27th Street Time Travel

Yes friends, we’re going to do a little time travel. I shot a video of my time machine in action. People of my generation are going to say, aw c’mon, that’s just a record player, but in fact it’s a time machine. Today I’m taking you back to 1954, when Canadian Fiddle great Ward Allen recorded three volumes of his Maple Leaf Hoedown. Tonight we’re going check out Volume 3 of the collection, and specifically, Back to the Sugar Camp.

Ward Allen was born in London Ontario, but he is known as an Ottawa Valley style fiddler. In his short life – Mr. Allen was born in 1924 and died in 1965 – he treated Canadians and the world to some fantastic fiddle music.

Here’s an except from the liner notes on the record:

Like “Old Man River”, Ward Allen’s popularity “just keeps on rollin’ along”.

Whether it be at a square dance, at a ballroom, in a cabaret, on the stage, on the radio or TV, Ward’s “Maple Leaf Hoedown” music is a listening and dancing treat to Canadian folks.

In this album you will find more of the music and fiddling that has made Ward Allen a national favourite.

Now when you jump into my time machine and take this trip with me, you might notice a little turbulence. This happens when you go back in time. You might say, hey what’s that background noise – is that your Newf Georgie goofing around with a chew toy? Trust me, it’s really time travel turbulence. Don’t worry, you’re safe with me.

By the way, the covered bridge shown on the album cover was photographed at the entrance to the Village of Alma, Fundy National Park, New Brunswick Canada. As it says on the record cover, “there is a basic charm and picturesque attraction in Canada’s covered bridges.”

The last Daily Dose of 2013

And it’s going to be an Ottawa Valley fiddle tune by the late great Ward Allen, called Back up and Push. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the music I’ve posted here at 27th Street this year as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing my interest in all kinds of folks music with you.

This was the flip side to Mr. Allen’s most famous tune, Maple Sugar.

Happy Canada Day

Let’s celebrate Canada Day by listening to a selection of Canadian folk music.

I’d like to start with a tune I’ve posted before (not this again, I’m sure you’re thinking). It’s Ward Allen from the Ottawa Valley performing his masterpiece, Maple Sugar.

Don’t worry, just because I’ve been playing banjo a lot, it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the squeezebox. I stumbled into this gem – Tony Blanchard playing French Newfoundland music.

Now here’s Calvin Vollrath – who lives in Alberta and plays Metis style fiddle – playing a tune he composed called Natalie MacMaster’s. He’s joined on-stage here by Natalie MacMaster herself. What a delightful performance!

If you ever get a chance to see Yves Lambert perform, don’t miss it! Here’s Ti Get-Up Charlie

Finally, I’d like to end this post with a classic piece by the late Stompin’ Tom, who we sadly lost this year. Here’s Bud the Spud.

Buck Fever Rag

I know it was only the other day I posted some fiddle music, but I’ve been revisiting some old time Canadian fiddle music on the YouTube machine, and if you don’t mind I’m going to share a little bit more with you tonight. I think fiddle music is very special and in Canada we’re fortunate to not only have a fiddle tradition but to have a few distinctive fiddle styles. The other day I posted some Ward Allen tunes in the Ottawa Valley style. Here’s another Ottawa Valley fiddler, Reg Hill. Reg Hill was from Avonmore Ontario. He was a multi-instrumentalist but best known as one of Canada’s great fiddlers. In 1954 he joined Mac Beattie’s group, the Ottawa Valley Melodiers.

Here’s Reg Hill performing the Buck Fever Rag, one of his own compositions. This is from his solo record, Ottawa Valley Hoedown (1964) and the washboard player is none other than Mac Beattie.

On The Old Time Fiddler’s Dream, a Mac Beattie recording, Reg Hill plays tributes to Ward Allen, Don Messer and Winston (Scotty) Fitzgerald. I’ve posted this one before, but it’s so good I can’t resist posting it again.

This next tune is Mac Beattie’s tribute to Ward Allen. Reg Hill plays fiddle and bass.

So that’s it for our trip back in time to some of the best old time Ottawa Valley fiddle music.


Maple Leaf Two-Step

The Maple Leaf Two-Step, from 1953, was Ottawa Valley fiddle great Ward Allen’s first recording, a 78 rpm record on Alvina. I started learning this one on triple row button accordion in between trick-or-treaters tonight, based on a score I stumbled upon on a fiddle site. I’m playing it in C and the fingering isn’t too difficult. In a couple spots I’m not sure if I really should be pushing or pulling air, but as I get my speed up with this tune, it should be obvious. I think it’s going to take some work to get the inflection just right too.  This song is going to be a lot of fun to play, and I hope to learn to squeeze it out it pretty well, but my amateur button accordion playing will never approach Ward Allen’s fiddle.

Here is Ward Allen with The Maple Leaf Two-Step

Now let’s listen to the flip side of the record, the CNE Breakdown.


A Song for Canada Day

I’ve posted this tune before, maybe even several times. Why? Because it stops me in my tracks every time, and before he’s done Mr. Allen has my eyes welling up.  Turn it up loud. Here’s Ward Allen performing his masterpiece, Maple Sugar.

Log Driver

I used to have a recording, on an old cassette tape, of Mac Beattie singing his Log Driver’s Song (not to be confused with the Wade Hemsworth tune Log Driver’s Waltz). While I was busy concentrating on something apparently more important, the melody popped into my head, like Mr. Beattie was right there, singing it to me.

I decided to search for the tune on YouTube. Everything’s on YouTube, right? I came up with Charlie Gardner singing a version of The Log Driver’s Song. It’s the same song, performed a little differently than I remember it, but yes, there’s the melody, and the log driver’s call – yo hip, hip ho through the rapids below, where the Ottawa River flows by.

Here’s Mr. Beattie himself, with his group The Melodiers, performing The Old Tyme Fiddler’s Dream. I’ve posted this one before but I love it so much, I may have to post it six more times before I’m done.

And Mac Beattie one more time, singing about the passing of fiddle great Ward Allen at age 41.

Maple Sugar

What an amazingly beautiful day today. And as a bonus, I enjoyed lunch with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in ages. I think for the Daily Dose today it’s time to celebrate spring and what better way to do it than listen to my all-time fave fiddle song, recorded by the late Ward Allen, a fiddle great from the Ottawa Valley right here in Canada.

Is this the greatest fiddle tune ever recorded? Maybe it is. I think it might be. I know I could listen to it 100 times in a row and never get bored. So here it is, Maple Sugar

If you have other selections for the greatest fiddle tune ever, let me know. Let’s celebrate them all.


The Old Tyme Fiddler’s Dream

Let’s listen to a little bit of Canadian old time fiddle music. Here’s Mac Beattie with The Old Tyme Fiddler’s Dream, a fantastic song that showcases a number of Canadian fiddlers.

Next up is Don Messer and his Islanders playing one of my favourite fiddle tunes, The St. Anne’s Reel, featuring some great dancing.

Finally, just because I can, I’m going to feature a tune I’ve featured on this blog before, and I just might feature again. I could listen to this one 100 times in a row and not get bored. It’s Ward Allen playing Maple Sugar.

Maple Sugar

I understand the government is contemplating changing the lyrics to the Canadian national anthem to make it more gender neutral. Well, I can understand that. I’m actually not really sure what that line “true patriot love in all thy son’s command” really means anyhow. But if we’re going to open the pandora’s box around changing the anthem, I’d like to propose we go for a bigger change.

There is a Canadian tune that stops me in my tracks every time I hear it. It transports me across this land and drops me in the woods. It’s spring, a new season, a fresh start. The snow is still on the ground in the woods but I can smell spring in the air. Instead of messing about with the lyrics of our current anthem, I suggest we adopt a new tune altogether. The sap is flowing. There’s not much time. Let’s make Maple Sugar by the late great Ward Allen the new Canadian national anthem.

Here it is….