DAVID SOLWAY and Friends
David Solway (the Bard) is a poet, essayist, and political writer whose work has been translated into several languages and has received many honours, including the highest literary award granted by the Conseil Des Arts et Des Lettres of the province of Quebec. Born in a small town in northern Quebec, he pursued an education in literature, mathematics, and drama at McGill University and UC Berkeley, ultimately obtaining a PhD from Lajos Kossuth University in Hungary. For many years, he taught literature at John Abbott College in Montreal, was hosted at various universities and embassies around the world, and occupied the post of writer in residence at Concordia University before taking early retirement to devote himself to his aesthetic pursuits.
He traveled to Greece as a young man and fell in love with Greek culture, spending about five years on various Greek islands, becoming fluent in the language, and writing a number of poetry collections and a travel book, The Anatomy of Arcadia, there. Here also he conceived the idea of Andreas Karavis, a Greek poet from the island of Lipsi whom he invented, passing himself off for a time as his translator. Karavis’s Saracen Island became an international phenomenon, with reviewers from around the world celebrating him as “the New Homer.” This poetry collection began Solway’s practice of devising heteronyms (alternate poetic personae), which Solway maintains were not hoaxes but means to reinvent his poetic language and style (see Melissa Katsoulis's Literary Hoaxes, 2009).
While working on his poetry and other writings, it became Solway’s practice to play guitar and write songs as a form of recreation. A self-taught musician, he began performing songs at the end of poetry readings, finding that audiences liked the music as much as the poems. It has been said that his music falls on a spectrum between Canadian icons Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen, while being entirely original to itself. Of late, he has enjoyed watching episodes of Nashville and musing on the distinction between traditional Country and Western and Contemporary Bro. His music, however, defies categorization and is distinguished by his lyrical subtleties and diversity of modes, styles, and registers.
Solway began to think of music seriously after meeting up with immensely talented childhood friend Ted Paull, with whom (along with Ted’s wife Margaret Armstrong, an equally talented musician), he began to record his songs at Ted and Margaret's home-based Lakeview Studios in the Thousand Islands. Ultimately this trio (joined by Solway’s staunch supporter and beloved Janice Fiamengo) formed Blueberry Island Entertainment, referring to themselves as the Boss, the Bard, the Blonde, and the Babe. Together, they dedicate themselves to making and enjoying music.
Ted Paull (the Boss) developed a passion for music as a small boy, perhaps because his parents always sang and harmonized in the car when they traveled. He studied piano and accordion as a youngster, but inevitability gravitated towards the guitar as a teenager, influenced by the ukulele chords his father had taught him. Years later, he studied classical and jazz flute. He was also drawn to painting, theatre, and, in particular, to photography, an art he continues to practice to this day.
As a child of the space age, he developed an equal passion for technology, especially radio communications and information systems, earning several electrical engineering degrees. He began his career working in advanced aerospace R & D. Later, combining his expertise in arts, technology, and education, he became the founding Curator of the Computer Technology Division at Canada’s National Science and Technology Museum, and then was appointed as Exhibit Design / Technical Coordinator of the Canada Pavilion at Expo ’86. Eventually, he established Canada’s first interactive multimedia production company.
A decade ago, Ted and his wife Margaret moved to the Thousand Islands region of Ontario, where now (semi-retired) he pursues his other interests in sailing, flying, amateur radio, playing and teaching his favorite music, especially finger-style Brazilian jazz and electric blues, and recording in their home-based digital music studio. Meeting childhood friend David Solway after nearly half a century was fortuitous, and the collaboration with the group has provided an immense opportunity for artistic development.
Margaret Armstrong (the Blonde) began playing piano and accompanying instrumentalists, soloists, and choirs from a very early age due to her close affiliation with the Salvation Army. She has extensive training and experience in music, dance, visual arts, and theatre. In her youth, she lived on the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Antigua, immigrating to Canada in her late teens to begin a career in the arts, primarily in music, as an educator, arranger, band, orchestra and choral conductor, and performer.
She achieved the coveted Associate of the Trinity College of Music Diploma (A.T.C.L.) in Performance at the age of 17 and went on to participate in numerous musical, dance, and theatrical productions, including the Neon Dance Band, Orpheus Operatic Society, and the French Opera Company, and performed at the Canadian National Arts Centre. She was selected by the Ottawa Carleton Board of Education to lead the team that established 'Arts Canterbury,’ the highly acclaimed Fine Arts and Performance School loosely based on the movie 'Fame'. The present musical collaboration with David, Janice and husband Ted is a logical outgrowth of this long career. Apart from artistic endeavors, her “extracurricular” interests and skills extend to sailing, flying, amateur radio, the sport of dog agility, and gardening.
Janice Fiamengo (the Babe) studied classical piano in her youth with, among other wonderful mentors, Edward J. Parker, uncle and teacher to internationally acclaimed pianists Jamie and Jon Kimura Parker. She is currently a Full Professor of English literature at the University of Ottawa, former editor of the Freedom Press Canada online journal, author of The Woman’s Page (2008), a study of 19th century Canadian women journalists, and editor of several volumes on literary subjects. She has also published many online articles on educational and political subjects at PJ Media and FrontPage Magazine. She met David at a Civitas conference in Ottawa in 2011.