Posted by: Leah Morise | October 24, 2010

OCFF – Friday

I am now completely caught up on sleep and am back into the swing of things. I decided that I would write a bit about my experiences at the OCFF (Ontario Council of Folk Festivals) conference in Ottawa, Ontario. We were there for Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday.
We enjoyed the drive to Ottawa as we shared the road trip with Dan Henshall. He serenaded us with the mandolin and a banjo-lyn for several hours. Check out that video. What a way to work up the excitement on such a long drive.
Unfortunately we arrived too late Friday to attend any of the workshops but we did see the Socan Reception and some of the Official Showcases up in the Penthouse.
The SOCAN reception had Mike Stevens for the Keynote Speaker. He was talking about the creation of ArtsCan Circle and of how he had witnessed the youth of remote indigenous communities sniffing gasoline. The charitable organization organizes fundraising and collects musical instruments to bring into the communities. They also send musicians to conduct hands-on workshops in playing instruments, singing and songwriting to encourage self-expression through the arts.
In the Penthouse, we enjoyed David Ross Macdonald, Megan Jerome, Jon Brooks and part of The Warped 45s show. They are all such talented musicians. David Ross Macdonald has such a smooth voice and Megan played a quirky, jazzy set. Jon Brooks can sure tell a story and I have always enjoyed his songwriting. His music is more hopeful than happy. You come away having empathy and feeling a bit like you have experienced a moment of someone else’s memories as your own. This was the first time I had a chance to hear the Warped 45s – what fun. They are like a blue-collar jam with sweet harmonies.
Dan Mangan‘s set was awesome. We are planning to see him when he comes to London and this was a small taste of what that show might be like. His phrasing style and the way he describes everyday occurrences is poetic.
Dan was captivating and had the packed room singing “robots need love too…” from his CD titled “Nice, Nice, Very Nice”. I had seen Dan’s performance at the Polaris awards streaming live by Much Music. The crowd there went wild too. He has an honest charm about him. Dan’s popularity has been skyrocketing as he has toured North America, Europe and Australia. Did I mention that I am excited for his show in London? We got our photo taken with him after the show. 😉

Then the private showcases in the rooms started. There were over 40 rooms with music playing constantly from 11pm until 3am. I was fortunate to play several of these this weekend.
The first one on Friday night (actually Saturday morning) was in the “Songwriters Unite” room. I played with Linda McRae (a Canadian now living in Nashville) and Kirsten Jones from Toronto. Both such talented women. All three of us have very different styles but it seemed to work so well together. We played in a workshop style with each taking turns. Mike Bourgeault joined in to play trumpet on a few tunes for each of us. Linda has a very strong voice and sings with honesty and soul. Kirsten, with a softer sound, shared stories of love and love lost. The song that sticks with me the most is Bittersweet Grand Canyon. It tells of how she was proposed to there – you will have to listen to find out the rest of the story.  Russell Leon and Peter J Slack were the hosts of the room (and wonderful hosts they were). Thanks guys for having me!
Allison Brown had a few of us join her for the showcase in the Songwriter’s Speakeasy (Roots Music Canada room). There was me, Mike (trumpet), Dan (mandolin)  and Anna Atkinson (violin).
At one point, Mike walked down the hall and took a video of the walk and looked into the rooms at the different musicians playing their showcases. You can check that out on YouTube.
We did so much jamming that night. We went from room to room playing and singing. We ended up in Rick Taylor‘s room (Hosted by Brian Mortimer) until around 5:30 am. Alfie Smith was showing us his new National guitar – sweet! Rick has the most gorgeous Gretch White Falcon. Everyone was taking turns playing the tunes. Obviously we had a great time.  5:30 am…


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