Festiva Regionalista 2018
For our second Festiva Regionalista event, which now, appropriately, takes place on the Canada Day holiday weekend, we brought in the Steel City Rovers. Last year's performance by The Nihilist Spasm Band, was a hard act to follow. The founder of this group (and of the London Regionalism movement, no less) Greg Curnoe, was a friend and cycling partner of instrumentalist for the Steel City Rovers, Mark Fletcher (who is, himself, an accomplished visual artist). We were able to carry on this direct connection with the last incarnation of Regionalist art (here in Canada), with this talented 'Celtibilly' band from Hamilton, Ontario. While Regionalism in this country claims London Ontario as its spiritual home, we believe – given the Regionalist preference for decentralization – that such pursuits have no absolute centre. As a place to celebrate Canada however, Pelee Island, the nation's most Southerly point, if a most suitable location; "Canada Starts Here", as we like to say.
The Steel City Rovers are Celtibilly; the cross-pollination of the Celtic and North American traditions. Sophisticated and hypnotizing musical arrangements. Expressive and clever lyrical compositions. In their ambitious first few years, the Rovers have risen to perform internationally on coveted stages, to be nominated for numerous music awards and to have their original works top the traditional radio charts. Commanding and dynamic performers, this act is a blend of both seasoned and young talent who are simply electric to witness in person.
This year's selection of spoken word and visual arts bring together two different, but complimentary, views, on the subject of artist Tom Thomson. Barry Brodie and John Maurer have immersed themselves in the life of this enigmatic figure, to better understand what motivated this iconic Canadian painter. Their respective works, written and painted, reflect a deep understanding of the artist's life. Each, as a result, contributes a fresh perspective, not only on this artist's life and work, but to the exploration of Regionalism in art; forever dispelling (we believe) the very notion of an 'empty landscape' – a criticism that has dogged the work of Thomson and the Group of Seven. See an off-the- cuff commentary on Regionalism (in general) in a conversation between lead singer of The Steel City Rovers, Ryan McKenna and artist David Ward, below.
Ryan McKenna - Lead Vocals; Joel McKenna - Guitar, Vocals; Mark Fletcher - Whistles, Small Pipes, Accordion, Guitar, Mandola, Vocals; Dave Neigh - Fiddle, Banjo, Vocals; Dave Gould - Drums, Vocals, Percussion
Visual artist, John Maurer painting in The Quarry as the crowd arrives.
Ryan McKenna, of the Steel City Rovers, and artists W. David Ward, talk about about 'Stone & Sky', Festiva Regionalista, Regionalism – and, even, this band's connection to the perennial art people's art movement – Canada Day 2018. Currently only available on Steel City Rovers' facebook page - a few items down (this is a busy band). For those averse to this particular social media, we hope to provide an alternate channel to view this video soon.
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