I won't never forget this week-end! I didn't know what to expect, first
of all. I'm not a "folk" fan and I went there because Larry told me
one day, how fun it was. I had so much fun there myself! I've discovered
such of good bands, hilarious performers and an incredible organization!
The whole thing was a big party. Gowan's name brought a lot of his loyal
fans there so, I could enjoy their company, most of them are good friends
now. Larry spend the weekend on the field. On Friday night, he came
on stage, performing "Dancing On My Own Ground" without being announced...On
Saturday afternoon, he played a duet with Susan Werner. On stage they
played a married couple with 2 funny names...Suzie the saloon singer
and her beloved husband Larry, the lounge lizard. Their performance
surprised the crowd by their ability to improvise and answer each other
with different songs. Susan, in spite of her illness was very fast and
even Larry had to rush to follow her on the keyboard! Pure delight!
After that, Larry became a member of the Summerfolk Quizz, kind of wacky
game, before he agreed for an autograph session. He took time with everybody,
with pictures and autographs for more than 1 hr. In evening, despite
the very COLD weather, a warm crowd was waiting for him. A bit disappointed,
he wasn't the only performer and his time had been cut......too much!
On Sunday afternoon, this part was a treat for the fans...Larry was
interviewed by Bob Roper about the very beginning of his carrier since
today. The show was called " Up Close & Personal". Larry tried to play
different songs that he performed the night before and he was very generous,
voluble and funny. Later, he played Rock&Roll Jam songs with Valdy and
the Trout fishing in America. Again he proved his incredible talent
of piano player and rocker. (I'd loved it!) The highlight of this jam
session was, without hesitation, his wonderful performance of "Pretty
Woman" on guitar! Larry stayed with us after this show, enjoying this
time with everyone who stopped to say good-bye, very generous and happy
about the whole weekend Thanks again to my friends and Larry, of course
because you've convinced me to come and...you were right...again! See
Fran, Lisa and Karin
long long and long some more. The Cyberbabes are posting from a rented
Mustang Convertible on a highway outside Shelburne, Ontario. It's too
cold to drop the top but we are rockin' out to the Au Quebec version
of "I'll Be There in a Minute" and life is good.
California Styx chyxs (Fran, Lisa and Karin) are on the return from
a weekend at the Owen Sound Summerfolk Festival, where we came to get
a dose of Gowan solo and got all we'd hoped for plus a whole lot more.
In addition to heaping servings of Gowan we got to absorb (and purchase)
the music of many cool acts we might not otherwise have been exposed
to. Thanks to Holly and Barbara for covering our butts and helping make
sure we didn't miss a thing.
a list of the Gowan related activities we got. Bob Roper's panel discussion
on Tips and Tricks; Larry the Lounge Lizard; Main Stage Gowan set; Up
Close and Personal with Lawrence Gowan and Bob Roper; Play Me a Rock
and Roll Song; and two autograph/photo ops.
weekend opened at the Homemade Jam stage ("no we don't need jam, we're
looking for the stage") with a panel discussion headed up by Bob Roper
entitled Tips and Tricks and offering advice to less experienced musicians
on everything from recording technique to getting their songs heard
to the role of the internet. A quick move to the Down by the Bay stage
(the very popular "Beer Tent") and a scramble for seats and we were
ready for Suzy the Saloon Singer and Larry the Lounge Lizard.
quick note: the Summerfolk Festival is made up of three Main Stage evening
performances (we missed the opening night including Gowan tossing off
"Dancing on My Own Ground" on guitar), and dozens of Workshops on Saturday
and Sunday spread across 5 stages.
Suzy and Larry workshop consisted of Susan Werner (on guitar) and Gowan
(on keyboard) swapping comedic renditions of all those tunes you are
sick of hearing on the radio. Feelings, Rocket Man, La Bamba, Michelle
(with touch of Gowan's Stephanie), Dust in the Wind, Come On Get Happy,
Yesterday, and the Cheap Trick song that we can't remember the name
of (Fran is going to lose her Power Pop membership card when she gets
our eyes Larry discovered that Stairway to Heaven and the Theme from
Titanic are the same song. (Go ahead, play them in your head). Suzy
noted that they were in dangerous territory when they spoofed Celine
Dion in Canada, and Larry at first avoided Styx, declaring it his untouchable
territory. But he eventually bowed to requests and gave a fairly straight
version of Come Sail Away (although we think we remember a snip of another
song dropped in the middle for fun.) Susan's rich and comfortable vocals,
along with her quick wit resulted in CD purchases by the chyx.
Gowan's Wardrobe: Stylish purplish windbreaker coordinated with Suzy's
We split forces and Lisa, Karin, Holly and Barbara lined up for autographs
and photos (unfortunately two of the cameras may have been toast). Fran's
authority obeying Canadianism acted up and she went ahead to hold the
lawn space in front of the Main Stage that Barbara and Holly had staked
out. We squeezed the five of us onto two blankets and it was a very
long and chilly wait for the Gowan set. Hey! Even the locals were complaining
through chattery teeth.
the change over between each act the audience was entertained for a
song or two by one of the other acts appearing at the festival and this
is where we got our first taste of Joel Morelli. (20 year old Joel's
youthful intensity, vulnerability and just plain sweetness throughout
the weekend resulted in three of this native Owen Soundian's CDs heading
home to California and maybe one or two going to Minnesota as well.
Main Stage set was the first opportunity any of us had had to see Gowan
do a solo show and we were psyched. In 40 minutes we were treated to
these songs: Like a Rolling Stone All the Lover's In the World King
Chanticleer Rag Out of a Deeper Hunger There in a Minute Lost Brotherhood
When There's Time for Love Strange Animal (Cartman version) - by request
Moonlight Desire Criminal Mind
main stage performance included the spinning keyboard. Audience response
indicated that Lawrence was clearly one of the weekend's favorites.
The hair remains two-toned as does the chin caterpillar which seems
to have been getting some good meals lately and has added perhaps as
much as a ½ inch to its length. Wardrobe: All black. The jean jacket
came off a very short distance into "There in a Minute" a la the video.
Things were definitely heating up. This was what we had come for, Gowan
doing Gowan, but it only got better the next day.
getting to the Acoustic stage early on Sunday (but not as early as Barbara
and Holly who saved us again by staking us some space right up front)
we were able to catch more of Joel Morelli as well as Clay Tyson (son
of Ian and Sylvia of Great Speckled Bird fame) and a new band out of
Toronto called Staggered Crossing. Tyson brought an energetic and surprisingly
light touch to some topics he obviously felt deeply about. More CDs
were sold, and it wasn't just because the man has a great head of hair.
(Ladies, you HAVE been tipped-off, don't say we didn't warn you. Staggered
Crossing (kind of a cross between Hootie and the Blowfish and Counting
Crows) were moody but melodic and we might have made a purchase if CDs
had been available (they come out next month).
we got Up Close and Personal with Lawrence Gowan. Yes, we were close
and he was personal. Lawrence gave us a 45 minute tour through his career
to date with the assistance of Bob Roper (who in the best manager fashion,
kept the tale moving as if it were a meet-and-greet line). We heard
stories and song snippets, gleaned new information and laughed along
with Gowan's well known humor and talent for impressions (including
his former producer, Joe Cocker and, our favorite, his very Scottish
mother). We are actually jealous of ourselves for getting this, as advertised,
up close and personal peek at Lawrence Gowan. Too soon, the participants
for the next Acoustic stage workshop appeared and we were off like clowns
out of a cannon, headed to the Down by The Bay stage for the next event.
next workshop was hosted by Valdy, an ancient Canadian folk singer who
Fran remembers from his big 1972 hit "Play Me a Rock and Roll Song",
the title of which was borrowed for this workshop. Also performing were
Trout Fishing in America, a Mutt&Jeff duo consisting of Keith Grimwood
on bass/vocals and 6'9" Ezra Idlet on guitar/vocals. We think we need
a whole other post just to describe this set.
topic was good old fashioned Rock'n'Roll songs and we are kicking ourselves
for not writing down the set. Some of the songs played include "Margaritaville",
"Brown-Eyed Girl", "Lady Madonna", and "Good Golly Miss Molly". Fran
was teary-eyed when she found that even though she hadn't heard the
song in 25 years, she remembered nearly every word of "Play Me a Rock
and Roll Song".
pocket of grass we scored was to the side of the stage, but Lisa and
Karin landed on a picnic table bench that was almost an extension of
Gowan's piano bench if there had been one. When Lawrence came on he
joked "Couldn't you get any closer", but then took advantage of our
proximity by asking Karin to hold onto his sunglasses. However, when
it came time to take off his leather jacket, Roper leapt up secure it.
We were sitting immediately behind Gowan (as close as 2 feet of grass
and 2 feet of stage to the stool) and were able to watch his keyboard
work throughout the set. The man plays keys the way most of us breath.
Fran was so fascinated she spent half the set under the stool in a futile
effort to get a photo of Lawrence's right hand work (others may tell
you different, but that's what she swears she was doing down there).
really started to cook after the performers restarted "My Baby Wrote
Me a Letter". As this was a casual workshop there had been some confusion
when the song was called, with half playing the BoxTops version and
half playing Joe Cocker's version. Cocker won out, and Lawrence's rendition
on both keys and vocals justified every good word that has ever been
said about the man's music. All the performers made the tune totally
rock, but Grimwood was so impressed that he passed on his turn at lead
vocals and insisted that Gowan take the next song too. This led to one
of the weekend's funniest moments.
Lawrence suggested that he and Ezra switch instruments, and he crossed
the stage to strap on a guitar and step up to Ezra's mic. Except the
mic was set for Ezra's 6'9" height and towered a full 4 inches above
the top of Gowan's head. He did a double take when he realized that
he was literally standing underneath it with lots of clearance and everyone
had a great laugh. Not even Lemmy from Motorhead could have made the
The great rock and roll and the laughter had the audience feeling good
about life, and we thought things couldn't get any better, but Gowan
proved us wrong. The song next song he picked was Roy Orbison's "Pretty
Woman". This song has been much covered, but it may never have been
done better. We learned amazing new things about Gowan's vocal capability
and he brought the audience to their feet. Fran says that if she were
given just one minute to choose a dream and stay there in it, it would
be a moment like this.
the set Lawrence again made himself available in the autograph tent
and was his familiar charming self. He was patient enough to let us
re-take the photos we fear we have lost in the toasted cameras and spoke
of how much he enjoyed doing the Summerfolk Festival.
heard that Gowan might do one more song on the Main Stage Sunday night
so we were happy to go and watch our new favorites Joel, Susan and Jeff
Lang at that evening's performance. Australian Jeff Lang won over Barbara
and Fran with his self effacing style and the amazing sounds he made
with, what might have been, a cross-bred lap steel guitar (in other
words, we have no idea what that was he was playing, but it sounded
great, and we bought CDs. His guitar playing reminded Fran a little
of Neil Young)
A couple of other groups that won us over this weekend were The Arrogant
Worms and Barachois. The Arrogant Worms had great harmonies and were
VERY VERY funny (heads up Barenaked Ladies fans) Barachois are kind
of hard to describe. Mix Acadian folk music and Lords of the Dance with
Second City TV, toss in fiddles, a sousaphone and a vegetable steamer
shaker, add audience participants in Co-op drum hats and put up Jim
Carey and Pee Wee Herman as front men and you still haven't begun to
get the picture. We laughed until our sides hurt.
Lawrence did not appear to do the set transition after Susan's set but
we could not complain. We had two days full of wonderful new revelations
about an artist we already admired. Our only regrets were that we didn't
think to tape any of it (arrggggggghhhhhhhh) and that we can't do it
all again tomorrow. The good news is Lisa took 9 rolls of photos, of
mostly Gowan, so we will have those souveniers of our weekend trip.
you to Bob Roper for recommending that Gowan make room for the Owen
Sound Summerfolk Festival in his schedule and thank you to Lawrence
for taking the advice and for giving us a weekend we will forever cherish.