Back in the Day

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by Tim Rogers

On Friday, January 13th, 1989, a band of dedicated folkies assembled at St. John’s Church and put together the first club night for Deep Cove Folk. Must’ve been pretty exciting! Since then, the Club has put on 195 consecutive Friday night shows….that is, until March this year when Dr. Henry dropped the bomb that shut down all live music. What a shame to have our long run ended by a nasty virus….but 195 ain’t bad…. Can hardly wait to get back at it once the safety concerns are ironed out.

On that fateful night in 1989 the feature performer was David LoVine (www.ferryboatmusic.com/artists/davidlovine.htm). No doubt many hearty sea songs crackled through the old church that night (you can Spotify David doing some of these at open.spotify.com/artist/6BbjaqYvB7nPlXhPdj7FJy).

Jill King was one of the organizers of this inaugural meeting of DCF and she recalls leading “Shenandoah” (actually she keeps notes….) This song, which purportedly has Canadian roots via the voyageurs plying the Missouri River, has branched out into a number of different songs since. It became a popular sea shanty by the early 1800s, adapted as a capstan shanty (one sung while trudging in circles around the capstan pulling up the anchor or various ropes on a sailing ship). It was also described as a “bowline chant”—doing yet another job aboard ship. I can imagine the joy as Jill’s deep voice led the assembled crew at St. John’s that night in 1989. I wonder how many found themselves on board a ship in their imaginations as the song played out. You can hear Liam Clancy do this song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbuWbve6gto. And a good reason for not having alcohol at the Club can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT5bmroIJ5I.

Jill also led “The Leaving Shanty” that night (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bQrKc8xKaw) and did a Stanley Holloway monologue “Jonah and the Grampus” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBpttbTA908). Listening to these tracks certainly gave me a sense of what it could have been like that fateful night when DCF got going. I sit here at my computer right now yearning for that incredible thump in my chest when many voices join together in harmony to celebrate the joy of being and singing together….. sure miss it.

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