ORIGINAL, FOLK-INSPIRED ACOUSTIC MUSIC TO QUENCH THE THIRSTY SOUL

FOLK ROOTS RADIO WITH JAN HALL: EPISODE 344 

British Columbia singer-songwriter Ken Dunn released his seventh album “Wondrous Beauty” earlier this year. Ken joined us in the studio with partner Anna Green for an in-depth discussion about his music and the new album. We’re pleased to bring a portion of that interview to Episode 344 of Folk Roots Radio alongside a look at some of the best of the latest new releases.  

Singer-songwriter Ken Dunn’s 2015 album “The Great Unknown” was one of my favourite albums of the year. An exquisite slice of beautifully played thoughtful folk with Ken Dunn’s lovely languid singing voice, it was an absolute pleasure to listen to it. His wonderful new album “Wondrous Beauty,” (his seventh,) is the start of a whole new relationship with his music. 10 new well-crafted Ken Dunn songs – with some really nice harmonies from partner and keyboard player Anna Green, some great fiddle from Tyler Beckett, and a lovely understated production from Ken himself. Ken joined us in the studio with partner Anna Green to chat about the new album.  

About the author 

JAN HALL  

Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005 before developing into a syndicated radio show. As the host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan focuses on bringing new folk, roots and blues music and the voices of upcoming and independent artists to the airwaves. Jan is also a much sought after stage host and festival emcee.

RICHIE HAVENS WOODSTOCK GUITAR 

So, I thought I'd try something different with the blog. Welcome to "Reflections on the Road", a series of stories looking back on my musical journey thus far. No particular chronological order, just stories that come to mind. Hope you enjoy them!

Episode 1: RICHIE HAVENS WOODSTOCK GUITAR

I first discovered Belize in the mid 90's, and what started as a week's holiday soon developed into a yearly musical sojourn. When I arrived on the island of Ambergris Caye, I was surprised to find a thriving folk and blues music scene populated by the many North American and European "expats" living on the island. I quickly got to know some of the local performers and was able to borrow a guitar from a Canadian woman who happened to be playing an afternoon set at the Holiday Hotel, a small, pink three story wooden structure on the beach in San Pedro Town.   I don't remember her name, but I am very thankful to her for helping me secure a gig at the hotel.  Thus began my yearly musical journey in this exotic tropical country. One which would involve everything from opening for  Jerry Jeff Walker of "Mr. Bojangles" fame, to cancelling a tour after breaking three fingers. But alas, those stories are for another day. This one involves Richie Havens... or at least his guitar. And a famous one at that! 

Our story begins at the previously mentioned Holiday Hotel, with an invitation to perform at a remote jungle lodge by a rather eccentric and somewhat drunken man by the name of John Luce. "Perform for our dinner guests", he said, "and I will give you a great discount on a room at my lodge, and dinner will be on me... Oh ya, and no need to bring your guitar, because I have a very special one that you can play!" Despite my prodding, "special" was all I could get in securing a description of the mysterious stringed instrument in question. Well, how could I refuse. I had wanted to check out all that Belize had to offer, and after the heat and humidity of the keys, the thought of lush rainforest in the rugged Maya Mountains bordering Guatemala was extremely appealing!  

It was an easy Island Ferry from San Pedro back to Belize City, and a two hour bus ride to San Ignacio, gateway to the Cayo District and the beautiful Maya Mountains. Then the real adventure began. Climbing aboard a Range Rover, I was transported up precarious, pot holed "roads" to the location of my next gig, Black Rock Jungle Lodge, located in a breathtakingly beautiful location overlooking the Macal River. The sounds of Scarlett Macaws and Howler Monkeys greeted my arrival, and it truly felt like I had arrived in heaven on earth!  There was not much time for sightseeing though. It was almost dinner time, and the 20 or so guests seated at the longish tables appeared eager for entertainment.  John quickly ushered me into his back office and proudly pulled out a somewhat mouldy, beat up guitar case, held together by copious amounts of duct tape. My heart dropped. Was this is the special guitar? I hoped it could be tuned. I hoped it had strings! As he opened the case, an equally sad Guild D40 emerged, complete with a fair chunk of the sound board missing between the sound hole and bridge. Once it was in my hands, I breathed a sigh of relief. The action was crazy high, but hey, it was playable, and almost in tune!  "So you know who this guitar belonged to?",  asked John as he handed me a photo and some official looking paperwork. The unmistakable visage of Richie Havens appeared in the photo, and the "Certificate of Authenticity" said something like, "I certify that this is the guitar I played at Woodstock...etc. etc.", signed "Richie Havens". Seriously? I was skeptical to say the least. It seemed just a tad unlikely that such an iconic instrument would be found in a remote Central American jungle.  "I kid you not", he said, "now get out there and do it justice". And so I did, or at least I tried! Maybe it was just my imagination, but I swear I could hear "Motherless Child" emanating from the sound box as I began playing. The rusty, somewhat dirt encrusted strings thudded against the neck, as I struggled with the action. But, in the end, it was a fabulous show, the faces of the audience glowing in the candlelight, the welcome coolness of the night, the jungle providing an amazing symphonic accompaniment.  I suppose I'll never know for sure if it really was Richie Haven's Woodstock guitar. But, you will have to agree, it makes a great story to tell the grandchildren! 

 

 

 

Richie Havens was a prolific and beloved American singer-songwriter. Born in 1941, he died in 2013. Richie was the opening act at the original Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 and had a long and diverse musical career, including a collaboration with the electronic band Groove Armada in his later years. He established a program called the Natural Guard in 1990 focusing on inner city improvement projects for children. Havens started chapters across not only the U.S. but also in Belize, where he was known to perform. He played a Guild D40 at Woodstock, subsequently adding an upper pick guard to the instrument. He is known to have played newer Guild D40's in later years. The Richie Havens Signature Dreadnought was issued by Guild Guitars to honour his career. 

John Luce was the manager of Black Rock Jungle Lodge in Cayo District, Belize up until his tragic murder in 2001 in the very office where he first showed me that "special" guitar. Yikes!  

LABOUR OF LOVE 

Happy Labour Day Weekend everyone !!  Anna and I are looking forward to a busy but exciting weekend in Powell River, B.C. at the 36th Annual Sunshine Music Festival.   The Festival is a celebration of music from across Canada and the world and we are looking forward to opening for CBC Searchlight Winner Desiree Dawson on Friday night at Cranberry Hall in Powell River.  

As if that wasn't exciting enough, my new album is being released to radio worldwide by Trespass Music on the same day!  Thank you to all of the wonderful folks who were a part of this project. Have a listen, and check out the album credits here.  Also available for download on the iTunes store here.

Peace and best wishes to everyone...

"STRONG CANADIANA WITH VISION" 

Well, it's almost time for the release of "Wondrous Beauty" on September 1, which coincides with my performance with Anna Green at the Sunshine Music Festival in Powell River, B.C. Anna and I are thrilled to be opening for CBC Searchlight Winner Desiree Dawson, and looking forward to hearing all of the other performers, including headliner, Dawn Pemberton! Looking forward to seeing many of our B.C. friends and fans at the festival!

Many thanks to Tom Arvidsson from Thirsty Boots in Stockholm for the great review of Wondrous Beauty... calling it "Strong Canadiana with Vision"!  If you love roots music and haven't already checked out Tom's blog, it is a wonderful resource. The title, of course, is taken from Eric Andersen's iconic folk anthem. Complete English translation can be found in the comments section at the end of the blog.

Until next time... keep those thirsty boots moving...

Wondrous Beauty: Strong Canadiana with Vision

NEW PERFORMANCE VIDEO! 

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!  I've been busy performing with Anna at concert series and festivals here on the B.C. coast and am looking forward to the release of Wondrous Beauty with Trespass Music on September 1.  Thanks to Gary Glass at Quantum Sound Productions I have a new performance video to share with you! This version of Mermaid of Avila was recorded live at The Bank Theatre in Leamington, Ontario on May 28, 2017. Hope you enjoy it!

SUMMER FESTIVAL TIME !! 

After many months of writing, recording, mixing, and mastering, I am so happy to have my new album "Wondrous Beauty" finished !!  Many thanks to the amazing group of musicians and recording engineers I had the pleasure of working with over this past year !! I'm so looking forward to the September 1 release by Trespass Music in Canada, the U.S., and Europe !!

But... in the meantime, it's summer festival time, with a wonderful line-up of shows here in B.C., all culminating with the Sunshine Music Festival in Powell River where Anna and I will open for the immensely talented CBC Searchlight Winner, Desiree Dawson !!  Hope to see you at one of our summer shows!  Check out the complete schedule here

DESIREE DAWSON

IN THE SPIRIT OF RECONCILIATION 

Our Canada 150 performance in Sechelt will be dedicated to the people of the Shishalh Nation, and in particular, the survivors of the residential school system. In the spirit of reconciliation, we will move forward...

STRONGER TOGETHER!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA !! JOIN US IN SECHELT, B.C. 

Come celebrate Canada's 150th birthday with Ken and Anna as they take to the main stage on Cowrie Street in downtown Sechelt, BC to perform a 30 minute set of both original tunes and classic Canadiana. Also performing are local favourites David Jones, Charlotte Wrinch, and Steve & Luci.   

THANK YOU ONTARI...ARI...ARI-O !! 

WELL, IT'S BACK HOME TO B.C. TOMORROW... After a wonderful two week Ontario Tour. It was great to meet old friends, and make new ones, playing in Leamington, Kingsville, Oakville, and Durham !!  Thanks to everyone who joined us across the province to make our little tour a success !!  

THE KEN DUNN TRIO @ THE GARAFRAXA CAFE, DURHAM, ONTARIO (Anna Green, keys; Ken Dunn, guitar; Randy Martin, bass

 

AND NOW... I'm back in my studio on the Sunshine Coast to continue working on the new album... WONDROUS BEAUTY. Things are a bit behind schedule, so the release date has been pushed back to September, but I want this to be my best record ever !!

Check out the cool album cover, thanks to the wonderful and inspiring photography of Libby Hunter

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Porchfest

Porchfest, Whitevale, Ontario

Ken Dunn will be among the performers at this year's Whitevale Porchfest in the hamlet of Whitevale, just north of Toronto. Porchfest is an annual free music event held on front porches across the country, in communities such as Ottawa and Belleville. The Whitevale Porchfest is a great opportunity to learn about and appreciate the hamlet's history, early architecture and friendly community! It is intended to bring residents and friends together through local entertainment.

Music is diverse and can range from country to pop, classical, reggae, blues, rock, jazz, Latino, R&B, or ethnic groups and takes place on several porches throughout the village from 12-6pm. Come join us for this unique celebration of music and community!