There is an Old Man from down Chester way, whose music might just make your day; he sings of Little Birds and The Proof of Love, and his banjo soothes like the coo of a dove...
I always try to make it to Indian River at least once per summer, and last Friday evening at St. Mary’s Church it was the music of the Nova Scotia man who I’m referring to in the above rhyming introduction that brought much enjoyment to the annual pleasure.
His actual name is Chris Luedecke, but his recording/stage name is Old Man Luedecke. (And he’s really more of a young man than an old man, to be up front about that.)
As his 2008 album, Proof of Love, won a 2009 Juno Award for traditional folk album of the year, odds are that you may have heard his name and his music by this point. And what a treat it truly was to hear Old Man in concert at the Indian River Festival last weekend.
As grey clouds hung over Indian River and the rain pattered down on the roof of the church that evening, it was Nova Scotia singer/songwriter Willie Stratton who opened up the night of music as he did his best to fire up the souls of the meek and attentive congregation in the pews before him.
Indeed, Stratton’s wild bellowing, at times even abrasively shouting vocal style, through his five-song set of impassioned folk songs may have been in stark contrast to the perpetually peaceful demeanour of St. Mary’s Church. And in turn, it may have been a little too much for the audience to swallow down. But I do hope to catch Stratton performing in a more befitting venue sometime — like a downtown lounge or an outdoor festival, where his volcanic vocal outburst style would go over in a much more fully-embraced way.
Soon enough, though, the church that is the Island’s masterpiece of auditory-enhancing architecture was being graced with the soulful banjo plucking and hugging, gentle vocals of Old Man Luedecke, as he did a short set of five tunes to wrap up the first half before intermission.
Accompanied by Joel E. Hunt on mandolin, fiddle and backing vocals, Old Man Luedecke played songs like Jonah and the Whale, The Joy of Cooking (one of my personal favourites) and the Polaris Prize listed Tender is the Night: “I never thought I would be the kind of songwriter who would write incessantly about missing his homeland ... until I started to incessantly miss my home,” he smiled in his introduction to this well-received song.
And after an intermission that included scrumptious strawberry shortcake in the outdoor garden tent, the second half brought tunes such as Kingdom Come, Yodelady (a brilliant song that really should be an international folk hit), Monsanto Jones (a delicious gem of a dig at the agri-business giant) and his hit songs like At the Airport and Little Bird (a tune so beautiful that it could entrance and tame Goliath).
Through it all, what rang out as clear as the bell in the steeple of St. Mary’s church is the fact that it is a combination of traits that makes Old Man Luedecke the remarkable and delightful artist that he is: the winning mixture of pouring-from-the-heart musical prowess; witty intelligence (both as a lyricist and person in general); endearing humour and a glowing spirit that could brighten up any dark and rainy night.
For more on Old Man Luedecke, to listen to his songs, find out his tour dates and read all about him, visit http://oldmanluedecke.ca. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even be inspired to come up with a rhyme of your own to describe the man and his music.
Indian River still has a great list of performances to take in before its season is through, including Ivan and Vivian Hicks, The Saddle River String Band and Milk and Honey on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Visit www.indianriverfestival.com for concert and schedule information.
Next week: I’ll be heading to a relaxing evening at Rock Barra Retreat on Sunday to see October Browne with Teresa Doyle.
Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
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