Archive for the ‘family’ Category


Sandy Mackay – Call of the Wheel

7 September 2012

Do you like acoustic folk music? Down-home, Celtic-tinged, eastern Canadian guitar-based tunes you can hum along to?

If so, you should listen to Sandy Mackay‘s album, Call of the Wheel. He’s written and recorded a bunch of songs on which he sings, and plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, keyboards, bass and bagpipes. He brings along some friends and family too.

Speaking of family, here’s the best reason you should check out this album: Sandy is my cousin. Good one, cuz!

You can find out about Sandy from his web page; you can listen to, and then buy, Call of the Wheel online too. And if you’re going to be in Saint John, New Brunswick on September 15th you can get tickets for the album launch.

My favourite track so far is “Epizeuxis”, because it’s bluesy, funny, and it taught me a new word. “Mr. Thompson” is really pretty, too.


Another 50 best songs

1 January 2009

A little while ago my brother Dan posted his list of his 50 favourite songs of all time. Last week I posted my list.

Our dad heard about our list-making and the gauntlet was thrown. He stayed up nights thinking about what his top 50 songs would be. Here they are.

  • Band . “The Weight”
  • Barra Macneils . “Cool Town Road”
  • Big Sugar . “Wild Ox Moan”
  • Bill Bourne . “Bluebird”
  • Bill Justis . “Raunchy”
  • Bob Dylan . “Desolation Row”
  • Bob Dylan . “High Water”
  • Bob Dylan . “Highlands”
  • Bobbie Gentry . “Ode to Billy Joe”
  • Browns . “The Thee Bells”
  • Buddy Knox . “Rock Your Little Baby to Sleep”
  • Carole King . “Smackwater Jack”
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival . “Feeling Blue”
  • Crosby Stills Nash and Young . “Teach Your Children”
  • Dire Straits . “Walk of Life”
  • Doc Watson . “Tennessee Stud”
  • Doors . “Riders on the Storm”
  • Eagles . “Heartache Tonight”
  • Eagles . “Witchy Woman”
  • Elvis Presley . “That’s All Right”
  • Emmylou Harris . “Calling My Children Home”
  • George Thorogood . “Bad to the Bone”
  • Gillian Welch . “By the Mark”
  • Gillian Welch . “Elvis Presley Blues”
  • Gillian Welch . “Red Clay Halo”
  • Gordon Lightfoot . “Sundown”
  • Ian & Sylvia . “Old Blue”
  • Jeff Buckley . “Hallelujah”
  • Jennifer Warnes . “Ballad of the Runaway Horse”
  • Jennifer Warnes . “Bird on a Wire”
  • Jennifer Warnes . “Joan of Arc”
  • Jimie Rodgers . “Blue Yodel #1 (T For Texas)”
  • Joan Baez . “Farewell Angelina”
  • Johnny Cash . “I Walk the Line”
  • Johnny Cash . “Tennessee Flat Top Box”
  • Kingston Trio . “Patriot Game”
  • Levon Helm . “When I Get My Rewards”
  • Natalie Merchant . “Diver Boy”
  • Norman Greenbaum . “Spirit in the Sky”
  • Rita MacNeil . “Working Man”
  • Robert Johnson . “Crossroad Blues”
  • Roy Orbison . “Candy Man”
  • Roy Orbison . “Dream Baby”
  • Stan Rogers . “Giant”
  • Stan Rogers . “Make and Break Harbour”
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan . “Crossfire”
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford . “Sixteen Tons”
  • Tracy Chapman . “Give Me One Reason”
  • Wilson Pickett . “Mustang Sally”
  • Woody Guthrie . “Vigilante Man”

Dan made some comparisons on his blog.


Music from my family

13 August 2008

A couple of weeks ago in Canada part of my family had a reunion. They’re what you could call the musical part of my family. Here’s a couple of short video clips I took.

My cousin playing the bagpipes:

My uncle singing a song he wrote about working in the Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centre (VIC). My cousin (the same one who plays bagpipes) accompanies on guitar:

My uncle, my cousin, and a family friend have a little banjo/fiddle/guitar session:



23 December 2007

We’ve been back in Nova Scotia since yesterday afternoon. It’s nice and relaxing and Christmas-y here.


My famous family

13 July 2007

Dan got there first, but I have to follow suit: my dad, and the farm where I grew up back in Canada, get a write-up in the local paper.

Sometimes I miss tractors.


Not kidding

5 June 2007

Continuing their Kid Fun Tour of England, SWMNBN’s nephew and his mom hit London again yesterday, this time on their own while we went to work. They did the Tower of London, Hamleys toy store, the mummies at the British Museum, and – best of all, by all reports – the Science Museum, especially the Science of Spying exhibit. That night, I also got to play a round of a board game they picked up: Outrage! a board game where you try to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.


We had supper at our local Italian, Osteria del Portico (awesome, as usual). They fly back to Canada today. It was a super trip for him, and I’m sure his friends will be bored to tears with his constant stories.


Family Fun

1 June 2007

One of SWMNBN’s sisters is bringing her 10-year-old son over for a short UK visit: they land in a few minutes, and we’re off to Heathrow soon. ecause we’ve got a young ‘un, we’re going to have a weekend of fun and castles!


Chelsea 3 Blackburn 0

1 February 2007

SWMNBN’s brother-in-law stayed with us again last night after finishing his work stuff here in London; he goes home today. Because he’s into sport he had asked, before coming over, if we might go see a Premiership football match. As it happens, we live quite close to Chelsea’s home at Stamford Bridge, and they played Blackburn there last night. I was able to get tickets for us when they went on sale a few weeks back.

It was fun. I’ve only been to two Premiership matches in the 6 years I’ve been here. Like all sports, it’s better watched live. I don’t follow football here at all, but – just by osmosis from news and papers – I knew what was going on: 2nd-place Chelsea in a bit of a slump with Liverpool and Arsenal coming up behind them, middle-of-the-pack Blackburn on a bit of a winning streak, Chelsea distracted by speculation on the departure of coach José Mourinho.

Anyhow, it was a decent match to watch. Although Chelsea won 3-0 they didn’t dominate. It was more like several sharp bursts of skill on Chelsea’s part to get those goals, and some very good goalkeeping by them. Blackburn got several chances.

The big moment of the game was actually when Ashley Cole, going up the side with the ball and no one near him, misplaced a foot right on top of the ball and went over on it. It looked painful. They had to stretcher him off. No word yet on how seriously he’s messed up his knee.

At the end of the day, it was a fun night out. It’s always a fun and exciting vibe at a good football match, with the crowd singing and chanting. The quality of football was good. It’s a proper British thing to do.

After the game we walked down the road to 24-hour restaurant Vingt Quatre for a late meal.


Guest stars

23 January 2007

I’ve invited some of my mates to be contributors to this blog. They used to do this (a bit, early on) on the old Blogger one. Hopefully the snazzy new interface will bring a few wise words and pithy observations from these others now and then.


2007 underway

1 January 2007

That was a very quick and efficient flight home. We’re now safe and snug at our flat. Ealing looks the same. All is quiet on New Year’s Day*. On the to-do list now are laundry, packing for skiing (after checking if there’s snow in the Alps), and nursing my sore throat.

It was a good holiday. Our families rock.

*Apologies to U2. It gives me a feeling of community to know that – all around the world – bloggers are making that lame reference.



31 December 2006

It was another family night out last night, this time with SWMNBN’s side. We hit Gio, a hot new restaurant in Halifax’s Prince George hotel. Another very swish place to know in the city. It was a very good time.

Now we’re back on the farm for a final 30 hours or so. We’re packing so much in that it feels like we’ve been holidaying for weeks.

Tomorrow – new year’s eve – we fly out.



29 December 2006

The holidays continue: there’s lots of food and drink, catching up with relatives, and being an uncle.

The weather’s gotten a lot colder today. That’s Canada in winter for you, I guess.

My brothers and I and our partners all went out last night. It was fun to hang as adults. We had a super meal at da Maurizio, then a few drinks afterwards on Argyle Street.



26 December 2006

I hope everyone’s having a good holiday. It’s all going wonderfully here. Families are good, we’re being well-fed. It’s a couple of days of peace and quiet by the ocean now.


Holiday underway

24 December 2006

We did indeed get saved. Ninety minutes and one new car later, we were off.

Now it’s the regular family chaos and overeating. The true spirit of the holidays!


Fog forces BA to ground flights

20 December 2006

Great. Although it was just domestic BA flights today, the fog is set to continue for another day or two. We’re flying Air Canada on Saturday. Hopefully, all we’ll get is severe delays because of all the people trying to make up the flights they’ve missed.