If you’ve spent some time checking out Revelstoke’s folk music scene, you’ve no doubt heard the song Old Fort Mac, with its refrain, “I won’t go back to old Fort Mac no matter how much you paaaayyyyy…”
The song has become a staple for several local bands. It was originally written by Winnipeg songwriter Rob Vaarmeyer, who taught it to Corin Raymond, who played it at the Cameron House in Toronto, where Denis Severino, the organize of the Revelstoke Coffee House, was in the audience. Severino asked Raymond for the lyrics, and now the song has made its way across the country.
“I can guarantee that 20 years from now you’ll hear Old Fort Mac at every campfire where there’s guitars in this country and I’ll be very proud to say I had a hand in,” said Raymond on the phone from Toronto.
It’s that type of sharing of music that Corin Raymond loves, and what he’s celebrating on his latest album Paper Nickels, which he released late last-month in Toronto, and is now bringing out west, starting in Revelstoke this Wednesday, Feb. 6, with a show at Benoit’s Wine Bar.
Paper Nickels is a double-CD of 20 contemporary Canadian folk songs Raymond learned while touring across Canada the past 10 years. The album is a labour of love – both in terms of the songs he played and the 144-page booklet that comes with. The book includes the lyrics, chords and stories behind each song.
“The book is something that you can’t really imagine unless you have it in your hand,” said Raymond. “The book is an explosion of enthusiasm and folklore. I can’t explain it. The reason I made the book was so I can give it to people and not have to try to explain it.”
The book also explains perhaps the most unique aspect to the whole project – the fact it’s being paid for in Canadian Tire money. The story behind that stems from a song Raymond wrote with Vaarmeyer called Don’t Spend it Honey, with the chorus, “Don’t spend it honey/Not the Canadian Tire Money/We save it for so long.”
When he started playing the song in Alberta, people started giving him their Canadian tire money. By the end of 2011 he had $60 collected and he was going to spend it at a Toronto bar that accepted it at par. That’s when he found out that the Rogue Music Lab accepted Canadian Tire money at par, and he started a caper to pay for the $7,330 recording bill in the fake currency.
“The whole thing is a perfect storm,” he said. The campaign got national press coverage and when we spoke last Friday, he was only about $900 short of reaching his goal, “which is like a miracle in itself that I’m that close.”
Raymond said he loves a good song, no matter who writes it, and he hopes Paper Nickels will spread the word about the folk talent that exists in Canada that you’ll never hear on the radio.
“I wanted this book and this album to be a little piece of musical lore that people could look back on year’s later and say there’s a little window that existed in the roots scene at that time,” he said.
Corin Raymond is at Benoit’s Wine Bar on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Tickets are $20. You can read all about the Canadian Tire money caper at www.dontspendithoney.com.