Category Archives: Featured Artists

Steve Richer to Pay Tribute to Pete Seeger at Gil’s Hootenanny 2019

As 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Pete’s birth, the Gil’s Hootenanny program will include a special presentation of his legacy by Steve Richer, folk singer and banjo-playing Professor Emeritus at Carleton University.

Pete Seeger was one of Gil and Helen Levine’s favourite troubadours.

Gil and Helen’s connection to Pete was particularly strong. In 1957, Gil co-produced a Pete Seeger concert in Ottawa – with friends Harvey Glatt and Max Sternthal – at a time when Pete was blacklisted in the US. Helen recalled “it was a challenge back then for each of them to scrape $25 together to rent the hall”.

Gil’s Hootenanny organizers are thrilled that Richer will be part of this year’s “sing-along”. For the past several years, Richer has been teaching sold out courses on the history of protest music, featuring songs of the civil rights, labour and peace movements. A folk/protest singer since he was eighteen, and a noted researcher of protest music, Richer is presenting musical tributes to Seeger’s life and times in Canada, the United States and Mexico throughout 2019.

Steve Richer

The 2019 Gil’s Hootenanny will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm in Clark Hall at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive. Staffed by UNIFOR members, the RA Centre is accessible, has loads of parking and is well serviced by OC Transpo. Tickets ($10, kids free) are available online and (cash only) at Octopus Books, 16 Third Avenue.

“The Marias” To Headline Gil’s Hootenanny’s 10th Anniversary Line-up

Maria Dunn and Maria Hawkins will be the 2019 headliners for the 10th Annual Gil’s Hootenanny, Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm at the RA Centre (Clark Hall), 2451 Riverside Drive. Affectionately dubbed “the Marias” by Hootenanny organizers, Dunn and Hawkins will share the stage, alternating songs in a musical conversation that will be intimate & fun with the added element of audience participation – a tradition for this annual sing-along event.

Poster design by Kate Morgan

Inspired by the legacy of Gil Levine (1924-2009), the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Gil’s Hootenannywas first presented in 2010. Gil and his wife Helen, who died in October 2018, hosted hootenannies at their home for decades.

Passionate about preserving the spirit of folk music, twice Juno-nominated Maria Dunnis often compared to Woody Guthrie for her keen social awareness and her melodic, unvarnished songs about the lives of working men and women. Her stint as a volunteer DJ in community radio encouraged Dunn to listen widely to master songwriters, singers and instrumentalists of folk and roots music. Becoming an avid fan of live music, Dunn began writing her own music in the mid-90s, drawing deeply on the folk tradition of storytelling through song to honour the resilience and grace of “ordinary” people, past and present.

Ottawa’s Blues Lady Maria Hawkins is a much-beloved performer in Ottawa, and is well known as the co-creator of “Blues in the Schools”, which garnered the W.C. Handy Blues Award. Hawkins has also earned a United Way Community Builder Award for her work with local charities, the NAC Award for Artistic Excellence, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for 25 years of inspiration to Canadian youth. Hawkins’ music is influenced by a deep respect for indigenous peoples and passion for peace and justice, and is informed by many facets of her background, including her black, Mi’kmaq and Acadian ancestry.

Pete Seeger was among Gil and Helen’s favourite troubadours. As 2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of his birth, the Hootenanny will celebrate Pete with a special presentation of his legacy by Steve Richer, folk singer and banjo-playing Professor Emeritus at Carleton University. The Hootenanny Band will open the evening with a selection of new and traditional sing-along music. The Band comprises members of the Elizabeth Riley Band – Carmel Whittle, Jen Gilbert & Patricia Reynolds – with Debbie Rubin and Mark Evenchick.

Helen and Gil’s vision of a better world included bringing people together to celebrate, share and sing about the stories, struggles and victories of working women and men. Gil’s Hootenanny continues that legacy.

Tickets ($10, kids free) are now available online and can be purchased (cash only) at Octopus Books, 116 Third Avenue. For additional information visit Facebook.

Maria Hawkins: Blues Lady Returns to Gil’s Hootenanny

Maria Hawkins with Arthur McGregor warming up for the inaugural Gil’s Hootenanny outside the Elmdale Tavern on Sommerset Street.

Ten years after her first performance at 2010’s Gil’s Hootenanny, Maria Hawkins is returning as a headliner for the 10th Anniversary event. Long considered Ottawa’s Blues Lady, Maria has been a well known and much-beloved performer in Ottawa for decades, and is recognized for her dynamic and confident stage presence. Maria Dunn and Maria Hawkins, affectionately dubbed “the Marias” by Hootenanny organizers, are the headliners for this annual May Day sing-along event.

What Maria’s legion of fans might not realize is that her music is informed by the intersection of many facets of her background, including her Mi’kmaq and Acadian roots. Maria can also trace her family back to “released slaves from Sir John Hawkins”. Given her ancestry, it’s no wonder that Maria’s music is informed by a deep respect for indigenous peoples and a passion for peace and justice. Her repertoire at Gil’s Hootenanny will include a song of “thanks to first nations who helped bring slaves to Canada through the underground railway”.

Maria is well known as the co-creator of “Blues in the Schools”, bringing music to classrooms across the nation’s capital. This program garnered Maria the W.C. Handy Award for bringing together 200 students from 28 schools to play in the largest blues band ever, with help from local musicians. According to Maria, “It was some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done”.

Maria with Chris White on stage at the inaugural Gil’s Hootenanny

Less well known is Maria’s work with dozens of local charities, which earned her a United Way Community Builder Award. Maria has won numerous other awards, including the NAC Award for Artistic Excellence. Maria is particularly proud of her Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for 25 years of inspiration to Canadian youth.

Gil’s Hootenanny is delighted that Maria will once again be bringing her voice and her message of hope, gratitude and strength to Gil’s Hootenanny.

The 2019 Gil’s Hootenanny will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm in Clark Hall at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive. Staffed by UNIFOR members, the RA Centre is accessible, has loads of parking and is well serviced by OC Transpo. Tickets ($10, kids free) are available online and (cash only) at Octopus Books, 16 Third Avenue. 

Maria Dunn: An Important and Vital Songwriter

A true preserver of the spirit of folk music, one of Gil’s Hootenanny 2019 featured artists, twice Juno-nominated Maria Dunn (www.mariadunn.com), is often compared to Woody Guthrie for her keen social awareness and her unvarnished songs about the lives of working men and women. Maria Dunn and Maria Hawkins, affectionately dubbed “the Marias” by Hootenanny organizers, are the headliners for the 10th Anniversary of this annual May Day sing-along event.

Photo by David Williamson

Thirteen years as a volunteer DJ in community radio (1987-2000) encouraged Maria to listen widely to the master songwriters, singers and instrumentalists of folk and roots music. Discovering their recordings and becoming an avid fan and supporter of live music in her community, she absorbed the important messages of compassion and human struggle that have always been central to the writings of folk artists from Buffy Ste. Marie to Hazel Dickens, from Bill Broonzy to Dick Gaughan.

By the time she began writing her own music in the mid-90s, Maria was learning to draw deeply on the folk tradition of storytelling through song to honour the resilience and grace of “ordinary” people, past and present.

In keeping with Pete Seeger’s words (1994), “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known”, her latest recording, Gathering,highlights stories of love—not songs of romantic love, but songs of family, community, humanity and the love that fires our actions to make the world a better place. The songs range from historical and narrative to personal and immediate, inspired by social justice stories both global and local.

The 2019 Gil’s Hootenanny will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm in Clark Hall at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive. Staffed by UNIFOR members, the RA Centre is accessible, has loads of parking and is well serviced by OC Transpo. Tickets ($10, kids free) are available online and (cash only) at Octopus Books, 16 Third Avenue. 

Gathering

Eve Goldberg – A Voice for Social Justice

Eve Goldberg, the 2018 Gil’s Hootenanny headliner, is a singer-songwriter who believes that she has a unique platform “to be a voice for social justice and the power of positive change”. For Eve, this commitment not only means writing issue-oriented songs, but also, and perhaps more importantly, creating space in her performances “to help create community by being inclusive and positive”. Continue reading

Eve Goldberg: Boundless Musical Influences

Anyone lucky enough to see Eve Goldberg perform is captivated not only by her talent and charisma but also by the obvious depth of her musical background and influences.

Gil’s Hootenanny’s 2018 headliner, Eve grew up in the Boston area, where her multi-instrumentalist, activist mom took her to see folk legends such as Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Pete Seeger and Doc Watson. Eve acknowledges that as a child, she did not initially appreciate these performers, though they would later have a significant influence on her song writing and performance repertoire. Continue reading

Moonfruits | What the Future Holds

Ste-Quequepart Tour Poster

Ste-Quequepart Tour Poster

Gil’s Hootananny might be one of the last opportunities to see Moonfruits in person, as 2017 is looking to be a busy year for them.

Shortly after headlining Gil’s Hootenanny, Moonfruits – Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Milliare – will be releasing their first French-language album, Ste-Quequepart, which they describe as a “folk concept album that plays like a short film soundtrack.” After the mid-May album release, Moonfruits will be heading out on a Canadian tour to promote the album, which likely means they will be on the road for much of the year. The tour will give the band the opportunity to focus on the things they enjoy: writing and performing music. Continue reading

Moonfruits | Singing and Social Activism

When asked to pinpoint performances that left a lasting impression on them, Moonfruits – Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Milliare – have a myriad of meaningful personal and professional experiences to draw upon. From singing and playing banjo during a protest in -20 degree weather, to a show with The Peptides that culminated in an 11-person finale of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, Moonfruits bring their dedication to social justice to each of their performances. Continue reading

Mark Evenchick | Passion, Talent & Perseverance

Mark Evenchick

Mark Evenchick

Singer-songwriter Mark Evenchick will be one of the featured performers at Gil’s Hootenanny 2017. He is expected to perform a new song, It’s Not Funny Anymore, about the political situation south of the Canadian border.

The winner of the 2016 Hootenanny songwriting contest, Mark’s love of music started when he was 13 and learned three chords on his sister’s guitar. Those few chords led Mark on a decades-long musical voyage that includes performing, songwriting & recording. Continue reading