Every time the CKUA fundraising team kicks into high gear there are touchstones from one campaign to the next that are integral to the success of the ten-day marathon.
The core group of volunteers that live and breathe this listener-supported radio network are the bedrock of the spring and fall fundraisers, but there are many other variables in what has become a constantly evolving equation.
One element in the fundraiser that shines a bright light on the fact that CKUA is about community, is reflected in the number of sponsors that consistently partner with CKUA in so many ways.
Calgary and Edmonton Folk Music Festivals, McBain Camera (which has been a pillar in the business community for decades) and AMA are just a few of the organizations that are committed to keeping the wind in the CKUA sails.
That said, I am particularly pleased to see that Penguin Eggs has partnered with CKUA for the 2012 spring fundraiser and that the magazine, which has become “the bible of the international roots music scene”, has made 100 subscriptions available as part of the campaign prize packaging.
I know that Penguin Eggs publisher Roddy Campbell has desired to see this kind of partnership happen for some time now. Given the focus of much of the CKUA programming and the content of Penguin Eggs, it makes perfect sense that the two unique members of the media use that common ground to the best possible effect and advantage.
So what a great addition this prize of 100 yearly subscriptions is to the spring campaign. The subscriptions have been earmarked for New Monthly Donors and over the course of the campaign, staff members in the CKUA Fund Development Office will randomly draw from the database and winners will be notified in short order that they can expect to see a copy of Penguin Eggs appearing in their mailbox every 3 months for the next year.
Believe me, if you haven’t tucked yourself away in a quiet spot with your favorite beverage and a copy of the locally published roots music mag, you might need a month to get through all the articles, reviews and editorials jammed into any issue of Penguin Eggs.
This month alone the crew of Penguin Eggs will take you into the worlds of Matt Anderson, Dave Alvin, Richard Thompson, Cherish The Ladies and Strumbella. Name another publication that would devote substantial space to a read on the great British bass player Danny Thompson, a founding member of Pentangle who has taken his double-bass on the road and/or into the studio with the likes of Richard Thompson, the Blind Boys of Alabama, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Loreena McKennitt, Ralph McTell and Loudon Wainwright III.
Penguin Eggs has been providing insightful reads about artists from all over the globe for almost 15 years and scanning the back catalogue you’ll find cover stories on Ry Cooder, The Waifs, your dentist’s nightmare Mr. Shane McGowan, Emmylou Harris, Sinead O’Connor, John Prine and Mavis Staples. More importantly Rod Campbell instituted a mandate to feature Canadian artists, both established and rising stars, with as much frequency as international artists.
That The Wailin’ Jennys, The Duhks, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Le Vent Du Nord, Ridley Bent, Fred Eaglesmith, Natalie McMaster, Gordon Lightfoot, Harry Manx and Ferron have all graced the front of the magazine is confirmation that all the bases have been covered by Campell and his crew.
Last year while visiting us on Points North, for an installment of the program that focused on the impending festival season ,Campbell reminded us of his commitment to new music. I asked Rod how he approached trying to soak up so much music over the course of an average folk fest weekend.
“We all have our favourites and want to hear what those individuals are offering, but I make sure I pencil in a number of acts I have never heard. I always come away with some new favourites or I make a note to keep an eye on an artist who has real potential,” said Campbell who has attended festivals from one end of this country to the other and many more on other continents.
You get the idea I’m sure. Rod Campbell is as dedicated to the cause of promoting great roots music through solid journalism as he was when I first came into contact with him some 25 years ago.
So welcome aboard Rod and to all you supporters of CKUA who intend on becoming New Monthly Donors, we hope you are fortunate enough to land one of those year long subscriptions to Penguin Eggs.
In trying to take a page out of Mr. Campbell’s book I have been doing my best to stay committed to listening to a handful of recent releases from artists that haven’t previously spent a lot of time on my radar.
One of those acts that have been in and out of Alberta over the past few weeks is the Sunparlour Players out of Ontario.
The trio recently released 'Us Little Devils', and the band is touring in support of that release on Outside, across the country on the opening end of a double-bill with Wooden Sky.
Thus far the shows have been met with sold-out houses and Andrew Penner, the chief songwriter for the Sunparlour Players, hopes that will be the case when the band lands in Edmonton with Wooden Sky for a date at the Pawn Shop on Saturday April 14.
“We’ve been finishing off the shows with these sing-along encores, where both bands come together. You never know what will happen. In Saskatoon we ended up leading the audience outside and performing on the back of a pick-up truck,” says Penner who has much to be proud of when it comes to the new set of tunes found on 'Us Little Devils'.
“We didn’t road test much of the material on the disc, Red Blood Red of Home being one of the two exceptions,” states Penner of the tune that is a rare “muscular, in your face” tune that is set on a pounding arrangement that fuses folk with metal undertow.
“That song was actually the first song I ever wrote once the Sunparlour Players came together and we just never got around to cutting it.”
That the band had eight months, in what Penner calls “intensive bursts”, to work out ideas and record the 11 pieces found on 'Us Little Devils', worked to the group’s advantage. It is an album that flows nicely, provides no shortage of interesting turns while presenting a unique sonic sweep and literate set of songs.
Penner and his mates, Dennis Van Dine and Michael Rosenthal, are all solid multi-instrumentalists and Penner’s lyrics are born out of interesting ideas.
When asked what the catalyst was for the tune 2 Minds Listening, Penner went into a lengthy and engaging story about an event in his youth where he and a couple of pals made what in hindsight wasn’t a particularly good decision, that ended with his arrest in a national park.
“It was the only time I’ve been arrested and we wanted to visit some friends who were working in the park which was closed at the time. Yes, we broke in and ended up in a three-hour chase by a warden, partially on foot and the last leg in a car. Luckily for us the warden realized we weren’t all that dangerous and when he caught us his first words were, “that was so much fun”. He really could have thrown the book at us but in the end it was just a few fines and we had to pay for his gas,” laughs Penner who used the saga as the launching pad for what becomes a largely fictional ode that spins off elsewhere.
As far as the live shows go Penner believes the Sunparlour Players is an act that “takes chances.”
You can find out by heading to the Pawn Shop for the Edmonton date if you are in the area or go to You Tube and catch a couple of performances of new and old material from this band that appears to be in the hunt for larger audiences for the long run.