Always a bit of a reflective day for me, This eighth anniversary of Willie's passing finds me in a busy place. I have had little, regrettably, to share with you on the Audio Collection page lately due to a lack of submissions. If you are, or know of, an artist who would like to submit a recording of a WPB song, please contact us and we will do our best to hustle up some more content. Our old pal, George, has been updating the video site and has just posted a fabulous live bootleg of Willie performing in Port Dover. I am going to share something today: A tribute to Willie, written by Kenny Butterill, from his 2014 release Troubadour Tales. Many tributes have been written for Willie and I have long proposed a page to host a collection of them here on this site. We could use your help to uncover some of these tribute songs. If you know of one, let us know about it too.
There are rumblings in the underground these days. Put your ear to the ground, you may find something exciting is waiting for you.
For now, though, enjoy "Willie We Miss Ya" by Kenny Butterill
Have a safe and prosperous Blue Valentine's Day,
We are happy to announce some new audio content on the Audio Collection page. This early winter update will give you a couple of new interpretations of classic Willie P Bennett songs. The first selection comes from Willie's first album and is performed by a pillar of Canada's vibrant folk scene. Appearing prominently in this accompanying video, Ken Whiteley has had an incalculable influence on Canadian music. I think some of the glances exchanged in the video infer a kinship that existed between Ken and Willie. Tell me the dudes in that video aren't cooler than a Polar Vortex. Ken's version of "Let's Go Down To The Water" is ready for your consumption.
The other new addition comes to us from another incalculably influential figure, Austin Texas' Gurf Morlix. Gurf has long been a critical pivot point around which Austin's Roots/Americana scene has gyrated over the past three decades. His work with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier and Blaze Foley (to name just a few) has cemented his position as one of the most important figures in the Americana underground. Please enjoy Gurf's version of one of Willie's campfire classics, "Caney Fork River" from the 1998 release, Willie's JUNO award winning album, "Heartstrings".
Expect more music in the coming months. Enjoy the holidays!
I've just recently returned from the Folk Alliance conference in Kansas City last month and wanted to let the community know that the Willie P Bennett tribute showcase was amazing. Involved in the heartwarming concert were past project contributors Doug Cox, Samantha Martin, Linda McRae, and Steve Dawson. The concert also included Ken Whiteley, The Sweet Lowdown, Kenny Butterill, Owen Temple, Tim Hus, The F5 Four and the Crooked Brothers. We hope to collect recordings from these folks in the future. Other participants were the Black Lillies, Raina Rose & Rebecca Loebe and Robert Sarazin Blake who were introduced to Willie's music through the Folk Alliance conference. Their participation highlights an important aspect of this project which is bringing new people and performers to the great songs of WPB. Today we have posted a new song in the MEDIA page of this site, a beautiful rendition of the title track from Willie's first album, "Trying to Start Out Clean" as performed by Grand Ole Opry regulars, The Black Lillies. Check it out.
More to come, keep checking in,
The community that knew Willie and his music share a sadness in his passing. Sadness is one of the cornerstones of great art. Sadness is an aspect of the Willie P Bennett experience, but his gift to us is an amalgam of all elements of the human condition. He won us over with levity, bliss, fear, surprise, anger, remorse, greed, lust, and most of all love and celebration. It is in this spirit of love and celebration that we offer this project to the world.
This music is still highly under-known, and this project can serve as a beacon to all of those people who have yet to come under the influence of WPB. We need your help to do this. Spread the word about the great recordings on the site and take up arms locally, promoting or performing tribute concerts at venues in your locales. We will use our influence to promote any events, anywhere in the world, that promote or celebrate the songs of Willie P Bennett. If you are a recording artists and would like to contribute a previously unreleased cut of one of Willie's tunes, let us know and together we can continue to expand the site. Also send us your links to great Willie content already accessible on the web, and we will add it to our links page (currently under construction) in the coming weeks.
The core mission of this project is to foster awareness of Willie's works. One way we can achieve this is by engaging the young musicians of today, who inevitably become the large voices of tomorrow. Our goal is to establish an annual award in Willie's name that can be presented to young performing artists who are deemed by committee to espouse Willie's professional, aesthetic and/or musical values. The criteria is not yet set and we won't post a donation link until we get more of the details worked out. You can help us by offering us your ideas via the forum above entitled "WPB Award forum"
We are officially launching today, but we have already had numerous generous offers from kind folks offering to donate money for the site's maintenance and administration. We have partnered with our provider, Bandzoogle who has been great to work with and enables us to host this site at no expense to the organization. It truly is a grass-roots, all volunteer thing we are doing here and we couldn't do it without Bandzoogle. Thanks David and Hannah for all your help. Donations would be greatly appreciated in order to establish the award program mentioned above, so we ask any generous patrons to hang on to those offerings until we can get our ducks i a row. We will need that in the near future. We also recommend that anyone planning to engage in a tribute event collect donations or ticket proceeds to contribute to the award program. These are just some ways that a small gesture of celebration can be transformed into a significant force exposing more and more people to this exceptional body of work.
This project was born of the same notion of the power of community. Only months after Willie's passing, gangs of musicians were uniting across the country to perform WPB tributes. I was involved in one such event at the Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club in Winnipeg. Also on the bill that night were Scott Nolan, James Keelaghan, Roger Marin, Romi Mayes, Andrew Neville and assorted other shady characters. At the end of the night, we had a stack of door money that, when divided amongst the individual musicians, was fairly insignificant. We collectively decided (there may have been some moral bullying, I can't say for sure) that if we were to combine our resources we could do something more substantial. As a result of discussions about what to do with this money, the concept for a website was born and evolved. We still have that money and it will provide the base for our first Willie P Bennett Memorial Award.
There are so many people to thank. I must start with Shawna Cooper who is the most rock solid person I have had the pleasure to work with. Pat Temple, Scott Nolan and Suzy Miller were always engaged in this process and were instrumental in gathering elements of the Audio Collection. Washboard Hank, David Essig, Mort Goss, Longevity John Falkner, Romi Mayes, Daniel Cooper, Randi Fratkin, Russell DeCarle, Tom Neff, all helped with defining the scope of the project.
I would personally like to thank Robin MacIntyre and Esther Bennett for coaching me and illuminating my path along the way.
Huge Thanks to all of the musicians and engineers who have, and will contribute their talents to this projects. There seems to be a common feeling among the musicians, that Willie is taking an active part in this aspect of the project and his energy is influencing the sessions. I have no doubt.
Finally, Thanks to all of you who visit the site and leave comments and share memories. You are the original believers, the apostles of Willie P. We need all of you involved to make our mission happen and as your ranks swell, so will our hearts. We will continue to bring new music and other media to this site on a frequent basis. Please keep checking back for new stuff or sign the mailing list to keep up to date with our content expansion.
This afternoon in Peterborough, Ontario, a great crew is assembling for their annual "Blue Valentine's Day" concert at the Garnet pub. Next year, it would be nice to see one of these happening in every town. Call a venue near you and book it this week! February 15, 2015- International Blue Valentine's Day. Come on, let's make it happen.
I believe that Willie P Bennett was not only a hero of Canadian folk music, but a canadian folk hero and I am honored to share this celebration with you,
Willie P Bennett Legacy Project