We Have A Name!

Ottawa Folk Music Network:
A hub for community, participatory & traditional singing & playing

We met last night and had a very good discussion of what a new group could do. Liz took minutes and sent them to me the following night (amazingly speedy, thanks!). I have posted them as a pdf at the bottom  of this note.

The most exciting part for me is that we now have both a clearer idea of what we are and a name. This may change if we decide it doesn’t work well, but for now most of us feel that the above name sums up the goals and intentions of this new network pretty well.

What led us to the name Ottawa Folk Music Network was a discussion of the potential function of this new group. Primarily we see ourselves as a group of people wanting to make it easier for people to meet and sing and play with others who approach music with a folk perspective. This is very much about process: participatory and owned by the people who are doing it rather than being in the hands of experts who sell it to us for passive consumption. It was also agreed that the old folk songs are very good for that process, but most of us are less concerned about purity of form than inclusivity of process. This is an open-source, DIY, network, all about the music we make for ourselves.

We talked about setting up a web presence people can use to find others they want to sing and play with, whether in small groups for practicing material in depth or in larger gatherings focused on a particular time, place, type of music or other criteria. I committed to work on that and will be following through with research and implementation of that strategy.

In the meantime we can start by using this website for connecting people. If anyone wants to connect with others to sing and play folk music in Ottawa or the surrounding area, please feel free to post a comment on this website. I will approve all comments unless they are offensive. If you choose to post your contact information, people can communicate directly with you. Otherwise, I can act as a contact person connecting people who wish to host gatherings, find other musicians and singers, find other musical people in their part of town, or whatever their interest might be.

If you want to host a gathering, with whatever limitations you choose, (relating to style, instrumentation desired, geographical location, …) please feel free to do so. Again, you can give me your address and/or phone number and/or email address and I will pass it to those who express an interest in attending.

As this network grows we will develop a more efficient system, but for now, I am happy to help people get together in any way I can.

We also talked about a gathering of those who want to sing and play music or get to know a few musical people. I will keep you posted about this, but we are thinking about something in May, either at a home or some other space that would be accessible to all who want to come.

I am very excited about the new Ottawa Folk Music Network, and I hope to hear comments from many of you about how you want to connect with others to sing and play folk music in Ottawa.

Folk Group Meeting 13.03.12


About Maura Volante

Maura Volante is a talented and experienced performer. Although she has written many songs over the years, her main focus these days is traditional folk songs. These are songs that have stood the test of time and have an enduring quality that speaks directly and clearly to the human experience. They also tell us about our history. Because these songs are not commonly sung in these post-folk-revival times in which folk music generally means singer-songwriter material, Maura has taken on the project of helping to keep this valuable material alive. Her specialty is Canadian folk songs, but she knows many songs from the British Isles and the USA as well. All her concerts and other programs are designed with group singing in mind. Whether in a concert, a tour, a social gathering, a classroom, a festival or a conference hall, Maura creates an encouraging atmosphere, relaxed and inclusive. She uses her strong voice and facilitation techniques to bring out the best possible music with these voices in this moment. Maura firmly believes that everyone can sing and, moreover, that everyone has a right to sing and be part of group singing activities, without judgement or criticism. No matter what the various skill levels of participants may be in any group singing activity, it always sounds good in a group, because the voices naturally attune with each other. Maura also teaches and calls contra dancing and simpler forms of traditional dancing suitable for all ages, often incorporating group singing into the dancing through the use of play party songs, which are sung by the whole group as they dance.
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One Response to We Have A Name!

  1. This is Tim Kitz, an attende at this second meeting (but not the first), and leader of the L’Arche Hootenanny. Here’s a couple of thoughts I’ve had kicking around in my head in the wake of the meeting, originally from an e-mail I sent to Maura.

    I’ve thought a little bit more about the tag, and though I love it, I have two suggestions.

    1) I think the word DIY has to appear somewhere in the tag or name. When I look at the key words in the name and tag (‘folk,’ ‘comunity,’ ‘participatory,’ ‘traditional’) none of these words tend to be particularly attractive to young folk.

    ‘DIY’ is a hot-word for some young people, especially if they have anything to do with punk. More underground/political/ethically-orientated/authentic(?) punks often define and equate punk with nothing else other than ‘DIY’ itself. There’s this whole subculture of folks blending punk and hippie cultures, among them ‘crusties’ of no fixed address who are busy hitchhiking and hopping freight trains, singing Woody’s songs on banjos while dressed like dreadlocked punks. I’ve never managed to really connect with this scene in Ottawa (and it seems bigger in the States), but some of my contact with Occupy Ottawa proves they are out there.

    And parenthetically, I think we should try to make the website as ‘open-source’ as possible – like wikipedia, where anyone can post or edit entries. And maybe the website should try and point that out fairly prominently.

    2) I’d suggest adding “of all kinds” to the end. There might be very specific or core things that we want to do – traditional songs transmitted orally – things that aren’t really being done elsewhere. But around the core, I think the umbrella should be as open as possible, as long as its amateur and participatory-orientated, and that openness needs to be as clear as possible.

    It was an exciting meeting, and I’m excited about this project!

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