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The Barrie Folk Society

By Elaine Murray, Promo Chick

It’s Saturday night in Barrie and there’s a rap on my basement apartment door. I open it and find an attractive bearded stranger standing there with a guitar case, casually dressed in khaki shorts, sandals and a t-shirt. While I ponder my good fortune (it is date night after all!) I realize this wandering minstrel is none other than Juno award-winning musician David Bradstreet arriving to perform for the Barrie Folk Society (BFS) at my humble place of residence.

I invite David in and he proceeds to set-up for this evening’s performance. As he tunes his guitar and I cut vegetables, we spend the next half-hour chatting like old friends (somehow I don’t remember him being this attractive when I saw him perform at the Eaglewood Folk Festival in Pefferlaw). As guests begin to arrive, David effortlessly slips into the role of doorman and greets everyone. The next two hours pass by quickly as he spellbinds the audience of 30 people with his wonderful music and humourous stories spanning a career of over 30 years in the music trade. During the intermission and after the concert, he mingles with the crowd and autographs CDs.


Such is a typical evening at a house concert presented by the BFS. That was over five years ago and I have since moved into a house and presented countless other concerts.

Since October 1999, the BFS has emerged from the vision of the late Sue Workman and Claudette. It was their goal to bring folk musicians to Barrie and encourage local musicians through song circles and open mic evenings. They organized a concert at the Frequency in downtown Barrie, featuring the last-ever performance of East Coast musicians Modabo on their final concert tour. Sadly, Sue passed away before she could see her dream reach fruition. But it was her spirit that inspired Caroline to carry on and drew others, like myself, to the tiny organization.

With other folk societies in the area presenting musicians in larger venues, the BFS felt we could fill a different need by offering musicians in a more intimate, casual setting like house concerts. Audience members have the opportunity to listen to excellent musicians from across Canada in a comfortable, smokeless environment. And the atmosphere at a house concert is obviously totally different than that of a large concert. Musicians are right there, mere feet in front of you, in their raw, unplugged glory. They weave magical musical tales and even invite the audience to sing along.