Rick Fielding

(Folk Legacy 123)

Folk Legacy Records
P.O. Box 1148
Sharon, CT 06069

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by John Rae


Rick Fielding is one of Canada's outstanding folk musicians. Born in Montreal, he spent many years making a living by performing in bars. About three years ago, he quit the bar circuit, rededicated himself to folk music, and switched to performing in venues where the patrons come to listen to the performer and his/her music.

Extremely versatile and talented, Rick is a multi-instrumentalist, playing almost any stringed instrument you can name. He is also a talented songwriter, an insightful music teacher, and equally at home creating customized leathercraft.

So Long Charlie, the c.d.'s opening track, tells the life of Charlie Chamberlain, the "singing lumberjack from Prince Edward Island" who teamed up with noted Canadian fiddler Don Messer in the 1930's. Charlie and Don performed together all across Canada and starred for years on CBC television. This selection concludes with some great fiddling from Steve Fuller.

Pitman Blues is a haunting song based on actual stories told to Rick by northern Ontario miners. The heart of the song is a father warning his son against becoming a miner. He tells him about silicosis, which has severely shortened the lives of so many veteran miners.

If Jesus was a Picker may seem a little sacrilegious to some, but it's really a cleverly-written fantasy that was inspired by today's many televangelists.

Voices of Struggle could easily become a new folk anthem, encouraging all of us to raise our own voices in song and fight back against today's neo-conservative agenda. While Rick is not a "protest singer" per se, he has performed at many rallies over the years, and he recognizes how important a force music has been in social change. Angus Fraser, the c.d.'s highlight, was written after a late-night conversation in a Toronto restaurant with an elderly man. While this song chronicles this particular old man's life, it parallels much of Canada's 20th century history.

Lifeline, the c.d.'s title track, written by Rick's long-time friend Glen Reid, brings to life the riverboat era when the river was the highway that linked communities.

This 19-track c.d. offers a great variety of outstanding vocal and instrumental selections. Steve Fuller, Glen Reid, and David Paton provide excellent instrumental back-up to Rick Fielding's guitar, 12 string guitar, steel guitar, octave guitar, mandolin, mandola, banjo, dulcimer, and bass. The Patons join in with harmony vocals on several tracks.

The Patons should be justly proud of this fine addition to their catalog. A number of U.S. folk d.j.'s considered lifeline their "favorite recording" of 1995. I fully understand this high praise, for it was certainly my favorite recording of that year.

Edited by Jim Dubinsky

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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