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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Pedestrian - 'County' style - Active Arts Studio, this Saturday, 3PM. Book now!

Brian Johnson captures Katherine's arrival at the A-frame

Katherine Leyton has become a name in the news this summer, as the first writer in residence at the newly restored A-frame of Al and Eurithe Purdy, on Roblin Lake in Ameliasburgh.
Purdy picnic 2014

But Katherine has been very active for some years, as founder of an innovative poetry website How Pedestrian which has been "bringing poetry to random places since 2010."

The HowPedestrian Manifesto explains the idea - it's about bringing poetry out of living rooms (and classrooms I'm thinking) and into taxis and pubs, invading everyday spaces with verse, making it a part of everyday life. "We wondered, if we literally take poetry to the street, can we figuratively make it more 'pedestrian'?" Three principles are at the basis of the project: "No-one should be afraid of poetry, there's a poet for everyone and poetry doesn't have to be serious." Love it. Do visit. Spend a lot of time...there are even a few Purdy poems there. And by September, there will be even more.

This summer, Katherine has used some of her time at the A-frame to create the Al Purdy chapter of the HowPedestrian project. She has been filming people around Prince Edward County reading Al's poetry. She has interviewed poets who knew Al talking about his influence on their writing and what he meant to them personally. Katherine has filmed Steven Heighton, Phil Hall, Robert Priest, Paul Vermeersch in the A-frame and on location around the county.
Katherine and Michele at the Al Purdy library

She has also stopped people on the streets and roads and asked them to read for her. The summer's HowPedestrian readers include  Rednersville's much-lovedvReverend Morris McLeod, Norman Hardie in his vineyard, Gesa at the Al Purdy library, David Sweet at Books&Company, several Ameliasburgh residents, and folks at Campbell's Orchards, Lola's Perogies and Hawthorne Motors in Carrying Place.

This coming Saturday afternoon, Katherine will be sharing the video she has produced this summer. Another reason to attend the APAFA fund-raiser at Active Arts Studio. Here's the link for information and booking. See you there!

Richard Turtle on 'Al Purdy at the Quinte Hotel' - performing this Saturday at Active Arts Studio, Rednersville, PEC, 3PM

Richard Turtle, well-known local actor, writer, director and journalist has performed David Carley's outstanding play 'Al Purdy at the Quinte Hotel' several times in recent years. People who have seen this performance want to see it again; those who've missed it regret it. Everyone will have another opportunity this coming Saturday at 3PM at Active Arts Studio in Rednersville.

Richard shares his special connection with this play:
"About a year after the fact, I heard that Gordon Pinsent had done a Purdy play for CBC - produced back in December 2003 - and was a bit surprised and a bit disappointed I'd missed it because I like them both, and I listen to CBC. So that one somehow slipped past.
I probably googled it at some point and discovered Dave wrote it so I got in touch and he sent me a copy. Then I read it and then it sat there for years with me wishing I could put it on somewhere.
Then I went to see C.David Johnson do the Carley-directed version at Westben (2007 I think) and that's when I realized just how well it plays.

I mean, it read well because Purdy's poems are the anchor to the whole thing but the story-telling in between them is the driver behind it, and it really does cut a broad swath through a big chunk of Canadian time and space. There's an indescribable (at least for me) quality to it that I couldn't see when I read it. But I know it's there now. As an audience member it was kinda like participating in a conversation without having to say a word. As an actor, it's much the same, except you get all the words.
Part of what I like about Purdy (and I put him in a class with Stompin' Tom in a lot of ways) is how he celebrated Canada simply by experiencing as much of it as he could. And then he wrote very concisely about it. And almost exclusively. So in a large part because of that I think he has a lot to tell us about ourselves as Canadians. He saw a lot more of it than most of us ever will.

And anyway, after a couple of false starts I got the opportunity to perform it for the first time at the Active Arts Studio last year. So very much looking forward to going back there. And maybe in the fall, exposing some area high school students to this side of Al Purdy, if all goes well.

And then there's Andy Thompson. He's a recording/sound engineer, composer, singer...genius (and that last one's just my opinion) and is also music director for George Fox as well as part of his touring band. And then a few others. So he's had a really busy summer but as luck would have it, George is playing near Ottawa August 31, so Andy will be available to run sound for the Purdy play the day before (which includes a recording of his original music score that accompanies many of the poems). I can't thank Andy enough for his contribution to this show and he really deserves a lot of credit. He is an amazing guy to work with. And he knows an awful lot about music and words."

Great play. Great actor. Great sound. Great opportunity to support APAFA.. If you've already booked Saturday's Al Purdy Aframe Association fundraising performance, you're in for a treat. If not, what's stopping you? Here's the Active Arts link. See you there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Freezing Music and other tunes by Al Purdy - in person August 30, Active Arts Studio

Jeff Keary of the celebrated Active Arts Studio concert venue  in Prince Edward County is hosting a Purdy A-frame fund-raiser on August 30th at Rednersville's historic 1849 stone Methodist church, the one with the astounding acoustics.

The program is rich and varied, a Purdy fan's dream line-up - poetry, a play, and music.

Jazz. The jazz composer who will be featured is Gerry Shatford  whose album 'When I Sat Down to Play the Piano' (which lovers of Al's poetry will recall as not being about playing the piano, not one bit) is just brilliant. Each track on the album is titled and inspired by one of Purdy's poems.

I love the variety of musical styles and voices Gerry uses in these compositions.

Gerry explains the artistic process: "All of the tunes on this album found their genesis in Purdy's poetry, as I began by reading the poems out loud, transcribing the rhythms I discovered in the spoken phrases. I added pitches to these rhythms to create melodic motifs which became the basic building blocks for the individual compositions".

Gerry Shatford
The poems are printed on the CD liner notes, so the listener can follow the process of creation, in addition to enjoying the virtuosity and originality of the music. For example, the highly charged melody and large intervallic leaps of 'Piling Blood' seem to spring from the violent and despairing images in the poem

The astonishing variety of musical styles on the album is one of the things that appeals to me. Charlie Parker's bebop 'Blues for Alice' echoes in the bluesy 'Love at Roblin Lake', 'How a Dog Feels to be Old' is a slow bossa-nova ballad, and 'The Dead Poet' conjures John Coltrane style improvisation. Then there's 'Mice in the House' with harmonies based on Gerswin's 'I Got Rhythm'.

Folks who enjoyed hearing 'Home-Made Beer' and 'At the Quinte Hotel' at the Purdy picnic (or anyone who has ever heard these icons read) will appreciate that Jelly Roll Morton style loping rhythm is a perfect choice for 'Beer', and ebullient boogie-woogie barrel house sets the right mood for 'At the Quinte Hotel'.
Neil Swainson

A Thelonious Monk evocation with its "pungent harmonies and quirky rhythms"works well with Purdy's 'When I Sat Down to Play the Piano' (and helps to replace the unfortunate visuals I always get when I read that poem.)

'When I Sat Down to Play the Piano' is available for download, and the CD is available for purchase, at Gerry's website. Check out the link to Gerry's work  and sample. If you like jazz and the poetry of Al Purdy, you will be hooked, as was I.

Terry Clarke at the recording session

Gerry's sidemen on the CD are the well-known and loved Terry Clarke on drums and Neil Swainson on bass. At the Saturday August 30 event Gerry will be backed by Brendan Davis on bass and Dave MacDougall on the Pinnacle Music Studio grand piano.

See you here - August 30

Thanks to Ontario Arts Council and The Canadian Council for the Arts for their support.

And finally, thanks to Gerry Shatford for explaining the complexities of the creation of this brilliant album. Now go buy it, and prepare yourself for the live performance at Active Arts Studio on August 30.

Advance booking only at Active Arts Studio/Eventbrite/