BarrieFolk is absolutely thrilled to host June award winner David Francey on Friday, March 10 at the MacLaren Art Centre.read more
Have you ever had a question for a folk musician but were afraid to ask? Of course not. Folk musicians are the most approachable and friendly people on the planet.
We posed a few questions to Katherine Wheatley and Wendell Ferguson and they provided their answers. Please enjoy!
- What’s you biggest regret? My biggest musical regret is that I didn’t do a decade of cover gigs when I first got into this business. The day I got a guitar was the day I started writing songs and for the first 20 years in the music business, I pretty well performed only my songs (a sprinkle of jazz standards). You learn a ton by performing other people’s songs (like the Beatles did in Germany). It’s only in the last few years that I’ve been doing a gig in Antarctica and the Arctic – Zodiac driver by day, pub musician by night. It’s all cover songs. And I love it.
- What song evokes the strongest memory for you? Moon River. I adore the melody and the lyrics are perfection…especially the huckleberry friend line. In terms of memories – I used to believe it was written about the Moon River south of Parry Sound. My friends and I were puzzled by the line “Wider than a mile,” so as we waltzed around the living room, we’d sing “wider than an inch. You can cross it in a cinch.” Then we’d fall on the couches laughing, thinking we were so darn funny. I hadn’t met Wendell yet.
- What has love taught you? Boy – that’s a toughie. One of the prices of deep love is deep pain when there’s loss. When I experienced deep loss, I became a much more compassionate person towards those who have lost love or who may not have had tons of love in their lives. So I’d say –the greatest lesson love has taught me has been compassion. Which I suppose is like saying the greatest lesson love has taught me is love itself.
- If you could trade places with anyone for a month, who would that be and why? It would be a lot of fun to check out what it felt like to be Bobby Orr in the 70/71 season. Or maybe earlier, when he grew up playing hockey on the Bay when he didn’t have to wear a helmet and he was outside – wind through his hair, skating fast fast fast fast and so perfectly. (I grew up in the same town a decade later. Never played hockey – no girl’s hockey back then, but I loved skating outdoors after school and on Saturday mornings.)
- If you had no fear, what would you do? Scuba dive.
- What advice would you give to a young songwriter? One of my first shows was opening for Ian Tyson. He watched my opening set and when I got off the stage, he said to me, “LEARN YOUR ROOTS.” That was 20 years ago. So here is my advice: Listen to the classics. Listen to a bunch of genres. Learn a lot of songs. That doesn’t mean hold off on writing. Au contraire . . . make writing a habit. The more you write, the better chance you’ll have of writing a great song.
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you? Without out a doubt, the most meaningful compliment I’ve ever received was from an artist in South River, Ontario. Her name is Jane Bonnell and she’s a generation ahead of me. After a show one night, she took both my hands and said, “You are what the women of my generation worked so hard for.” I often think of that compliment when I need to find motivation to keep going in this business. I feel the same way about some of the fearless young women coming up in the music business today.
- What song do you wish you had written? Silent Night. I’m not religious, but boy, do I love the melody of that song.
- On your most challenging day, the thing that gets you out of bed is . . . A pot of coffee and a good book. The best part about being a musician is that I get to have my mornings. They start with two big cups of very good, carefully brewed coffee and a few chapters of whatever book I’m reading.
- Who takes longer to get ready: you or Wendell? Seriously? Wendell of course. He’s got all that thick silver hair to comb down. And it takes a lot of time and careful maneuvering to squeeze himself into those jeans. And his make-up takes skill and many, many layers.
Wendell Ferguson questions
- You’re a pretty funny guy. What makes you laugh? Funny you should ask. You know humour is a funny thing, well at least it should be. I really enjoy paradoxical humour, and wordplay. I’m a punishing punster so my brain seems to think in puns.
- What has been your most defining moment? Could you define that? Musically, I guess the first time I won the Canadian Country Music Association guitarist of the year award back in ‘95. It sort of put me on a path to refining and creating my particular style. Personally, it would be the moment I met my wife. We clicked instantly and have been together for 31 years now.
- So, what’s your big issue with Christmas? Oh there are many. The fact that it starts the day Halloween ends and builds up right until the day; and then the second it’s over, the radio acts as if it didn’t exist. They should ramp up and ramp down more gently. I still like to hear Christmas songs on December 27 and into early January. I also don’t like the crass commercialism of it. Nowadays I tend to do most of my shopping at the LCBO. Not sure what that says about me or my friends.
- Is there a song you can’t play on guitar or one that challenges you? They all challenge me. Honestly, I’m usually working on about 10 pieces at a time. Writing one, learning one, remembering one, etc. I try and expose myself to many other players and their styles. See what they’re doing and trying to do it. I usually can’t, so I come up with my own version of it. You constantly have to expand your knowledge and grow your talent. To play the same old stuff breeds stagnation.
- If you could trade places with anyone for a month, who would that be and why? I’ve never thought about changing with anyone, but perhaps it would be fun to be a Beatle back in the 60s for just for a day . . . probably George . . . just to breath that rarified air.
- If your life was a television show, your theme song would be . . . Mine would be a sitcom with me as a two-bit talent trying to make it in this crazy business and nothing would ever work out. It would be called, ‘Livin’ The Dream’ and the theme song would be ‘Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out.’ It’s practically a reality show now.
- Who are some of your musical heroes? There are so many in every genre of music. Chet, Merle, Lenny and Jerry for fingerstyle. Christopher Parkening, Julian Bream and Segovia for classical, and Tarrega and Sor for their composing ability. Jeff Beck, Roy Buchanan, Steve Morse, Richie Blackmore, John Jorgenson for rock. Jerry Donahue, Redd Volkaert, Kenny Vaughan, Albert Lee, James Burton, Vince Gill, Brent Mason, Steve Piticco, Paul Chapman and Danny Gatton for country chicken-pickin’. Carl Perkins, Scotty Moore, Cliff Gallup and Brian Setzer for rockabilly, and of course talented multi-genre monsters like Tommy Emmanuel and JP Cormier. There are a million I’m missing.
- What do you draw your energy from? From my audiences. If I give myself some challenges in every show and I can get in the swing of the moment while I’m playing and entertaining, then the audience and I are in for a treat. An audience can’t have a good time unless the performer is having a good time.
- What’s one thing about you people would be surprised by? I love art in all its forms. Music, obviously, paintings, drawings, sculpture, illustration, comic books, literature, poetry, plays, stage productions, musicals – all of it. I’ve never regretted spending one cent on anything artistic. On the other hand I’m a miser when it comes to auto repairs, plumbers, phone bills and the crap you need to get through life.
- Who takes longer to get ready: you or Katherine? Is that even a real question? Last time we played BarrieFolk we had to stop and get her a hotel room, then go to Shoppers Drug Mart so she could buy some make-up. Then between loading into the venue and going on, she lost the make-up. She also lost her purse and her coat. I generally put on nicer shoes, a jacket and check my teeth (to see that they’re in) and I’m ready to go. It’s no contest, Katherine takes wayyyyy longer.
The Barrie Folk Society was formed in response to the wants and needs of the local folk music community in and around the Barrie area.
The main goal of the Barrie Folk Society is to bring Folk music to the masses through a not-for-profit organization that cares about the growth and nurturing of the folk music movement.
Countdown to David Francey!