Miner’s Return

Rochelle and the Miner's Players (minus Dave) The title is a Coronation St. reference - if you didn't catch it - and it's appropriate because the Miner's Tavern really is our gathering place and home away from home when we're at Bass Lake near Cobalt in Northern Ontario. And the landlady/barmaid/Battersby of the Miner's is the inimitable Rochelle Schwartz (pictured, centre, holding Voyageur). Since Rochelle moved to town - and soon thereafter bought the Tavern - it's become a popular spot among locals and visitors and an important stop on the Northern Ontario music circuit and there's nowhere quite like it.

We did a very successful presentation at the Miner's a few years ago and since I was going to have Voyageur with me on this year's trip to Bass Lake (in preparation for an appearance in Ottawa at the very end of our holiday), Rochelle and I decided to mount a revival, as it were. As usual, Rochelle arranged for a great lineup of imported and local talent to bring the guitar to life following the presentation. Now, a Saturday matinee on the Labour Day weekend is a bit of a tough sell anyway but we did get a great response from a small but enthusiastic crowd - including long time Six String Nation supporter and material contributor Helen Scully Culhane and (finally!) her repatriated-from-Toronto daughter Terry, who also functioned as emcee and lined up a promotional interview for us on CJTT-FM in nearby New Liskeard.

We were lucky to get New Liskeard guitarist Zak Martel (pictured, second from left) just before his big move to Montreal to continue his studies and performing career with the great Denis Chang. Zak was accompanied on clarinet by Darcy Peter (pictured, far left) and they performed both in the second set from the stage and as part of the presentation in the "performance pocket" - the same role played by Zak's guitar-duo partner Jamie Dupuis the last time we did show at the Miner's. To see the two of them at work, you can check then out in the studio here. Filling out that second set were Dave Laronde (not pictured) from just down the road in Temagami, who did a couple of terrific original songs (and made that excellent comment about how he had to unlearn all the songs he played in teaching himself guitar in order to be able to write his own), the incomparable Alec Morrison (pictured third from left. Currently in residence in a room above the Tavern - more on him in a later post) and Bryce Jardine (pictured, far right) and David Newberry (pictured, second from right) who made a special trip up from Toronto to be part of the show. It was a treat to have them both and if you haven't heard Newberry's voice, I suggest you check him out here.

If we can get the dates right, nothing would make me happier than doing an annual show at the Miner's. It's a very special place, so if you're heading north on Highway 11, make sure you take the 11B turnoff into Cobalt and drop in to say hello and enjoy northern brews on tap Thursdays through Sundays. Plus, the lake route is way prettier than the bypass and you'll also get to see Haileybury - home of Hardy Boys author Leslie Macfarlane and Canada's most expensive house - where I'll meet you in the next post.

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