Deconstructing Dinner has long incorporated music into many of our episodes. From Phil Vernon’s tunes about Percy Schmeiser, Biotechnology and Terminator Seeds, to Terry Winchell’s Pesticide Song and Todd Butler’s Farmer Dan, there is clearly no shortage of tunes out there that help add to our weekly content.
In the second half of this episode, we meet with one musician who has long been writing pieces about farming and rural life in Southern Ontario and that is well-known bluegrass performer Fred Eaglesmith. The Juno Award winner has been compared to such icons as Woody Guthrie and Bruce Spingsteen and is the only Canadian musician to have ever held a #1 spot on the Bluegrass charts in the United States. His song John Deere has been played on the show before, and Host Jon Steinman finally had the opportunity to sit down with Fred in person and learn more about his personal history with farming and what inspires some of the heartfelt content making its way into his songs. A few tunes in particular do a great job at capturing the many crises facing Canadian farmers today. And while farmers did once flock to hear Fred perform, the messages in his music are unfortunately confirmed by those who attend his shows today. To use a title of one of Fred’s songs, “Things is Changin’”, because farmers are no longer in regular attendance at his shows. As Fred puts it, there are hardly any farmers left!
On May 7, 2008, Darrick Hahn and Sinisa Grgic departed Victoria from the 0-Mile mark of the Trans-Canada Highway and embarked on a cross-Canada journey to raise awareness of Deconstructing Dinner. The pair are travelling by recumbent tricycles (or trikes).
This third installment of the Cross-Canada Trike tour begins at the Quebec border and takes us through to their final destination of Newfoundland.
Fred Eaglesmith – Musician, Fred Eaglesmith (Port Dover, ON) – Country-folk singer/songwriter Fred J. Eaglesmith was one of nine children born to a farming family in rural southern Ontario. Often employing his difficult upbringing as raw material for his heartland narratives, he issued his self-titled debut LP in 1980. He recorded infrequently throughout the remainder of the decade, releasing only two more albums, The Boy That Just Went Wrong and Indiana Road. However, Eaglesmith gradually became an underground favorite in his native Canada, thanks largely to a relentless touring schedule in tandem with bassist Ralph Schipper and mandolinist Willie P. Bennett.
Darrick Hahn and Sinisa Grgic – Cross-Canada Cyclists, Deconstructing Dinner Cross-Canada Trike Tour (Monkton, ON / London, ON) – Cyclists Sinisa Grgic and Darrick Hahn are old high-school friends based in Southwestern Ontario and are the proprietors of Fresh Entertainment. Darrick grew up on a farm in Monkton, Ontario and Sinisa, who is originally from Croatia, moved to Canada 17 years ago.
People and the Land – Deep Dish TV (New York, NY) – The ongoing “farm crisis” has had a devastating impact not only on the lives of individual farm families, but also on the towns they live in and the land now taken over by the corporate farms. Shortsighted exploitation has eroded the healthfulness of the land and the food it produces. From pastors in Wisconsin to Native Americans in Utah, people around the country agree that the way out of the crisis lies in changing people’s attitudes. The land and people must be seen not as resources to be consumed, but as part of a spiritual whole. Produced by Wade Britzius and Marilyn Klinkner (Whitehall, WI).
Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)
Music – Fred Eaglesmith, Things is Changin’, The Official Fred Eaglesmith Bootleg Vol. 1, A Major Label (CDN)
Music – Fred Eaglesmith, Go Out and Plough, There Ain’t No Easy Road, A Major Label (CDN)
Music – Fred Eaglesmith, John Deere, Ralph’s Last Show, A Major Label (CDN)
Music – Fred Eaglesmith, Thirty Years of Farming, Indiana Road, A Major Label (CDN)