I’m more inclined to say batten down the hatches than Merry Christmas at this time of year, and I used to say I would never record a Christmas song ever – but this may one day be the only exception, being the first on the seasonal subject I can relate to.

It’s a love song really, for family, and that kind of love can make this time of year so special, or so lonely.

If you’re feeling the former, I hope time slows and you can soak up every sparkling moment. If you’re in the latter group, I’m working on a time machine and will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I’ll be humming this tune. Here’s to the holidays.

In honour of the season, I present to you, just in time for the last few holiday bashes, How to Have a Hootenanny.

WARNING: Contains folk music humour.

You may recall from my video diary Hootenanny for One (for those who don’t, watch it below), that one of my favourite albums during my time at the ISLAND Hill House artist residency was HOOTE NANNY! pictured here:

The back of which included instructions on “how to enjoy this classic past time” that I, in my folk-nerdiness, was rather amused by.

I transcribed it and have saved these instructions through the autumn months – but with the advent of Solstice and the holiday season in full swing, the time has come to share them with you. Enjoy.

The name of the game is “hootenanny.” It’s as old as your grandmother – and twice as much fun. In fact, folks have been playing “hootenanny” in one form or another ever since the Welshe started whooping it up at their first annual eisteddfod. And that, my friends, was back in the Twelfth Century.

For those of you who have never enjoyed this classic pastime, there’s no better time than the present. The rules of the game will be easily grasped by anyone who has already mastered the ins and outs of Monopoly. They go something like this:


1. Pick your place. Suggested “hootenanny” sites are backyards or front parlors. Study hall or Carnegie Hall. A coffee house or somebody else’s house (not your own, for reasons which will soon be apparent).

2. Pick your players. Actually, any number can play. We have found, however, that “hootenanny” is most successful played (as what game isn’t?) by an even number of representatives from both sexes.

3. Pick your songs. At this juncture, we must note tht the game may be played in either two variations.

A. The Classic (or Short) Game of Hootenanny. In this version, all songs must br genuine “folk songs”: i.e., proved to have been written before 1879 by an authentic Union Pacific tie-layer, and duly registered with the Library of Congress.

B. The Whole Hog (or Anything Goes) Hootenanny. This version, as the name implies, allow the introduction of all “folk songs” – meaning anything from Gallagher and Sheen to Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were, after all, “just folks”.


Give 5 points to anyone who remembers all 112 verses of John Henry (there’s one in every crowd).

Give 8 points for each song in a foreign language with the following exceptions:

Swahili, Tagalog and Bosnian: 12 points each

Upper Baluchistani: 52 points and your choice of the prettiest girl in the room.

Deduct 50 points from anyone found singing in tune.


Player “A” opens the game by belting out the first song that comes into his head. He continues until interrupted by Player “B”, who now belts out the first song that comes into his head until interrupted by Player “C”. The game continues in this manner until all players are arrested by exhaustion and/or the cop on the beat for maintaining a public nuisance.

OBJECT OF THE GAME: having fun.

So now, ladies and gentlemen, you know al there is to know about the ancient and honorable game of “hootenanny.”


Watch Hill House Diary #07: Hootenanny for One


(Note: I reserve all caps statements for only the most special of occasions).

The IndieGoGo fundraising campagin for my next album, The Living Record, came to a close ten days ago at a total of $9,390. HENCE THE ALL CAPS because it’s REMARKABLE. There were a couple weeks there where I wasn’t sure we’d even make my goal of $8,000 but in the last two days it just click-click-clicked its way up and beyond!

It reminded me of this guy and how we are attracted to momentum. I’m grateful for it, so very grateful for it. (more…)

Last spring – Easter weekend to be exact (an intentionally poorly planned time) – E.S.L., Cris Derksen and I went on a wee tour. We had a blast.

Being a solo artist, I loved the feeling of being in a band – even thought I wasn’t in the band, I enjoyed fitting myself into their group dynamic, picking up on the inside jokes, and most of all having other people to talk to on the drives from town to town. Not to mention I love the music they all make and loved that Cris and Joy became my back up band for those nights though British Colombia’s interior.

So we decided to do it again. This time we headed to Vancouver Island. And this time, it was not a holiday weekend. Phewf.

Here are my photos from the weekend – the day before we left I joined 2004 and got an iPhone, as you can see from my addicted istagram use. (more…)

When we left off last night the hideous dragon had carried the maid to his cave by moonlight
He gnashed his teeth, and breathed his fire – the heath quaked, and we trembled in fear

I LOVED that song in high school – my musical theatre phase, or at least the height of it. I sing it still – it was often a lullaby for my babe – and anytime I think “where were we?” the lyrics are instantly on the tip of my tongue.

And where were we? When we left off last week, Cris and I were on tour in Ontario… (more…)

It’s a line I’ve sung many times over the past eight years. The song, Pussycat Pussycat, I wrote in my early hours back in Canada after a year of living in England, on a bus from Toronto to Montreal… I love performing it live and aimed to include it on Fell Out of Oz in 2005, but Futcher wasn’t feeling it. It clearly didn’t fit on The Wedding Singer and The Undertaker and I began to consider it would be a song I often sang but never recorded.

But I think it might be on The Living Record. At least, I’m going to run it past the gang. Despite her years, I feel she could fit in with the new crowd. She’s one that keeps being true for me and I’d love to see her get her dues.

Indeed, where have I been?

This trip, and I’ve been away just over a month now, has felt like a hundred journeys in one. (more…)

An unexpected thing occurred during my artist residency at the ISLAND Hill House (and a funny thing on the way to the forum) – I made my first video blog. Artists do it all the time, I watch them all the time, and I carry my little flip video camera every where I go. But I’d never been compelled to use it in that way.

Something about being alone in the woods, something about finding a way to still connect with the world, something about having lots of time to think – and once I got started, I really liked it.

Which is to say I think I may be a budding video blogger. I may also be a budding nudist. Here are the nine video diaries in a row: