James’ Brand New Blog

Richard Stingle (1925-2014)

- November 22nd, 2014

Richard Stingle Balfour Ave

Rjchard Stingle, with the late John Andrew Reaney on his knee, with the  v. young James Stewart Reaney at right on the steps of the Reaney family’s Winnipeg homc c. 1956 . . . detail from a family photograph

Richard Stingle book launch

The master scholar at work: Richard Stingle discusses A Suit Of Nettles, at the May 25, 2010 launch of its  new edition at the LPL reading garden. My father dedicated A Suit Of Nettles  to Richard.

JBNBlog joins those in shock & sadness today as we mourn Richard Stingle, who died overnight at University Hospital. A great Londoner and a brilliant scholar & teacher, Richard was a close friend of my parents after meeting them at the University of Toronto in the 1940s. He was a few days short of his 89th birthday . . . & a great spirit to the end.

I feel fortunate to have known Richard for most of my life (as the top photograph attests) . . . he became my godfather after my brother’s death (he would likely have been John’s godfather when the photo was taken) & inspired me in life, art & Canadian political truth decade after decade.

Somewhere in the LFP archives is a joyful image of Richard celebrating a teaching award for his excellence as an iconic member of Western’s English department.

That is how I see him just now … but I will always treasure his last visit to our house a week ago today when he & former Western colleague & great ally Bruce Lundgren dropped by. Richard wanted us to have letters written by my parents he had discovered while housecleaning. That was typical of his generous spirit.

On that day, he was full of the old CCF/NDP fire that has helped so many to keep the flame & faith.

He also enjoyed joking about possibly being related to the famous baseball manager and wit Casey Stengel, who had the same taste for acerbic comments.

He had a  sudden reverse in health the next day and went into hospital. We saw him  on several visits & there were still moments to remember forever even as Richard’s health grew frailer each day.

Richard, you are loved & missed deeply . . . semper Stingle.





Yay for Alison Wearing, King’s creativity &c.

- November 21st, 2014

Alison Wearing on stage

Alison Wearing performs her one-women show Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter during the 20th annual Lakefield Literary Festival on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at Lakefield College School. Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/QMI Agency

JBNBlog is extending a day late congratulations to Stratford impresario/actor/writer/performer Alison Wearing for a terrific performance of her one-woman work Confessions Of A Fairy’s Daughter . . . my colleagues on the King’s centre for creativity board & our allies at The Write Place did a great job in getting Alison a crowd on a miserable night  . . .  thanks to the audience … yay for all of us sharing such an event . . . & also to social media allies at the Words fest & elsewhere who got the Confessions word out. It’s a treat to be a small cog in such a mighty wheel. Great Canadian culture for free — that’s a mission statement right there.

Alison’s play & book of the same title about growing up with a gay dad share a major character, her father Joe Wearing … he was a political studies prof of mine at Trent in the early 1970s.

A few more thoughts which have rippling up & down since Wednesday at the lovely Kenny Theatre at King’s:

It may that Alison’s parents met at Western’s old music school … & it would have been on what is now the south King’s campus (south off Epworth), wouldn’t it? If so, Alison  would have been performing just metres & a G&S chorus away from where her parents began their epic/somewhattragi/muchcomic/liberationanthem/familydrama story …. need to check this.

Good friend to JBNBlog Bruce Flowers reminded me Alison had performed a shorter version of Confessions at Pride’s literary event about three years … Wednesday was the fully-staged, full-length treatment

The script & perhaps a multi-media image mention The Body Politic, which “ played a prominent role in the development of the LGBT community in Canada” (Wikipedia). Joe Wearing’s personal/universal journey is partly about the movement from studying Canadian politics (as an acclaimed academic) to changing the Canadian body politic. Yay.

A final nod of deep appreciation to  Alison Wearing’s partner  world/folk artist Jarmo Jalava who did an amazing job stepping in as tech ace for a complicated, intricate presentation when Wednesday’s weather kept the regular tech wizard at home.

Here’s Alison on Facebook:

Thank you to Therese Khimasia, King’s University College, The Write Place, and The Creativity Centre, for such a warm and delightful reception last night, despite the weather! And special thanks to the young man who approached me after the show and said, “it’s thanks to people like your dad that I’m able to live so freely as a gay man today. Please tell him how grateful I am.” That’s you, Joseph Wearing.

Here’s some background from our QMI Agency ally the Peterborough Examiner:

Alison grew up in Peterborough, happy and well loved in her musical and academic family until her father moved to Toronto when she was twelve and began living openly as a gay man while continuing to commute to Trent to teach. Central to her father Joe’s decision to embrace his true nature was an equally strong conviction to remain a devoted father. What followed for Alison was weekends spent at her father’s new home in Toronto, socializing with other gay fathers and their families, and school and home life in Peterborough with her mother. That sentence can be written in a matter of fact manner now, but in the early 1980s, as Alison says, there was not even a vocabulary to begin to describe family behaviour out of the closet. While she was living this life in Toronto, she was being evasive about it with her friends here in Peterborough.

Alison went on to become a multi-talented artist combining writing, music, dance and theatre in her repertoire. Her work is noted for its great humour, candour, tenderness and warmth. A few years ago she began to reflect on her complex teen years and to write up notes about various memorable experiences and how she had reacted to them at the time. In a conversation with her father, he rose from his chair and disappeared, returning with a box. It contained his own writings about the time when he first acknowledged his homosexuality and began living it. With both her own and her father’s writing about those years, Alison had the seeds of her one-woman stage play.

She has also written a book about those years, also titled Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter.

I did not see her performance last year but I already have my tickets for this July 12. How can I not, with reviews like the following?

“Occasionally, one encounters a fringe festival show that succeeds absolutely. Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is such a show… [It] works beautifully on all levels. Wearing is a skilled actress who commands our attention. Her script is tightly written, cleverly constructed and highly literate ~ Times Colonist

“I would have sobbed loudly, but I’m too damn manly, so I just grunted and choked… ~ Georgia Straight

“This is an extraordinarily moving story, well-crafted and compassionately told. See it now before it sells out.” ~ CBC




Jimmy Ruffin (1936-2014)

- November 20th, 2014

Jimmy Ruffin

Soul man JIMMY RUFFIN has died, aged 78.
The Motown star, who enjoyed hits with songs like What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted? and Hold On To My Love, passed away in Las Vegas on Monday (17Nov14).
Ruffin was the older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, who died in 1991. (KL/WN/KL)**

American soul singer Jimmy Ruffin seen in a publicity still

When: 19 Nov 2014
Credit: WENN.com

JBNBlog is listening to the What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted , the c. 1967 signature hit by the late Motown singer Jimmy Ruffiu. He died Monday at the age of 78.

What a great song … some of the other Ruffin titles listed in the WENN.com obit which follows here are familiar but Brokenhearted is the one that will always echo from high school days. The news to me is Ruffin’s later collaborations in Britain . . . would love to hear some of those.

Back  to What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted …  written by J. Dean, P. Riser & W. Weatherspoon – The Motown Story is a a 1971 multi-album set celebrating Motown’s first decade. Not many details in all that packaging,  can’t even find the year of recording. There is a great drawing of a bearded Jimmy Ruffin (No. 15) in a big, deluxe illustration with dozens of Motown stars. His brother David Ruffin is poised over his shoulder & The Supremes are just in front of him. Good, classy company.

Jimmy Ruffin works those words & melody . . . Happiness is just an illusion ,… filled with sadness & confusion … I know I’ve got to find some kind of peace of mind . I walk in shadows … I’ll be searching

 The Motown Story has voiceovers introducing the hits … the announcer says the song was natural for “down-on-luck” Jimmy Ruffin . . then there are words from Ruffin. Whether scripted or not, they sound right from the heart … just like that great song.

Here’s Ruffin on Brokenhearted,  free verse style: It’s the kind of words you can feel — it’s a beautiful melodic song …  at that time my career wasn’t doing too well  & I was getting kicked around quite a bit  financially . . . (it’s about)  looking for a ray of hope …  needing someone, something to believe in .

The Detroit News obituary has Jimmy Ruffin born in 1936 . . . so it’s the year used here via detroitnews.com for the following paragraph:

Ruffin was born May 7, 1936 in Collinsville, Mississippi, the older brother of singer David Ruffin. The brothers made their way north, eventually settling in Detroit, where each (separately) ended up signing with Motown Records, Jimmy as a solo artist and David as one of the Temptations.

Here is more from WENN.com . . .


Soul man Jimmy Ruffin has died, aged 78.

The Motown star, who enjoyed hits with songs like What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted and Hold On To My Love, passed away in Las Vegas on Monday (17Nov14).

Ruffin was the older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, who died in 1991.

Born in Collinsville, Mississippi in 1936, Ruffin first hit the high notes with gospel group the Dixie Nightingales in the late 1950s. He became an in-demand Motown session man in the early 1960s up until his national service. After leaving the U.S. Army in 1964, he returned to Motown, where myth has it he missed out on a chance to join the Temptations as Elbridge Bryant’s replacement when brother David was offered the job instead.

His early solo career failed to take off, but that all changed when he recorded What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, which became a top 10 hit in the U.S. and U.K.

Ruffin also recorded the hits I’ve Passed This Way Before, Gonna Give Her All the Love I’ve Got, Farewell Is a Lonely Sound, I’ll Say Forever My Love, and It’s Wonderful (To Be Loved By You).

He also recorded the album I Am My Brother’s Keeper with his sibling David and the brothers enjoyed success with the songs Your Love Was Worth Waiting For and their cover of Ben E. King’s Stand by Me.

Ruffin enjoyed a comeback in the early 1980s when Bee Gees star Robin Gibb produced his album Sunrise and the hit single Hold On To My Love. He also moved to Britain and teamed up with rocker Paul Weller on the benefit single Soul Deep, calling themselves The Council Collective. He also collaborated with synth-pop group Heaven 17 and went on to host a U.K. radio show.

Re photo:

**WENN does not claim any ownership including but not limited to Copyright, License in attached material. Fees charged by WENN are for WENN’s services only, do not, nor are they intended to, convey to the user any ownership of Copyright, License in material. By publishing this material you expressly agree to indemnify, to hold WENN, its directors, shareholders, employees harmless from any loss, claims, damages, demands, expenses (including legal fees), any causes of action, allegation against WENN arising out of, connected in any way with publication of the material.**

Winter Spectacular news. Yay.

- November 19th, 2014

Bry Webb Steve Lambke\

FESTIVAL– Bry Webb,  lead singer for the Constantines,  performs at the Virgin Festival at Fort Calgary in  a June 22, 2008 image by Stuart Dryden, Calgary Sun.

JBNBlog is happy to report Out of Sound Records is helming the 2014 edition of Winter Spectacular Dec. 17-21 . . . lots of details still to come. Bry Webb is among the stars coming our way … more details as they’re available.

Here’s a bit of what’s on Facebook . . .

A community based festival initiative focused on building and developing an emerging music and arts community in London, ON. Safe, Accessible, DIY

What a great snowy day to announce the line up for the second installment of Winter Spectacular!

We hope you will join us throughout December for a plethora of activities. Announcements will start to roll out this week, so keep your eyes peeled.

Can’t wait to warm you up. Did we mention there will be pancakes?! — with Run Coyote, Paterson E. Paterson,Serf Kanata, Kevin’s Bacon Train, Bry Webb, So Young, Tonka St Jelo, danielle fricke, New Zebra Kid,Heart Attack Kids, Paulina Szczesny, You’ll Never Get to Heaven, Mountain of Wolves and Jaca Lynie.

. . . . 5 days of shows, 7 different spaces and 20 bands or something like that.…. uh, and a partridge in a pear tree ; )

And don’t be a Grinch –> give a little:

All shows are $5 with a non perishable food donation going to

Atlohsa Native Family Healing Services: (things for children and babies preferred)


Shows run from Dec 17th – Dec 21st



Paul Binkley (1954-2014)

- November 19th, 2014

Paul Binkley (2)

Paul Binkley, in an undated & timeless image

My thoughts & prayers are with the family & friends of the late Paul Binkley, the mandolin, mandola & guitar player who died last week in California. He was 60.

Paul grew up in London & was a guitar hero with Underlug back in the day at Central secondary school.

“(Paul) died of cancer on (Wednesday, Nov. 12 — added by JBNBlog). He was diagnosed in April. He just turned 60 in May . . . . He moved to Boston to go to Berklee College of music. Eventually he moved to San Francisco and lived there most of his life. We always kept in touch,” a friend e-mailed.
“He is survived by his wife Maya Morishita and brothers Peter and Sam Binkley.”

We were in touch last year when the Modern Mandolin Quartet had three Grammy noms.

Here’s some of that post.

Paul was in touch this week with great news —  he’s part of an album, titled Americana, that’s up for three Grammys. Wow . . .

Here’s Paul:

“Hi James.  Gee the last 40 years sure flew by. Phil Chedore suggested I let you know my group the Modern Mandolin Quartet was nominated for three Grammys. We’re on the road to LA right now.  Not bad for a Central dropout!”

Here is MMQ’s Matt Flinner from Facebook . . . there is a link to a beautiful MMQ performance:

“Farewell Paul Binkley—a kind soul, great musician, prolific joke teller and fine human being. He was responsible for many of our musical arrangements in the Modern Mandolin Quartet, and taught me a lot about how to play a phrase, how to play together in an ensemble and how to make my mandolin a real voice. And he was just fun to be around, too. Here’s an arrangement he threw together for us—the Lady Gaga Fugue. That’s Paul on mandola, second from the right. I’ll miss him.

In memory of Paul Binkley, a consummate musician on guitar family instruments, his 2011 performance with Modern Mandolin Quartet in our backyard together with Matt Flinner, Dana Rath, and Adam Roszkiewicz — with Matt Flinner and 3 others in Santa Cruz, CA, United States.

Here is an earlier message from last week from an online mandolin music site:

Just received this from Matt Flinner. On behalf of the Mandolin Cafe we’d like to extend our condolences to Paul’s family and friends.

“Sad news today. We lost Paul Binkley, co-founder of the Modern Mandolin Quartet as well as an excellent mandola and guitar player, arranger and all around sweet and brilliant guy. Thought you should know, and I’m sure many of your readers who have heard the MMQ over the years may want to pay their respects. Don’t know if you had heard the news, but Paul had been diagnosed with lung cancer about six or seven months ago. Unfortunately, by the time they caught it it had spread to other parts of his body. He passed away at 1:50 am this morning in San Francisco.

I’m sure Dana Rath, his friend for 30 years, will have more to say about Paul’s life as well as his musicianship, humor and gentle spirit. If we can get some kind of remembrance/obituary together I’ll let you know.”