There's a surprising lot of interesting stuff going on around here, and this space is devoted to discovering and sharing it. We'll post regular updates on merchants, activities and events. Look in often and soon you'll see why Meaford calls itself "The other Big Apple".

posted September 28th, 2012
Craft show, canning demos, and live music round out the weekend

Meaford’s Scarecrow Parade is just the beginning of a busy weekend in Meaford. The weekend traditionally anchored by the Apple Harvest Craft Show – a show of carefully selected artisans and craftspeople from near and far offering everything from toys to tinware to needlework to folk art to stained glass and much more – has grown busier every year, as events and exhibits appear to tempt tourists and locals alike.

This year, the Meaford Museum is open with free admission all weekend – and on Saturday, you can can. That is, you can learn to can. Well, let’s see how the museum puts it. “Learn the steps to effective and safe canning with Isobel McInnis as she does on-site demonstrations at 1 pm, 2 pm and 3pm. Printed material will be available and you are invited to ask Isobel any questions you may have. Each demonstration will take approximately 30 minutes.”

Meanwhile, the Heatlamp at the Harbour Music Festival kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday with a vendors market opening, followed by a music show for the kids, a Tex-Mex food bar featuring chili, pulled pork, nachos and a selection of hot sauces, and a series of three performances offering gutsy blues, folk, and more through the afternoon.

That’s a taste of this weekend’s events. To learn more, just head to Meaford.

posted September 14th, 2012
John K. Samson shares his love of Canadian sports at Irish Mountain Music house concert

On Wednesday night, some 50 or so guests of Irish Mountain Music enjoyed a witty and often poignant performance by John K. Samson, front-man of Winnipeg’s The Weakerthans, and his guest, Michael Feuerstack (who often performs as Snailhouse).

John K Samson and Michael Feuerstack at Irish Mountain

Weakerthans frontman John K Samson (r) and Michael Feuerstack perform at Irish Mountain Music in Meaford.

A real affection for Canada’s national sports was clear, with a tale of a late night at the curling club (“Tournament of Hearts”), the “Elegy for Gump Worsley”, and a plea for help getting Reggie Leach (the “Riverton Rifle”) into the Hockey Hall of Fame (“Petition”).

To sign, go here.

posted October 18th, 2011
Songs of Georgian Bay

The waters of Georgian Bay have inspired songwriters, surely, beyond recorded history. Its deep waters can be blue and inviting and a summer playground… or turn on you without warning. As Stan Rogers wrote in “White Squall”,

Now it’s a thing that us old-timers know, in a sultry summer calm
There comes a blow from nowhere, and it goes off like a bomb!
And a 15 thousand tonner can be thrown upon her beam
While the gale takes all before it with a scream.

That song, about a laker heading north on either Georgian Bay or Lake Huron proper after losing one of its crew to the “fury of the blow”, reminds us that a “red-eyed Wiarton girl” is left behind – and the liner notes explain that more than “30 percent of the Captains and First Mates employed in shipping on the Lakes came from this quiet fishing town in the Bruce Peninsula.”

Across the Bay to the east, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Christian Island (Georgian Bay)” paints a sunnier picture of our waters.

I’m sailing down the summer wind
I got whiskers on my chin
And I like the mood I’m in
As I while away the time of day
In the lee of Christian Island
Tall and strong she dips and reels
I call her Silver Heels
And she tells me how she feels
She’s a good old boat and she’ll stay afloat
Through the toughest gales and keep smilin’
But for one more day she would like to stay
In the lee of Christian Island

When Kevin Moyse, an Owen Sound songwriter, read tales of Georgian Bay shipwrecks written by Scott Cameron (Meaford resident and former principal of our high school) – he was inspired to create an entire album and DVD package called “Songs of Georgian Bay”. Visit here to learn more.

Other songs of Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay by Laura Ranieri
The Georgian Bay Suite by D. Bain
“Georgian Bay Sunsets” by Evan Paul (among other songs inspired by the Bay). Hear the CBC podcast.
Paul Motian’s “Georgian Bay”, featuring Keith Jarrett. Listen to a sample here.

Georgian Bay '94 Marine Heritage Festival

And now for some shameless self-promotion. Back in 1994, the communities ringing the Bay from Owen Sound to Midland held the Georgian Bay ’94 Marine Heritage Festival, which featured numerous events and visits by tall ships to many of the ports, including Meaford. Organizers held a song contest, calling for songs that celebrated marine heritage, and your faithful blogger got to work on a lyric – “The Dance of Georgian Bay” – asking Sean Keating and Maureen Keating to join in to write the music and perform the song.

“The Dance of Georgian Bay” won the contest. If you’d like to listen, here’s the original contest demo. (Right-click to download the song or left-click to play.)

© 1994 Maureen Keating, Sean Keating and Vic Michener

Cedar and birchbark sewn taut as a drum skin
Whispering paddles wove spells in our lees
Lost in the wake of the timber and iron
Rolling like thunder from over the sea.

We’re born to the slap of the waves on the pilings
And someday we’ll rest as our bones are picked clean
Stranded on sand like our poor sister Nancy
Or rotting in drydock for want of a dream

But for one sparkling moment
We’ve lived on this water
We’ve weathered her anger and dreamed through her calms
Passing on secrets
From daughter to daughter
As long as she’s here then our dreams will live on.

Sing us a song to the wind in the rigging
Sway like a bride to the beat of the waves
Sweep us away on the breath of a storm cloud
Dance the dance of Georgian Bay

The turtlebacks challenged the old wooden schooners
And now their own nets lie there dry and unused
Even trusty old freighters rust sooner or later
Each weary side wheeler limps through her last cruise

So drive deep your paddle and fire your engines
Cast for your luck in the old fishing hole
Ride on the wind till the land dips astern
Oh, your voyage may end, but they can’t sink your soul

And for one sparkling moment
We’ll live on this water
We’ll weather her anger and dream through her calms
Passing on secrets
From daughter to daughter
As long as she’s here, then our dreams will live on.

Sing us a song to the wind in the rigging
Sway like a bride to the beat of the waves
Sweep us away on the breath of a storm cloud
Dance the dance of Georgian Bay

posted August 18th, 2011
Summerfolk offers three nights and two days of music near Meaford

Back in 1975, brothers John and Tim Harrison got the idea of starting a folk festival in their hometown of Owen Sound, just 20 minutes down the road from Meaford. Searching for a suitable site for their first, low-key event, they settled on Kelso Beach Park, on the west shore of Owen Sound Bay. And settled is the right word. At the time, the park was a flat, almost marshy area nearby factories often used as a dump. The inaugural event featured such artists as Shirley Eikhard, Willie P. Bennett, and the Original Sloth Band playing on makeshift stages, and in lieu of ponchos and branded seating pads, the organizers sold garbage bags to protect folkie butts from the wet ground.

Tomorrow at 5 p.m. the 36 edition of the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival kicks off. In the years since that quiet debut, the festival has grown into one of Ontario’s premiere music events (indeed one of the most respected folk festivals anywhere), showcasing remarkable international artists on numerous outdoor stages – including the permanent, covered main stage, which faces a limestone and grass amphitheatre and hosts the main nightly events – and the large and popular “Down By The Bay” tent, which features performances throughout the day and into the night in a licensed setting.

Summerfolk mainstage

Summerfolk mainstage

True to its folk festival roots, the event features “workshops” throughout the day at various stages – gatherings of different musicians from different acts who interact and play music around each workshop’s theme.

And from the beginning, Summerfolk has been about more than music. Artisans and craftspeople of remarkable talent and range offer their wares for sale in booths in a small, friendly, outdoor market. Of course, there’s a variety of food for all tastes, too.

Each year, the festival is notable as much for the new discoveries as the established artists. This year features such folk stalwarts as Tom Leighton, James Gordon and David Francey, as well as up-and-comers The Once (the Newfoundland vocal group that’s been showing up at all the award shows the past couple of years) and Australia’s “alt-pop darlings” The Little Stevies – along with more than two dozen more other performers and groups.

Try it once, and you’ll be hooked.

Summerfolk traditionally closes with many of the artists onstage performing Stan Rogers’s “The Mary Ellen Carter”. In 2007, Stan’s son, Nathan fronted the crew. (You’ll need to click twice on the video below to see it on YouTube.

posted June 17th, 2011
Spirit of the West rocks Meaford Hall

Last night they were literally dancing in the aisles of Meaford Hall. Attending dozens of musical performances over the years, I’ve never seen the like. The grand old Opera House, elegantly renovated in recent years, rarely echoes with such abandoned behaviour. But when Spirit of the West, the Canadian Celtic/folk/rock fivesome, launched into “Home For a Rest”, a good chunk of the audience leapt from their seats and rushed the area in front of the stage to jig and reel. The overflow spilled into the centre aisle and halfway to the rear. The band capitalized on the giddy momentum with their encore, another rousing crowd pleaser, “The Crawl”, with Geoff Kelly noting, “Okay, we’ve got you pegged – here’s another drinking song.”

Spirit of the West

The band keeps a shine on the bar with their sleeves

John Mann and a Meaford fan

John Mann and a Meaford fan

(Hope to post a video clip here soon)

I’ve written here before about some of the opportunities to hear live music in Meaford, but this seems as good a time as any to bring it up again. Last weekend, it was GBSS Idol. And still hyped from hearing Spirit of the West last night, we’ll be catching Fred Eaglesmith, another Canadian stalwart, next Friday night in the cool upstairs bar at McGinty’s.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Sweetwater Music Festival. While it’s held in September, it kicks with a fundraising performance by Grammy award-winning conductor Bramwell Tovey, Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony and Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

More on that in a bit.

posted May 5th, 2011
10 years of Irish Mountain Music in Meaford

Back in early 2001, Liz Scott decided she wanted an opportunity to hear some of her favourite folk and roots artists in an intimate setting – and she wanted to share her favourites with others. Sure, Owen Sound’s Summerfolk was an amazing experience, but what if she could get some of those same artists to perform at house concerts. Her husband, Rich Fletcher, a budding guitarist, was all for it. And they had the perfect space – a cathedral-ceilinged “bonus room” above the garage of their Irish Mountain home.

On April 14, Katherine Wheatley and Wendell Ferguson performed the first Irish Mountain Music house concert to a small group of appreciate friends and neighbours. Ten years – and some 70 performances – later, Irish Mountain Music is still going strong. In addition to the indoor concerts, the couple has also hosted some summer outdoor performances – on a stage set in their maple bush, and on their lawn, with the twinkling lights of Meaford far below – and the roster includes such artists as Dala, Luke Doucet, Valdy, Matt Anderson, David Francey, Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing, Garnet Rogers, Ian Tamblyn, and Anne Lindsay – to name a few.

Next Friday, May 13, you can catch John Wort Hannam and Maria Dunn. Visit for more info.

Anne Lindsay and Charles James at Irish Mountain

Anne Lindsay and Charles James entertain at Irish Mountain Music