Nova Scotia’s Rose Vaughan goes digital

The Rose Vaughan Trio in the early 1990s.
The Rose Vaughan Trio in the early 1990s.

CBC Radio host Peter Gzowski once said, “Rose Vaughan’s songs are like Alice Munro short stories.”

High praise, given that Munro just won the Nobel Prize in Literature!

Halifax singer/songwriter Rose Vaughan has penned many iconic tunes over the decades. As a young and vibrant septuagenarian, she still performs occasionally and plans more recordings.

album2
The Trio’s second album

One of her tunes, “Stone and Sand”, from the Rose Vaughan Trio’s 1993 Fire in the Snow album, is featured in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2e7VMqJKt4

Rose’s songs have been going around in my head lately, as well as on my DVD player, because she recently hired me to get her songs online so people could buy them digitally. 

Winter Rose album cover
The Trio’s third album

I was delighted to be asked, as I’ve known Rose since the 1990s and even played a little accordion on her Winter Rose album. Cathy Porter, a consummate musician who did most of the Trio’s arranging and has gone on to be a sought-after side performer with some of Nova Scotia’s biggest stars, also enhanced the sound of bands I was in back then – much smaller stars in the firmament, I assure you. 

Their music was part of my life in the years after I returned to Nova Scotia and before I had my family. They’re lovely human beings whom I feel privileged to know.

The Trio's first album, Sweet Tarragon
The Trio’s first album, Sweet Tarragon

Each of Rose’s songs paints a story. The music is gentle and melodic, and the lyrics thoughtful and introspective. I can’t claim to be objective because of the nostalgia factor, but I’m truly enjoying listening to the albums again.

If you like “Stone and Sand” above, I invite you to take a listen to the songs on the Artist Playlist on her Facebook page, and samples of her other songs there and on her website, where she now sells CDs and mp3s.

Old Man Luedecke explains why he lives here

Singer-songwriter and banjo player Chris Luedecke is not really old, but he’s definitely a cultural treasure in Nova Scotia. His songs have a charm and maturity that belie his relative youth.

Here he and his wife, potter Teresa Bergen, explains how and why they got here:

Bing’s Eatery and Socialhouse – a nice surprise in Maitland

Bing’s Eatery and Socialhouse in Maitland, NS

The Tidal Bore in South Maitland had passed, and we were ready for lunch. Heading northwest to Maitland, we stopped at Bing’s Eatery and Socialhouse, expecting a typical “greasy spoon” with various deep fried offerings.

We were surprised to find a cozy interior painted in a deep colour that set off the original paintings on the wall.

We split a Harvest Wrap with turkey and a Caesar salad. The lively, organic veggies were wrapped in fresh herbs and a tasty dressing, and the generous Caesar was as crispy as could be.

Inside Bing’s Eatery, a cozy interior

The pièce de résistance was the dessert, a bumbleberry (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry) crumble with vanilla ice cream that lingered delightfully on our palates long after we left the building.

Choice of beverages included a variety of local and Canadian beers and other drinks. Propeller Ginger Beer, made in Halifax, is a very refreshing non-alcoholic choice for a hot day.

Our choice of beverage

The paintings on the wall were the work the owner, Bing himself. He used to run a tidal bore rafting outfit nearby, and opened the restaurant two years ago.

They have live music on Fridays. Check out the website for more details.

Sometimes it’s hard to find quality food in rural diners, so we were delighted with our meal and eager to recommend Bing’s to you!

Canada’s Got Talent: OneBlood, the Men of the Ernst Family Singers are Semi-Finalists!

The Ernst Family of Lunenburg are semi-finalists on Canada’s Got Talent. Please watch and vote/vote/vote for them. You can vote 50 times for the group. They are amazing singers. The video below is a beautiful rendition of Loch Lomond, and there are many more on YouTube. Check out the Canada’s Got Talent webpage on for more information about the Ernst Family and to find the Vote link in the menu. Voting is open Sunday nights after the TV show.

Halifax Jazz Festival is on

Strolling along the waterfront last Friday, we heard a cool jazz piano, accompanied by bass and drums, coming from the Festival Tent being set up on Lower Water St. at Salter St. extension. The place was crawling with volunteers adjusting banners and chairs, getting things ready for the show to start at 8 pm. They offered us a program, but, alas, we were on our way to see the Tattoo.

Setting up the Festival Tent for the Halifax Jazz Festival

The Halifax Jazz Festival continues until Saturday, July 16th in various venues around town.

The Tattoo: See it at least once

French motorcycle team, bagpipe bands, in the Tattoo finale

“Plain AWESOME, A-W-E-S-O-M-E PERIOD.”

That was my 11-year-old’s assessment of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo which he saw for the first time on Friday.

“What is it?” he kept asking before we went. “It’s … a show,” I said, inadequately.

It’s hard to describe the Tattoo; if you haven’t seen it, I’ll refer you to its own website, which says it is “the world’s largest indoor show…. featuring over 2,000 world-class Canadian and international military and civilian performers … a fast-paced, two-and-a-half hour family show featuring music, dance, acrobatics, drama and comedy in a number of innovative acts.”

Bands to the rafters and the choir during the finale

Originally modeled on the Edinburgh Tattoo in Scotland, the Nova Scotia Tattoo was first staged in 1979 and featured primarily military acts.

Over the years, many civilian acts have been added, including guest performers from all over the world.

In common with the military marching bands and demonstrations of physical prowess, virtually all the acts involved precision teamwork.

Estonian roller skaters pose for photos after the show

We saw a fabulous precision roller skating team from Estonia, the French Guarde Républicaine motorcycle ballet, a German gym wheel team, and of course, Scottish Highland Dancers from Nova Scotia and from Australia. The latter group mixed the traditional strict forms of Highland Dance with tribal rhythms and modern innovations, which I found intriguing, having grown up partly in Antigonish where many kids took Highland Dance lessons.

The highest level of millisecond exactness was displayed by an all-female New Zealand drill team.

Talentholdet's innovative rope skipping

The loosest group was the Danish gymnastic troupe Talentholdet whose playful exuberance contrasted refreshingly with the strict discipline of the other acts while performing jaw-dropping feats of tumbling.

Even the tightest military bands had their comic routines to keep us entertained.

Musically, it was impressive that the many brass bands, the bagpipe bands, the choir and the soloists, spread across the width of the Metro Centre, could play in ensemble (almost all the time) – another testament to discipline and talent. Quite the sound!

Notably most of the civilian performers were female – dance troupes in particular, and while there were many women in the military bands, you had to look closely to distinguish them in their uniforms.

The show has a strong vein of patriotism and support for the troops, in their current mission of training the Afghan army now that Canada’s combat role has ended. Included in the honours are police, firefighters, emergency medical services and other first responders who “serve and protect”.

Altogether, the Tattoo is a huge community effort supported by many volunteers. The audience contained people from every province in Canada and many from the USA.

It’s a show that just about everyone should experience at least once.

I’d Rather Be – Mike Aubé

How nice it is to live a simpler life in the Nova Scotia countryside. That’s the jist of Mike Aubé’s song, I’d Rather Be.

Annapolis Valley video guru Kim Smith filmed Mike walking through the autumn woods to make the video. Here it is:

Christmas in Mahone Bay

St. John's Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir
St. John's Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir, taken from the back of the church with a Fujifilm FinePix F1800, which has an 18x optical zoom. This photo was taken hand-held, from the back of the church, and isn't even at full zoom.

Don’t ever imagine that life in the more rural parts of Nova Scotia is devoid of fine cultural experiences.  In fact, there is more going on in many communities than a busy person can take in, and often it is all the richer for being home-grown.

Such was the case tonight when the St. John’s Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir, directed by Leslee Barry, presented their Christmas Concert.  The beautiful, large church was packed.  No wonder: the music was very fine, with interesting, complex arrangements well executed, and very accomplished instrumentalists accompanying the choir. Much money was raised for the local food bank, and everyone went home satisfied, and in fine Christmas spirit.

Photos taken with a Fujifilm FinePix S1800 digital camera.

church interior
Christmas concert in St. John's Lutheran, Mahone Bay, one of the "Three Churches". Taken at wide angle (28mm) with the Fujifilm FinePix S1800.

So much the better for knowing several people in the choir!  That’s the human scale of life here in Nova Scotia.

House on Edgewater St., Mahone Bay
House on Edgewater St., Mahone Bay, between the churches. I was impressed by how the S1800 could take pictures at high ISO settings (here ISO 800) allowing after-dark, no flash, no tripod photography like this.