Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith | John Johnston: His Life and Times in the Fur Trade Era

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United States - Michigan

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Folk: Traditional Folk Kids/Family: Children's Storytelling Moods: Type: Acoustic
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John Johnston: His Life and Times in the Fur Trade Era

by Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith

This concept CD features the acoustic guitar and vocals of a Michigan UP songwriting duo. Original folk songs explore Great Lakes frontier life topics such as birth, death, work, prejudice, travel, hospitality. With 12-page booklet of lyrics and history.
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Easy Come, Easy Go
5:16 $0.99
2. Inn of the Wilderness
3:26 $0.99
3. Sweet Willy, My Boy
4:42 $0.99
4. Testing the Waters
3:42 $0.99
5. Susan's Song
4:31 $0.99
6. Boatman
4:41 $0.99
7. Sweet River of Life
3:42 $0.99
8. Baby's Comin' Hornpipe
2:20 $0.99
9. Canot du Maître
5:11 $0.99
10. Lullaby (Goodbye to John)
2:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
About Dave Stanaway

Favorite Music Styles: Folk, Country, Rock
Musical Influences: Gordon Lightfoot, Buddy Holly, Louetta Stanaway (mother to a household of musicians)
Occupation: Teacher (retired), Musician, Guitar Instructor
Rewarding Musical Experiences: Making the John Johnston CD and playing in a band with my son, Jeff.
Hobbies: Songwriting

As a retired teacher, I'm forever in need of tasks, preferably enjoyable, to fill my time. What could be better than to play and sing with a talented fellow musician, Susan Askwith, at the newly opened John Johnston historic home in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan? The John Johnston project gave Sue and me the chance to create original songs about the history of the area in which we both grew up.

Musical Influences
As a musician since my early teens, I have played a variety of musical styles. Folk music was my first passion, and this collaboration with Sue has allowed me to come full circle back to my folk roots. This time, however, the material is original and more rewarding.

Bringing History to Life through Song
In addition to giving twice-weekly summer concerts at the John Johnston House, Sue and I performed at the Historical Society of Michigan's 2005 Upper Peninsula History Conference, held at Lake Superior State University. We have also brought history to life for fourth grade students at various Eastern Upper Peninsula elementary schools, through a grant with the Chippewa County Historical Society.

Sue and I have enough new material to do a follow-up CD. We hope to have this second CD out by the summer of 2006.

About Susan Askwith

Musical Influences
For me, music is at its best when it makes me feel something - nostalgic, compassionate, hopeful, awed--or like dancing! It opens up channels for processing our own experiences. Instrumental music can do this alone, but it's all the more engaging to me as a song whose lyrics tell a story.

I seek those that are clever and rich with layers and images, thought-provoking and delightful. Good stories and good words are like that. I listen to my favorites over and over, and keep an ear out for new ones on Public Radio or other nooks and crannies. I like listening to voices - growly and scratchy like Chris Smither, Willie Nelson and Travis Tritt; sassy like Christine Lavin and Heidi Newfield in Trick Pony; thick and warm like Tracy Chapman, Jennifer Warnes, Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones; and high and haunting like Loreena McKennitt.

Family and Native American Heritage
My world view has been shaped by being part Ojibway (only a quarter, but what an influence!), living in Michigan's Upper Peninsula all my life, and years of teaching and learning about the natural world. I've had the deep satisfaction of making music for and with, I guess, thousands of people. That puts its mark on a person, too.

The most profound experience has been my 35+ years with my husband, John, who has been perfect for me, our two wonderful daughters and delightful granddaughters. We feel blessed in abundance.

Bringing History to Life through Song
Collaborating with Dave to write, perform, and record songs about home and its history has been an unexpected and special treat. What an enjoyable way to bring to life the fascinating stories we've found! Our project has expanded my world in lots of good ways, and I'm really excited to see it all continue to unfold.



to write a review

Bill Krieger

These songs and stories by Dave and Sue seem to bring alive what I imagine were the difficulties, the satisfactions, the victories and the defeats of John Johnston and his wife and the people who became close to them. It is of an era of rugged individualism and the artists have captured that. In each song, the artists adapt the tones of their voices to help carry and strengthen the message. For example, both the lyrics and Susan’s voice bring home the lessons of life in “Susan’s Song”. Her tone is clear and nearly free of harmonics, carrying the message of the truth of life. In contrast, in “Sweet Willy, My Boy”, she uses more harmonics in her voice to carry the love of a mother, more husky and full of emotion. Dave does the same kind of thing in his songs and the two musicians work well together to effect the same thing in their other songs. In his song, “Boatman”, Dave uses a variety of tones to enhance the message of the lyrics. In his voice, we can hear the stress and anxiety of a boatman and we can feel the aspects of a boatman’s life through the lyrics. This album is well done and the songs represent America’s folk music at its best. Listen to each piece. Each is an individual, just as the Johnstons were.

Gina Livingston

The invaluable gift of historical song writing requires a combination of well-researched, authentic facts with a careful intermingling of credible assumptions. With their John Johnston era CD, singers/songwriters Sue Askwith and Dave Stanaway truly excel at this unique and effective method of preserving our past, musically crafting vivid imagery to reveal both the tenderness and the tenacity of life in Michigan's Upper Peninsula during the late 1700's and early 1800's. From the soft and soulful "Sweet Willy" to the crusty air of the voyageur's "Canot du Maitre", their songs recount an era of extreme challenge and vulnerability, sure to appeal to all who appreciate the story power of everyday lives. As delightful as it is insightful, this is so exceptionally well done as to leave the listener with mental images that will not go away...

Mimi Gabriel

Original, professional and emotionally provoking.
This original, researched and professional CD about life in Sault Ste. Marie in the early 1800's is done with simply instrument and voice. This emotionally provoking style allows the story to be told as it must have been. Dave's sense of history and Susan's sense of Native American life and spirit is an awesome combination.

Rick Smith

Excellence in orginality and edification
Folk music afficianados will not be dissappointed because they will find enjoyment in the skill and artistry employed on the instruments, vocals and lyrics of every song. Case in point and of special note, as Stanaway opens "Sweet Willy, My Boy" on his guitar, the listener immediately gets a sense of the heart break about to follow in the intimate imagery conveyed in the apt vocals by Askwith. That song alone is worth the price of the whole CD and one shouldn't be surprised if it becomes a folk classic. Production values on the CD are excellent as well.