Archie Fisher and Gar­net Rogers to play Mala­gawatch Church this Au­gust

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - KRISTIN NORD

Archie Fisher & Gar­net Rogers in Con­cert, Au­gust 2, Tick­ets: $28.50 ad­vance, or $32.50 at the door. 902-725-2272. www.high­landvil­lage.ca

Archie Fisher and Gar­net Rogers have graced the stage with their tal­ents for many years, mak­ing names for them­selves through their con­sum­mate singing, song­writ­ing, and prow­ess on the gui­tar. Now, on Aug. 2, in what prom­ises to be a mag­i­cal even­ing, they’ll dig into an ex­ten­sive reper­toire in a con­cert that will be a part of Fisher’s fi­nal North Amer­i­can tour. What better set­ting to catch them than at a con­cert as the sun sets in the Mala­gawatch Church in Iona.

Fisher will turn 80 in 2019, and both he and Rogers have been cut­ting back on their tour­ing sched­ules af­ter decades on the road. Co­in­ci­den­tally, each has set­tled hap­pily into the rhythms of ru­ral life - Fisher raises quar­ter horses on a small farm in the Scot­tish Bor­ders, while Rogers has set down roots in Brant­ford, ON, on a farm where his wife, Gail, breeds thor­ough­breds. They are com­ing to Cape Bre­ton on the heels of their per­for­mances at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso.

Fisher’s career be­gan in the 1950s dur­ing the skif­fle move­ment, in which a Bri­tish fas­ci­na­tion with Amer­i­can mu­sic pre­saged a Bri­tish folk re­vival. A Glaswe­gian with Gaelic He­bridean roots on his mother’s side, he’d came from a mu­si­cal fam­ily that spawned sev­eral mu­si­cal ca­reers. As a gui­tarist, he pi­o­neered the use of open tun­ings to sim­u­late the dron­ing notes of bag­pipes. As a song­writer, he be­came known for bal­lads that cap­ture the lives, sto­ries, and ver­nac­u­lar speech of ev­ery­day Scot­tish peo­ple.

His en­cy­clo­pe­dic grasp of tra­di­tional mu­sic was on full dis­play be­tween 1983 and 2010 when he hosted BBC Radio Scot­land’s weekly flag­ship show “Trav­el­ing Folk”. In re­cent years, he has been show­ered with many honors, in­clud­ing be­ing named a Mem­ber of the Most Ex­cel­lent Order of the Bri­tish Empire by the Queen for ser­vices to tra­di­tional mu­sic, and be­ing in­ducted into the Scots Tra­di­tional Mu­sic Hall of Fame.

Gar­net’s par­ents’ Nova Sco­tia roots ex­posed him from the time he was a lit­tle boy to sto­ry­telling and mu­sic mak­ing. Sum­mer­time vis­its to Canso thrust him into a world of rel­a­tives who wrote po­ems, told sto­ries and made their own tunes, he re­called re­cently, in a tele­phone in­ter­view. He re­mem­bers har­mo­niz­ing with his brother, Stan, in front of the fam­ily floor radio dur­ing Grand Ole Opry broadcasts when he was just 6. The broth­ers em­barked on a mu­si­cal career just 10 years later, travers­ing Canada and of­ten per­form­ing for rowdy au­di­ences un­ac­cus­tomed, and ac­tu­ally hos­tile, to their orig­i­nal acous­tic mu­sic. By the sound of things, they were armed with a trucker’s map, youth­ful ambition, their fists, and not much more. That Stan crafted ex­quis­ite songs of­ten in the midst of chaos re­mains, to Gar­net’s mind, an enduring mys­tery. Gar­net’s mem­oir, Night Drive: Trav­els with My

Brother, which was pub­lished in 2016, is must read­ing for peo­ple in­ter­ested in the Rogers’ story and the emer­gence of Cana­dian in­die mu­sic. In his ro­bust and un­var­nished por­trait of his bril­liant and of­ten volatile brother, Gar­net ap­pears to have both set the record straight and made peace with the man who left him trag­i­cally in 1983. In the early days, it was by no means a for­gone con­clu­sion that many of the Roger’s songs would be­come a trea­sured part of the Cana­dian folk mu­sic canon. And in the suc­ceed­ing decades af­ter Stan’s death, Gar­net would come into his own, emerg­ing as what a writer for Sing Out pro­claimed not too long ago “as the great­est in­ter­preter and vo­cal­ist per­form­ing in the con­tem­po­rary folk scene.” One need just watch and lis­ten to him per­form Night Drive, his haunt­ing evo­ca­tion of this early life, to ex­pe­ri­ence his power as a song­writer and singer.

Fisher/rogers be­gan tour­ing to­gether in the 1980s and their mu­si­cal friend­ship has flour­ished both in and out of the stu­dio for more than three decades. One can hope for a bit of rem­i­nisc­ing, along with the per­form­ers’ char­ac­ter­is­tic wit, in what prom­ises to be a rich and poignant even­ing.

Gar­net Rogers, photo by Bruce Dienes

Archie Fisher, photo cour­tesy of Red House Records

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