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Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson

Related threads:
Lyr Req: Housewife's Lament (Vera Johnson) (7)
Remember Vera Johnson? (7)
Obit: Vera Johnson 1920- 2007 (22)


GUEST,Arthur Caldicott 28 Feb 07 - 10:36 PM
Peace 28 Feb 07 - 10:47 PM
Anglo 01 Mar 07 - 02:34 AM
GUEST,padgett 01 Mar 07 - 04:02 AM
Bob the Postman 01 Mar 07 - 08:07 AM
Waddon Pete 01 Mar 07 - 08:23 AM
Leadfingers 01 Mar 07 - 09:07 AM
Splott Man 01 Mar 07 - 09:12 AM
RoyH (Burl) 01 Mar 07 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Mike Ballantyne 01 Mar 07 - 12:32 PM
Bob the Postman 01 Mar 07 - 01:09 PM
Bob the Postman 01 Mar 07 - 02:23 PM
Susanne (skw) 01 Mar 07 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 02 Mar 07 - 01:39 AM
Waddon Pete 02 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM
Bob the Postman 02 Mar 07 - 11:10 AM
Martin Graebe 02 Mar 07 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Arthur Caldicott 02 Mar 07 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Janet & Tony Geen 02 Mar 07 - 02:21 PM
GUEST,Janet & Tony Geen 02 Mar 07 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 03 Mar 07 - 01:19 AM
Bob the Postman 03 Mar 07 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 04 Mar 07 - 12:14 AM
Waddon Pete 04 Mar 07 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 04 Mar 07 - 10:19 PM
Waddon Pete 05 Mar 07 - 04:16 AM
Bob the Postman 05 Mar 07 - 08:06 AM
Willie-O 05 Mar 07 - 10:23 PM
GUEST 06 Mar 07 - 12:34 PM
North/South Annie 06 Mar 07 - 02:39 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 06 Mar 07 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 06 Mar 07 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 06 Mar 07 - 04:35 PM
Fumble Fingers 06 Mar 07 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Nick 06 Mar 07 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,Waddon Pete 07 Mar 07 - 04:49 PM
Bob the Postman 08 Mar 07 - 09:19 PM
bobad 10 Mar 07 - 11:34 AM
Bob the Postman 10 Mar 07 - 01:38 PM
Susanne (skw) 10 Mar 07 - 07:45 PM
Susanne (skw) 11 Mar 07 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Waddon Pete 13 Mar 07 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Arnie Naiman 14 Mar 07 - 04:23 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 15 Mar 07 - 08:49 PM
GUEST,Jon Bartlett 19 Mar 07 - 01:46 AM
GUEST,Mike Ballantyne 19 Mar 07 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,Mike Ballantyne 19 Mar 07 - 01:51 PM
Arthur Caldicott 29 Mar 07 - 12:31 PM
Jon Bartlett 29 Mar 07 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Waddon Pete at work 29 Mar 07 - 01:52 PM
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Subject: Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Arthur Caldicott
Date: 28 Feb 07 - 10:36 PM

In 1966, when she was 46, Vera Johnson's second marriage was buggered. So she left Canada, boarded the Queen Elizabeth in New York and went to England for a year of busking and wandering and working at whatever happened to come along.

She carried a notebook, a guitar, and was always writing songs. Money was sometimes in very short supply, occasionally forcing somewhat rudimentary accommodation.

Tugboats were hooting way down on the river,
The streetlamps made halos out there in the dark;
Our bed was a jacket spread over the rustling
Leaves of October in Battersea Park.

All I know about Vera I've picked up from a bio she wrote in 1994, when she was 74. You can find it here.
http://cfmb.icaap.org/content/29.1/BV29-1art2.pdf

My interest and awareness of Vera was triggered a few months ago in a nursing home, a seniors residence, in Chemainus, BC.

It's very easy to keep your distance from the residents in these facilities. They've all lost some of their physical and/or mental capabilities. They drool. They yell. Whomever you are there for (my mother in law) usually takes up all of your emotional energy.

But John Prine was so dead on. These people are lonesome, and they are desperate for someone to say hello.

And Vera responded to my presence and somehow it came out that she was a singer or something. And though she is Vera McKinley in the institution, she used to be Vera Johnson.

So back home I asked Google about her. Wow. We're talking Canadian folk icon.

One day I mentioned the Minx from Pinsk, perhaps Vera's best known song. She sang it, sitting there at the dinner table surrounded by me and three other old women. It was wonderful.

Vera hates the $^@&!#* place. So she tries to escape by following people out the door when they leave. The staff got pissed off about that, and Vera is now incarcerated in the secure wing of the facility and I don't see her anymore.

It's an appalling situation. Vera is no exception though. She's just one person in a hundred in this place. And it's just one place in a hundred in British Columbia. And so on across the continent.

Phil Thomas, a much better known Canadian folk icon died in January. At least people who know him and Hilda are going to write an obituary. Wouldn't a book or an interactive DVD or a film be great? All that music. All those stories.

Vera will die or her mind will fade away and we'll lose another folk icon, and not even notice.

My question is, is there anyone on this list who knew Vera when she was still active in folk circles? Anyone who could tell her story? Anyone know her children?

Nobody ever visits her in the facility. She's there now, waiting for someone to say, hello in there. And planning her escape, I hope.

I'm all woman and a yard wide,
Got a disposition on the easy side;
I've had eight husbands and I wouldn't mind nine;
If you want to apply, boys, just get in line.

My email address is arthurcaldicott@sqwalk.com


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Subject: RE: Vera Johnson
From: Peace
Date: 28 Feb 07 - 10:47 PM

Vera in 1979.


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Subject: RE: Vera Johnson
From: Anglo
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 02:34 AM

Wow. Good on yer Arthur. I met Vera a couple of times way back when, eastern Canadian folk festivals we were poth performing at. I never really got to know her well but we chatted. And she was a Canadian folk icon if there is such a thing (though I admit I've never heard of Phil Thomas).

Sorry I can't help in the telling of her story, but you're right, it needs to be told.

John


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 04:02 AM

O my I am in tears literally it is awful to get old

Vera came to Barnsley when Derek and Dorothy Elliot ran the club I remember in the 1970s


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 08:07 AM

This thread set a faint bell ringing for me, so I checked and, yes, I have a dubbed cassette of Vera Johnson that my banjo teacher Eva gave me when she was making more room on her music shelves. I will digitize it today and transcribe some lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 08:23 AM

Vera certainly guested at the Croydon Foksong Club way back then. She was always gave a good night and was highly thought of.

Perhaps we need to set up old FOLK homes...rather than old folks homes. Where the folk bit is important! Imagine the sessions! (and the arguments!)

Best wishes,


Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 09:07 AM

I also have fond memories of seeing Vera in various clubs 'back then '
A Very entertaining lady , with a wonderful supply of self penned songs ! Did she ever make an album ?


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Splott Man
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 09:12 AM

Sad indeed. I remember her well, I've got the LP with Minx from Pinsk on it. I also remeber The Do It Yourself Divorce (You have to be married of course).





Incidentally, welcome to Mudcat Pete, I remember you from Croydon Folksong Club days. You'll remember me as Fluff (and Sandy).


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 10:38 AM

Like Ray Padgett I'm terribly sad to read this. I knew Vera from her time on the UK folk scene, a bright spark of a laady, full of good humour and writer of good songs. I recall 'Minsk from Pinsk', also 'The Bus Conductors Shanty'. At one time she walked around with a poster pinned to the back of her coat stating a protest about something, I forget what. But I have never forgotten Vera and to read this is heartbreaking. Can nothing be done? Can't the Canadian folk community help her in some way? Could the address of the home be printed here so that messages may be sent? Mr Caldicott, when you see Vera again please tell her that Roy Harris remembers her and her songs, and sends greetings and good wishes. Burl. (R.Harris)


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Mike Ballantyne
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 12:32 PM

The British Columbia Folklore Society is in the process of publishing Vera's two LPs on two CDs together with the words of all the songs on the LPs, in one, 8 1/2 x 11, soft covered book (Pacific Folklore Studies No. 2). The book is being published in a very limited edition of 100, for the members of the Society, by arrangement with Vera's daughters and should be available in six weeks or so.
Vera (McIntyre) is in Ladysmith Extended Care on Vancouver Island.
Mike Ballantyne
Executive Director
British Columbia Folklore Society


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 01:09 PM

The Minx From Pinsk by Vera Johnson is in Digitrad. Here are links for The Fountain and Women's Liberation Blues

Mike, one of the songs she recorded is called "Mrs. Ballantyne". Any relation?


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Subject: Lyr Add: THAT'S WHAT I BELIEVE (Vera Johnson)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 02:23 PM

THAT'S WHAT I BELIEVE

by Vera Johnson

Some people say you mustn't take a drink
Or you'll damn your soul to hell
Other people say you have to go to church
And maybe Sunday school as well
Some folks claim a man is born to sin
And a woman's bound to grieve
Well, maybe they're right and I'm all wet
But here's what I believe

(Chorus)
I believe in living
Enjoy it while you can
In kindness and in gentleness
Giving your brother a helping hand
Work and laugh and love and play
We haven't got too long to stay
So make the most of every day
That's what I believe

I don't pretend that I can understand
Why the Earth is moving through space
Neither do I know what made a cell mutate
And started off the human race
There's just one thing that I know for sure
Though to you it may seem odd
That we're all part of something great
And that's what I call God

(Chorus)

Hell's not a place, it's just a state of mind
A sickness of the soul
Heaven's how you feel when things are going right
And you think you're gonna make your goal
Good is anything that nurtures life
And makes it thrive and bloom
And evil's whatever cripples life
And threatens it with doom

(Chorus)

Each man ought to to the best he can
To be himself, not what he is not
Even if you think you're rather weak on brains
Just make the most of what you've got
Just remember that you're not alone
You're a part of all mankind
And man can achieve tremendous things
When he makes up his mind

(Chorus)


In her brief autobiography (see link in initial post) Vera says that she assigned the royalties for this song to the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 06:33 PM

Arthur, thanks for posting this. I never met Vera, only taped a short live performance from the radio (The DIY Divorce, Pierre Trudeau and The Censor Song) and loved it. It's easy to believe she hates being dependent. Also, sad to hear her mind is going, and shocking to learn she is confined in the secure wing of a 'care home'. I know things get difficult for carers once dementia sets in but there must be a better way to deal with this ... Of course, things are worse for those who have no relatives or friends looking after them. Professional carers often lack the time and sometimes the will to look after all of their charges properly. Vera has my sympathy.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 01:39 AM

Yes, I knew Vera in Winnipeg when Cathy Fink and Duck Donald brought me in to play there a few times. And also at Mitch Podolac's Winnipeg Folk Festival. I thought of her as the Canadian Malvina Reynolds!! I had her LP at one time, but it disappeared from my collection. --- I can't believe they can legally hold her in seclusion with no chance to have visitors. That's simply insane. If you ever see her again please tell her that she is remembered warmly and fondly by Art Thieme in Peru, Illinois.

I'm going to tell Cathy to look in here. This is gonna make Ms Fink absolutely livid. (Few are better at making waves than Cathy Fink when she's pissed off...)

Give Vera my love!!!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM

I hope the wider Canadian Folk world knows about Vera's situation.

Please let us know when the CD becomes available as I think you would sell a few over on the Left Hand Side of the Pond!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: Lyr Add: NAGAMMA (Vera Johnson)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 11:10 AM

NAGAMMA

By Vera Johnson

Doctor Lotta's children are spread through many lands
Reaching out with hungry eyes and empty searching hands
Little bloated bellies, each finger like a claw
And one among the millions is the girl called Nagamma

Nagamma is thirsty, the sun keeps beating down
She has to keep on moving her bare feet across the ground
Mud and stone for mortar in the basket on her head
She has carried it for years now, she will carry it till she's dead

Nagamma has never been taught to read or write
She spent her school years working on this construction site
There's no need of schooling for her to earn her pay
For labouring eight hours she makes thirty cents a day

Nagamma is helping her family to survive
They need her daily earnings to keep them all alive
Girls are not like babies, they must work so she's been told
So Nagamma keeps working, after all, she's eight years old

Doctor Lotta's children are spread through many lands
Reaching out with hungry eyes and empty searching hands
Little bloated bellies, each finger like a claw
And one among the millions is the girl called Nagamma


Vera assigned the royalties from this song to the Unitarian Service Committee, founded by Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova



Art, I don't thing Vera is being held in seclusion, exactly. She's in the secure ward of an old folks' home, which just means there's one or two additional locked doors between her and the outside world with it's traffic, tripping hazards, and bad weather. She, like Arthur's mother-in-law, has every chance to have visitors--it's just that nobody does visit her. Except, now, for Arthur.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 11:38 AM

Thank you, Arthur, for telling us Vera's story. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was thinking about her and the great songs that she wrote and wondering whether she was still with us.

In the early 70s we would book her at the Exmouth (Devon) club whenever she toured and it was always a delight. She described herself then as 'The Singing Grandmother' but she had more energy than most of us. When she stayed over it was usually a late night! I also remember her at one of the Loughborough Festivals (probably 1974) when she introduced me to Kenny Goldstein. A lovely lady!

Incidentally, I'm pretty sure that 'minx' was actually sung 'minxsk' to get the rhyme. I'll look forward to hearing it again sometime.

Martin Graebe


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Arthur Caldicott
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 02:08 PM

How wonderful that this posting about Vera Johnson was discovered by so many people, so quickly. Isn't it lovely that many of you have memories of being in the same places at the same time with Vera?

Thanks for the anecdotes, the pictures, the lyrics. Evoking these is more than I expected, and I hope the thread continues to grow with them.

Vera is in Chemainus Health Care Centre, 9909 Esplanade Street, PO Box 499, Chemainus, BC V0R 1K0 . I think cards to her from people who knew her once would be a wonderful treat. Maybe even include pictures from back then, or a CD with a song or two. Visitors are welcome - as Bob the Postman noted. She is not in seclusion or anything nasty like that.

I was not trying to vilify the staff or the institution. The provincial government? Well, that's another matter. It's the provincial government that controls the purse strings, and forces these institutions to operate perpetually short-staffed. The treatment of the residents is directly tied to funding for the facility.

The place is full of people with rich stories - and who doesn't have rich stories after 80 or 90 years on this earth. Sandy Clark is a painter who doesn't paint anymore, like Vera is a folksinger who doesn't write songs anymore. (There's a song in there, isn't there?) Some of the big murals around the small town of Chemainus were painted by Sandy. A delicate watercolour of hers is on a wall in the facility.

Residents generally don't receive many visitors. There are all sorts of good reasons for that - the husband is dead, the children live a long way away - for example. But visitors enrich their otherwise uneventful days enormously. As John Prine observed.

And we're all heading that way ourselves. Scary.

In the posting from Mike Ballantyne, it's great to hear that a collection of her music is being republished. It sounds wonderful - CDs and a songbook. May I ask why such a limited edition, rather than something that could be made available to more than the 100? I'd sure like to get a copy. Is that possible? If I join the society?

Thanks again everyone. Don't stop now.

Arthur


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Janet & Tony Geen
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 02:21 PM

We remember her very well. Someone told us she died about 20 years ago. We're glad that's not true, although it sounds as though life isn't much better.

We saw Vera loads of times in Guildford, Addlestone etc. (Surrey, UK).

We sing, or have sung, the DIY Divorce, Battersea Park, the Pencil Song and another song about a different workman each day of the week (can't remember the title).

Thanks for posting this thread, and we'll watch developments.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Janet & Tony Geen
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 02:45 PM

... oh, and Big Bright Barbie, or course. Never got round to doing Bald Eagle.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 03 Mar 07 - 01:19 AM

I'm really glad it's not as bad a situation as I thought.   Sorry for overreacting. I'll be sending Vera a CD or two as quick as I can do the logistics involved.

Art


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 03 Mar 07 - 09:26 PM

Here's a link to score and lyrics for Edith Fowke's favorite Vera Johnson song, the gently bawdy The Housewife's Lament


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 04 Mar 07 - 12:14 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 04 Mar 07 - 10:59 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 04 Mar 07 - 10:19 PM

Folks, I just heard from Cathy Fink. It does seem that Vera is where she must be right now; a place where she is well looked after. And some friends of Vera's in B.C. are working on re-releasing one of her albums as a CD. A few years ago, when the Folk Alliance yearly gathering was in Vancouver, Cathy tells me she did a "life history" session with Vera and "she was in fine form, though she hadn't sung much in the recent past."

I figured you'd like to know...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 05 Mar 07 - 04:16 AM

Thank you Art!

As always...let us know when the CD is ready to purchase!

It is good to hear that she is well looked after. We must remember to write to her!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: Lyr Add: WOMEN'S LIBERATION BLUES (Vera Johnson)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 05 Mar 07 - 08:06 AM

WOMEN'S LIBERATION BLUES

By Vera Johnson

Mama said you got to cook and sew
Cause you're a woman
Scrub the floors and knead the biscuit dough
Cause you're a woman
Making biscuit's what you have to know
Cause you're a woman

Teacher said it's office work for you
Cause you're a woman
You will type and take dictation too
Cause you're a woman
Always see things from the boss's view
Cause you're a woman

I had status and a salary
I was a woman
I scorned the sweeper in the factory
I was a woman
But he was making twice as much as me
I was a woman

Then I married and the babies came
I was a woman
So I stayed at home and played the housework game
I was a woman
And then I started thinking what a dirty shame
I was a woman

They had put me in a pigeon hole
I was a woman
Just a doll without a mind or soul
I was a woman
Cast that doll in a supporting role
I was a woman

They said I was made from Adam's rib
Cause I'm a woman
That I was built to rock a baby's crib
Cause I'm a woman
Guess I'll go and fight for Women's Lib
Cause I'm a woman


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Willie-O
Date: 05 Mar 07 - 10:23 PM

I have a couple of memories of Vera Johnson. I remember seeing her perform at Winnipeg in the late 70's, and another time hanging out at a Unitarian conference, god knows where but quite likely minneapolis, and she was singing in a "hospitality suite" there.

I know Toronto has a kind of "assisted housing" centre for old artists, there should be one in every city! That'd be the fun one to go play at. But on the other hand, it sounds like Vera is doing what she's always done, bringing music to the surroundings she finds herself in. There are worse ways to spend your time...

W-O


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 12:34 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: North/South Annie
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 02:39 PM

My good wishes to Vera! I remember seeing her many years ago, probably late 60's early 70's either 'down South' in Gosport/Portsmouth area or maybe 'up North' at Barnsley club as Ray has already mentioned (hi Ray). Anyway I always remember her for that brilliant song Splott man has already mentioned 'The do it yourself divorce'..'You have to be married of course..' I even went on to get myself a 'do it yourself divorce' years later!


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 02:54 PM

O.K. How about this. First Google Vera Johnson. Then, we have the telephone and the INTERNET. Anybody out there got an email address for the place? I let Mike Regenstreif at CKUT Montreal (Folk Roots/Folk Branches) know about the situation. If Vera got some messages from around the world, even if they have to be read to her by attendants, I know it would brighten her day. At least let's let a woman who has done so much for Folk Music know that she is not forgotten in the latter years of her life. bob


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 03:49 PM

I have emailed www.myspace.com/cbcradio3 in Vancouver and www.myspace.com/friendsofthecbc in an attempt to get a tribute, or some of Vera's songs played. Please show your support by contacting your nearest CBC affiliate. If any of you out there have industry contacts, now would be the time to use 'em. Thanks. bob


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 04:35 PM

The CBC has just responded to my email and has asked to receive ideas and stories about Vera Johnson. All those who knew Vera or have participated in this thread, can send your stories, anecdotes, and memories to info@cbcradio3.com. Help to create a tribute for Vera...and, tell them how you feel about Folk Music! bob


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Fumble Fingers
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 07:40 PM

Bringing the CBC into it is rich with potential.

Vera does have some family. Mike Ballantyne referred to two of her daughters. Vera spoke of her three daughters.

If anything is to be done in such a public way as something on CBC, Vera's daughters should be included in the discussion.

Mike Ballantyne, are you following this thread?


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Nick
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 09:04 PM

Never heard her, never heard of her, not a note, not the name, but this heart is touched by this thread, and intrigued as well. And I now that I have I can hear just a snippet from Pink Floyd.. Vera, what has become of you?
Mudcat at it's finest, Vera's finest I have yet to explore, mark my words, I will
Nick


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Waddon Pete
Date: 07 Mar 07 - 04:49 PM

You are in for a treat, Nick!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE QUEEREST CRITTER (Vera Johnson)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 08 Mar 07 - 09:19 PM

I'm not positive about the authorship of this song, but pending further info I have attributed it to Vera. The Folk Music Index credits a song called "The Queerest Critter" to a Vera Newlin. I'm assuming that Vera Johnson was married to someone named Newlin. Here are the words as transcribed off Vera's self-published lp "That's What I Believe" of which I have only a cassette dub.

THE QUEEREST CRITTER

by Vera Johnson

(Chorus)
What is the queerest critter of all
Man is the queerest I recall
Never sees the hand-writing on the wall
Till his back is up against it

Harpoon Harry roams the seas
Slaughtering the whales
Wonders why there are so few
In the oceans where he sails

Chorus: What is the queerest . . .

Seiner Sammy looks for fish
Brings his catch to shore
Takes the most that he's allowed
Grumbles cause he can't get more

Chorus: What is the queerest . . .

Logger Louis fells the trees
Sends them to the mill
Cannot understand why floods
Wash out each denuded hill

Chorus: What is the queerest . . .

Moe the Miner strips the hill
Claws up earth and clay
Rips the ground to get the coal
He says that's the price you pay

Chorus: What is the queerest . . .


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: bobad
Date: 10 Mar 07 - 11:34 AM

Chopper McKinnon, who hosts a weekly folk music program on radio station CKCU called Canadian Spaces, played a couple of Vera's songs this morning, Pierre Trudeau and The Censor Song. This was the first time I have heard Vera's music and must say I was delighted, her sense of humour as well as her commitment to social causes were in evidence as was her easy and warm rapport with the audience, as this recording was of a live performance.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 10 Mar 07 - 01:38 PM

Some Vera Johnson links:

National Library Holdings

Article by Vera on Alan Mills

Article by Vera on Edith Fowke


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Subject: Lyr Add: PIERRE TRUDEAU (Vera Johnson)
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 10 Mar 07 - 07:45 PM

My French is less than perfect, so any help with the lines with question marks would be appreciated.

PIERRE TRUDEAU
(Vera Johnson)

Pierre Trudeau is very astute
Not only that, he really is cute
He's got ideas and get-up-and-go
That's why I like Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau, un homme savant
Et quelque fois un homme charmant
Il va saumont il ait de l'eau
"Il va sautant, il est dans l'eau" ???
(He goes diving, he's in the water)
or
"Comme un saumon, il est dans l'eau"
(He's like a salmon in the water)
Et tres gentil, Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau he comes from Quebec
But doesn't think like René Lavesque                                                         
He wants to see our Canada grow                                                                                 
Both strong and free, Pierre Trudeau                                 

Pierre Trudeau, il parle bien
Avec grandeur, sans perdre rien
Les libereaux, ils sont idiots
Il dit cela, Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau has positive views
Casts totems down and breaks the taboos
Forget the past, the old status quo
Try something new, Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau il a un air riche
C'est pour l'argent il dit 'je m'en fiche'
De meur estrong on a grand jeton ???
"Il me restera qu'un grand jeton"
(All I'll have is but one token)
Tout simplement Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau he doesn't conform
In thought or dress to what is the norm
He is unique, we want you to know
There's no one like Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau, c'est l'homme pour moi
Il veut garder ??? toi
Et quand il parle j'ecoute ces mots
Car il est sage, Pierre Trudeau


(René Lavesque - then leader of the Quebecois separatist movement)


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 11 Mar 07 - 05:02 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Waddon Pete
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 04:38 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Arnie Naiman
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 04:23 PM

I remember seeing her at The Mariposa Folk Festival in the 1970s. I might have a picture of her doing an informal singing jam session on the festival grounds with Steve Goodman backing her up on guitar. I'll have to check into that. I bet you Mariposa has some sound files somewhere lurking in their archives.
Arnie


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 08:49 PM

I asked Clary Croft, who as Dr. Helen Creighton's protege might have some knowledge, and this is the information he found

Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 16:49:14 -0300
From: Clary Croft
To: George Seto
Subject: Re: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson

Hello:

I just checked with Dr. Creighton's collection today and found two letters from Vera to Helen. Nothing too important but, just the same, Vera knew all the people in the "folk song world" at the time and certainly made a name for herself among us growing up in that era. The references are: Nova Scotia Archives and Record Management. MG1 Volume 2814 #24. Vera Johnson to Helen Creighton, 18 December, 1952: enquiring about Helen's thoughts on Alan Mills for an article Vera was preparing for MacLean's Magazine. Vera Johnson to Helen Creighton, 4 January, 1953: response and query of obtaining Helen's Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia.

Cheers,

Clary Croft


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Jon Bartlett
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 01:46 AM

Just got back onto Mudcat and noticed the thread. Rika Ruebsaat and I have a regular spot on "North by Northwest" (CBC-1, Sats and Suns 6-9, BC only: 101.7 in Vancouver) and we're preparing a one-hour show on Vera and her music to be aired either 1 April or sometime in May. We'll post the time here as soon as we know.

Vera's oevre is a snapshot of the late sixties-early seventies. The themes she touched on in her songs and her articles(women's liberation, the environment movement, political struggles on the left) are still with us, of course, and Vera's songs from the earliest days of the folk song revival in Canada remind us that nothing is achieved in a day and a night.


She was also (for fans of such)into filk music: "The Sweetheart of Sordido V" is hers. I myself bought a bunch of her sci-fi books, including a first edition (1952) of "Player Piano".

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Mike Ballantyne
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 01:37 PM

Hi Folks,
Further to my message of 01 Mar 07 - 12:32 PM, no, I am not related to the Mrs. Ballantyne of the song, Vera didn't know my arm of the family when she wrote it, although I have come across many "Mrs. Ballantynes" in my time!
I have not been following this thread on a consistent basis.
You should all know that Vera is in very caring hands and is not behind locked doors of any sort. She is in the Extended Care wing of Ladysmith General Hospital and is visited by her family, daily. I don't know what all that was about Chemainus - she isn't there although she may have been there very briefly a couple of years ago.
The reason the British Columbia Folklore Society is publishing only 100 copies of "The Recorded Songs of Vera Johnson" is because the Society is not supported except by its very limited membership and consequently has very little money,
Anyone can join the Society (membership is $25) and members receive the Society's publications free (including this two-CD book).
Messages to Vera can be sent to her care of her daughter Moira at: moirafoster@shaw.ca and if you want to contact me I am at info@folklore.bc.ca
The Society is at:
British Columbia Folklore Society,
7345 Seabrook Road,
Central Saanich, B.C.,
V8M 1M9
I guess, if enough people were interested, we could run a few more copies of this issue but, even with the number of people writing to this thread, it doesn't appear that there are more people than we will have spare copies to accommodate.
I hope this answers a few questions and allays a few myths (in the popular sense of the word).
Mike


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Mike Ballantyne
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 01:51 PM

Folks,
I should add that Vera is pretty well, physically, and is free to wander about the area she is in and to interact with other patients. She still plays the piano to entertain them and herself although most of the music is quite simple now, and she still recognizes her daughters...
Mike


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Arthur Caldicott
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 12:31 PM

Hello, Jon Bartlett. Are you doing the Vera show on April 1 or later? Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 01:47 PM

It looks like May, Arthur: we need more time to pull the piece together. Sunday April 1, 8-9 am CBC-AM, will be a sort of musical journey - how Rika and me got from there to here.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Waddon Pete at work
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 01:52 PM

Hello Jon

Will we be able to get the broadcast over the internet?

Best wishes,

Peter


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