ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Famed Newfoundland mariner Capt. Robert Bartlett will be honoured in 2009 with a yearlong provincewide celebration that includes arts programs and travelling exhibitions.
Bartlett, who died in 1946, explored the Arctic throughout the first half of the 20th century.
Next year is the centenary of the famous 1909 Peary polar expedition in which Bartlett played "an essential role," said former Lt.-Gov. Ed Roberts, who chairs the steering committee for the celebration organized by the Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Bartlett captained American explorer Robert Peary's ship, the Roosevelt, and commanded the sledge party to within 240 kilometres of the North Pole.
"In an age when Arctic exploration was as novel and pioneering as space travel is today, it was a man from Newfoundland and Labrador who was leading expeditions," said Roberts.
The works of three Newfoundland and Labrador filmmakers have been recognized by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and are among its 2008 official selections.
Sherry White, Jordan Canning and Justin Simms were ecstatic to learn the films they submitted to the festival were chosen by the selection jury, which announced the Canadian programming at a Tuesday news conference in Toronto.
Simms' debut feature-length film, "Down to the Dirt," an adaptation of Newfoundland author Joel Thomas Hynes' novel of the same title, will be screened as part of the festival's Canada First! series, which focuses on the work of first-time directors as well as those presenting a movie at the festival for the first time.
Hynes stars in the film alongside an all-star cast, including Newfoundlanders Bob Joy, Mary Lewis, Jody Richardson and White (who also shares a co-writing credit for the screenplay). The movie also features the former lead singer of Canadian rock band the Headstones, Hugh Dillon.
When Noel and Phil Dinn played what would be their very first Figgy Duff gig at an exhibition opening for Gerry Squires at Memorial University’s gallery, they were so green they had yet to choose an official band name. Phil Dinn can’t recall exactly who it was, but a faceless member of the audience that mid-1970s night can claim rights to the now legendary title.
“That was our first concert, it was myself and Noel and this keyboard player, Wayne Smith, and the three of us did this little thing in the corner — it was very low budget,” he laughs over the phone from Halifax.
“Somebody named us Figgy Duff, because of the pudding, because we looked so peculiar in this big gallery and Gerry’s paintings are like mountains, some of them, and some are little tiny things, and here we were against his colours, his ferns, his lighthouses, and somebody named us Figgy Duff. So there you go, it stuck.”
Today Figgy Duff is synonymous with Newfoundland folk-rock royalty. At that time, the young, trailblazing members of the band — along with other local cultural icons like Sandy Morris and Neil Murray — were on a mission to unearth the hidden cache of traditional tunes belonging to the inhabitants of the province’s outports and inject them with the energy of electric guitars.
The band combed the island with tape recorders and Ontario folklorist Kenneth Peacock’s Songs of the Newfoundland Outports in hand. They knocked on the doors of the people listed in the National Museum of Canada’s compilation of traditional Newfoundland folk music.
Approaching the older generation of Newfoundland musicians — people like Emile Benoit, Rufus Guinchard and Minnie White, who performed publicly for the first time in their 60s — with instruments rather than academic notepads yielded different results.
“You could see as you go through (Peacock’s) translations, he just didn’t get what the people were saying … we’d go in and play and break the tension that way, by creating the joyful situation, where the university student was much more reserved, not so much a musician, but somebody looking for a degree in folklore. We’d come in and make the party and all the goodies would flow from that.
”The newest “goodie” comes in the form of Figgy Duff Live: Silver Reunion, the eagerly anticipated recording of the band’s 25th anniversary concert at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s in 1999. The album will be officially launched at the Bella Vista nightclub Aug. 7 (The Ducats will open), followed by a performance at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in Bannerman Park Aug. 10. The band will then travel to the province’s west coast, where artists such as Ron Hynes, Mark Bragg, Anita Best and Des Walsh will perform a tribute show at the Writers at Woody Point festival Aug. 12 and 13. A late night gig and jam will close out the festivities at the Woody Point Legion.
When asked about coming back with a bang, singer Pamela Morgan says play dates began to develop as soon as the final master recording was completed in Oxfordshire, England. Bookings “snowballed” from there, she says, particularly with the unanimous agreement from all band members to get back together to mark the occasion.
To Dublin With Love (Sunday, Bravo!, 8 p.m.) is a documentary about the posse from the March Hare going to Ireland last year. The March Hare is an arts institution in Newfoundland, a travelling assortment of poets, writers and musicians who go from place to place to lighten the burden of the gloom in the grim March days. It being the 20th anniversary last year, the Hare sent a bunch of its stalwart artists to Ireland.
The doc, made by Barbara Doran, is more about the Hare (started by the late poet Al Pittman, who receives much praise) than it is about Ireland. There are very pretty, touristy scenes of Dublin and the Irish landscape. And there is commentary from Des Walsh, Lisa Moore, Michael Crummey and others, but little sense of how the Irish might connect with Newfoundland artists. I can tell you a bit about that. I suggested to my mom and dad that they check out the March Hare in Dublin and they did. Crummey told them how to pronounce "Newfoundland" as Newfoundlanders do, and my father educated Crummey on how to recognize a good pint of Guinness and a poor one. Yes, they connected.
It started in the new year. We drove to Little Rapids and I shovelled snow off the pond, hungover, and just lay there next to the aluminum shovel and watched her white leather skates flash in the sunlight. This was after my brother parked his truck on blocks, broke up with her and lit out from Newfoundland for Alberta.
In spring I drove Donna down to Bottle Cove and tested the pans of ice, jumping from floe to floe - copying she called it. In summer we kayaked around Shelbert Island in the Humber River without life jackets and had bonfires on the beach at Benoit's Cove and shone the headlights of my father's Toyota on the shore when the capelin rolled in at 2 in the morning.
An Evening with Uncle Val (presented by Andy Jones Productions for one night only! July 18 at 8pm)
Andy Jones, as Uncle Val, is a hilariously indignant 70-year old retired fisherman, displaced from his outport home. The year is 1987, and Uncle Val is now trapped in the "big city" of St. John's. Homesick, Val struggles to figure out what life has left to offer him. Is there anything of use for a senior citizen in the suburbs to do? Is there any mystery or magic left for him to discover? Will his grandchildren survive an afternoon of his babysitting?
Written by Andy Jones and Michael Jones Sr. Performed by Andy Jones. Directed by Lois Brown.
The story of Leonidas Hubbard's death was told by Dillon Wallace in Lure of the Labrador Wild. The unabridged audio book edition of Lure of the Labrador Wild, narrated by Jody Richardson is available from Rattling Books.
It’s the start of a summer day and the sun is splintering through the glassed-in atrium of The Fairmont Newfoundland in St. John’s. Despite the early hour, actor Andy Jones and musician Mark Bragg have no problem launching into an impromptu rendition of their music-and-monologue Sound Symposium piece — “Songalogues” — for an Independent photographer.
While Bragg fills the air with his trademark off-kilter piano music, Jones leans over the gleaming top, recounting the tale of Reverend Freep’s Christmas Message in rapid-fire detail.
“‘You give me the money!’ I shouted. ’Tis Christmastime and it’s time for you to pay back. You haven’t got any money?’ I laughed,” Jones bites off, eyebrows knitted severely.
Later, after the photograph has been tended to, Bragg outlines the back story of Reverend Freep and how the so-called Christian brother verbally assails a homeless bum who begs for change. As collaborators for the 14th Sound Symposium — the biennial summertime musical multi-disciplinary extravaganza — it has been the multi-instrumentalist’s challenge to put Jones’ character to music.
As it turns out, the Reverend provided fertile creative fodder.
“I wrote the song Stars Fall for that monologue,” says Bragg. “With Andy’s ideas and imagination, there were terrific characters, and for the song I was able to take images from the events, rhyme them up and let ’er loose.”
For their July 5 performance date at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s, Bragg and Jones will perform two songalogues, each comprised of a monologue and song.
In addition to Reverend Freep, a character based on local ministers featured on CJON television’s Thought of the Day, Jones has written a monologue in response to Bragg’s song, For Rose.
While hesitant to reveal too much before opening night, Bragg does say there are some “sordid” events that transpire throughout the song.
A number of people have mistaken the birds in our Cartoon Caption Contest as penquins. They are in fact Razorbills, the bird on which the Rattling Books logo above is based. Their latin name is Alca torda. Rattling Books is the audio publishing imprint of Alca Productions Inc.
TRAMORE PRODUCTIONS INC. is a community-based, non-profit arts organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the unique cultural legacy of the Cape Shore and Placentia Bay area of Newfoundland. For eight seasons our distinctive programming has successfully drawn audiences from the region, the province, and around the world, with each year proving more prosperous than the last.
2008 Summer Season:
July 5th. Seniors Meet N' Greet/Dance" 9:00-12:00 at the Cuslett Art Center Admission is FREE (BYOB)
July 26th. 'Old Time' ballad singing, storytelling concert and dance. 8:00 P.M. Music by "Route 100"
August 15th. , 16th., 22nd, 23rd.,29th. & 30th. First View of the Sea- written and directed by Agnes Walsh. Featuring actors-Connie Newhook, Mildred Dohey and Paul Rowe. 8:00 P.M.
Agnes Walsh is the founder and artistic director of Tramore Productions Inc. Born in Placentia, she has worked in professional theatre for over twenty-five years. Her writing has won numerous awards and has taken her on tour across Canada, the United States, Ireland and Portugal. She founded the Tramore Theatre Troupe on the Cape Shore of Placentia Bay, as well as the Bere Island Theatre Troupe in West Cork, Ireland. An award-winning poet and fiction writer, as well as playwright, Ms. Walsh is committed to working in rural Newfoundland and rural Ireland.