins
Photography: Andrew Herygers
Publisher: Halifax Magazine (Metro Guide Publishing)
Writer Majorie Simmins investigates Halifax's historic cemeteries and takes an in-depth look at the 250-year-old Old Burying Ground on Barrington Street, a National Historic Site.
Excerpt: The Old Burying Ground has an exceptionally rich and diverse collection of carved art on the gravestones. These include death’s-head skulls (representing mortality and penance), winged heads (signifying ascension), plus bones and skeletons (indicating decay). There is also an astrologer’s potpourri of stars, suns and moons. In order, they represent divine guidance or creation, a soul rising to heaven and rebirth. Animals, flowers, trees, anchors, birds — many symbols with many meanings, not all agreed upon by scholars. Some carved visages have an unexpected folk-art quality. Others, such as recumbent skeletons or skulls and cross-bones, verge on ghoulish.
For more information about Metro Guide Publishing visit: http://metroguide.ca/
Story & Photography: Andrew Herygers
Publisher: Muzik Etc. Magazine
A quick catch-up with Slowcoaster front man Steven MacDougall reveals that things are far from slow-moving for the Nova Scotian power trio. The proudly Cape Breton based band, now in its tenth year, continues to evolve in its assimilation of ska, funk, pop, hip-hop, disco, jazz, and blues. Slowcoaster is comprised of founder Steven MacDougall on guitar and vocals, Mike LeLievre on bass, and Brian Talbot (formerly of the band Slainte Mhath) on drums. Talbot,who has been a part of the Slowco beat for as far back as 2002, officially became a charter member in 2006.
I managed to track them down in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, home of the Evolve Festival (evolvefestival.com), their first stop on a mini Atlantic Canadian tour before jet-setting back out west. At the time of interview they hadn’t seen each other since a performance weeks back in Calgary. Talbot rolls in from an all-night DJ gig in Halifax. He’s also been busy with the Rankins and doing sessions for Cape Breton heavyweights Gord Sampson and Jimmy Rankin. MacDougall joined us, replenished from a songwriting retreat in Nashville, while LeLievre emerged from the family island homestead.
Slowco has become a banner waver for the next generation of Cape Breton bands, not necessarily traditional or Celtic, but brimming with energy and spirit. I witnessed their magnetism on their first tour outing: The crowd begins buzzing like bees around a hive the moment they hear the first chord. They hang in for a crazy ride, up and down in tempo, meter, dynamics, and they’re captivated by the carnival of on stage antics. Fans know all the lyrics and sing along with MacDougall, pulsate to Talbot’s compelling beats, and groove to LeLievre’s cool melodic bass lines. The repertoire draws from current past favourites, from funk to pop with the Celtic kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. It’s like this, and it’s different, each Slowco show. Audiences experience a mix of songs and styles. “We think of music as much as a twisted sport as we do music,” says MacDougall. “Every night is different. Crowds seem to respond very well to our new songs.” LeLievre adds, “When we write those songs, Steve is the wordsmith and I’m the melody weirdo. Brian’s the backbeat. It’s about three intricate human beings being ourselves, producing sounds that people can dance to, and it’s about fun. When that stops, so does the world!”
Slowcoaster finds ample inspiration and time to write new material. “We write in the van, with other people, and by ourselves. Sometimes we’ll jam on stage in front of people because inspiration is one of those things that can come at any time from anywhere. We create the song as it happens. The idea dictates the style and we embrace whatever genre the song happens to fall into at the time. Sometimes we’ll mess with it a bit, such as taking a country song and trying it out as a reggae song, or maybe getting into disco — whatever cheeky little idea we’re feeling that day. Usually, though, a song flows from the get go and stays in the same genre.”
Currently signed to Cape Breton based Company House Records, Slowcoaster works well at the customary island pace. Explains LeLievre, “Company House is a label formed by percussionist Darren Gallop and New York producer Warren Bruleigh and it employs all Cape Breton staff in promotional, distribution, and recording positions. In Cape Breton you have to do things for yourself and often by yourself. People who grow up together and work together fuel the music community in Cape Breton. This helps us export our artists and import other great bands to our little island, building lasting relationships around the world.”
Last October, Slowcoaster commenced work on a self-funded and self-produced album. They’re recording under the attentive gaze of engineer Mike Shepherd at Lakewind Sound studio in Point Aconi on the beautiful and inspiring Bras D’Or Lakes. (Ed: Muzik Etc readers will recognize Lakewind from our interview with Juno Award winner Gordie Sampson, who is part-owner of the acclaimed Lakewood studio). The album will feature the usual mix of styles and the dance factor. Adds Talbot, “The lyrics will make you want to sing out loud! So far, the process is moving swiftly. We’re having a really easy time hammering it out and putting our arrangements together. We’re tracking mostly live off-the-floor so there’s a nice, authentic feel. There are sections where we let the music wander freely and others where the arrangements are sharp and to the point. Since Mike Shepherd has worked with the band in many different scenarios over the years and is a great friend, he knows what we like to hear and how we like to work."
The band’s discography includes Jody’s Garden (2000), Volume II (2001), Leaves (2002), Accidents & Excuses (2003), Where Are They Going? (2004), and Future Radio (2007). Slowcoaster’s repertoire is all over the map. “We have always straddled the line between what is mainstream and what is totally insane,” MacDougall quips. “Our plan of world domination seems to be working out.” You may succumb to their grand designs. Give their album a listen one i-Tunes, then wait for their tour to hit your town or nearby urban center.
Slow Co Gear
LeLievre plays a Fender Precision bass, the four-string unadulterated standard of stage and recording worlds. MacDougall’s arsenal includes a doubleneck Gibson SG, Fender Strats and Jaguars, and a prized Vox AC30 amplifier, a retro/classic stalwart amp back in the spot lights. Talbot plays live gigs and sessions on Yamaha Absolute series drums, choosing the maple shell version (as opposed to birch or beech). He says, “You can’t beat the tone and consistency of Yamaha drums. And for cymbals I prefer Sabian HH and HHX lines. I’ve always liked big, dark, and colorful cymbals."
Photography: Andrew Herygers
The 20th anniversary of the East Coast Music Awards was celebrated in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The four day music festival played host to over four hundred east coast bands and was held at sixty venues throughout the city. Bands included Wintersleep, Slowcoaster, Hey Rosetta!, Two Hours Traffic, Grand Theft Bus, Joel Plaskett, and the Jimmy Swift Band.
For more information about the East Coast Music Association visit: http://www.ecma.com/
Story & Photography: Andrew Herygers
Publisher: Muzik Etc. Magazine
Steadily on the rise in Eastern Canada is quintessential slide blues guitarist, John Campbell (aka: Campbelljohn), who has an impressive thirty-year career under his belt. The veteran musician Campbelljohn is armed with acoustic, electric slide, pedal steel, lap steel, and Dobro style resonator guitars and is receiving loads of industry recognition across Canada and Europe. His new album, Weight of the World, slated for Canadian release in September, is flavoured with diverse blues, rock, country, and roots sounds.
Upon his return from playing a couple of shows in Alberta, I catch up with John at his home studio in Colby Village, Nova Scotia. John recollects about his early days growing up in Sydney River, Cape Breton Island and pinpoints what hooked him onto the blues. “The shuffle groove just simply turned me on,” he admits. “I remember hearing The Allman Brothers ‘Statesboro Blues’, which was probably one of the first times I really heard a pure and traditional shuffle”. Around the age of fourteen, Campbelljohn picked up his dad’s acoustic. “My first experience with the blues was through the rock bands of the time, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles”, he recalls. George Harrison playing a sunburst Gibson hollow body influenced John to save up enough money to buy a guitar of his own. “I think it was called an Emperador,” he reflects, “but I later realized that it was a copy of a Gibson 335”. When John was employed at the Sydney Steel Plant he took it up a notch and bought a Gibson Les Paul. “Then I thought I was really important”, he chuckles.
Campbelljohn began to gig the local scene and borrowed licks from his early influences BB King, the Rolling Stones, and Deep Purple. At the age of twenty he had the burning passion to play the guitar and hit the road. He notes, “At a certain stage of touring I realized I had to make records; after all, it was what I always wanted to do”. By the late 1980’s he met his wife to be, Carrie, and moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, where he made his first record How Does It Feel? With the successful follow-up, Hook, Slide, and Sinker in the fall of 1998, Campbelljohn approached labels far and wide. Persistence paid off and he eventually received a positive response from Taxim Herman’s of Hamburg, Germany. The pieces of the puzzle slid nicely into place with an introduction to Lennart Krogoll, who was beginning a business of exporting Canadian talent to Europe. From that pivotal point forward Campbelljohn has been successfully releasing records overseas.
His recent release, Weight of the World has been a labour of love. Campbelljohn learned the newest software and equipment while at the same time writing and arranging the music. By mid-summer of 2005, the bed tracks were recorded with Campbelljohn playing along to help the feel of a live performance. The rhythm tracks were then taken back to his home studio where he layed down polished guitar tracks and vocals. As his first self-produced and mixed album, it has more than passed the technical test: Taxim/Hermans accepted thirteen of the fourteen mixes.
With the overseas release of Weight of the World this past spring, a one month tour of engaging performances in Europe followed. Says Campbelljohn: “Europe is a niche market but an important one for me. The European fans are very supportive and real connoisseurs of the blues. They focus on your performance, watch every move you make; it’s a warm thing and they’re genuinely interested”.
Campbelljohn thrives on the experience of performing live, “Deliver a great performance and the audience will reward you,” he enthuses. “It certainly inspires me to continue to play better”. His core trio is Neil Robertson (drums) and Grant Leslie (bass) who once backed the influential Matt Minglewood. Additional musicians include Bruce Aitken on drums and Ed Woods on bass.
Another Nova Scotian hero was Canada’s “Prime Minister of the Blues”, Dutch Mason. “Sonny Langeth was also a huge influence on me,” John says. “To my knowledge, he almost single handedly developed this new technique of slide guitar known as ‘Behind the Slide’. I remember hearing it on his records and thinking what the hell is he doing?" Campbelljohn adapted Langeth’s technique to his own playing and it is the musical inspiration behind the hometown tune “Sydney Steel”, which lyrically harkens back to his early days at the Steel Plant.
With the financial challenges of touring with a full band, Campbelljohn has chosen to adapt. He explains: “In the old days you would have a core band and travel the country. I try to keep a core band but it depends on the venue and location. I’ve also come to find that playing solo is a lot fun and brings a whole different perspective”. Acoustic dynamics and the intricate sounds of his picking technique keep the rhythm while also playing melody. At the heart of his solo shows are his square neck and round neck resonator guitars modified with Quarterman cones & Humbucker pickups.
His workhorse guitar when touring with the trio is his mid eighties Fender American Standard Strat with a Hipshot Trilogy bridge for changing tunings on the fly. “Except for some selected tours,” he says, “I stick with a mid eighties Mesa Boogie Mark 3 combo amp that I send MIDI program changes for channel switching to different modes.”
Campbelljohn’s latest obsession is the pedal steel. For the past six years he has been hard at work developing his technique, only recently introducing it to his live shows. “The Pedal steel is really sweet for melodies and lush chord changes”, he says. He is also equipped with a sixty-nine Fender Tele with a Brent Mason type of mod, a solid mahogany body lap steel, Godin acoustic, Gibson 335 Dot Neck, Japanese Squire Strat, 10-string non-pedal steel, Supro 6-string lap steel, and Laracey 6-string lap steel... all for when the mood strikes or a song calls for it.
Campbelljohn explains, “It’s a thrill to make records and at the same time it is a necessary tool to get to the audience. In Canada, I’ve just signed with blues artist manager Brian Slack out of Montreal. He is especially excited about the new album becoming available to Canadian audiences.”
The new thirteen-track CD, Weight of the World is a treat to the ears. Filled with precise and fluid playing, Campbell demonstrates a commanding mastery of his tools of the trade. Weight of the World was mastered by Peter Harenberg (Hamburg) and kicks off with “Autobahn John” a gritty riff blues rock tune. Twisting with tasteful solos, the tune “Weight of the World” really drives it home, while fans will appreciate an acoustic covers of “Mississippi Queen” and a dreamy steel version of “Little Wing”. His fine picking is complimented with tasteful brushwork by Bruce Aitken driving the beat on “That’s Just Fine”, while bassist Bruce Moore brings a reggae feel to the resurrected favourite, “How Does It Feel?” Soulful harmonies on “Maybe I’m Just Old Fashioned” are complemented by Campbelljohn’s lyrical licks. And there’s more.
Campbelljohn offers advice: “Basically, you really gotta work hard and sometimes with a little luck you’ll get a break in climbing the ladder”. The real secret to his success is perseverance, dedication, and commitment to re-invent himself. Campbelljohn, the Road Warrior, has what it takes and is in it for the long-haul.
For more information about John Campbelljohn visit: www.campbelljohn.ca.
Author: Clive Doucet
Illustrator: Andrew Herygers
Lost and Found in Acadie contains many threads of history, woven together to create a complex tapestry depicting the history of Acadia and the people that belong to it. Clive Doucet delivers a personal story, and the stories of many others, as he passes through the hundreds of years of Acadian history. The pillars of Acadian society are contrasted sharply with those upholding our society today, and the comparisons are both enlightening and saddening. We come to know the many ways of life that fall into the Acadian experience, and the many Acadians who followed those ways. Within this book, we rove from the initial settling of Acadia, on through the friendship developed with the Mi'kmaq, into the civil war that helped to tear Acadia apart, to the horrors of the deportation and the subsequent attempts to rebuild and relocate history, family, and truth amidst a shattered people.
Clive Doucet is an Ottawa politician and writer with Acadian roots in Cape Breton. For more information about Nimbus Publishing visit: https://www.nimbus.ca/
Story and Photography: Andrew Herygers
Publisher: Saltscapes, Canada's East Coast Magazine
As kids growing up in Northeastern New Brunswick, we had an abundance of time to spend our summer days swimming and exploring Tetagouche Falls, located 10 km's outside Bathurst city limits in the community of South Tetagouche. Generations of the area’s people felt as we did about Tetagouche Falls, beginning with the Mi’kmaq, who first named the river “Tootoogoose.” According to local Mi’kmaq historian, storyteller, and folklorist Gilbert Sewell, “Tootoogoose” means “Squirrel Cliff,” or “Squirrel Jump.” The name refers to flying squirrels that leapt across the river gorge on outstretched pine branches.
At Tootoogoose, the Mi’kmaq wove baskets, sang, and told stories, sometimes about the “little people” or stone cave-dwellers who lived here long ago. It is said that these mysterious dwarves enjoyed playing tricks on the local settlers, and that their mischievousness could only be deterred with offerings. The Mi’kmaq also customarily offered tobacco to the river in exchange for provisions of food and medicinal plants, including indian turnip, sweet rag root, sweet grass, wild raisins, blueberries, cranberries, and fiddleheads. The river and its environs provided a bounty of wild game, such as trout, moose, and deer.
The Tetagouche River, often referred to as one the purest rivers in New Brunswick, is fueled by a complex network of other rivers, brooks, streams, ponds, and lakes. Home to salmon and brown trout, the river bends and grows from among the Upper, Middle, and Lower Tetagouche Lakes for a distance of approximately 25 miles, eventually emptying into the north side of Bathurst Harbour.
The South Tetagouche Road (Route 180) makes for a memorable drive through a beautiful ascending countryside. The hidden sylph-like river gorge runs somewhat parallel to the road, emerging at times from behind the farm fields on the right. Large, weathered farmhouses and aged barns dot the countryside, offering a nostalgic glimpse into the lives of pioneer mining families who settled here from England, Ireland, and Scotland in the early 1800s. The families cleared land along the riverside, built houses, and planted crops in this landscape they named Patrick’s Landing.
The South Tetagouche Road plateaus near the falls. On the left, a small white church appears, then, after a strong bend in the road, the park sign. Inside the Tetagouche Falls park, follow the road that veers right to the look-off and picnic area, perched high above the falls and gorge. The fenced look-off point is sure to give you a new appreciation for the raw power of nature. Feel the roar of rushing water, mist, spray, and the trembling of the falls. From here, you have a clear view of the falls, hydro dam, and river. Far below the100-foot cliff side, you may hear the cheers of kids swimming in the cool waters, their voices echoing in the deep gorge. If experienced hikers feel so inclined, there’s a hiking trail that begins at the end of the parking lot. The trail, a short 10-minute walk, is the best way to enjoy the area’s wild scenery. The dense fragrance of the pines, the fresh air, and the rocky terrain will absorb you during the descent into the river gorge. Be sure to stay on the designated trail, as the surrounding cliff sides areas are rugged, and not always fenced off. It’s also a good idea to fill an empty container with cold Tetagouche spring water before the hike. When you find yourself at the river, follow the intensifying sounds of the falls upstream. At the pebbly beach, you will find yourself in the open amphitheatre of the spectacular cliffs surrounding the gorge. Piping and a large turbine, once active as part of Tetagouche’s hydro-electric dam, protrude out of the rock cliff, a reminder of the falls’ industrial past. From the pebbly beach, the falls themselves are still obscured behind a rock wall. Mist and spray splashes out from behind this cliff, where a naturally occurring ledge provides an open view of the falls. Another option for a clearer look is to take a swim.
Tetagouche Falls’ mining history began in the 1840s, when prospector William Stevens of Cornwall, England began exploring for minerals in the area. A manganite bearing quartz vein was spotted on the south bank of the river in 1842, and that same year the Gloucestor Mining Association shipped 125 tons of manganese ore out to England. This operation, which also saw some copper extracted, is possibly the earliest example of underground mining in New Brunswick. Mining activity continued at the falls until 1864, when the ore could no longer be mined at a profit and the workings were shut down. It was a decisive moment in Tetagouche’s history, as families chose between returning to their native countries, moving to other mining towns, or staying to adapt to farm life. Many chose the latter, and descendents of the original Smyth, Ward, Payne, and Macintosh families still reside in the South Tetagouche area.
Throughout the 1900s, the Tetagouche River hosted spring log drives, and powered saw, grist, and carding mills. The Irish and British protestants living in Patrick’s Landing (today’s South Tetagouche) and the Irish Catholics in Kinsale (North Tetagouche) were friendly neighbours who overcame the natural obstacle of the river by constructing cedar log bridges to join their communities. The early Kinsale families of the day included the Powers (Power-Croft Apple Orchard) and the Calnans, who farmed potatoes, corn, various vegetables, and fruit.
In the early 1900s, Tetagouche Falls was targeted as a possible source of electricity by established Bathurst businessman John P. Leger. Leger, who had a dream of bringing electricity to Bathurst, figured that a dam at Tetagouche Falls could power the city of Bathurst for a good part of the year. In 1904, the incorporation of Bathurst Electric and Water Power Company Limited was formed by Act of Assembly leading to the early construction of a hydro-electric plant at Tetagouche Bridge. Even though many people discouraged Leger, he continued to follow his dream, finally acquiring the right to harness power at Tetagouche Falls in 1911. Leger used up nearly all his financial resources constructing the dam, and it was completed the next year. This high-risk gamble eventually paid off for Leger, and also helped accelerate the town of Bathurst into modern times. Tetagouche Falls’ hydro-electric dam was not only the first in New Brunswick, but possibly in all of the Maritimes. In 1919, the Bathurst Lumber Company amalgamated with the Bathurst Electric and Water Power Company, leading to the construction of a much larger dam at Grand Falls, on the Nepisiguit River. The Tetagouche Falls dam continued to power the city of Bathurst until 1921, when the newly completed Grand Falls dam took over the burden.
The dam’s remnants still stand high above the falls, as a reminder of its industrial history. However, over the years, erosion has withered away the vulnerable center portion of the dam, leaving only the side walls and piping. Signs of nature’s powers of reclamation are also evident at the mouth of the river. Here, in 1986, several thousand Bathurst aster (Aster subulatus obtusifolius) plants were re-discovered. These largely forgotten fresh and saltwater plants were originally discovered by ML Fernald and Emile F. Williams in 1902. In 1992, COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) listed the Bathurst Aster as a species of “special concern,” because its riverside habitat is particularly sensitive to human disturbance. Currently, there are efforts underway to preserve the Bathurst aster, which is known to exist only on the Tetagouche and Middle rivers in Bathurst, New Brunswick. At Tetagouche Falls, nature is reclaiming its rightful place, for all to enjoy and reflect upon. One can only hope that it will remain pure for many more years of appreciation.
“The Tootoogoose Troll
Excerpted from Maude Smyth’s “Tetagouche Falls— A Little Known Natural Beauty Spot.”
An Outline of the History of Bathurst, by Gail MacMillan. The Tribune Press Ltd. Sackville, NB. 1984.
“A family named Smyth settled directly south of the Falls about three quarters of a mile from the river and they were the first to see a “little man” sitting atop a huge rock sunning himself. The rock was by the roadside and can still be seen. A pleasant little fellow he was by all accounts, about two or two and half feet high with an extra large head and shoulders. Whenever members of the Smyth family sighted him they always described him as smiling or leering at them near-sightedly. A favorite trick of this Rumpelstiltskin-type of person was to scare the horses of those travelling the road late at night. It seems that his appearance always spooked the horses and they’d take off at a mad gallop. This wasn’t too bad in the winter time as the sled ran smoothly, or when the traveler was on horseback but in a box cart it was a rather boneshaking ride. It was this horse-scaring trick that finally was the undoing of the little man. Apparently one night he fell beneath the horses’ hoofs. “His dying screams rent the air, the like was never heard” and he was never seen again. But tales of him were told around many a fireside for many a year.””
For more information about Saltscapes Magazine visit: http://www.saltscapes.com/