Field Notes

Photo by Justin Hall

A different drummer
Idlers drummer Curtis Andrews says he “loathes the recording industry,” but he’s coming out with his first solo album anyway.

“I never planned to record my music, just perform it if possible,” he says. “There is so much that is not music that is involved with making records, and it makes people’s heads become too big and their perception of themselves gets out of whack.”

The Offering of Curtis Andrews is composed mostly of material Andrews wrote while in India in 2006.

“Basically, my music draws its inspiration from the deep studies I have been doing of south Indian music and West African music,” he says.

Despite his dislike of recording, he decided that it would make sense to record music from his big creative spurt overseas.

“If I can do this without going broke, it would be a great document of me as an artist at this point in time, and might help me to meet other creative musicians who may enjoy my music and hopefully make some new music,” he says.

Some of the songs on the album, which will be performed with a seven-piece band, have never been played live before.

The album is being released on Dec. 16 at the Elk’s Lodge.


Emile’s Dream meets the stage
“Emile Benoit was a self taught fiddler from Black Duck Brook on the Port au Port Peninsula,” says Emile’s Dream director Jillian Keiley. “He tells the story that he didn’t have a radio when he was growing up, when he ‘ran out of tunes’ that he knew he started making them up to play at local dances.”

He led a life as a fisherman, logger, and farmer and raised thirteen children, and would go on to be a major player in the province’s folk renaissance—as both a musician and a storyteller.

Benoit, who passed away in 1992, is about to be honoured and remembered by a joint effort between two of the province’s theatre companies.

Emile’s Dream, which was originally performed at the Stephenville Theatre Festival, is a combination of theatre and Benoit’s music, says Keiley, artistic director of Artistic Fraud.

“It’s interwoven in a way I’ve never seen before, Keiley says. “[Writer Robert Chafe] took Emile’s own stories and words and music and the three actors braid them together.”

“It’s like a juggling act—there are always three balls in the air.”

Benoit’s stories were often silly, Keiley says. Some of her favourites are the ones about seeing a 30-foot high skeleton in a graveyard, and how he cured himself of tuberculosis.

“Some of them are funny and some are sad,” says Keiley. “And even the sad ones, he finds some humour and love in.”

Benoit was nearly retired when he became a mainstream success. He was a topic and source for Gerald Thomas’ book about French Newfoundland, and he received an honourary doctorate from MUN.

“He was an unsuspecting hero but a great one. It’s a wonderful story,” Keiley says.

The play runs from Dec. 5 to Dec. 7 at MUN’s D.F. Cook Recital Hall.

Ken Campbell’s protégé to visit N.L.
British-based actor Sean McCann is performing in St. John’s for a simple reason—his friend, the late experimental playwright Ken Campbell, told him to.

“He’d been talking about how great Newfoundland (and St. John’s in particular) for many years,” he says. “He’d feature it in his stage shows—in particular “The Ship Inn off Duckworth”—which Ken always maintained was the single friendliest place on the planet.”

After working with Mary Walsh’s class in June at MUN’s campus in Harlow, England, he promised to perform in St. John’s within a year.

“When Ken died in August, I thought I should go as soon as possible—part of this trip is very much in memory of him. Ken loved sending people on epic journeys—to see what they’d accomplish, and what they’d bring back.”

He’ll be performing two monologues. “Poetaster” is a tribute to Campbell, and was written in various versions between 1994 and 1998. It’s a 70-minute tale of two guys who try to take revenge on their bosses.

“It’s my first monologue, and I wrote it after seeing Ken perform “Jamais Vu” in London, which is the single most influential piece of theatre in my life,” McCann says. “I’d just started my first job as an English teacher at a very posh school, and I was bored so I put on this monologue based on my notes about ‘What I’d do if I were Ken Campbell.”

He calls it “very rude, very gory, very blasphemous, hopefully offensive.”

The second monologue, “WorkPrint,” was written much more recently. McCann calls it his secret history of film, an outrageous conspiracy thriller. It’s inspired by (but not ripped off from, he adds) Theodore Roszak’s 1991 novel, Flicker.

Sean McCann is performing at the Rose and Thistle on Dec. 18 and 19 Dec. 17 and 18

Radio show spawns website
Dashiell Brown spent three years working in daycare in St. John’s before finding his calling as creator and editor of, a website and blog dedicated to underexposed local talent.
The California native, who has a master’s degree in teaching, was inspired to create the site after starting a radio show called The New Spin with CHMR-FM.

“I just started getting really interested in all the music that was coming to the station. I was getting exposed to so many different bands and so then I just started writing about it.”

“I just wanted an entire multimedia site that kind of showcases all the talent that’s going on in St. John’s,” he says.

His site has show reviews, podcasted interviews with local artists, and even draws for concert tickets.
“People are always saying ‘here in St. John’s you have to create your work,” he says, noting that he couldn’t find permanent work as a teacher.

But Brown, who insists on working under a pseudonym, has even bigger plans.

Eventually he wants to create a record label, called Some Wicked after his blog, where he, a musician himself, would collaborate with local talent, doing remixes and producing albums as well.
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