The door to the Muse-ic Room Click on Magoo's helmet to go back to Magooland
The Muse-ic Room

May 9th - July 23rd 2003

Friday May 9

A night with the Orchestra

Kirk and Magoo WorkstationThe Blue Skies Orchestras (Fiddle, Beginner and Celtic Heritage) were in fine fettle at the Perth High School. Myself not being a fiddle player, am impressed with anyone who can get a sustained, pleasing sound out of a violin. The sound was pleasing indeed. It has been over a year since I sat in with them and they can now play Wade Butler’s Bus Lines (a fiddle tune I wrote for the tune Newfoundland Paradise on Shirt Pay) at the recorded tempo. Next time they are going to want to go faster, and it’s going to be me who has to play catch up.

Kirk decided to keep the number of instruments to a minimum for his portion of the show so the audience only got the Brittany Pipes, a re-tuned fiddle, a medieval violin, a concert violin, mandolin/harmonica combo, and his prodigious bass playing talents. Too bad, otherwise they might have seen just how versatile he can be. Note the Kirk and Magoo workstation in the photo. A place for everything and everything in its place, we always say. I played a couple of tunes and we grabbed the Orchestra leader (Carolyn Stewart) and had her play music without thinking about organising/conducting/fundraising/bookeeping etc. Lots of fun and Bon Voyage as the orchestra sets sails for Cape Breton.


Tuesday May 13

Invasion of the Food Snatchers

More music exchange, only this time we changed direction and turned towards the west. Two of our kids are participating in a Band Exchange with EP Scarlett High School in Calgary. The west landed here tonight and we were given 3 teen feeders to hang at our house for a week.


Monday May 19

Six days with 6 teenagers. Food was consumed, endless conversation, one or two card games, and some pretty good music. Our new friends from Calgary were busy touring and playing. The band is very good and took the opportunity in Toronto to do music clinics at U of T and Humber College. There was a concert on Wednesday night that featured both schools in their regular band/choir formats and various integrated combos. Oh those young people today, with their crazy clothes and that wild music they listen to. Why back in my day we wore sensible clothes and sported smart haircuts... Speaking of which, five of us geezer types, including Dax Andrews the music teacher from Calgary managed to creak onto the stage and play through a version of Summertime for all to see and hear.

Calgary leaves today, the respite is not long. On Thursday Sutton High School goes west and they have hornswoggled and labelled me as a responsible chaperone to peregrinate with them (good word huh? It’s a new one on me but it popped up in the thesaurus so what the hey).


Thursday May 22

Gone West

Group Din-0-amics43 teenagers, 5 responsible adults, 43 instrument cases, a complete drum kit, a mountain of suitcases, stirred and shaken on a Westjet for 3 or four hours pointed west, will get the parade to Calgary. Pretty much painlessly to everyone’s effort and credit. Here’s the rundown.
University of Calgary...a great clinic for the band.
Heritage Park...the Wainwright Hotel at the park has the exact same tin ceiling that we have in our home in Udora. Hands across the continent, or at least a mail order tin ceiling across the continent a hundred years ago.
Mountains... Still there.
Ice Fields... The sun shone, which it hasn’t done a lot of lately, the Monster Snow Coach Bus run was a new one on me, and the glacier was spectacular. Of course in the mountains everything is spectacular. I try to check myself from thinking ‘Ya Ya , there’s another spectacular vista, pass the chips’. Lake Louise still looks like the old ten dollar bill.
My Hosts...Graham and Carolyn Sewell were gracious hosts. Most hospitable, a pastoral view of the Bow River valley tossed into the accommodation. They toured me about the Turner Valley/ Longview/ High River neck of the woods on our day off, I’ve never been down that way. I was ready to run home for my boots and trick rope gear. The next day we did a little trail riding near Banff, and I needed those boots.
Hot Springs...rejuvenating, and everything went a little slow motion after 20 minutes or so.
Sulphur Mountain Gondola... It was just like the old gondola at the Ex. You know the one that went from the Food Building over to near the Better Living Centre with the Mountain scenes painted near the gate as you got on, except it was longer and steeper and greener and the mountains weren’t painted and I couldn’t see the Gardiner Expressway, maybe because those Mountains were in the way, and instead of the Sea Breeze Motel near the lake they had the Banff Springs Hotel. We drove around it, but it costs 5 bucks a head if you unload your bus there for photo ops. I don’t think it costs 5 bucks a head at the Seaview. I yodelled my way to the top, and it was beautiful.
Concert Day...A mad day of rehearsal and roadie work for the show on Tuesday night. Both bands and choirs in all their incarnations played very well. There were poignant moments. This was the last show many of them would be doing before graduating. It was very cool hanging out with a group of music room keeners.

Jaws Dino Day... Ever since Kirk and I released We Are the Dinosaurs, we have had young friends come up to us at shows and say something like ‘Did you know that the Veloceraptor didn’t exist in the Jurassic Period?’, or some such other factoid, followed by , ‘ Last summer I viewed the evidence at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller Alberta when we went there on holidays. Have you ever been there?’. To which I have had to answer, ‘No my young friend, I have not had the pleasure.’ Well no longer I say, for I have indeed been to the Museum. We saw Dinos and plants and all the evidence and toured about the badlands, another corner of Alberta I had never been to. Roaaaarrrr!
Boot Scootin’ fun...It might not have been pretty, but I was the last ‘Adult’ standing in the line dancing contest at Spruce Meadows for the wind up Barbeque. I had no boots (no room) so it was sandals and satin shirt, it’s a new fashion trend that all the cowboys will soon be sporting.

Sunset on the Bow RiverHome...We made it back in about the same number of pieces that we left in. Thanks to our new friends in Calgary, thanks to Doug Robertson the Sutton Music teacher who got the ball rolling on the whole trip, and the young people who took it easy on the geezers.


Sunday May 31


Welcome to the new ‘Greenroom’ at Eaglewood. A riser, a curtain, a light grid and Neil Numanen at the PA controls and whammo, you’ve got a performance space that Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney would be happy to hoof across. Doug McArthur has put together a great new playing space, and a bunch of us from the Greater or Lesser Pefferlaw area took it for a test drive. Organised by Outdoor Ed Winnacott we had Jen Ives and Don’t Panic from the North, Blain Fullbrook from the West, Naffin and Wright from the East, Doug McArthur, Kevin Fullbrook and Ed from the Central and Me and Edith Hawkins from the Southern reaches of the Greater and Lesser Pefferlaw folk music catchment basin or as it is known to municipal bureaucrats and tax collectors, the G&LPFMCB. A full house, fine music and a new space.


June 7

Mount up for Mount Albert

Rollerbladin' Ropin' Roundup'We begin at 9:00pm with the bicycle dress up Parade. A well decorated bunch this year, and nobody blew out a training wheel or crashed into another costumed competitor. The decision was a tough one but the judges came to the conclusion that everyone deserved a medal.

Next up, at 10:30 the main parade. It was a good opportunity to try out the rope spinning I have been working on since I got the Lariat and ‘how to’ book for my birthday. Spinning in Cowboy gear on rollerblades, with a side order of juggling is a recommended activity, especially fresh back from the west! Watch that the rope stays out of the wheel’s path. I can’t really do much more than a flat spin at this point, although I am getting the hang of a vertical spin. It’s ‘The Wedding Ring’, and of course the Butterfly that we are working towards. If anyone is interested, do a google search for a guy named Carey Bunks, he produced a downloadable book that explains in scientific detail the physics and how to of Trick Roping. It is a whole world, like Ukuleles or yo yos or pogo sticks or unicycling.

11:30 it’s time to do a show at the Mount Albert Grand Stand, or as it is otherwise known, the flatbed stage with bleachers. Superb sound by the one and only Richard Horbatiuk, our old buddy. He accompanied Kirk and I on a couple of tours, and not only ran the big rig sound, he played bass for us while mixing sound. It was always fun to watch people in the audience looking for a bass pedal, or tape machine when it was the guy at the back of the room sitting behind the board. He brought his instrument along today, so I was once again accompanied by the mystery bass man.

June 13

Walter Scott Public School

A very keen group of K’s. They wanted to sing, they clapped along, they listened and laughed and made like a great audience. Thank you, thankyouverymuch, I’ve left the building.


Fathers Day

Iris Iris Actually just call it Flowers Day. The garden speaks for itself.




June 19

Samuel Cunard and Co.This is good one about serendipity and small worlds and confluence of purpose. I think the first gig was four years ago. I get a call from the Port of Halifax Authority (yikes, is there something from my Halifax past and days at sea coming back to bite me?) No they somehow got my name as a professional ‘Animateur’ and are looking for just the right fellow to portray the late great Samuel Cunard, Haligonian and founder of the famed Cunard Shipping Line at a reception in Toronto sponsored by the Port of Halifax.

Samuel Cunard and AssociatesWell says I, “Of course, Samuel Cunard has been part of my repertoire for many a year, why I remember well the maiden crossing of 1839 aboard the Britannia, 14 days 8 hours Liverpool, Halifax to Boston. It was steam that steered us into the future, a railroad at sea and I was quick to form the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company”. It goes on from there.

So I get hired, go to Malabars in Toronto and get a great ‘Empire’ era costume (as Kirk says “where did men’s fashion go wrong, they really knew how put the wardrobe together”), and show up at the Old Mill ready to be Samuel Cunard. So who is there as the fiddler for the gig? Kirk, along with October Brown (great player/writer/singer, google up her website), and who is there shooting it for the Port Authority?, Donna Griffith, professional photographer, partner of Kirk. Each of us was hired separately without consultation, we didn’t know who would be there or who else was hired. It’s like they went to some cosmic phone book and said, ‘right then, lets see....photographer... Griffith, fiddler ...Elliott, animateur ....Magooman, that should do it’.

Anyway it has been good fun, this was the third year we have done it. I strut about as Samuel, Kirk and October play jiggs, reels and waltzs (I joined them for the last set for a little value added bonus to the client this time) and Donna shoots it all. The highlight for the invitees is the 24 boxes of Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon that get given away as door prizes. If you are reading the next edition of the Port of Halifax magazine, look for Samuel Cunard and the smiling faces of 24 smoked salmon winners.


Canada Day

Harbourfront Centre’s cup ranneth over with good cheer, music, and that human mosaic, not melting pot, sociologists and human study experts like to attach to Canada. I hosted the CIBC Stage (it used to be the Molson Stage), and got to work with Ian Harper again. He did the sound and recording for Kirk and I when we shot the Kirk and Magoo video concert at the Uxbridge Music Hall. There’s good reason that Cap’n Andrews has him driving the big rig at front of house on the big stage...he’s good. Pamela Morgan, Le Vent Du Nord, that musical conflagration from Peterborough The Silverhearts, Serena Ryder and Gian Ghomeshi all took to the stage for a very festive day of music. The band Flapjack and Ian Bell and his Dawnbreakers were on the other stage and all in fine musical fettle.

4 cool gals, spot the celebrity!I really liked the crowd. A diverse slice of what we are. From the Maritimers among the many other fans of Pamela’s, to the Persian fans among the many others of Gian’s and everyone in between. All ages, from casual onlookers to keen fans. It was a crowd of Canadians (someone asked how many Americans were in the house...not got a laugh) and there was this smile that seemed to permeate the day. As a matter of fact I will be so bold as to call the gathering not a bunch or a flock or a group, but a Smile of Canadians on that day. My Flag tattoo has yet to wear off.



Sudbury July 4,5,6

It has been 5 years since I last played the Northern Lights Festival Boreal. It was the first big time festival event that went for my little homemade tape in 1979. They treat you right in Sudbury, feed you well, provide musical opportunity, introduce you to new friends and then let it all ferment for three days and nights.

Derek Armstrong driving the big rig at CKLUI did Derek Armstrong’s CKLU Radio program Friday night just as the festival was getting underway. Hey, he reads the news in the Muse-ic Room, so we had lots to talk about, I sang a thing or two, and before we knew it the show was done and we were at the site. Saturday Valdy, Chuck Roberts and I did a session called Road Warriors. From our own sensitive songwritings to car crash classics, Born to Be Wild to The Happy Wanderer, nobody got hurt.
Made it to dinner chez Robert Dickson, mon frere in Sudbury who I am proud to say won the Governor General’s Literary Award this year for French Poetry. Not bad for an Anglophone who grew up in Erin Ontario.
The GG (that’s what we in the know call it) is quite cool. Hand bound in leather, each one unique, by a venerable bookbinder near Ottawa.
As for the musical ferment, I met new friends from North Bay. Peter Cliche is a rather competent fiddle/guitar/mando/harp/whistle kind of guy, known for his sideman capabilities. This time he came with his brother and another guitar player John McDonald as his own band, and I’m now a fan. We’ll see those lads soon I hope.

Alan Piggins is a songwriter I didn’t know from a fencepost, and we got tossed together to “be funny” in a workshop.It always feels kind of funny being told to be funny on the spot. He had the wherewithal to drag Darlene into the proceedings. No blood was spilled, friends were made, I even tested out the rope spinning on them while Darlene gave them a side order of hoops. We sang songs, there were shenanigans, we were funny, festival mission 976A accomplished.

Peter Cliche and cool bandSpeaking of Darlene she received the Jackie Washington Award. Local gal done good, way to go. And speaking of Jackie Washington, may I say Ladies and Gentlemen the Good Doctor is in. Jack is Back. He has had a bumpy medical ride over the past couple of years, and last fall was thinking that was

about it for his playing days. No, Jack say it ain’t so! But things turned around this winter. I think since McMaster University bestowed a Doctorate upon him this spring he has a knack for this doctoring stuff and he is his own best patient.

Me and the amazing McTaggartsAside from playing officially at many different stages over the weekend, he was holding court and playing when I cashed in on Friday night at 1:30 am. He was moving over to the piano when I called it quits at 3:30 on Saturday night and was still singing and playing (better than ever...yes indeedy) at 2:45 am Monday morning. Not bad for an 84 year young fellow. Doctor, Doctor, get me on the program.

Back in 1997 when I last was at Northern Lights, I had some van trouble. It was made better because the amazing Mc Taggarts who are the festival volunteer standard by which all others are measured fixed me up. This year Cam McTaggart presented me with a Celtic amulet of pin cherry that he carved. It is beautiful and I wear it with great pride. Thanks you guys. This is me and the family about to drive around the site.


July 10

Garden July 8The garden club judges are coming on Sunday. We have been weeding to prove worthy.

Saturday July 12

Beautiful Ingersoll Ontario. Actually it was overcast and had been raining, but Ingersoll is still a scenic town, the crowds were the biggest yet as this new little festival steadily grows, and everyone had a smile on their face. My mother used to call Ingersoll ‘the hub of the earth’, because as a young girl her parents would take the kids there from Toronto to visit uncles and aunts and cousins, and they were all very keen on the town. I think there is a family connection to Laura Secord as well through Ingersoll, but I have yet to get nipped by the geneological bug and follow the trail. I have friends who are up to their eyeballs in census/graveyard/library/family bible documentation and the winding pathways and obsessions they create.

Alex, Valdy, and me the cameramanAnyway Ted Comisky and his dedicated committee have put together a great little one day festival. The main drag is shut down, the merchants decorate up their windows, there is music in the new gazebo, rides and old cars and clowns and all that good stuff is featured downtown. Just a short walk to the park brings you to the main event. Big old trees, a gentle stream, lots of food, a kid’s stage, mainstage, two workshop stages and a beer tent make for a place to celebrate a venerable town in the middle of July.

Google up Canterbury Folk Festival, and you’ll find out all about it. As a matter of fact dial up the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals ( and you’ll get the lowdown on the whole Ontario Festival deal.


I found another Highland LaddieWorkshops were good fun, some great fiddling, Valdy, Alex Sinclair and I had a grand time with ‘Songs that made a difference’.The mainstage goes early at 4:30 with a march in by the award winning Ingersoll Pipe Band, a few words from the Mayor, then we’re off. The crowd is all ages, and I get to penalty kill while the crew sets the stage for each act. No need to go on and on, though, Mike and his crew at Armour Sound know their stuff. I love doing that, messing about out front and getting to know the locals. I gave them a taste of rope spinning, a wail on the uke, and some straight up singing of the song, it all worked I even got the kilt out.

Great music from everyone who performed till just after 11:00pm.
Way to go Ted! Thanks for the fun. Oh yes it’s all free. Donations gratefully accepted.




Sunday July 13

Down the road to the world famous McMichael Gallery, don’t you know. Through the efforts of Christine Lynette, the gallery has been doing live music for families every month. I came to sing some songs about Canada. You get to play in a most beautiful sqared log, huge fireplace, art all over the place space.(I think it is called the Founders Room) It is a wonderful room to play in. This time there was cause for extra celebration. They wanted to cut the ribbon to the new play area for the kids outside and thought a parade would be a good idea. I thought that was a good idea too, so we revved up the kids and off we went through the gallery and out through the trees to the new sandbox. I love a parade. The official opening was conducted with great pomp and ceremony, and piles of sand.
I had never been though galleries 8 &9. There is a collection of Inuit art there right now that is truly magnificent, enhanced by these two beautiful rooms. Go there. The McMichael Gallery Kleinburg ON.

Aahhhh...The Tilly Hatted Garden Club judges came poking through the garden Sunday morning. We have not heard from them since. Oh well, in my humble opinion, Patricia has done a superemium job on the gardens and I give it two minutes for looking so good.

Back home Sunday evening and me and the girls zipped up to Cottage country for 3 days with our pal Red and Kaitlin. Patricia and Woody joined us Monday along with our good buddy Art and his two lads. Me and Art and Red have rendevouzed here on and off since 1965. It is an Isle of Respite in the turbulent seas of life. Aahhhh. Now ain't that just like the group of Seven.


Thursday July 17

Back on the road. This time to the Listowel Agricultural Fair. I had never played in Listowel. I had never been to Listowel. I was at the beautiful new library (the beautiful old library, redone and added on to), on the open Plaza that now sits on the side of the building. Piles of kids and parents, blazing sun, imminent storms that didn’t happen, happy people to play for. I like that. Go Listowel Go. See you again.


Wednesday July 23

The birdbath and beyondSo now we prepare for the event of the summer. It is soon time to travel to Blue Skies. This will be the 27th trip along hwy 7 during the end of July. Heck we’d done it 8 times before any kids arrived, now they can drive us. It is the 30th anniversary his year. Big doin’s, a special commissioned musical offering, lots of effort, plenty of care and ten days in the bush... there will be a report.


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