|Aengus Finnan||All About Buford||Zoe Lewis||Rod MacDonald|
Angela: Who you just heard was someone named Aengus Finnan
and he just walked in breathless. I've made him sit down and said, let's
just start talking.
|Aengus: Good morning
Angela: Aengus, you got lost.
Aengus: I did indeed.
Angela: I'm sorry you should have taken the highway.
Aengus: Well, not my neck of the woods, but it was a nice drive.
Angela: What were you on, 52? 103?
Aengus: 52 and 51 and I turned the wrong way somewhere.
Angela: Oh, you went past Browns
Aengus: I met some nice folks though.
Angela: (laughing) Oh, that's good. Well, today on Folk Plus we are highlighting performers at the Folk Alliance at Kutshers. The gathering has been in the Poconos other years, but it's moved to Kutshers, which is very exciting! I hope they keep it there. It is our back yard. You can actually catch some of the acts today, you people listening out there, its 15 bucks to hear 10 incredible acts in quick rotation, sort of like those fast dating circles. You think you can't hear much but you really can.
Its not very fair to make you play so quickly, so I'd like to introduce you a little bit and you go ahead and fuss with your capos and whatever you have to do and then would you play something live, right away?
Aengus: I would love to.
Angela: We can get you a coffee and everything. I did a little research on Aengus. He was born in Ireland, Dublin. As a wee tot he moved to Canada. Since then, these past 27 years you've been busy! I've found out that you've done all these things. You've worked on an organic farm, with wind and solar power, by the way, we will take you round our hydro power plant later...
Aengus: I look forward to that
Angela: You worked with Youth For Peace, in fact created that as a teenager, joined the International Youth for Peace, studied in many colleges, one in Vancouver studying visual arts, one studying archeology, did diving to test water quality in Alberta, and if that wasn't enough, enrolled in University for theatre starting a children's touring company. Then, you went to teachers college, and taught 7th and 8th grade in some isolated area of James Bay, then decided to pursue the very label you are on and now came up with the last CD we just heard cut one from.
Aengus: Yeah. I get restless easily. Somehow, playing music, I get to be restless and committed to one thing.
Angela: Can you stay 'til perhaps 11:30 and play a few tunes though....
Aengus: I can stay as long as you'll have me.
Angela: Super. When we see All About Buford arrive, we will work them in and work you out and back to the conference. So kick us off here and we can hear some live music, that's what its all about.
Aengus Finnan Live: My Heart Has Wings
Angela: Mmmm beautiful, Aengus Finnan. I detect a struggle here. By the way, you can get that cd from North Wind, his cd, you can call the station 482-4141 or pull up his web site AengusFinnan.com. Call us if you want any information on anyone you hear in the next two hours. The struggle Im detecting after reading this little bio very quickly, and hearing you comment about being restless...both the first song I played form your cd and the one you just sang live you talk about the weary bones and the traveling and then in that song you sing about growing weary,,,yet you are drawn by the road- are you struggling with that personally?
Aengus: I am. I love being on the road. I guess its part of the lure of a career as a musician. I guess its a cheap fix in a way. Driving down the road looking at dilapidated old barns and bits of stone fences, it doesn't matter how many times I see them, I get filled with this urge to go and see who lives there and who used to live there.
Angela: And that's why you're late. You were pulling over at all those barns on route 51. So I did you a favor sending you out the scenic backwoods. That is a struggle though, for anyone.
Aengus: Well, there is the romance of the career, travel and seeing new places, and a thrill of putting words together and stories with a melody and singing it for people. And that that is a ticket to exploring the world is quite a thrill. There is the romance of that there is the other side - the sacrifices of time trying to build a career. Not just writing songs for a hobby and singing them because you like them but actually building a career. Being in another country at a radio station on some road you've never been down before. The joy of that kind of moment is ever present the sacrifice is not having a place you go back to permanently not being in steady touch with friends and family so there is a trade, but for now the trade is worth it.
Angela: I guess home has to become more and more internal. That's sort of a gift. Some of us depend on so many things and spots.
|Aengus: That's where I project the home into things like the old barns
and bits of stone..there was some beautiful frost on the trees on one of
the roads on the way in. I find my peace and my place no matter where it
is in rural scenery.
Angela: Well the cover of your new cd is just gorgeous. I can just keep
looking at that. Its not busy its calming before you even hear a stitch
of music its very calming. I love that cover. Its an old dilapidated barn.
If you'd like to look at it you can pull up
Aengus: Aengus is with an "e". Speaking of that barn, people talk about not seeing history around us. I often look at old barns and farmsteads and think that those are the greek theatres of North America. To go into those old barns and see the actual architecture of those barns, the stories that were lived out on those bits of land, it gets me thinking about the people and the struggle and the sacrifices made there. This was written after meeting an old farmer who had lost his farm to the bank the last place he wanted to be was in the nursing home where I met him. Here's a song called Ruins.
Aengus Live: Ruins
Angela: How much of that story did you wrap into it after meeting him? And how much is true?
Aengus: Well, he didn't torch his farm
Angela: I bet he wanted to in his heart.
Aengus: He did.
Angela: You saw it.
Aengus Yeah. He said after 65 years of farming, being born on that farm, and having gone through a lot of years of rough years and hardships nothing compared to the morning he stood there and watched the auctioneer sell off the family farm. Had he...well... looking back he would have torched it.
Angela: A big story round here.
Aengus: Yeah It's sad that so many people forget where food comes from you know?
Angela: Great American, right? Loblaws?
Aengus: Sure its a struggle to be a songwriter, but to actually stand out in a field and look at the ground and wait and hope and put your faith in the elements and the earth, and to call that a living and then to give it all away at prices that barely sustain you for the rest of the country to think it's in the big supermarkets - there's the rough and tumble edge to rural live. And then there's a noble and heroic side and they are tucked always on the tops of hills in little family farms that are increasingly more and more boarded up.
Angela: I know people selling 6 acres at a time, cuz that's what real estate wants. Their children aren't staying to farm, so every few years when they need the money this whole area is going that way, big time. Its neat for you to catch the story of a man half a century older than you are and sing these lines about "if you were a younger man" and here you are a younger man singing it, well there's a lot going on. Then you bring in his wife, how neat in the end..shes gone, his home is now going...great song. Would you sing something else?
Aengus: Sure, We had wanted to do a piece a couple of weeks ago. We got a bit of it via the wonders of our cell phone, so this is a song about time spent with djs. For all those folks who spend time either at the kitchen sink or spending time listening to a favorite station when they are out on the road. For me in particular, there was a Canadian broadcaster by the name of Peter Gzowski who touched thousands of Canadian's lives and quite a raconteur. I bring him to mind, he is no longer with us but his voice is ever there on the CBC. This is One Hand on the Radio.
Aengus Live: One Hand on the Radio (Caddick/Bond)
Angela: (clapping) That worked great by the way, when you called in and sang it, I have a dub for you by the way. Was it a phone booth?
Aengus: A cell phone
Angela: That was awesome, came out great. One other thing I want to
ask you while we are setting up for Buford
As I hear your story, listen to stuff and see everything that you've done, that I think poverty has lead you down many a fortuitous road. Not having, has opened up experiences. Im feeling that but I don't really know, so I'm asking.
Aengus: Its kind of like the east coast, and why there is such a love for music. When you don't have much you celebrate the simple things. Part of being an immigrant to Canada and growing up in a rural area and not ever being aware that we didn't have much, but relying on all of the other farmers and people in the area whether it was Canada day celebrations or thanksgiving dinner with farmers all up and down Shelter Valley getting together for a big banquet, that sort of community and reverence for stories and songs. It is the simple things that don't cost anything. Certainly the luxury of travel is that you get to see new places and those things are worth a thousand times more to me than any collection of things you might have in a cabinet or in a room somewhere; they let you dream.
Angela: The story I read was that you realized you wanted to travel and be a folk singer. Hey, here's a label that does that, Im going to borrow my friends computer and ..you didn't even know how to do e mail You didn't have it around you, you just did it. admirable.
Aengus: And really in a naive way. I didn't really know what was involved. I had one song at the time, but thought that was a good start.
Angela: But you were armed with the dream. You can't underestimate that.
All the rest came.
Can we have have one more song from you before you join the workshops? What are you heading back for?
Aengus: I'm actually heading into NY I have a concert tonight, then I'll be back.
Angela: Right you're restless. Who wants to just go back to Kutshers when you can head to NYC. Its about 2 hours and 15 min just so you know. We will get someone to give you directions and see how many barn we can work in.
Aengus: I'm going to do a song that's as yet untitled. It was written after I discovered that Gordon Lightfoot had been in the hospital for the past 7 weeks, in intensive care up until last week. He was a songwriter that I listened to I was quite inspired by him as a kid, long before I thought I'd be a songwriter. His stories really fed me with a desire to see Canada and gave me a taste of people's stories and characters long before I knew past the bounds of Northumberland counties. This is a song for him and I hope he gets well soon.
Aengus Live: Gordon Lightfoots Shield to Shoreline
Angela: Aengus Finnan with a tune he wrote with Gordon Lightfoot in mind. Yeah. He taught me lots of great vocabulary words. I was hooked on him as a teenager. Verdant. I had to look that up when I heard that in his Canadian Railroad Trilogy. Verdant....what kind of hills are those?
Aengus: He had a way of making you feel things before you were able to. To this day I remember being eight and sitting with big pilot headphones on staring out the window hearing "Affair on 8th Avenue" for the first time. (Singing)
"The perfume that she wore was from some little store on the downside
the scent lingered on long after she'd gone I remember it well"
||I remember feeling this ache and imagining this man standing in front
of a perfumery in the rain at night and smelling the perfume of a sweet
love from years ago and being past the jadedness of it being over and I
didn't have any life experience to give me that feeling but that was the
magic and power of poetry put to music and that's what he did so beautifully
with so many songs.
Angela: That's why over 700 of us have gathered this weekend in Sullivan County. We all feel that magic that music creates. Thanks so much for visiting.
Aengus: My pleasure
Angela: Enjoy your trip back down to the City and back up. Maybe I'll see you later today. Thanks so much for coming in. That was Aengus Finnan
Today's full playlist is at: http://www.wjffradio.org/FolkPlus/setlists/021116.html
Read all the NERFA 2002 Interviews Angela conducted