Sunday night’s Joe Hill Coffeehouse was a special one, diverting from the usual miriad of performers to a more personal folk dance, with almost the whole audience joining by the finale. The reason for the extra festivities is the departure of long time organizer Michael Gifford from the role.
Gifford, who played in all four of the ensembles, has organized the event for the past four years and, this being the first of his last two shows wanted to make a spectacle out of it by rounding up some of his talented friends and performing throughout the show. The performances began with Licorice Corn, old swing and pop favourites performed by Nicola Everton on clarinet and Gifford on guitar, ukulele, vocals and corn.
Next up was Craig Korth, Julie Kerr and the Occasional Offspring, with Korth moving back and forth between banjo and guitar, Kerr, his wife, accompanying on country and bluegrass vocals and their two daughters, Ella and Amy, on banjo and fiddle. Gifford played a huge bass.
Heavy Shtetl, a band comprising Catherine McGrath on accordion, mandolin and vocals; and Anneke Rosch on trombone, trumpet, vocals; Nicola Everton on clarinet; and Michael Gifford on tuba.
Lyrics and music delved between Yiddish, Russian, French and German. Dancer Slava Doval got the audience up and dancing with a circle dance.
Cattle Annie and The Crooked Corral wrapped things up with western swing, bluegrass and classic country.
Anneke (Cattle Annie) Rosch was on accordion and vocals; Catherine (Cactus Kate) McGrath on mandolin and vocals; Genie (Gin Jeanie) Sittig on fiddle; Craig (Ranger Craig) Korth on banjo, guitar and vocals; and Michael (Gut Bucket Giff) Gifford on string bass, washtub bass and vocals.
The night finished off with most of the audience on their feet, dancing to the western swing.
Gifford added that some members of both Cattle Annie and Heavy Shtetl may be calling it quits for the band, and so Sunday may have been the last time they perfrom together.