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Book Review: Ray Fraser’s “Seasons of Discontent”

by James M. Fisher

Newest release from prolific NB author, Raymond Fraser.
Newest release from prolific NB author, Raymond Fraser.

Seasons of Discontent is Raymond Fraser’s thirteenth work of fiction. It could be subtitled; “The Continuing Adventures of Walt Macbride” since it features the recurring semi-autobiographical character Ray’s readers have met before in novels such as The Bannonbridge Musicians and In Another Life. In fact, Seasons expands upon Part Three of In Another Life (“The Mid Sixties and Beyond”). However, it is certainly not necessary to have read these other books before reading this one, the Prologue succinctly sets up the novel for the uninitiated.

The Setting
The time is 1963. The place is the fictional New Brunswick town of Bannonbridge. Walt has returned from Montreal – where he took a year off school to work – to finish his fourth year of university in order to get his BA and then a teaching job. He is quite determined to buckle down, be more tolerant of things that have typically annoyed him and avoid all the old temptations, primarily alcohol and relationships that distracted him in the past.

Walt is keeping a journal, and this is how the novel unfolds. Some entries (not typically dated, however we always know what month or season it is, hence the title) are lengthy, others are just a sentence or so long, perhaps a paragraph or two. Some consist of a dream Walt has had, how university is going, his pursuance of female companionship and family problems. There are three parts to the book. The first deals with his last year of school. Part two is about his summer in Bannonbridge, and part three is about his first year of teaching in a rural NB high school.

“Walt-isms”
There were some gems I especially appreciated while reading this book.

Walt has moments of reflection that make one chuckle out loud. Who of us hasn’t bitten our lip whilst eating? Have you ever done it twice in a row? It happened to Walt and he then ponders, “But now I am afraid to finish my peanuts. What if I should bite my lip a third time? I might snap. I might have to do myself in, show that SOB not to mess around with me.”

He expresses his honest self-examination when studying for his final exams this way, “When I work I work hard, but I’m jealous of my time and energy, and don’t care to waste either. It’s what’s known as being efficient, or bone-lazy.”

As if to reinforce this thought, Walt, after he has finished university and is passing the summer in Bannonbridge, “You might think it’s the youthful fire in me, this restlessness. That might well be if I weren’t so indolent at the same time. Wanting to go and do, I go nowhere and do nothing.”

Success comes to Walt Macbride?
Coming to Part Three, there is a subtle, but distinct change in Walt as he leaves Bannonbridge to take on his first teaching job in a rural area far from the nearest town, tavern and liquor store. He rooms at Mrs. Tuttle’s boarding house and by day two his journal entry states, “I have to get out of this place.”

However, our man Walt toughs it out, finds he likes teaching although he has a tremendous workload, and shares his spare time with a fellow boarder (and teacher) from Pakistan, which makes for some very humorous situations to say the least. Walt also has a promising long-distance romance with a nursing student in Montreal. Overall, the book ends on an upbeat note and leaves one with the feeling that no matter what we may be facing now or in the future, perseverance pays off. It’s been a long hard road for Walt, but in 1965 life is looking good for Walt Macbride.

In conclusion
The character of Walt Macbride is a truly complex one, and he goes through emotions and deals with vices or weaknesses we have all gone through or dealt with over the years.  I always measure the worthiness of works of fiction by what value we can take away from them after having spent hours of our irreplaceable time reading them, and by that yardstick, Seasons of Discontent measures up very well. Reading this novel will surely whet your appetite for more of Walt’s adventures.

Raymond Fraser is the author of 13 books of fiction, three of non-fiction, and six collections of poetry. Five of his books are listed in Atlantic Canada’s 100 Greatest Books. In 2009, he received the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for High Achievement in the Literary Arts. In 2012, he was appointed to the Order of New Brunswick for his contributions to literature and culture in the province. Ray was born and raised in Chatham, NB and now lives in Fredericton.

Seasons of Discontent is available online from Amazon, and is also available from Lion’s Head Press and independent book stores.

James M. Fisher
James M. Fisher

 

While not a New Brunswicker by birth, James M. Fisher has lived in Miramichi, NB for over seven years and feels quite at home there. He started his website The Miramichi Reader following a suggestion by a fellow reading enthusiast at Goodreads. James is an ardent reader whose aim is to highlight New Brunswick authors and publishers, as well as cover subjects of interest to New Brunswickers in particular and Maritimers in general.

Two Frye Authors Cancelled

Frye Festival starts soon!
Frye Festival starts soon!

It is with great regret that the Frye Festival announces the cancellation of authors Elizabeth Renzetti and Yasmina Khadra at the 16th edition of the annual festival, scheduled to take place April 25 to May 3 in Greater Moncton. The Festival was thrilled to welcome such great writers, but the celebration will continue with nearly 40 authors participating in 65 activities.

Elizabeth Renzetti had to cancel her participation for personal reasons, and the Festival hopes merely to postpone her visit to a later time. An imponderable factor has forced the Festival team to cancel Yasmina Khadra’s participation.

Both authors are truly disappointed to be missing Atlantic Canada’s largest literary happening and remain committed to making the trip to Greater Moncton in the near future.

In light of these cancellations, the Frye Festival has brought the following changes to the program:
The Pursuit of a Work-Life Balance, Tuesday, April 28, 8 am – cancelled
Entretien littéraire en compagnie de Yasmina Khadra, Thursday, April 30, 5 pm – cancelled
Soirée Frye, Friday, May 1 at 7 pm – Natasha Kanapé Fontaine will replace Yasmina Khadra
Déjeuner-causerie de l’Association France-Canada, Saturday, May 2 – Kirby Jambon will replace Yasmina Khadra

The Frye Festival also expects to make up each author’s school visits.

For more information about the Frye Festival, including author biographies, please visit www.frye.ca.

Frye Festival Line-Up Unveiled

Logo_-_Frye
APRIL 25 TO MAY 3, 2015

More than forty of the best contemporary Canadian and international writers are heading to Greater Moncton to take part in 60 public events and 130 school visits.

The program for the 16th edition of Atlantic Canada’s largest literary happening is the Festival’s most ambitious yet. The Festival promises to feed imaginations and invites readers to discover new authors, strange places, and quirky characters. The authors featured in this year’s line-up flaunt their imaginative prowess, offering up stories of obsession and revenge, secrets and distortions, beauty and memory, growing up and getting old. Their books are filled with historical lore, music, love, medicine, death, family tensions, and art, and they cover genres such as horror, history, memoir, biography, drama, science fiction, women’s literature, LGBT fiction, poetry, travel literature, and children’s literature.

It is the perfect excuse for Greater Moncton booklovers to plan a literary staycation and attend events from April 25 to May 3.

Jane Urquhart
Jane Urquhart

Sweeping narratives: Nature, beauty, and memory
Internationally acclaimed novelist Jane Urquhart headlines this year’s festival with her new novel The Night Stages (coming out April 7), an intimate yet epic novel that sweeps the vast landscapes of Ireland and Newfoundland and explores themes of memory, family bonds, love, and art. The novel is meticulously researched and beautifully written, and fans of Urquhart’s previous novels (including The Stone Carvers, The Underpainter, and Sanctuary Line) will appreciate The Night Stages. Urquhart will deliver the Festival’s 2015 Maillet-Frye Lecture on Saturday, May 2 at l’Escaouette theatre, followed by a Q&A hosted by Globe and Mail Arts Editor Jared Bland.

In Ringing Here & There: A Nature Calendar, poet, non-fiction writer and professor Brian Bartlett invokes the spirit of Henry David Thoreau and gives readers a year’s worth of poetic meditations inspired by his wanderings.

Author of the bestselling novel Annabel, Kathleen Winter embraces the unknown as she journeys through the Northwest Passage from Greenland to Kugluktuk in Nunavut. She recounts her adventure in her Writers Trust-shortlisted Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage, which blurs the lines between history, nature writing and travel memoir.

Strange places for fiction: Weird heavens, urban underbellies, and gruesome underworlds
In his Giller Prize-winning debut novel Us Conductors, Sean Michaels, a music blogger, founder of saidthegramophone.ca, and columnist for The Telegraph, re-imagines the story of Russian spy, scientist and theremin inventor, Lev Termin. Written as a love letter to his “one true love,” Termin recalls his life from his early years as a scientist to his time in Jazz Age New York City to his imprisonment in a Siberian gulag.

Steeped in historical lore, Ian Weir’s second novel, Will Starling, takes readers to the alleyways, brothels, cemeteries, and filthy operating rooms of 1816 London. As he helps his mentor build a medical practice in a rough area of the city, surgeon Will Starling uncovers an unholy conspiracy and rumours of experiments on the living begin to spread.

Sean Michaels
Sean Michaels

From the award-winning author of Room comes a story of love and bloodshed in 19th century San Francisco. The 2014 novel Frog Music is Emma Donoghue’s eighth novel, in which she fictionalizes the murder of Jenny Bonnet through the eyes of burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon as she risks everything to find justice and uncovers the secret life of her murdered companion.

Neil Smith’s highly anticipated debut novel Boo (coming out May 12, but available at the Festival!) is the coming-of-age story of Oliver Dalrymple, who, following a tragic accident, finds himself in a strange heaven populated only by 13-year-old Americans. Smith published his critically acclaimed short story collection Bang Crunch in 2010.

Giller Prize-shortlisted novelist and short fiction writer Craig Davidson’s most recent novel, Cataract City, tells the story of two boyhood friends who dream of escaping the uncanny stronghold that Cataract City has on its citizens but whose divergent paths into adulthood will test the bonds of their friendship. Davidson’s alter ego, Nick Cutter, will also be on hand to expose the dark machinations behind The Troop and The Deep.

Former Algerian military officer Yasmina Khadra’s tales of war and violence in the Middle East have garnered him a readership of more than four million in France. Most of his novels have been translated into English, including the trilogy The Swallows of Kabul, The Attack, and The Sirens of Baghdad, as well as What the Day Owes the Night. Most recently, he has a writing credit for the film Two Men in Town (2014), starring Forest Whitaker.

Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti’s satirical debut novel Based on a True Story looks at celebrity, journalism, and the consequences of lying. Following the improbable success of her memoir, only loosely based on her true story, fallen starlet Augusta Price embarks on a journey with an insecure tabloid journalist that takes them from London to Los Angeles to exact revenge on a former lover and stop him from unravelling the web of lies.

Kathleen Winter
Kathleen Winter

No such thing as an uninteresting life: Biographies and memoirs
In Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, Alison Wearing tells the story of growing up with a gay dad in 1970s Ontario. Wearing has turned her bestselling memoir into a five-starred one-woman show that won Best of Fest awards at the Stratford Springworks and Wakefield Fringe festivals and Best Drama at the Victoria Fringe Festival. She’ll present her show on Saturday, May 2 at théâtre l’Escaouette.

Alain Farah blends autobiography and retro science fiction in Ravenscrag, a GG-nominated novel about the remedying power of literature. The writer is at McGill University in 1962 and 2012 at once; a psychiatrist conducts unethical experiments on his patients, and an uncle uncovers the truth but doesn’t live to tell the tale. An investigation ensues and leads to the depths of a gothic manor …

In Whiteout, accidental voyeurism forces George Murray to reconsider time and a shift in perspective that results from getting older. It is the sixth collection of poems from the editor of NewPoetry.ca and the Poet Laureate of St. John’s, Newfoundland. He published a children’s book, Wow Wow Haw Haw in 2014.

In Irving vs Irving, Jacques Poitras peers into the notoriously private lives of the Irving family who, through their monopoly of English-language print media in New Brunswick, often avoided the critical gaze of journalistic scrutiny over their corporate dealings, business mishaps, and family feuds.

Something for everyone
Moncton’s Nancy Cohen will launch Here Babies, There Babies at the Festival’s event for preschoolers. Children’s writer Ruth Ohi will bring her successful Fox and Squirrel series to the Festival, meeting with young readers at KidsFest (Saturday, April 25) and in schools. Co-authors Ann-Maureen Owens and Jane Yealland are adding an educational component with the timely re-issuing of their book Canada’s Maple Leaf: The Story of Our Flag; they’ll present a writing and illustrating workshop for children on Saturday, April 25. Kelly Cooper, author of the short story collection Eyehill, will put her extensive experience in giving workshops and presentations in schools and help the Festival inspire 10,000 students.

The Festival’s line-up of Francophone writers is just as strong, with novelists Claudine Bourbonnais, Michèle Ouimet, and Alain Beaulieu, children’s writer Edith Bourget, and Innu poet and slammer Natasha Kanapé Fontaine.

Yasmina Khadra
Yasmina Khadra

The Festival’s signature events—including Soiree Frye (Friday, May 1), Frye Jam (Saturday, May 2), the Maillet-Frye Lecture (Saturday, May 2), and KidsFest (Saturday, April 25)—will return in a program rounded out with “meet the author” and “authors in conversation” events, public readings, story times for preschoolers, book signings, and multidisciplinary activities. The Festival will also present a bilingual celebration of original and translated Acadian books granted the Governor General’s Literary Awards. Antonine Maillet (On the Eighth Day), Serge Patrice Thibodeau (One), Herménégilde Chiasson (Beatitudes), France Daigle (For Sure, Just Fine), and Emma Haché are on the roster for that event, which will take place Thursday, April 30.

New this year: writing workshops on horror fiction, memoirs, food and nature; literary and multidisciplinary celebrations for the City of Moncton’s 125th anniversary; multiple community partnerships that ensure inclusiveness, diversity, accessibility; and, a collaboration with the East Coast Comic Expo for an exhibit at the Moncton Public Library (April 2 to May 2).

The Festival will also offer a book store from now until the beginning of the Festival. They’ve teamed up with Tidewater Books to make every Friday a Frye-Day. Current titles from participating authors will be on sale every Friday between 10 am and 5 pm at the Festival office (140 Botsford St, suite 21, Moncton), and staff will be on hand to offer personalized suggestions. Readers are also encouraged to order books from the authors’ backlists and pick them up at the Festival office. Support our local bookstores!

Authors participate in the language in which they write, making most Festival events bilingual. Many events, including all family activities, are free.

For more information on the 2015 Frye Festival, as well as detailed bios and photos of the participating authors, visit www.frye.ca.

Challenge: What Books have Inspired You?

What books have inspired you? We’re challenging readers to list 10 books that have had a profound effect upon them. What are the books you’ve never been able to shake off? That have stuck with you throughout the years? Email your list to editor@breadnmolasses.com with “Books Challenge” in the subject line.

Bread ‘n Molasses Editor Kellie Underhill shares her list below:

Judy Blume's Blubber
Judy Blume’s Blubber

1. Blubber by Judy Blume – I was 7 or 8 years old when I read Blubber. Being a big girl myself, I could relate. It was as if she wrote the book about me, or I wrote the book. One time I left a comment for Judy Blume online telling her what she meant to me as a child and she sent me a lovely email. I saved it for years. It was something I won’t forget.

That Was Then, This Is Now
That Was Then, This Is Now

2. That was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton – I loved everything she wrote but this was my favourite. Something about the choice of which road to take when you reach a fork, the sadness of the inevitable growing apart with the people you love most, struck a chord with me. I remember thinking that no matter what, me and my best friend, Stacy would always be solid. I was right.

The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia

3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – I read the complete series from beginning to end like it was one book, loving every moment! My Aunt Valerie gave me the boxed set when I was a kid. From the moment the children stepped through the wardrobe and into the magical kingdom of Narnia I was hooked. This was the series that opened my mind all the way to fantasy and science fiction.

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence

4. The Diviners by Margaret Laurence – This was required reading in my Canadian literature class at university. I didn’t know Canadian literature existed before that class. Oh Morag Gunn! She is a character I relate to on every level. I have reread this novel so much that the pages have disconnected from the book’s spine. I should probably buy another copy.

Nancy Huston's Fault Lines
Nancy Huston’s Fault Lines

5. Fault Lines by Nancy Huston – The author was at Frye Festival in Moncton one year I attended. I saw her in a panel discussion and thought she was arrogant and rude so I dismissed her work. Then I saw her perform, reading parts from her book with live jazz music from a band and a light technician changing hues. She became each character. It was the most amazing thing, so I bought the book. It’s the only book I have read in a single sitting since I was a child. If you read nothing else, read this.

Anne Frank's Diary
Anne Frank’s Diary

6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – Did my obsession with the war begin with Anne Frank or did it lead me to her? I can’t recall. I know I was young when I read this and it changed me. Because it was true. I spent a lot of time in my early years trying to figure out how this could this happen. Why do people hate people they don’t even know? It was weighty stuff for a 7 or 8 year old. I suppose I understand it better now. Or at least I understand how really complex an issue it is.

Stephen King's The Stand
Stephen King’s The Stand

7. The Stand by Stephen King – No list of mine would be complete without mention of Mr. King. Salem’s Lot was the first novel of his I ever read. It was the summer between grade 4 and grade 5 when I saw the book in my aunt’s camp and sneaked it away. I knew I wasn’t old enough to read it, so I hid and read in secret. Vampires! I was completely hooked on Stephen King after that. But The Stand is by far my favourite. It’s huge! Filled with many characters and plot lines that intersect, coming together for the end. It’s so complex and simple all at the same time. I just love it!

The Queen of Peace Room by Magie Dominic
The Queen of Peace Room by Magie Dominic

8. The Queen of Peace Room by Magie Dominic – I met Magie years ago and she is a special person. She emanates a sense of inner peace, love, harmony, zen, spirit … and when you read this powerful memoir you wonder how someone who went through all that she has can get to that place where her spirit just shines and reaches out from her little body touching people. It’s an amazing book and she’s an amazing woman that I feel blessed to know. I’m currently reading her second book, Street Angel, and enjoying it immensely. Magie’s work gives me the courage to tell my own stories.

Timothy Findley's Spadework
Timothy Findley’s Spadework

9. Spadework by Timothy Findley – It might seem like an odd choice but this book came to me when I was searching for a path to take in my life. Then through this book I found the world of Stratford, art, artists, the theatre, and Wolf Blass Yellow Label red wine. I wanted to be involved in an artistic community like the one in the book, So I decided to move. This book is the reason why I love red wine and have so many wonderful creative friends I met during my travels. It quite literally changed my life in very real and physical ways.

Classic Steinbeck
Classic Steinbeck

10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – This novel enraged me, what a terrible thing! But to be fair I only liked half this book. Steinbeck is known for his descriptions. They are so detailed that every second chapter is just a description, a segue to the real story. The descriptions weighed me down. I read them the first time, but since then I’ve reread it a few times and I skip every second chapter. The editor in me says he didn’t need them. The story is powerful, and it sticks with you.

Now, it’s your turn! Send us your list of 10 great books that have impacted your life in some way. Email editor@breadnmolasses.com.

SappyFest Rescue Mission

SappyFest book of memories will help keep the dream alive.
SappyFest book of memories will help keep the dream alive.

SappyFest was just an idea in early 2006. Two hundred and fifty people showed up for that idea and those 250 people made SappyFest, the little independent music festival produced annually in Sackville, New Brunswick, a reality.

Now SappyFest is looking for 250 people to come together and support the idea of SappyFest again. This time by helping to create SappyForever, a unique and beautiful coffee table book of memories and dreams that came true.

In many ways SappyFest 8 was the best festival yet, but it was not a financial success. This was due in part to their aversion to corporate sponsorship and their commitment to their vision of a creative and inclusive space. Unfortunately SappyFest 8 was about 100 people short of breaking even, and the little festival is $15,000 in debt.

SappyFest’s black dot is a reality but they have not given up hope. They have a plan. It is called SappyForever.

The festival is asking 250 people to buy a beautiful, hard cover archive of SappyFest for $100. They hope to raise $25,000 to pay off their debt from the great festival they just put on, with the additional $10,000 covering the production and publication of SappyForever. This 160 page collection will include photos, essays, memories and a visual history of the art and design that has come to define the best days of summer for all SappyFest goers.

They will also be donating a copy to a library in every province and territory in Canada.

SappyFest is inviting each donor to contribute a photo of themselves or their friends at SappyFest to be included in a “Presented by” section. This book is for all who were there, or wanted to be there, and who believed Swamp Magic could happen.

“This has been an incredibly difficult year for our organization. It may take time for SappyFest to rebuild, but we are committed to do so,” writes Team Sappy on their indiegogo fundraising page.

This will also mark the last year that co-founders Paul Henderson and Jon Claytor will serve as artistic and creative directors. They will assist in the transition, passing on the torch to an amazing group of young people ready and willing to bring SappyFest into the future.

SappyFest has been a labour of love and a privilege for all who have been involved. So many of you have already given so much blood, sweat, tears and time to making the festival a success. The future is ambiguous and exciting and it depends on you,” Team Sappy says.

“Are there 250 people out there ready to support this beautiful idea, this indelible memory and this ambiguous future? We hope so. We have our hopes up. We believe and we hope you do too.”

To order your copy of SappyForever for $100 or to contribute any other amount to this fundraising mission, visit the SappyFest indiegogo page.

The 2013 Frye Festival: Spotlight on Words & Music

Leif Vollebekk
Leif Vollebekk

As Atlantic Canada’s largest literary happening, the Frye Festival celebrates words through books and music. The Greater Moncton community will discover the folk americana sounds of Leif Vollebekk, a Montreal-based up-and-comer who’s making waves across the country and in the United States. Les Hay Babies, The Olympic Symphonium, Science Friction, Les Païens, Caroline Savoie, John Jerome and VJ Kvn Mac will also bring their own artistic talents to the Festival’s evening events.

The complete schedule of events of the 14th annual Frye Festival, which will take place April 22 to 28 in Greater Moncton, is available at www.frye.ca.

Soirée Frye

The Frye Festival’s signature event, Soirée Frye, will bring to the stage the indie-folk musical stylings of Les Hay Babies, together with the folk pop group The Olympic Symphonium, on Thursday, April 25 at the Capitol Theatre. The musical performances will follow readings by Peter Behrens, Anne Compton, Perrine Leblanc and Jocelyne Saucier. The event will also feature a tribute to 40 years of literary publishing in l’Acadie with a reading by Raymond-Guy LeBlanc, as well as a singing performance of France Daigle’s Gymnopédies by Riversong. Soirée Frye starts at 7 pm, and tickets are on sale at the Capitol Theatre box office (811 Main Street or (506) 856-4379) for $12 plus applicable fees.

Later that same night, Les Hay Babies and The Olympic Symphonium will play the Night Howl, at the Empress. Authors Sonia Cotten and Ian Hamilton will read from their books. Admission is Pay What You Can.

The Olympic Symphonium
The Olympic Symphonium

Friday Night After Party

With loop-based dance music and focus on being visually and audibly stimulating, Science Friction will play with our senses at the Friday Night After Party. Group members Jonah Haché, Denis Surette, Glen Deveau and Kevin McIntyre will not disappoint as authors, volunteers and Frye fans gather at the Empress on Friday, April 26 at 10 pm at the Empress. Free admission.

Frye Jam

Hosted by the jazz-fusion group Les Païens, the Frye Jam is always a perfect way to close off a week of festivities. This year will not be different. A colourful evening of music and readings, the Frye Jam is the perfect opportunity to relax while listening to great authors (Allan Cooper, Joséphine Bacon, Dominic Langlois and Miranda Hill) and great music by local favourites Caroline Savoie and John Jerome. Headlining the event is Leif Vollebekk and his band from Montreal.

Norwegian by descent, born in Ottawa and based in Montreal, Leif Vollebekk is an up-and-coming artist on the Canadian music scene, and the Frye Festival is happy to introduce him to our Greater Moncton audience. The singer-songwriter will present his new record, North Americana, which was released in March. The record represents more than two years’ work in studios in Montreal, Manhattan, Woodstock (NY) and Paris, in search of perfect recordings, resonant of Bob Dylan’s pre-Newport 1965 and the beginning of the James Taylor era.

VJ Kvn Mac will provide multimedia projections during the performances, a first for the Frye Festival. As usual, Les Païens will accompany the authors’ readings. Frye Jam takes place on Saturday, April 27 at 10 pm at the Empress. Tickets on sale at the door (doors open at 9:30 pm) for $14.

About the Frye Festival

The Frye Festival is Atlantic Canada’s largest literary happening. The Frye Festival presents events year-round, culminating in a week of festivities at the end of April. The 14th annual Frye Festival will take place April 22 to 28, 2013, in the Greater Moncton area and will feature 30 local, Canadian, and international authors taking part in various events. Details at www.frye.ca.

Les Paiens
Les Paiens (photo by Louis Philippe Chiasson)

On Leif Vollebekk’s North Americana

Leif Vollebekk spent two years searching for perfect takes. This search took him from his home in Montreal to a studio in Manhattan, from a farmhouse in Woodstock, NY to a mansion outside Paris, and the result is a dusty, polished, new, old record called North Americana.

“I wrote the songs, I found the best band in the world, and then all I had to do was find the right studio, for the right take,” he says. “And it took forever.”

After his 2010 debut, Vollebekk knew the kind of album he wanted to make next: a record like the ones he loves by Gillian Welch or Ryan Adams, that feel old and familiar even when they’re new. But also a record that speaks to the listener through its lyrics, with songs “that can hold up in a storm,” that are packed full of perfect little mistakes.

So he started writing. Ten new songs, the best he had ever written, with lines about love and the end of love, about journeys and homecoming, about the death of friends and drinking yourself dry. Now Vollebekk laughs: “I thought the record was done when I was finished writing the songs. ‘All we need to do is record it!’”

But when you’re searching for the perfect take, recording is no small task. It happened only piece by piece, session by session, song by song, over the course of seasons.

The players were these: Vollebekk, singing, playing guitar and piano, harmonica, rusty fiddle on “When the Subway Comes Above the Ground”; the jazz musicians Hans Bernhard (bass) and Philippe Melanson (drums). “I wanted to be able to roam with them wherever I go,” Vollebekk says. Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld played violin, arranging her own parts. Joe Grass played pedal steel. And Adam Kinner played tenor sax.

The heart of the songs was always recorded live, to tape. Old school, spontaneous, one real captured moment. To find these moments, they travelled. To Montreal’s legendary Hotel 2 Tango studio, working with Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Coeur de Pirate, Godspeed You! Black Emperor). To New York City, working with Tom Gloady (Ryan Adams, Sigur Rós, Patti Smith). To La Frette studios, in La Frette-sur-Seine, France. And then back to Montreal, for one song at Breakglass studios. Vollebekk even tried recording with John Simon, the producer whose credits include Music from Big Pink and Songs of Leonard Cohen. At his home in upstate New York, Simon listened to “Cairo Blues,” then travelled up to Montreal to record it. “There was just not a good take,” Vollebekk says. “I ended up doing it a few months later, again at the Hotel, between takes of something else – and that’s just how it went.”

North Americana took years. “All this time,” Vollebekk says, “trying to get one take.” But the result is a beautiful, alive, human – shambling ballads, noisy folk songs, vivid portraits of a 27-year-old’s watercolour life. “I feel like I created a record from 1970something that no one’s heard before,” Vollebekk says. “I’m haggard and this record is all I got.”

Les Hay Babies

Just looking at them, the fresh-faced Les Hay Babies might seem just that, babies. They are just 19 to 21 years old. But one listen to any of their songs, and you’ll hear that they are old souls, too.The indie-folk trio hail from three small Acadian villages in New Brunswick. They’ve been crafting a colourful folky music with only a guitar, a banjo, a ukulele, powerful lyrics, and of course, warm harmonies that could melt anyone’s heart. July of 2012 saw the release of their first EP, Folio, a bilingual disc featuring six group originals. They have performed all over the Maritimes, Quebec, France, Switzerland, and Germany. A full-length album is set to be released in 2014.

Olympic Symphonium

Crafting delicately arranged folk-pop that drips with bittersweet melodies, soaring harmonies, and an awful lot of passion, The Olympic Symphonium have been sharing their quiet world with us since 2005. They are and always have been a collaborative effort between three multi-instrumentalists, songwriters, and friends: Nick Cobham, Kyle Cunjak, and Graeme Walker. They released their debut album, Chapter One, in 2007, and followed up with More in Sorrow Than in Anger in 2008 and with The City Won’t Have Time to Fight in 2011

Science Friction

Science Friction is a loopbased dance group focused on being visually and audibly stimulating. The band is comprised of Les Païens members Jonah Haché on guitar/bass/vocals/keys/DJ’ing and Denis Surette on guitar/space sounds, Les Improbables member Glen Deveau on drums and Kevin McIntyre on projections/keys.

Jonah Haché – Messy Messages (Live at Plan B 13-02-28) from Jonah Haché on Vimeo.

Les Païens

Les Païens arguably put Moncton on the jazz/rock map in Canada. 2012 brings a new set of tones and sounds to the band. Adding to the original sound of guitar, bass, drums and winds, we can now add loops, laptops and synth and a new member to the canvas. Founded in 1994 and four albums to date, the quintet has shared gigs with artists including Charlie Hunter, Slowcoaster, Big Sugar, Kermit Ruffins, Kyle Eastwood and Jean Leloup.

Caroline Savoie
Caroline Savoie

Caroline Savoie

Caroline Savoie is an 18 year old singer-songwriter-composer with over 80 original songs to her credit. Inspired by everyday life and mostly composed on her acoustic guitar, she brings the same crisp, inventive phrasing and soulful tone to each individual song, regardless of genre, making it distinctively her own. She sang for the first time in front of an audience in 2008. Since that time, singing and playing guitar has been her passion. Caroline sings in French and in English.

John Jerome

Moncton’s John Jerome has been an active part of the Hub City’s music for the past decades. Whether it’s as part of bands such as Heimlich, John Jerome and the Great 88 or one of the dudes behind the webseries The McDons House, this singer songwriter / filmmaker is definitely leaving his mark. He is currently leading the quintet John Jerome and the Congregation who are concluding a cross-Canadian tour after releasing Ask Not What We Can Do For You But What We Can Do Together in March 2012.

Frye Festival Unveils its 2013 Program

frye From April 22 to 28, the Frye Festival will feed imaginations and celebrate words and ideas with people of all ages. Thirty renowned authors from Canada and beyond, as well as rising stars of the local literary scene, will be in town to share ideas and inspire readers. On the menu: book clubs, literary evenings, conversations, music and readings, writing workshops, talks, school visits and so much more.

The complete schedule of events can be found at www.frye.ca. Many events are Pay What You Can (PWYC) or free.

The Frye Festival’s official opening will take place on Monday, April 22 at 11 am at Moncton City Hall. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

Brains on Tap
Test your literary trivia knowledge at Brains on Tap, the Festival’s annual bilingual trivia night organised in partnership with the Association of Professional Librarians of NB. Join us on Tuesday, April 23 at 7 pm at Tide and Boar (700 Main Street, Moncton). Individuals or teams of four to six people can register in advance at www.frye.ca.

Les Hay Babies
Les Hay Babies

Soirée Frye is the perfect event to discover everything that the Frye Festival has to offer: great literature, music and the winners of our high school writing contest. A reception to meet the authors will follow. Two of New Brunswick’s best musical groups, Les Hay Babies and The Olympic Symphonium, will share the stage for the first time ever. Four authors will also be reading excerpts from their work: Perrine Leblanc (L’homme blanc), Jocelyne Saucier (Il pleuvait des oiseaux), Peter Behrens (Travelling Light) and Anne Compton (Alongside). The event will also feature a tribute to 40 years of book publishing in Acadie with poet Raymond-Guy LeBlanc and a musical rendition of the poem “Gymnopédies” by France Daigle, performed by Moncton’s own Riversong. This not-to-be-missed event will take place on Thursday, April 25 at 7 pm at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets are $12 plus fees.

Immediately following Soirée Frye, Night Howl offers a mix of words and music with authors Sonia Cotten and Ian Hamilton, Les Hay Babies and The Olympic Symphonium who will once again take the stage, though in a more casual setting. Empress doors open at 9:30 pm, event starts at 10 pm and is PWYC.


An evening with great Canadian authors
Four of Canada’s most prominent authors will be on stage together at the Empress Theatre for A Window to the World on Friday, April 26 at 8 pm. Peter Behrens (The Law of Dreams), Marq de Villiers (Water), Perrine Leblanc (L’homme blanc) and Kim Thúy (Ru) are all Governor General’s Literary Award winners and will come together in this event to discuss the world from a Canadian perspective. A Window to the World is presented in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. Simultaneous translation will be available. Admission is $12.

An After Party will follow, starting at 10 pm at the Empress. It provides a great opportunity to meet and chat with authors while listening to some great music with Science Friction, a loop-based dance group focused on being visually and audibly stimulating. Free admission.

Alistair MacLeod
Alistair MacLeod

Maillet-Frye Lecture with Alistair MacLeod
The Antonine Maillet-Northrop Frye lecture will be presented by Canadian literary heavyweight Alistair MacLeod, who grew up and still spends summers in Cape Breton. Michael Enright, host of CBC Radio One’s The Sunday Edition, will host a Q&A with the author following the event. Join us on Saturday, April 27 at 8 pm at théâtre l’Escaouette (170 Botsford St., Moncton). Tickets ($16.50 plus fees) are on sale at the Escaouette box office.

Book Clubs
For those who want to know everything about their favourite author, book clubs offer a great insight into their creative process. Admission to all book clubs is PWYC.

Author of the award-winning Ava Lee series, published in more than 20 countries and currently being adapted for film, Ian Hamilton will meet mystery-lovers on Thursday, April 25 at 2 pm at the Moncton Public Library.

Canadian novelist and short story writer Alix Ohlin will be discussing her book Inside, a Giller Prize finalist, on Friday, April 26 at 2 pm, at the Moncton Public Library.

CS Richardson’s second novel, The Emperor of Paris, was long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Richardson is also an award-winning book designer and will meet the fiction-lovers on Saturday, April 27 at 11:30 am at the Delta Beauséjour Café.

On Wednesday, April 24 at 6:30 pm, Quebec author and former Radio-Canada journalist Daniel Lessard will chat about his novel La revenante at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre (second floor). Jocelyne Saucier, winner of the Radio-Canada 2012 prix des lecteurs for her novel Il pleuvait des oiseaux will also be at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre on Friday, April 26 at 6:30 pm for a conversation hosted by French author Olivier Barrot. Finally, author of acclaimed novel La fiancée américaine, Éric Dupont will be meeting his fans during a book club on Saturday, April 27 at 10 am at the Delta Beauséjour Café.

Community Read
The Frye Festival’s Community Read invites French and English-speaking readers to enjoy one book in the language of their choice and come meet its author for a bilingual chat. The Festival invites everyone to read Ru in its original French or in its English translation and to meet acclaimed Canadian novelist Kim Thúy on Saturday, April 27 at 2 pm. The event takes place at Moncton city Hall and is PWYC.


Music and Words
The Frye Jam is always a great evening filled with excellent music and readings and this year’s edition will not disappoint. On Saturday, April 27 at 10 pm at the Empress Theatre, authors Joséphine Bacon, Allan Cooper, Miranda Hill and Dominic Langlois will read excerpts from their work accompanied by the jazz/rock group Les Païens. The quintet will also accompany local singing sensation Caroline Savoie and Moncton’s own John Jerome. Then, everyone will have the chance to discover the music of Leif Vollebekk from Montreal and VJ Kvn Mac who will offer video projections, a first for the Frye Jam. Admission is $14.

Statue of Northrop Frye
Statue of Northrop Frye

So much more!
On Wednesday, April 24, the Frye Festival will feature some of our most talented up and coming Francophone and Anglophone writers during Prelude: Emerging NB Writers. Julie Aubé, Katrine Noël, Wanda O’Connor, Kerry-Lee Powell, and Emily Skov-Nielsen will read at the Tide and Boar at 7:30 pm. This evening is presented in collaboration with the Writers’ Federation of NB. Admission is PWYC.

Our Authors in Conversation events take place at Moncton City Hall on Thursday, April 25 and Friday, April 26, each featuring four authors discussing a specific topic (admission is $10 each). First, Anne Compton, Daniel Lessard, Alix Ohlin and Jocelyne Saucier will talk about the effects of criticism, positive and negative, on their career at Don’t Judge a Book by Its Back Cover. Then, The Back Story will feature Joséphine Bacon, Deni Y. Béchard, Éric Dupont and CS Richardson talking about how life experiences and personal backgrounds shape their stories.

Come hear Éric Dupont, Dominic Langlois, Alix Ohlin and CS Richardson read at Beer and Books on Friday, April 26 at 5 pm at the Tide and Boar. Entrance is PWYC.

School-Youth Program
The Frye Festival School-Youth program is a vital component of the Festival that helps more than 10,000 students discover the magic of the written word through their interactions with authors from Canada and around the world. Authors will visit classrooms and auditoriums throughout New Brunswick all week, at no charge to the schools.

Café Underground is an annual meeting of young people brimming with creativity and talent. These budding writers are already wielding their pen (or keyboard) with passion and ardour. The evening features performances by high school students who have written prose, poetry and songs. Fans, friends, and parents are invited to attend at the Empress Theatre on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 pm. Free admission.

Budding Writers puts the spotlight on local students from grades 5 to 8 who will read from their work on Saturday, April 27 at 2 pm at the Capitol Theatre. The 2013 ambassadors, authors Charlotte Gingras and Sara O’Leary, will be there to meet the young writers. Free admission. Imagination at Work features the works of students in Kindergarten to grade four, and all works will be available online through our Beyond the Fridge initiative.

KidsFest begins at 9:30 am at Moncton’s Public Library and Blue Cross Centre on Saturday, April 27. Children and parents are in for a wonderful morning of crafts, contests, word games, a photo booth, book swaps and readings by Sylvie Desrosiers (in French) at 10 am and Philip Roy (in English) at 10:30 am. At 11 am, we will celebrate the Moncton Public Library’s 100th anniversary with Mascot Palooza and a giant cake. Free admission.


The Frye Festival will end the 2013 celebrations on Sunday, April 28 with Poet Flyé says bye bye at 11 am at the Greater Moncton International Airport. Poet flyé Gabriel Robichaud will perform his poèm flyé and the winner of the 2012-2013 Frye Academy debate will be announced. Musical guests Sébastien Michaud and Denis Surette will also be there. Admission is free and snacks will be provided.

TICKETS
Tickets for Soirée Frye are on sale at the Capitol Theatre (811, Main), at (506) 856-4379 or online at www.capitol.nb.ca. Tickets for the Maillet-Frye Lecture are on sale at the théâtre l’Escaouette (170 Botsford St.) or (506) 855-0001. Tickets for all other events will be on sale at the door.

About the Frye Festival
The Frye Festival is Atlantic Canada’s largest literary happening. It presents events year-round, culminating in a week of festivities at the end of April. The 14th annual Frye Festival will take place April 22 to 28, 2013 in the Greater Moncton area and will feature 30 local, Canadian and international authors taking part in various events. Information about the Festival and its mission is available at www.frye.ca.

Debra Komar Appearances in Moncton Area this Week

The Ballad of Jacob Peck, published by Goose Lane Editions.
The Ballad of Jacob Peck, published by Goose Lane Editions.

Writer and forensic anthropologist Debra Komar is in the Moncton area this week talking about her new book The Ballad of Jacob Peck, a tale of historic true crime about an infamous murder that took place in the Shediac area in 1805, recently published by Goose Lane Editions.

Debra will appear at:

Shediac Public Library, Thursday April 4, 6:30 pm
Riverview Public Library Lunch and Learn, Friday April 5 at 12:15 pm
Chapter’s in Dieppe for a signing, Saturday April 6 1-3 pm
Swisscot Restaurant, Dorchester, Saturday April 6 at 7 pm.

When a man kills in the name of God, who is to blame?

On a frigid February evening in 1805, Amos Babcock brutally murdered Mercy Hall. Believing that he was being instructed by God, Babcock stabbed and disembowelled his own sister, before dumping her lifeless body in a rural New Brunswick snowbank.

Debra Komar (Photo by Brian Larter)
Debra Komar (Photo by Brian Larter)

The Ballad of Jacob Peck is the tragic and fascinating story of how isolation, duplicity, and religious mania turned one man violent, leading to a murder and an execution. Babcock was hanged for the murder of his sister, but in her meticulously researched book, Debra Komar shows that itinerant preacher Jacob Peck should have swung right beside him. The mystery lies not in the whodunit, but rather in a lingering question: should Jacob Peck, whose incendiary sermons directly contributed to the killing, have been charged with the murder of Mercy Hall?

An investigation of a crime from the Canadian frontier, the tale of Jacob Peck, Amos Babcock, and Mercy Hall remains as controversial and riveting today as it was more than two hundred years ago.

Award Winning Authors & Singer headline WordsFall in Woodstock

Award winning authors, a rising New Brunswick music star and a former Penguin Books publisher will headline Words Fall in Woodstock, October 19 and 20, 2012. WordsFall is a semi-annual presentation of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB) and features a full line-up of learning, networking and entertaining events.

The gathering will lead off October 19, with an opening reception at the Best Western Hotel, Woodstock, at 7 pm.

The next morning, WordsFall gets underway with a two-hour presentation on e-publishing by Cynthia Good, the director of the Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College and former president and publisher of Penguin Books, beginning at 10 am.

In the afternoon, the Writers’ Federation will give the stage to Woodstock and area authors at 1:30 pm and then shift the spotlight to two special guests: Gerard Collins and Joan Clark. They will have a discussion on the publishing process, moderated by Cynthia Good. Clark is the multiple-award-winning author of several novels, short story collections for adults and novels for young readers and the University of New Brunswick’s writer-in-residence. Collins is a Newfoundland and Labrador author who teaches at Memorial University. In May, his first book, the short story collection Moonlight Sketches, won the 2012 NL Book Award.

At 3 pm it will be time for other newly published authors from New Brunswick to shine as they launch their books at WordsFall with readings and signings. The authors include: Corey Redekop (Husk), Susan White (Ten Thousand Truths), Andrew McAllister (Unauthorized Access), Carmel Vivier (A Pictorial Walk Through Historic Saint John; New Brunswick Facts, Firsts & Innovations), Kathy Diane Leveille (e-book release of Let the Shadows Fall Behind You), Roger Moore (Monkey Temple) and Jason Peters (Aboriginal Sports Heroes: Atlantic Canada).

There will be more readings that evening, along with music performances, at an open mic coffee house, featuring special guest Babette Hayward, of Saint John, ECMA Rising Star nominee and winner of NB Music’s Female Song of the Year and Pop Recording of the Year for 2011. She will be joined by 2012 NB Music award nominee Pipher, Collins and WFNB Richards Prize Winner Corinne Wasilewski. Admission to the coffee house is by donation.

The fee to register for the entire event is $50 and $60 for non-members, $10 of which can be applied to the $50 membership fee to join WFNB. Payments can be made via PayPal. For more information, visit the Writers’ Federation’s website at www.wfnb.ca; email info@wfnb.ca or telephone 506-459-7228.

Everyone is welcome to attend WFNB’s annual autumn celebration of poetry, prose and song.

Now in its 27th year, WFNB is a 300-member, non-profit organization that brings together writers in all disciplines and at all levels of development to recognize, encourage and promote their work.

Cynthia Good

About Cynthia Good

Director of the Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College, Cynthia Good has been in the publishing industry for over 30 years.

She was appointed the first editorial director of Penguin Books Canada in 1982 where she was responsible for establishing a publishing program which grew into one of the most successful in Canada. Under her leadership the roster included such writers as John Ralston Saul, Michael Ignatieff, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, Timothy Findley, Stuart McLean, Peter Robinson, Guy Gavriel Kay and many others.

She was named President & Publisher of the company in 1997. After 20 years with Penguin, Good resigned in 2003. She became fiction-editor-at-large for Walrus Magazine, consulted for a variety of public and private organizations and taught writing and publishing at several universities and colleges until she founded The Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College. That program is now in its eighth year. As well as teaching at Humber, Good continues to consult to and about the publishing industry. She was awarded an Honorary Degree by Mount Allison University in 2006.

Joan Clark

About Joan Clark

Joan Clark is the multiple-award-winning author of several novels, short story collections for adults and novels for young readers.

Her last adult novel, Latitudes of Melt, was nominated for the 2002 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2001 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Canada-Caribbean, and was a New York Times Notable Book.

She was born and raised in the Maritimes and lived in western Canada before settling in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Joan Clark is currently writer in residence at UNB, Fredericton.

About Gerard Collins

Gerard Collins

In May of this year, Gerard Collins’ first book, the short story collection Moonlight Sketches, won the 2012 Newfoundland Book Award.

His first novel, Finton Moon, was published in June and has already won the Percy Janes First Novel Award.

He’s won several arts and letters awards, been shortlisted for the Cuffer Prize, published in Hard Ol’ Spot, Zeugma and various other anthologies.

Gerard has recently signed on to write a YA nonfiction story for Fierce Ink Shorts, releasing March 2013, and is working on a new novel.

He has a PhD in English and teaches at Memorial University.

About Babette Hayward

This 22-year-old singer and songwriter from Saint John has, in her short musical career, received impressive accolades for her work including:

2011 Winner of Music NB Pop Recording of the year
2011 Winner of Music NB Female Songwriter of the year for her first album You Might be Somebody
2011 NewSong Mountain Contest International Finalist
2012 ECMA Rising Star Nominee
2012 Saint John Originals Awards Emerging Artist Nominee

Babette recently signed a recording deal with Montreal’s Indica and is working on her second album to be released later this year.

Scotty and the Stars Launch New Album at Moncton’s Empress Theatre

Children’s musical entertainment group, Scotty and the Stars, will be have an album release concert at Moncton’s Empress Theatre (199 Robinson Court) on Saturday, September 29 at 2 PM. Tickets are currently on sale. This show is brought to you by Fisherman’s Friend.

Scotty and the Stars
Scotty and the Stars is a children’s musical entertainment group that delivers positive messages, active participation and musical education through original music and enthusiastic live performances.

Scott Sampson (BED/BA), Kelly Waterhouse, Nicci Blewett, and Richard Gloade provide a musical and theatrical experience where children march, stomp, clap and dance their way through this interactive and fun-filled musical journey.

Scotty and the Star’s debut CD entitled Here We Go was nominated for a 2007-2008 East Coast Music Award for “Children’s Recording of the Year.” Their sophomore album entitled Making Music was also nominated for a 2009-2010 ECMA for “Children’s Recording of the Year!” Furthermore, Scotty and the Stars were nominated for “Educator of the Year” by Music NB.

They released a children’s book entitled The Magical Adventures of Scotty in April 2011. The release of their highly-anticipated new album Time to Get Up is an exciting step for Scotty and the Stars as they expand their music across North America and pursue a career in children’s musical entertainment.

Box-Office
Tickets for the Scotty and the Stars release concert on September 29 are currently on sale at the cost of $15 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under. Service fees do apply.

People may purchase tickets through the Capitol Theatre Box-Office either by calling at 506-856-4379 or 1 800 567-1922, online at www.capitol.nb.ca or in person at 811 Main Street, Moncton.