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Ladies Sing Low

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010


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Next Show:

Sunday, September 19th, 2010



The listing is up now on the Hugh’s Room Calendar! To book and reserve tickets go to or call them at 416 531-6604.

I am very excited about this gig as it is the first time I have booked Hugh’s Room for my own show. And Katherine Wheatley is doing her show that night also so we are sharing the evening. Katherine and I played together years ago when we were both just starting our music careers and I have a great deal of respect for her and for her music.

I talked to Katherine a few months ago about approaching Hugh’s Room and I was thinking of a title for the show and really liked ‘LADIES SING LOW’. It probably won’t be advertised now as such, but it will be in my mind and maybe will be some kind of future concert series – who knows? In a way this does refer to our voices as we both have unusually low voices for females. But what I really meant was to have women writers/musicians whose work is a true expression of their lives, their place in history and time, whether they are singing about their religion or their sorrows and joys, their families and lovers and relationships, who they are as individuals and their true human experience that we all share.

Sometimes pictures are the best way to get across what I mean as words can get in the way. This is what I mean. This is a picture of Flora Molton, a street singer whose picture I got from the ‘ Fire In My Bones’ album. Let’s call Flora the First Lady in my concert series. I will keep her in mind for inspiration in my own work that I will be performing. She is authentic.


I will be performing songs from my recent album ‘In the Nickelodeon’ which is my own story really and told with my own spin on things. I will be accompanied by John Timmins on banjo, guitar, harmonica and vocals. And by John Wojewoda who will play his Dobro guitar and vocals, accordion and a little viola. I may have some surprise guests.

We are also working on some old blues and gospel tunes, traditional but rearranged. I love doing this and I am looking for new material from these old sources. My own work is filled with old blues feel and hymn structure and I’m not sure where this came from. But if you use an old song structure and add a lyric based on ones’ own experience, the result can be good. This is the basis of some songs on my album like ‘Someday You’ll Dance’ and ‘Wagon Lament’. I particularly love this kind of song for myself as it has a different emotional quality that suits me just fine.



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Adventures, Observations, Set Backs and Promotions

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

By John Timmins

Barbara Lynch at Hugh’s for Greenpeace

It was June 28. We were younger then, hopeful, and summer stretched out before us. We played at Hugh’s Room with 10 great artists in celebration of a new CD called Amchitka, the 1970 concert that launched Greenpeace. Now it’s September!!!

This two-disc CD, produced for Greenpeace by yours truly is available to you exclusively from Greenpeace at It’s an exceptional live concert recording and we’ve got the reviews to prove it. All proceeds support Greenpeace.

The back story: in 1970 Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Phil Ochs waived their fees and put on a concert in Vancouver to raise funds for the first Greenpeace mission to the Island of Amchitka (Alaska) to protest the testing of nuclear weapons.

Nearly 40 years later, in November 2009, with the blessing of the artists and invaluable (gratis) help from Peter J. Moore and others, we remastered the tapes (never before released) and put out a gorgeous package – two CDs and a booklet with exclusive concert photos and an in-depth narrative about the 1970 concert. And starting in October through February you can buy “three copies for $15 each” – unique holiday gifts! – at the website (above).

The June 28 concert at Hugh’s was a tribute to the three great artists on the CD. It was also a bit of a fundraiser for Greenpeace. The line up consisted of Barbara and me; Mike and Margo and other Latent Recordings stable mates like Lee Harvey Osmond (aka Tom Wilson), Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson.

Sarah Slean graced our stage. And seven-year-old Brighid Fry now has a “when-I-was-your-age” story to tell her grand children. Oh Susanna, one of my favourite singer/songwriters, joined us, as did the incomparable Mary Margaret O’Hare. Caroline Brooks of the Good Lovelies was an audience favourite and guitar playing Jory Nash was note perfect. Other great musicians helped out like John Wojewoda who played banjo and doubled up on vocals with me on James Taylor’s Riding on a Railroad. We were not note perfect (but we had fun). My old (but good) friend, Brent Titcomb, a regular with Lee Harvey Osmond, accompanied Tom, and a very nice guy whose first name is Aidan (I hope?) played a tasteful guitar for Mary Margaret and turned me on to James O’Rourke.

Everyone played one song from the Amchitka CD and one of their own. I joined Barbara, who has worked at Greenpeace way longer than I have, for her bluesy, apocalyptic New Orleans is Drownin’, written well before Hurricane Katrina. It sounded the way it was intended on Hugh’s grand piano. To view this exceptional performance, check out the video link here.

Margo and Mike invoked the spirit of Joni’s For Free as only they could, no doubt calling on their own experiences with fame and fortune. And Mary Margaret let the late Phil Ochs come through with her gorgeous interpretation of No More Songs. She is nothing short of brilliant. She does for song what magic realism does for literature and she delighted a lot of people that night.

On the other hand, Lee Harvey Osmond, the father of Acid Folk, terrified everyone in the room with his trippy commentary on Taylor’s Sweet Baby James. I loved it.

Oh Susanna did Phil proud with an emotionally powerful Joe Hill and Andy and Josh brought us a highly respectful interpretation of Phil’s Changes through a Gordon Lightfoot filter.

Hosting all of this, tying it all together, was Mia Sheard. Like any great host Mia owned the stage. Indeed, it was “Mia’s Room” that night, not Hugh’s Room. She is funny (not “wanna be” funny) and a great musician. She did Joni’s My Old Man and her own beautifully dynamic song Black Crow was really cool. Special thanks to Mia.

I don’t think anyone who was there could say that Brighid Fry’s performance of Joni’s The Circle Game did not touch their heart… I’m talking grabbin’ that heart and wrenching out a tear!

Picture this. A little girl, four feet tall, barely seen above the music stands on the stage. Long blond hair, light blue smock, tummy slightly extended in an un-self conscious way, made even smaller by the huge grand piano behind her played by the great Sarah Slean lovingly hovering above like a guardian angel. A fearful sliver of girl in this big late-night adult word absolutely radiating the love of singing in a little girl’s accent with total concentration and singing lyrics like … “And the seasons they go round and round. And the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on a carousel of time. We can’t return we can only look. Behind from where we came. And go round and round and round . In the circle game.”

It was a moment my friends. And if there were no tears in your eyes, you need help. Greenpeace will post this performance on the Greenpeace Canada YouTube site in the very near future.

Finally, a big personal thanks to the musicians who came out and helped Greenpeace sell over 100 Amchitka CDs. And a special personal thanks to Sarah Slean, a very good friend of Greenpeace. She was the first musician to sign on for the show early in the spring. She then agreed not only to do her version of Joni’s – Woodstock – well worth the price of admission alone, but to accompany young Brighid.

Our next show at Hugh’s Room is Thursday, November 25. Barbara Lynch and I will share the bill with Katherine Wheatley. Hope to see you there.

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Events Coming Up In June

Monday, June 14th, 2010

June 18th:

Concert Fundraiser with Andrew Cash at Fitzgeralds’ Pub in the Beaches
2298 Queen Street East
Show starts at 9:00

June 28th:

Greenpeace and Harmony

Hope to see you at the Greenpeace
Amchitka Concert (1970) – CD Release.
Hugh’s Room, Toronto,
Monday, June 28.

Greenpeace has released a phenomenal,
remastered concert recording (circa 1970) whereby Joni Mitchell, James
Taylor and Phil Ochs came to the aid of the then fledgling environmental
campaigning organization and put on a concert in Vancouver. This historic
concert — brilliantly preserved on two discs and beautifully packaged
with a 48-page book of never-before-seen photos — raised money for
Greenpeace’s first voyage to the Island of Amchitka (Aleutian Islands,
Alaska) to protest the testing of nuclear bombs by the US government.

The best of Toronto-based talent, including
a few names you’ll find on this Latent Recordings site, will each
play one song from the CD and one of their own.  And the CD will
be sold exclusively at the show. It’s important to note that all proceeds
from CD sales will go to Greenpeace to help them with the great work
they continue to do almost 40 years later.

If you can’t wait to put your hands
on Amchitka, the 1970 concert that launched Greenpeace,
you can buy it at, or you can visit their Toronto office
at 33 Cecil Street. For directions go to

Here are the show details…
open for dinner (optional) at 6 pm. Show starts at 8:30 pm to 11:30

Hugh’s Room is an intimate 200-seat
supper club with a big reputation for great, live and up close music.
Musicians love playing there. The address is 2261 Dundas Street West
(in Roncesvalles Village, just below Bloor, a five-minute walk south
from the Dundas West subway. You’ll find free parking directly across
the street in the grocery store parking lot.

I’ll be there with John Timmins and
an amazing line up including Mike and Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), Andy
Maize and Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers), Mary Margaret O’Hara, Lee Harvey
Osmond, The Divine Sarah Slean, Caroline Brooks (The Good Lovelies),
Oh Suzanna (Suzie Ungerleider), Jory Nash, Mia Sheard (emcee) and introducing
Brighid Fry.

Tickets available at or 416-531-6604. Advance tickets are $22 and
$25 at the door. It will be well worth it, and tickets should sell pretty

See ya there. Don’t be shy to say hello.


I am turning to the old songs more and more for inspiration. With John T and his slide blues guitar and the banjo, we can get a pretty interesting rendition of these songs I think.





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Great Night at Hugh’s Room – April 14th

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

I’d like to thank everyone who came to this show for making it a truly memorable evening. And I am thinking especially of Sandy who will be out there doing her 200K bike ride for cancer. She won’t have the benefit of applause at the end of every mile as I have at the end of my songs, to spur her on. So I applaud you Sandy, and all the people out there who fight against cancer.

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Adventures, Observations, Set Backs and Promotions

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

by John Timmins

Thank Hugh’s

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

you can find everyone and their music, here, on the Cowboy Junkies’ Latent site

All photos courtesy of Dr. Robert Stowe and Jose Reyes.

shakin' it to make it break

John and Margo Timmins, ‘shakin’ it to make it break’

Chantal and her father John, John's mother, Dr. Robert Stowe and Jose Reyes

Chantal and her father John, Barbara Timmins, Dr. Robert Stowe and Jose Reyes

shakin' it like a hurricane

Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson, ‘shakin’ it like a hurricane’

Katherine Wheatley, 'shakin' like a midnight rambler'

Katherine Wheatley, ‘shakin’ like a midnight rambler’

Lynch in Love with the grand piano

Lynch in Love with the grand piano

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Next Show April 14th at Hugh’s Room

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Wednesday, April 14th

‘Singing for the Princess’ – a Benefit for the Princess Margaret Hospital

Featuring Margo Timmins from the Cowboy Junkies

With Michael and John Timmins, Andy Maize, Josh Finlayson, John Wojewoda, Barbara Lynch and Katherine Wheatley.

Show starts at 8:30

Hugh’s Room on Roncesvalles

Come by!  It will be a really great evening with an amazing variety of musicians!

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Notes from John Timmins:

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Adventures, Observations, Set-backs and Promotions:

On the featured recording of In My Time of Dying from a rehearsal at Barbara Lynch’s home in early 2010.

by John Timmins

Don’t know much about Mr. Schopenhauer, but his flash of wisdom on music and the true nature of things certainly caught my attention. In his The World as Will and Representation, published in 1819, Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher. wrote …

“The close relationship that music has to the true nature of things can explain the fact that, when music suitable to any scene, action, event or environment is played, it seems to disclose to us its most secret meaning, and appears to be the most accurate and distinct commentary on it…

….music differs from all the other arts by the fact that it expresses the metaphysical to the physical in the world. This is the reason why music makes every picture, indeed every scene from real life and from the world, at once appear in enhanced significance, and this is, of course, all the greater, the more analogous its melody is to the inner spirit of the given phenomenon.”

A song like In My Time of Dying, a traditional/gospel song, recorded by Bob Dylan on his self titled, debut album (1962), and by many others before and since, is for me a great example of music evoking the naked truth, or being “the most accurate and distinct commentary” on anything that it is analogously applied to.

Barbara Lynch and I interpreted this song at her most recent show at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto, January 21, 2010, and I hope it sounded as good to that audience as this digital recording of our rehearsal sounds to me.

True, it may sound a little rough, unedited, unmixed, unwashed but therein is beauty in all its uninhibited glory. Listening to Barbara’s untethered, lighter-than-air evocation of the eternal, a classic cascade of fifths on the keyboard repeated throughout the song sets the soul free to take flight. Even the most moribund soul has to feel a lightness of being when these fifths come rolling through.

The musicians are listening to each other. The piano and my banjo support each other as comfortably as our voices blend, neither of us really taking the lead, but creating a unified voice that seems to take its lead from somewhere else. And I have no idea where that sitar is coming from! Listen to the continuous playing on the root note in key of D, like a slow funeral dirge, or an old blues just rambling on, just rolling through, no beginning and no end, intuitive, familiar. The high lifting instrumentals, the low whispering vocals, and the lyrics!  I would love to have met the enlightened soul who wrote these profoundly beautiful and evocative words. What a well-lived life that must have been.

These words and music anticipate the moment of death, for some the source of a lifetime of dread, whereby we are swallowed in the cold, dark ground and for others the source of a lifetime of joy and anticipation, not to mention fear, whereby we soar to heaven. But the song says to me – perhaps evoking my true nature, or pointing towards the secret meaning of my life – that one should embrace inevitable death without fear, and live a better life for it,  and that, after all, we are just rolling through like Barbara’s fifths.

Please give it a listen. I’d love to read your thoughts on this song.


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Dakota Pics

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

pic of me

pic of John

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Next Show Jan. 21st at the Dakota

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Come and hear some exciting new songs.

Thursday January 21st at The Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave.

Phone: 416 850 4579

Show begins at 8:00PM Sharp.

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