Folk club crowd loves warmth of BTU

February 12, 2016

Note: I have to say as I continue to travel from town to town and house sit to house sit, while my pile of articles and other writings is really shrinking, quite a few that are left are missing dates and even parts of the atticles. It is like getting to the bottom of the pickle jar. Still as someone who studied history in university and has gathered information for articles on historical people and events, I feel it is important to get into this blog as much of what I wrote as possible. It most likely with provide pertinent information to the generations yet to come with glimpses into our time so I continue to enter these posts into this blog even when there are pieces missing:

It was just the other day that I heard the members of BTU being interviewed on CBC Radio’s North-by-Northwest. Whatever it costs you to go and see these three Bowen Island-based collaborators is worth what you spend, I guarantee it.

For a year on Salt Spring Island, I got the gig of reviewing an entire season of performers at the Folk Club. All of the acts were terrific but BTU stood out with a true vibrancy.

Here is the piece I wrote about them:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Folk club crowd loves warmth of BTU

by Tanya Lester

Barney Bentall, Tom Taylor and Shari Ulrich — also known as BTU — held their standing-room-only crowd spellbound at last week’s Salt Spring Folk Club concert.

It was as if a magical force was guiding them as the smooth warm rhythm of their music, individually and as a threesome, went on and on and on.  When it seems this effortless, you know the musicians are giving their high-calibre best.

All three, with strong ties to this island, have reached that place in which they know exactly what they are doing. I sense they realize what they are doing is darned good and feel blessed to do what they are so passionate about.

Their songwriting is some of the finest quality emanating from the folk music scene with its strong storytelling tradition.

Bentall took us in song on a journey to Alberta where the horses huddled together in the blowing snow of a blizzard as he longed to be in his wife’s arms last Valentine’s Day. He returned us to that landscape with the Ballad of Old Tom Jones about an elderly man yearning for his English birthplace while wishing for an evening in a neighbouring widow’s bed. This musician’s songs reflect his lines: “a man is what he thinks about all day long.”

It was sometime during one of Bentall’s songs that I experienced that letting go and merging with the music is a spontaneous way was a wonderful way to enjoy the music making….

Ulrich was the queen of the evening. She sang about the end of a relationship:

Slip the ring off your finger

Take the pictures off the wall

Tell the kids, your Daddy’s on the phone…

Later, Ulrich chronicled in song about having to loosen her relationship with her daughter so she could go away to university. Surprisingly, the result is that both are incredibly enjoying their lives apart.

But the crowd stopper was when she musically related the story of “by the grace of her goodbye” giving her baby up for adoption when she was 16 years old. It is a song about that baby “crying and crying and crying” as she let go of him. It was about thinking about him every December as his adopted mother though about the singer until they all met 40 years later. What a beautiful song so true to the folk genre.

Ulrich has contributed much to chronicling the stories of our time for now and for the future.

Each one of these well-established artists has recorded numerous CDs, but the one they share together is entitled Live at Cates Hill.

The evening was a four-for-the-price-of-one extravaganza with Corbin Keep, on his cello being the warm-up act.

Keep looks a bit, acts a bit and jokes a bit like Jim Carrey, the famous Canadian actor and physical comedian. Imagine Carrey, with a cello, using two bows to squeak music out of the instrument from Chuck Berry to Bach….

In keeping with being a bit out of this world, Keep went on about all things alien, from references to mosquitoes and Captain Kirk. He showed the audience that he is not only a well-trained musician but a clever one as well.

I don’t think the folk club has ever staged an opening act quite like Keep’s. His contribution was far from traditional folk. Yet the audience responded to this hard-to-slot musician. His wacky sense of humour is reflected in his CD titles: Call of the Wild Cello; and Bad to the Bow….

— END–



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