by John Timmins
The show wasn’t good, April 14, at Hugh’s Room in Toronto, it was great! Everyone in the room connected. Like a good song, this show, with focussed and dedicated world-class performers singing for a great cause — cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto — on a small stage in a 200-seat supper club, filled with compassionate and caring people, came together in all its constituent parts to weave magic.
The show was called “Singing for the Princess.” In the audience, front and centre, was Sister Margo’s friend and neighbour, Sandy, who received a portion of the $6,000 we raised – “how cool is that!” — to qualify for the two-day (June 12-13), 200k bike ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls called “Ride To Conquer Cancer.” The balance went directly to the Campbell Family Institute, one of the top five cancer research centres in the world.
My mom was in the audience who, not one to shrink from demanding and emotional tasks… having raised me, was a cancer nurse at the Princess long after I was all grow’d up, which makes me very proud of her. My beautiful daughter Chantal was at that table with tears like jewels in her eyes when I joined Brother Mike and Margo for a rendition of Misguided Angel. You see, the last time I had the privilege of performing that great song was in 1990 at the Guelph Hillside Festival and Chantal was in my arms.
Another reason for a great show was that the headliners, Mike and Margo, actually opened the show instead of closing it thereby raising the performance bar higher. Misguided Angel was the last of four songs, starting with Something More; Lungs (written by the late Townes Van Zandt) followed by This Street, That Man, This Life with Mike playing guitar throughout.
Seated at Hugh’s Room grand piano, Barbara Lynch was like a kid in a candy shop with eighty eight delicious keys to choose from! She opened by herself with a moving rendition of her own Missing You. John Wojewoda, a superb guitar player with a good ear and a big heart, or is that a big ear and a good heart, and I joined her for Go Easy On Him. Barbara and I followed up with Will You Ever Care For Me. All three songs are found on Barbara’s latest CD called In the Nickelodeon. A rehearsal recording of our fourth song, a traditional called In My Time of Dying, is available for sampling on this site and on the Junkies’ site. I wrote about it in my last column. We love playing it and it showed that night.
Katherine Wheatley followed. If you haven’t heard her CDs, or been to her concerts, it’s time for a change. No stranger to Hugh’s Room audiences, she played by herself with her guitar offering four songs from her latest CD called Landed starting with One True Kiss; Over the Moon; Signal Faded; 49 Years and Water Moves Me.
For a legendary shy guy, Andy Maize was yer incorrigibly charming host for the evening. Andy and Josh Finlayson, both of Skydiggers fame, pulled up the rear so to speak with four songs from their (2006) CD called Dark Hollow. This Finlayson/Maize project, produced by Brother Mike is a gorgeous thing, strongly recommend to anyone who loves quiet, folk acoustic harmonies and great song writing. With Josh playing guitar the Finlayson/Maize axis offered us Anything For You; I Will Give You Everything, Dark Hollow and California. All their own expect Dark Hollow, written by Bill Browning.
Margo, me and my guitar closed the show with two songs off a CD called Time the Revelator by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, in my estimation their best among several masterful CDs. We started with a slightly up tempo rendition of Elvis Presley Blues and finished appropriately, given the date of the show, with a nice, quite, thoughtful April 14th Part One, dedicated to our sister Suzanne, also at that table, because she loves the song. Singing a direct harmony with Margo and playing for Suzanne with my daughter and my ma in the audience – dare I say the Queen and the Princesses in my life! — meant a lot to me. We had rehearsed only three times on the fly, so it was necessary to ask the audience for more love. Apparently we got it. There was lots of it circulating that night. A big thank you to everyone who played, to Hugh’s Room and to everyone who came out.
In closing I’d like to acknowledge the death of Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse fame who took his own life on March 6. The passing of a great artist is one of the saddest things. More often than not they have been a force for beauty in the world, and all that implies for us, and often at a great personal cost – a sad commentary on the world we live in. I really dug his music. There are few artists who I looked forward to seeing as much for the first time. Now I won’t get that chance, my loss. But we have his music, our gain. Thank you Mark.
NOTE: Re: the “Singing for the Princess” line up. With the exception of Katherine Wheatley at http://www.katherinewheatley.com
you can find everyone and their music, here, on the Cowboy Junkies’ Latent site http://www.latentrecordings.com
All photos courtesy of Dr. Robert Stowe and Jose Reyes.
John and Margo Timmins, ‘shakin’ it to make it break’
Chantal and her father John, Barbara Timmins, Dr. Robert Stowe and Jose Reyes
Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson, ‘shakin’ it like a hurricane’
Katherine Wheatley, ‘shakin’ like a midnight rambler’
Lynch in Love with the grand piano
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