Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Holidays!

A little musical slideshow Christmas card for our friends!

Click here for a Christmas slideshow from Tony and Judy.

Turn volume on if you dare!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy Autumn

Autumn --
my favourite time of year --
a time, at once, of change and timelessness --
a time of reflection and reminiscence...

I have created this musical slide show of Autumnal photos I have taken, set to my song,'Autumn's Child' (best viewed full-screen @ 1024X768 resolution):

Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Boston Folk Festival '06

Went to the Boston Folk Festival this weekend at UMass Boston. The campus is a lovely venue, situated on a paeninsula off Boston Harbour. The weather was perfect. Sadly, we were not allowed to take photos nor (obviously) use any recording devices. I did get a hat and a duckie, though.

We arrived just in time to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of his demise with the Phil Ochs Tribute, hosted by Sonny Ochs, and featuring Kim and Reggie Harris, Greg Greenway, and emma's revolution. They all together started the set off with 'Power and Glory'. I wept. The sound and the memories reached deep into my soul.

My eyes misted up again when Greg Greenway performed a haunting rendition of 'No More Songs'.

I pulled myself together enough to lend my voice to everyone else's on the finale, 'When I'm Gone', a song that, for me says it all:

"And I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone
And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone
Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here."

Next we were treated to the sweet voice of Tish Hinojosa singing her songs of the West and her multi-cultural heritage.

Next came Richie Havens, another moving and spiritual experience, as he interwove tales of his Greenwich village days with stirring renditions of topical songs of yesterday and today, all relevant to our current sociopolitical experience.

His performance of 'Lives in the Balance':

"There are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
There is blood on the wire"

was nothing short of electrifying.

A beautifully hypnotic rendition of Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock' led into a climactic performance of 'Freedom/Motherless Child' which left us shaken AND stirred. Pass the hanky please.

Havens left us with a message of love -- "Do for each other..." which seemed to become the theme of this folk festival.

Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul came on next to close the evening, and got everybody dancing and singing with their exuberantly and impeccably played blend of Celtic, Jazz, and show tunes. We were tired puppies as we headed home.

The next day, we arrived too late to catch Tony Bird, a performer I had hoped to see.

We staked out our spot in the main field and enjoyed the traditional and original songs dance tunes of the Cottars,a fine group of young musicians from Cape Breton.

Next came the Kennedys. Pete and Maura Kennedy regaled us with their captivating and spiritual original songs, including 'Half a Million Miles', a delightful song about their falling in love and marrying at Buddy Holly's grave.
In keeping with the aforementioned unofficial, yet apparent theme of the festival Pete and Maura taught us to sing in Sanskrit and Japanese:

"Namistai, (the divine spark in me recognises the divine spark in you,)
Domo Arigato, (thank you.)

Next we moved to the Coffehouse Stage to hear Pierce Pettis perform his very moving original songs.

We returned to our stakeout in the main field to hear Jesse Winchester, another favourite of mine. Jesse's laid back demeanor gave the impression, even though we were several thousand strong, sitting in a six or seven acre field, that we were invited for a little chat in his living room. The chat was filled with Jesse's beautiful voice, untarnished by time, singing some of the most accessible melodies ever written, delivering lovely lyrics that touched us all deep inside.

The spiritual theme of the festival continued as Jesse finished by leading us all in a rousing a cappella gospel song.

Which leads us to the headliner for the festival -- Bruce Cockburn. Bruce is not only a brilliant lyricist, but also a consummate musician. Accompanied by only a drummer and a keyboardist who doubled on harmony vocals, Bruce delivered an impeccable set that was at once danceable and enjoyable, and yet spiritually profound. Like the songs of Phil Ochs, Bruce's songs, while topical, are timeless.

Bruce paints a bleak picture of Baghdad today in 'This Is Baghdad':

"Carbombed and carjacked and kidnapped and shot
How do you like it, this freedom we brought"

Bruce dipped into his new album to end his set with a sing-along song called 'Mystery'. One of my favourite verses from this song is:

"Infinity always gives me vertigo
Infinity always gives me vertigo
And fills me up with grace"

The last verse reiterates the theme of the festival:

"So all you stumblers who believe love rules
Believe love rules
Believe love rules
Come all you stumblers who believe love rules
Stand up and let it shine
Stand up and let it shine"

We all stood shining and applauding and brought him back for an encore -- 'If I Had a Rocket Launcher'. We remained standing and dancing through this song. Amazing how relevant the lyrics are today, some twenty years later!

We headed back to the car to the driving beat of 'Night Train', a perfect finish to a perfect weekend.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My New Instruments

Hi, Folks,

A couple of months ago I returned from France with a small inheritance. I used most of it to lighten my debt load, and squandered the rest on musical instruments and such. I bought a Roland MP 60 piano, an Edirol UA 4-FX Recording interface, (which I still can't get to work with my computer,) and these two folk instruments: an Ome Juniper openback banjo, and a Walnut Creek mountain dulcimer:

Click for Musical Slideshow

I took a little ride to Bar Harbor, Maine, to try out the Walnut Creek dulcimers at:

Song of the Sea - Folk Instruments and More

The folks there are very nice, and have a great array of folk instruments at reasonable prices.

I bought my Ome banjo online at:


John there is also very nice. Anybody who sells banjos and unicycles can't be all bad.

Here are a couple of tunes I laid down quickly to give everyone a chance to hear these wonderful instruments, (albeit clumsily played):

The Cruel War / How Can I Keep from Singing

Play Hi-Bitrate
Play Lo-Bitrate

Shady Grove / Pretty Polly

Play Hi-Bitrate
Play Lo-Bitrate

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Road Rage Handbook: Turnsignals

Q. Why doesn't anybody use their turnsignals anymore?

A. Because using your turnsignals gives your opponent the advantage.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

a day late and a dollar short

Richard, our ezFolk guru, some time ago started a patriotic song project on the ezFolk forums to coincide with the approach of the Fourth of July. My contribution is late, as usual.

I knew that I wanted to do something with Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land.

I also knew this:

"The anthem of unity and beauty which so many children learned in school was actually written in response to the equally reverenced "God Bless America". ... Woody was infuriated with the lack of realism and the message of complacency in this song which infiltrated the nation's air waves. In response, he wrote "God Blessed America For Me" which later became "This Land Is Your Land"."

So I endeavoured to create a sort of a medley:

It took me awhile to put it together and teach it to myself. I still can't play it all the way through without a noticeable mistake.

It's a day late; it's a dollar short; it's crude, but here it is:

This Land Is Your Land / God Bless America

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."
______________________Thomas Jefferson

Friday, May 12, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Song to Celebrate the First Day of Spring

Nineteenth Time

words and music by Tony Provencher

Ah, Time...
The carousel on which we ride,
The wheel of chance that rules our lives...
'Round and 'round she goes,
Where she stops, nobody knows,
And even after we are gone
The carousel will still roll on.

And when my painted pony loped
Toward the green season of hope
For the nineteenth time for me
I saw you riding next to me.

Yes, Time was turning long before,
And so she will forever more,
days, and weeks, and months, and years,
Measuring our smiles and tears.

Ah, Time...
The carousel on which we ride,
The wheel of chance that rules our lives...
'Round and 'round she goes,
Where she stops, nobody knows,
And even after we are gone
The carousel will still roll on.

And, one day, in a magic dream,
We left our ponies for the green.
We left them going 'round and 'round
To walk the moist and grassy ground.

And, hand in hand, 'neath shady pines,
We followed in the Steps of Time,
Up a hill, and to the top,
And 'neath the tallest tree they stopped.

And, here, all alone, at the top of the hill,
You and I, we discovered where Time had stood still.
And here, where our lives were unbound,
And the world lay beneath us, unmeasured,
I kissed you... forever.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Twenty Years Ago: January 28, 1986

(Christa's Song)
in memory of the Challenger Seven
My mind was filled with wonder at the beauty of the sight
As the pure white cloud exploded in a sky of azure blue,
And seven shooting stars sailed into the silent sea.
Then I awoke and realised that one of them was you.
Reach for the stars, you told us, reach for the stars.
Teach us how to soar and to be greater than we are.
I stood alone for many years, rooted to this place,
Planning plans and dreaming dreams that never ever flew.
You stole my hopes and plans and dreams and fantasies away,
And bravely soared away with them into the mystic blue.
Reach for the stars, you told us, reach for the stars.
Teach us how to soar and to be greater than we are.
And now, when I go out beneath the stellar canopy,
I see my hopes and plans and dreams blazing in the sky.
And I will always think of you, and how we all held our breath,
As we watched you go Nova in the winking of an eye.
Reach for the stars, you told us, reach for the stars.
Teach us how to soar and to be greater than we are.
And my mind was filled with wonder at the beauty of the sight
As the pure white cloud exploded in a sky of azure blue,
And seven shooting stars sailed into the silent sea.
Then I awoke and realised that one of them was you.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Toy Boy by John Lennon - Search Is Over!

My long search for an "official" copy of John Lennon's poem, The Toy Boy, has ended with the felicitous acquisition of a copy of the December 1965 issue of McCall's Magazine, in which it was first published. Many thanks to Sandra and Victoria at the 84 Charing Cross Bookstore.

You can view the pages in their original size by clicking the images.

Click here for magnified image of poem.

Below in text format is the poem in its entirety. Enjoy! 

“I don't believe a word of it,
I think it's too absurd of it,
It's just an Old Wives' Tale, I bet,
The silliest and softest yet.
Imagine, if it walked and that,
Surely it would crush us flat!
It's such a giant thing, you know.
All in all, it goes to show
How stupid can you be?"

This was Ralph the Elephant,
Talking loud and eloquent,
Bossing all the Bears and Cats, .
All the Dogs and Policemen's Hats,
Shouting down the Wise Old Shoe,
Who said that what he said was true.
"I don't care what you say to me.
I've been on his foot, you see?"
And he had.

"I've beard it squeaking," said the horse.
"Though I can't be sure! of course—
I could have sworn it climbed on me
When I was asleep, you see!"
"What nonsense!" Ralph replied at length.
"Do you think it has the strength?
I call this meeting to a close.
All in favor—raise their nose.
We'll take a vote!"

"Unfair, unfair!" the Toys all said.
"Shoes and Hats have got no head!"
"How can they vote, I ask you now?”
Said the 'Brown but friendly Cow.
"We'll wait until the break of day,
To prove the truth of what we say."
"Agreed, agreed!" said Sydney Shoe,
Who felt he was the one who knew.
He probably was.

The Clock struck eight, as clocks will do,
At eight o'clock—that's nothing new
Except that this clock never could,
Unless you asked it if it would.
The clock obligingly conferred,
"I will not chime unless I'm heard!"
He was an artiste, so you see—
He didn't like to chime for free!
You know how it is.

As it struck, the room went dead.
A little voice came from the bed.
"Is anybody there?" it spoke.
"Or is this someone's kind of joke?
I could have sworn I heard a voice-
Perhaps me grannie made the noise,
Her early-warning coughing fit
As she gets her ciggie lit—
But I doubt it.

"Im sure it came from over there,
From my toys, beneath the chair.
I can't believe it—but it's true
Somebody has moved my shoe!
The one I got from Uncle Tom,
Who said he only needed one.
And Elephant and Carol Cow,
They must have moved—I wonder how?
It's most peculiar!

“I think I ought to tell my dad.
I have no secrets," said the lad.
"And Mother, she's a right to see
All this nonconformity."
So he went and told them all,
And suddenly he felt so small,
Because they took him in the car
To see that awful Doctor Parr,
Who certified him.
There you are.


Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year

Happy "New" Year

What does "new", (often combined with "improved",) mean?
That the container is bigger, but the contents are fewer, and the price has gone up...

Simon Swanson