Home Routes wraps up season five in Thompson April 8 with singer, storyteller and poet David Newland

Home Routes wraps up season five in Thompson April 8 - and season two over at the Camerons' place at 206 Campbell Dr. - with Ottawa-born singer, storyteller and poet David Newland, who now calls Cobourg home in Ontario's Northumberland County, between the northern lakeshore of Lake Ontario, east of Toronto, west of Kingston, and south of the gently rolling Haldimand Hills.

Newland, raised on the shores of Georgian Bay, near Parry Sound, Ont., says he "constantly returns to nature, to small towns and old ways" in his songwriting, which he manifests on ukulele, guitar, harmonica, and banjo.

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Give It A Whirl, his first studio album, was produced by two-time Juno nominee Gregg Lawless, and features John Sheard, George Koller, Dala, Kirsten Jones, and members of Quartette, The Good Lovelies and The Bebop Cowboys.

Newland has been creative director for Mississauga, Ont.-based Adventure Canada since February 2013 and founded The McFlies, a 1980's-style Toronto acoustic band in 2005.

In October 2011, Newland received a Writers' Works in Progress Ontario Arts Council grant to help fund him as he bangs away on his first novel. He was the founding editor of Roots Music Canada, where he served as editor-in-chief between November 2009 and January 2013. He also spent a year-and-a-half between June 2008 and November 2009 as editor-in-chief of canoe.ca, Quebecor's online portal.

Tim and Jean Cameron moved here from Ashern two years ago. All concerts at the Camerons' place start at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $20. For more information give Tim or Jean a call at 204-677-3574 or send them an e-mail at: cameron8@mymts.net. Home Routes, original venue was the Basement Bijou at Thompson Public Library, kicking off in Thompson on Sept. 22, 2009.

Performers typically do 11 shows in 14 days at their stops along the Borealis Trail circuit. Other stops on the Borealis Trail beside Thompson include Flin Flon, The Pas and Minitonas and Swan River Valley in Manitoba and in Saskatchewan, Buena Vista, Annaheim, Prince Albert, Napatak, Melfort and Greenwater Lake Provincial Park.

Other circuits on Home Routes include the Yukon Trail; Salmon-Berry in British Columbia; Cherry Bomb and Blue Moon in British Columbia and Alberta; Chautauqua Trail in Saskatchewan and Alberta; CCN SK in Saskatchewan; Central Plains in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; Jeanne Bernardin in Manitoba, Agassiz in Manitoba and Ontario; Estelle-Klein in Ontario and Québec and the Maritimes in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Home Routes Inc. (also known as Home Routes/Chemin Chez Nous) is a national non-profit arts organization incorporated in February 2007 to create new performance opportunities for Canadian musicians and audiences, in the homes of volunteer house concert presenters organized in touring circuits through rural and urban, French and English communities in Canada. A national volunteer board of directors operates the arts-service and arts-delivery organization, along with a small professional staff in Winnipeg and more than 200 volunteer house concert hosts across Canada.

Home Routes says it "owes its existence to the theoretical footprint of the Chautauqua travelling shows of the late 19th and 20th century."

The Chautauqua movement was named after the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly founded in New York State in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning. It was broadened almost immediately beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education.

"In the time before radio the Chautauqua was the cultural conduit between the urban east and the rest of North America. Traveling by horse and wagon, the Chautauqua was 'The Medicine Show' bringing the latest in show tunes, science, the gospel, fashion, snake oil and whatever was the latest invention for the modern kitchen. Almost every community had a 'Chautauqua Society' laying the groundwork locally and producing the show. The arrival in any rural community of the annual Chautauqua was a big event that was celebrated across the continent and even today, almost a hundred years later, the word "Chautauqua" still reverberates in existing concert venues and in cultural and educational institutions. The travelling shows disappeared as radio and the movies grew in prominence and those mini extravaganzas became a wistful lingering memory in North American history.

"The modern folk music 'House Concert' was born out of necessity in the early 1950's just at the time when the folk 'boom' began. In 1952 The Weavers had a number one radio hit with Leadbelly's 'Irene Goodnight' and the song ignited a mini folk song revival; suddenly folk music was popular. City people started buying banjo's and guitars and fiddles and began to learn the folklore that country people were born with and they began to create new songs about the world as they saw it then and ever since. There simply weren't enough places to play for all the young and enthusiastic men and women who decided that being folk musicians was for them and so the grass roots invented a grass roots solution to the problem. People discovered that their living rooms made fine venues for acoustic music and began what has turned out to be a long tradition of home based intimate presentations of folk music. What has been consistent has been the extraordinary level of excellence.

"Home Routes is a rough amalgam of these two historical approaches formulated and delivered with respect for all the work that went before we came along and re-kindled these excellent ideas. The volunteer hosts, like the Chautauqua Societies before them, play the role of community cultural animator. The musicians, like musicians and vaudevillians have for all time, get to work and play for these very special networks of vibrant committed people. The inter relationship between performer and host provides community after community with access to a brilliant array of artists. There is a trade off inherent between the parties, the artist brings their musical skills and the host contributes the effort to bring out an audience. One doesn't work without the other. The thought of "circuits" of house concerts flows logically from the experience of the Chautauqua and equally from the current needs of the communities and of the artists."

© Copyright Thompson Citizen

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