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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?

Archival Song Selection: Who Killed Cockie Robin?

During the September 1, 2021 online song circle, we played the first couple minutes of this recording of Gretchen Grinnell singing Who Killed Cockie Robin?, from the first anniversary of the VFSS, July 20, 1960. Here’s the full recording:

Marian Buechert has been sifting through boxes of VFSS archives to organize them and digitize some of them. She also provides archival recordings to be played for selected online Folk evenings. Marian was so intrigued by Gretchen’s beautiful voice that she felt the family should have Gretchen’s recordings. Through her search Marion was able to contact one of Gretchen’s daughters who was very excited to hear her mother’s voice as indeed the family had no recordings. As Marion says, “I’m happy to say I was able to share with her seven lovely recordings. She wrote to me and said she was teary-eyed when she listened to them.”

Archival Song Selection: The P.G.E. Song

The first meeting at the Folk Song Circle as the VFSS was then called was at the Alma YMCA on the first Wednesday of July 1959. The five people who were responsible for founding the Folk Song Circle were Albert Cox, Jeannie (Cox) Moss, Phil and Hilda Thomas, and Rolf Ingelsrud. Of those founding members, Jeannie Moss, now 97, has dementia. She and Al Cox are the last remaining members. Jeannie perks up when she recognizes a song being sung to her and often sings along. Al Cox is presently 99 years old and is now a resident at Kerrisdale Crofton Manor.

Continue reading “Archival Song Selection: The P.G.E. Song”

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

Blues Again

Here is a video lesson on the basics of the blues.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iZGQDNA7qI   This is a three minute video of the 8 bar blues. 

 
We started with 12 bar blues last time we had a blues theme and my understanding was and is very basic.If you know what a 1 4 5 progression in major chords means you can play any 12 bar blues as follows:1 1 1 1      for the first 4 bars   4  4   1  1  for the second 4 bars  and either  5  4  1  5   for a turnaround or 5  4 1  1   to finish the song.   The “rule of 41” means   1111   4411   5  41 5  and helps to remember the pattern.


Since then I’ve learned that most blues are played with a dominant 7th chord which just means a major 7th with a flat 7th.Stoo pointed out at out last session that jazz chords like  the 9th, 11th, and 13th  are all built on top of the dominant 7th.


We can take the basic 12 bar pattern and just play all 7th chords or we can play any mixture of major triads and dominant 7th chords.   I like the basic pattern because if you vary the right hand technique you can amuse yourself for hours just running the numbers, strumming and playing arpeggios.  We can even Jazz it up by introducing 9th chords.   The variations are endless and I’m learning something every day.


So what can we learn from the video?  First, 8 Bar is another common form.   This is useful as a basis for practicing chords and right hand technique.  It can also be used for song writing and for improvised performances.  Second it is a very good example of what I’m looking for as video footage for instruction.  Third it introduces some interesting chords both the 7th and 9th.   The shapes are basic I’m sure most of us know them.

The progression is just 1 5 4 4 for the first line followed by 1 5 1 5 for the second line with 1 5 1 1 to finish. The video uses A7 for 1, and D9,E9 for 4 and 5 but you can use plain ole major triads A D and E and it will still sound OK.


When we started this adventure I was trying to produce both workshop and performance videos.   I ran out of time.   These days the video focus is on performance.  That way we can all track improvements.   If anyone would like to offer a workshop please let me know off line and we can create the workshop video apart from the regular circle then we can share the workshop with the circle and have a brief Q&A.  This is pretty much the format we had with Stoo’s excellent workshop on non-standard tunings.

Founding the Folk

1. Jeannie (Cox) Moss’ one page article on the founding of the Folk Song Circle was published in Vol 1 Issue 1 of  “Come All Ye”, the VFSS Journal (July 1972). It mentions the five people responsible for founding the Circle at the Alma YMCA back in 1959 — Albert Cox, Jeannie (Cox) Moss, Phil and Hilda Thomas, and Rolf Ingelsrud. It’s a reminder of the work done by the early FSC pioneers, and since carried on by so many others, in fostering acoustic folk music in Vancouver.  

2. Roger Holdstock’s article on the VFSS was published in Vol 20 Issue 1 of the Canadian Folk Music Bulletin (March 1986). Roger’s article does a fine job of summarizing the Folk, and its activities and ambience twenty-six years after its inception.