T o u c h s t o n e

~ t h o u g h t s

It's Amazing...
I'm continually appreciating the talent of singer/songwriters and folk musicians, especially those in their 20's and 30's -- even more so, the depth of talent we enjoy on Canada's right coast. My current faves are Katie Baggs and The Once from Newfoundland.

I Remember Them...
Some I knew. Some I met briefly. Some I never saw live but I liked their music...
Rita MacNeil Bert Jansch Woody Guthrie
Stompin' Tom Connors John Ferguson
Raylene Rankin Stan Rogers John Morris Rankin
Ed McCurdy Jim Pittman Emile Benoit Noel Dinn
Dr. Helen Creighton Buddy Holly Lonnie Donegan
Hoyt Axton Dave Van Ronk Willie P. Bennett
Davy Graham John Martyn Odetta
, etc.

More personally...
Faye Armsworthy
A big-hearted woman with keen insight and a profound love of folk music. Singer with the shape-note 'Elastic Millenium Choir', she previously was an active member of Halifax's Harbour Folk Society and booked acts for the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival for a year or two.

Michael Ardenne
One of Nova Scotia's biggest boosters of home-grown music talent and a successful businessman. I give thanks for his stories, humour, insight and music-business savvy — who kept me entertained during Monday morning drives from Seabright to Halifax as he went to work. All I had to do was ask one question as we were leaving, and he wouldn't let me get another word in for the whole trip. Truth is, I was too busy listening.
>A Tribute (scroll and click Oct 2003)
>Ardenne Resource Centre

Bob Switzer
Bob SwitzerHe was cantankerous, but he knew a lot about music. Taz Records (the store) and Bob (the owner) have been local legends — both unique.

I was the last person in the media to interview him. He brought in some 'acoustic' folk albums to play, and we talked about music and had a good time. When asked, he said yes, he'd come back to do another session (on the blues)... but the black dog got him first. Taz Records is now on Gottingen St.
>Taz Records   >Dedication Site

Bob Smith
Bob SmithI never knew what he had done for a living, but he had a dog with him, and was travelling to meet whoever and whatever came his way. >photo's

As I left the health food store on Quinpool Road, I noticed an estate wagon parked by the door. A middle-aged man was in the front having a snack, and on the seat beside him was a gentle-looking dog. Their belongings were all around them — like they were on a big trip together. I bent down and started talking through the glass, probably because anyone who gives the passenger seat up to his dog and makes it comfortable, is a friend of mine. He lowered the window, we talked and I fussed the dog whose name was Burt. It was true, they were on a big trip.

Bob came on Touchstone that Saturday and told his story about quitting his job in New Jersey and how he'd crossed into New York City just before the bridges were closed on 911. He drove up into Canada, had gone to Cape Breton and was in Halifax for a few days, before going right across the continent, picking up stories and meeting people on the way.

He had a camera and a little tape recorder and whenever he came back East, he wanted to write a book about where he'd been and who he'd met. He said his dog, Burt, wanted to write a book about his experiences too, which he would ghost-write. I drove him out to Seabright in his own car and he stood by the ocean...and then he was gone.

I received a few e-mails as he went west and I felt connected to this man in a close way. Then one day I received a message fom his son. He told me his dad had died while travelling, that he was going through his e-mails, giving the news to those he'd corresponded with. Now the books will never be written.

The cassette copy of our conversation (that I gave him), is hopefully with his family so they can hear his voice. They must be wondering what can be done with all the thousands of digital pictures of nameless folks, all of them surely with their own memories of meeting a very generous loving man — who had wined and dined Amelia Curran and her band, me and some others in a back room at the Economy Shoe Shop at his expense — just because he'd enjoyed meeting all of us.

I'll never forget him. Maybe it's because when I've travelled in the past, I know how when you meet certain people and the vibe is great, that you want to treasure it somehow, you want to enjoy it just a bit longer, because you know the next morning you'll be over the horizon and out of sight.

It's poignant and somehow very special that folks can meet and share, because tomorrow really is a long time. But there's something else too...

Bob's son told me that he'd just found out that when his Dad and Burt (his dog) left New Jersey, that he knew he was going to die — but he didn't tell anyone, not even his family.

I like TV, but I pay special homage to the simple enjoyment of listening to the radio, whether its music, comedy, drama or engaging conversation -- and I pay special homage to those who were curious, funny, intelligent, or just plain entertaining.

I remember these people with genuine sentiment and fondness. My life has been enriched by them.

Peter Gzowski (CBC Radio - Morningside)
Max Ferguson (CBC Radio)
Allan McFee (CBC Radio)
Alistair Cooke (BBC Radio - Letter from America, and Masterpiece Theatre on PBS TV)
Lister Sinclair (CBC Radio - Ideas)
Peter Cook & Dudley Moore (BBC TV)
Spike Milligan (BBC Radio - Goon Show)
Peter Sellers (BBC Radio - Goon Show & films)
Uncle Mac (BBC Radio - Children's Favourites)

...and all the BBC radio comedy shows I heard in the '60's, as I did my homework on Sundays. Happily, many of these comedy shows can still be heard (for free) on BBC Radio 7.

Brian Johnston
Brian has not died -- he's very much alive and lives in Mississauga, Ontari-ario. His mention here is because we have been friends since we were 13.

Brian's family had moved to my town and we were in the same class at school. In our late teens, we youth-hostelled, walked through disused railway tunnels and looked for a hidden Roman road under a field.

We cycled through the night on the way to Canterbury and pedalled all the way round Ireland. On a Cape Clear Island beach around the fire, it seemed as though every skin colour and language was beside us.

We impersonated Dylan, the Goons and Pete and Dud -- cracking up so much it hurt. We saw Dylan at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and looked forward to every new record in a way that I've never felt for any other performer.

We came to Canada together, after we both turned 21. In Toronto we saw Led Zeppelin at the O'Keefe Centre, The Cream and the Band at Massey Hall — the Band's first return to Yonge Street since making it with Dylan and Big Pink.

There was Joni Mitchell, Tom Rush, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee at the Riverboat and Penny Farthing coffee houses on Yorkville Ave.

My hormones kicked in too, and it seemed life couldn't be better than this...