Stephanie Domet Reviews a Wealth of Tidbits and Anecdotes on Arts in the Maritimes
The adage goes that if you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t there. But Clary Croft had a very different experience of the era, and he remembers it all—and more—in this gentle, affectionate memoir of his life in folk.
Among the stories he tells early in this memoir is a quick remembrance of watching some friends hold down someone in the grip of a bad LSD trip, which was all he needed to see to steer clear of drugs himself. And anyway, Croft was on his own trip, front row and centre stage as folk music and folk tales grew into defining industries in Nova Scotia.
Croft writes lovingly of his beginnings in music, messing around with friends, name-dropping those he worked with along the way, in the Privateers, The Musical Friends, and of course, on CBC-TV’s Singalong Jubilee. You won’t find much dirt dished in these pages—though Croft has some stern words for execs at CBC who “went in a different direction” with both the Jubilee and the Halifax-based radio program Mainstreet, cutting Croft loose from fun, well-paying gigs in the process.
In the main, Croft’s stories are sweet and upbeat, and they give the reader glimpses into some of the most revered figures and institutions in the Maritimes, from Anne Murray to the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, from Helen Creighton to Sherbrooke Village. Generous, humble, and very real about what a life in the music industry looks like in Nova Scotia—and for artists generally, as Croft is also a visual and textile artist, a writer and a stage and screen performer—Croft is good company in these pages.
His interest in every kind of art, and his open approach, have stood him in good stead, with the happy result that Croft has stories to tell about folk festival stages, radio, TV and recording studios, theatre productions and cultural events of all kinds. His curiosity and try-anything ethos bring him into contact with a who’s-who of musicians, actors, politicians and producers over more than five decades, and this book, arranged in chapters that focus on festivals, arts and crafts, writing and more, delivers a wealth of tidbits and anecdotes sure to please readers interested in Maritime life.