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I was asked a while back if I would tell stories and play squeezebox at the Roseland Horticultural Society’s annual awards banquet, which happened finally last night. A few years ago, I did quite a bit of storytelling, as a regular at 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling. In my family, we’re all storytellers in one way or another. I recall noticing at a family holiday gathering many years ago, that we all like to get our stories in, and when my family came together, we simply upped the volume to talk over one another. My father had an excellent technique. He would finish many of his sentences with the word “and”, making for a natural segue to the next thought. He also had a wonderful ability to connect seemingly unconnectable stories, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. If he got too outrageous, he’d say, “Listen, I may not be right but I’m never wrong.”

I pieced together a program of some of my favourite stories (the best of which I inherited from my father who told them to me many many times (each time better than the last – never let facts get in the way of a good story, he’d tell me), which I mixed in with a selection of tunes on my triple row diatonic button accordion with some added harmonica train sound effects along the way.

On stage with me I laid out a selection of percussion instruments, from my home-made “gut-bucket” bass, to a scrub-board, a “frog”, a güiro, a triangle, spoons and some shakers. At the end of the show, when all my stories were told, I brought up volunteers to the stage one at a time and inducted them into the Roselands Horticultural Society jug band. We played a Cajun waltz, a polka and a cumbia, and we had a great time making home-made jam together.

The folks at the Horticultural Society are a great bunch of people. I really enjoyed meeting everyone. I didn’t know what this group was going to think about my eclectic mix of stories and music, but I think everyone had a great time. We enjoyed a fine roast beef dinner, and the group handed out a variety of awards and prizes. Each spring, by the way, this group has an excellent plant sale at Eglinton Flats. Each year I load up the car with an excellent selection at great prices.

I want to thank JA for inviting me to perform last night. I had a blast.

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