Artists this season

Tom Leighton

– “Driving the crowd insane with pleasure!”, Chronicle Herald, Halifax

Tom Leighton has been an important part of the Toronto Music Scene since the mid 1970’s. He has delighted audiences with his multi-instrumental offerings and eclectic repertoire. As part of the acclaimed music duo Haines and Leighton, he has shared his musical virtuosity world-wide. Described as “A two-man folk festival!”, they have been a familiar fixture in Canadian folk music circuit.

Tom is half of the celebrated Canadian duo Mark Haines & Tom Leighton. Haines and Leighton have three CDs, “Foot to Floor”, “Optimists Jig” and “Hand to Hand”, the latter two with Borealis records. Haines and Leighton’s third album, Hand To Hand, won two PEI Music Awards and was nominated for an East Coast Music Award.

Tom also plays regularly with Anne Lederman, Conrad Kipping, and Danny Bakan. You will hear Tom on a number of prominent recordings including Ron Hynes’ last three CDs, and recordings by the Irish Descendants, Danny Bakan, Ron Nigrini, Nancy White, Jed Marum, Marie Lynn Hammond, Michael Cavan Kelly, Georgette Fry, Anne Lederman and many others.

Long active in musical theatre, Tom recently was co-writer (with Suzanne Pasternak and Marion deVries) and musical director of Ship of Fire produced by the Festival Players of Prince Edward County 2009. He has also been musical director of numerous productions of the folk musical Minerva, which he co-authored with Suzanne Pasternak. Other music direction credits include the musicals “Exile“, “Picton Papers“, “Hank Williams, the Show He Never Gave”, “Fiddler On the Roof”, and “Urinetown”, and “RENT”. Tom has also been music director for the Riverdale Share Christmas revue for the past 6 years.

Orchestrating credits include the musical Anne and Gilbert (with Bob Johnston) winning accolades from public and press. Tom orchestrated several works performed by the Kingston Symphony and featuring guest artists Georgette Fry, Haines & Leighton and Ryan Malcolm – Canadian Idol winner.

Tom teaches at Wexford School for the Arts as part of their music theatre team, leading the pit band and teaching the vocal repertoire. He has also led community choirs at the Blue Skies Folk Festival and Summerfolk for several seasons and “Sing at Eaglewood“, a vocal music weekend in Pfferlaw, On.
Tom has been awarded the Cec McEachern Award as a diverse accompanist by CIUT FM. As a revered studio musician, Tom has played piano, synthesizer, accordion, Irish whistle, bodrhan to name a few, on over 70 other albums.

Visit Tom’s Website here

Ian Bell

From darkest southwestern Ontario, Ian Bell has none-the-less performed across Canada and in the United States since the late 1970s On his own and with a number of different ensembles, he has appeared at numerous folk festivals (Winnipeg, Mariposa, Edmonton, Ottawa, Yellowknife, Owen Sound, Lunenberg , Montmagny, and others) and in concerts and dances in venues ranging from Roy Thompson Hall to Randy Haskell’s barn.

Ian was first smitten by the folk songs he heard at hootenannies he attended with his parents in the very early ‘60s, and later at the Mariposa Festivals of the early ‘70s.  With the group Muddy York, and along with Wade Hemsworth (composer of the Blackfly Song, Log Driver’s Waltz), Ian performed for two weeks in the Folklife Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC. In 1993 Ian was named “Folk Artist in Residence” for that year at Joseph Schneider Haus Museum, in Kitchener, Ontario. In 1985 Ian served as artistic director for the Mariposa Folk Festival.

As a long-time freelance broadcaster, Ian has worked on many occasions with Stuart McLean on CBC Radio’s Vinyl Café. Ian has co-written and served as musical director for five Vinyl Café national concert broadcasts. For seven years Ian was a regular contributor to the weekend Fresh Air program on CBC radio. Over the years, Ian Bell has been a repeat visitor to many CBC programs including Ideas, Gabereau, Crossroads, This Morning, and Radio Noon. He also appeared numerous times on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside.

Ian has also contributed to numerous film scores and performed period music for and occasionally appeared in the TV series, The Road to Avonlea.  Ian performs material from a large repertoire that includes both Canadian traditional music and his own songs and instrumental compositions.

In 2004 Ian performed as part of the “Roots of American Music” Festival at Lincoln Centre in New York City. In July 2005 Ian travelled to Estonia with long-time collaborator Anne Lederman to perform at the Viljandi Folk Festival. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist (guitar, button accordion, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, pipes) Ian appears on dozens of recordings as sideman as well as many under his own name.

Visit Ian’s comprehensive  music website here  and you can also visit his visual arts website and find this picture of Tom!

Michelle Rumball

The crucial thing to know about Michelle Rumball is that she’s a truly great singer. With a voice that’s sometimes whispery and wavering, sometimes plangent and clear, but always poignant and evocative, Rumball sings from deep wellsprings of emotion, in a way that can’t help but resonate strongly with listeners. As NOW’s Kate Pederson wrote, “I’d pay to hear her sing the phone book.”

And she’s earned every inch of that voice through her colourful and varied experience, not to mention training. Hailing from  Scarborough, Rumball sang in church choirs in her earliest years. She dove full-force into the music industry when she fronted The Grievous Angels, a pioneering band on Toronto’s nascent roots-music scene in the mid-to-late ‘80s. The band’s second album, the Juno-Award-nominated One Job Town, earned a national following and rave reviews, with many critics singling out Rumball’s voice for special mention.

Leaving the band to better find her own voice – both physical and creative – Rumball journeyed toward self-recovery by travelling all over the American South, where so much of the history of blues, jazz, gospel and storytelling lies. She hit the renowned Jazz Festival in New Orleans, hung out in Austin, and volunteered at the Kerrville Folk Festival, spending nights around the campfire listening to incredible songwriters. She made the classic Memphis pilgrimage to Sun Studios, Beale Street and Graceland. In Nashville, she met the members of Lambchop and ended up recording a song and singing with them at Springwater’s, a classic local songwriters’ hang out. There she met the notoriously cranky Townes Van Zandt, who took exception to her being from Canada, a country where he’d just had some border trouble. But Rumball’s new Lampchop friends came to her rescue, so she escaped unscathed.

Unable to resist the magical pull of New Orleans, Rumball spent several years living there, soaking up every tuba run and trumpet blast, and falling in love with Dr. John, radio station WWOZ and Danny Barker, among others. She took in jazz funerals, parades and gospel shows. She continued searching for her voice by studying with several teachers, including a master teacher in New York City.

Having ultimately found her voice, Rumball returned to Toronto and established herself as a redoubtable and welcome presence on the scene, often playing live – both solo and with some or all the members of her Beauty Saloon band – to rooms full of rapt listeners. In 2001, she released her debut solo album, Terrain. The Skydiggers’ Andy Maize declared it “a great listening record.” The CBC’s Bill Richardson was “seduced by the sheer poetry of it.” The Vancouver Sun said “Rumball’s songs on Terrain are enchanting, soulful and deeply satisfying.” It was recorded live off the floor in a renovated church, now known as Catherine North Studios, in Hamilton, and produced by Dave “Rave” Des Roches and Glenn Marshall. It features Rumball’s distinctive, beautiful vocals and raw lyrics, telling stories of real people and familiar places – often the ones she’s found in her travels.

Conrad Kipping

A frequent collaborator with Tom Leighton, Conrad is a versatile musician, who like many roots players, can pick up a variety of instruments with ease.  He plays mandolin, fiddle and guitar and you will also enjoy hearing him on vocals too.  Recent performances include a number at the Waring House in Picton, and Georgetown Musictown.  When he’s not playing up a storm, he doubles during the day as an insurance broker with no plan to retire from either world any time soon.