O Come All Ye Folkful: a Winter Solstice song circle

You are all most welcome to attend our annual Winter Solstice event, which is online once again this year.  We can only hope next year will be brighter for us all.

On Tuesday, December 14, if you are on our Zoom email list, you will get the usual email with the Zoom link, and an invitation to sign up ahead of time for one of 15 Main Stage spots. There will also be extended breakout rooms where you’ll get the chance to share one or two songs.

The schedule for our Winter Solstice evening: Wednesday, December 15.
Theme: Seasonal songs we love.
With special guest hosts, Mary Armitage and Steve Deering.

7:00 – 7:30  (30 min.)  – greetings and social/music lounges
7:30 – 8:15  (45 min.)  – Main Stage
8:15 – 9:00  (45 min.)  – breakout rooms
9:00 – 9:10  (10 min.)  – refreshment break
9:10 – 10:00 (50 min.)  – Main Stage
10:00 – ??:?? (?? min.)  – informal after-session

If you are not already on our email list to receive the Zoom link, you can subscribe here.

Al Cox

We are sad to share the news that Al Cox, one of the founding members of the VFSS, passed away peacefully on September 22. Al’s beautiful voice can be heard on many of the VFSS archival recordings, both as frequent MC of events and as a performer. Eli, his daughter, wanted the VFSS members to know how grateful she is that her dad was able, in his last days, to enjoy our tape that Steve put together of the 62nd Anniversary. She has told us how much it meant to Al that he was able to listen to the many songs that were familiar to him and especially to be able to hear himself, in the Highriggers, sing The P.G.E. Song. She also said that the extended family, who knew very little about Al’s musical activities, were thrilled to have his voice on record. The family will be planning a memorial soon. We will share those details when available. Our condolences go out to the family.

From 1961,
hear Al Cox lead the Highriggers singing The P.G.E. Song
From the 12th Anniversary of the VFSS on July 7, 1971,
hear Al Cox sing How Can I Keep from Singing?

VFSS UnRetreat 2021

On Sunday, September 26, 2021, the VFSS held its first online Retreat. Sixty folks attended by Zoom. For archival purposes, here are links to all the information that was emailed and/or posted on our Home page before and immediately after the event.

Overview, Schedule, Session Details

song suggestions for the Folk Revival of the 50s & 60s session,
lyrics, score & audio track for the Learn a Song with Barry Truter session,
lyrics & chords for the Learn a Song with Lynn Applegate session

Evening Group Photo, Closing Song/Slideshow

30 Years Ago in the VFSS: Linda Chobotuck

Linda Chobotuck says she’s been lurking around the VFSS since it met in the Granville Island Community Centre. She was lured in by then-president Anna Holbech Bjarnason. [Ed.: Our records show that Bjarnason was president in 1980.]

“I grew up in a folkie family with a mother who came from a parlour-singing tradition and was an early disciple of the folk revival. Surrounded by folkies, everybody I respected as a musician was also a songwriter, so from an early age I also wrote music. I’m not very prolific, but I’ve been doing it a long time and it adds up.

“My notebook says that ‘Give the Boss his Due’ was written in October 1985, but it was certainly brewing earlier than that because the third verse was inspired by an industrial psychology course that I dropped in disgust. The whole song is basically a tribute to my father’s attitude to work; the proper relationship a responsible worker should have to his or her job. You owe your co-workers to pull your own weight, but your obligations only go so far.

“After sleeping, people actually spend most of their time working, so I am perhaps best known as a singer and writer of labour songs, the most widely recorded of which is ‘Canning Salmon,’ which I wrote while working in a cannery in Richmond.”

Chobotuck performs “Canning Salmon” on a compilation CD titled The Cannery Shed put together by Washington folksinger Mary Garvey. As for a CD of her own, Chobotuck says that’s another project for some indefinite future. Until then, you can enjoy “Give the Boss His Due,” which was recorded live at the VFSS in 1991.

50 Years Ago in the VFSS: Barry Hall

Barry Hall grew up in what was then called the [Vancouver] Folk Song Circle during the 1960s, first attending at an early age and wowing everyone with his prodigious talent on banjo. In 1964, he was asked to record an album for highly respected Folkways Records (now Smithsonian Folkways). As you can see from the album photo, he was still incredibly young at the time. According to the Folkways website, this was Hall’s only commercial recording.

The VFSS audio archives include a number of live recordings of Barry Hall, including these two blistering instrumentals recorded on October 21, 1970. The first one seems to be identified as “Mason’s Apron.” The title of the second one is not provided.

This blog is intended to initiate dialogue on this topic. I know that there are others in the Folk who know much more about Barry Hall than I do and I would welcome shared reminiscences and information in the comments.

Vision 2030

VISION 2030 Workshop: Thanks to everyone who sent in their replies to the question: What is one experience connected with the Folk that really stands out for you? Why? We’ve received some great stories and would love to hear from more of you Folk enthusiasts! We’ve extended the response window to Sunday Aug 9th – please reply to: vanfolksong@gmail.com  and put ‘VISION 2030’ in the subject line.

Cheerful Songs for Trying Times 5

Casting about for a way to share some of the good cheer and community that we experience at our Folk Song Society Wednesday evenings, I came upon a recording of a full songcircle that I made back on April Fool’s Day, 2015. Since our songcircle that would have taken place on April 1 would have been on a similar theme, it seems appropriate to share selections from that recording now.

Here is Rick Pollay singing the Wompom song from our Parodies and Silly Songs night.