A song for Barney 0
EGANVILLE – The Ottawa Valley’s singing storyteller was remembered Thursday as friends and fellow artists gathered to pay tribute to the late Barney McCaffrey.
Memories and fond stories about the performer and writer were free flowing during a special tribute concert in Mr. McCaffrey’s memor, held at the Eagle’s Nest inside the Eganville Community Centre.
Labelled by many as a renaissance man talented in music, art, writing and philosophy, Mr. McCaffrey, born an American citizen, was praised for his devotion to his adopted home in the Ottawa Valley. He passed away on Jan. 5.
Hosted by the Stone Fence Theatre, the event was a chance to pass on Mr. McCaffrey’s legacy to future generations, said producer and friend Ish Theilheimer.
“Barney was such an inspiration to everyone, especially to me,” said Mr. Theilheimer, who co-founded the cult folk group The Wilno Express with Mr. McCaffrey. “We wanted to keep this informal and open and in the spirit of Barney, because that is how he was.”A larger-than-life figure, Mr. McCaffrey’s talents were boundless. Many here called him photographer, storyteller, teacher, calligrapher, poet, ecologist, activist, historian, farmer. Mr. McCaffrey was also lauded for his roles in the Madawaska Association of Developmental Ecology, the now defunct Ottawa Valley Photographers Co-operative, Canadian Homegrown Community Radio, and the Killaloe Heritage and Ecology Society.
“The guy was multi-talented,” said musician Mike Summers. “He tried to teach us more about the world and he made everyone a better player.”
Opening the show was the Stoppa Lake Melodiers, a group of Wilno-based fiddlers who were launched by Mr. McCaffrey. They entertained the packed hall with Barney McCaffrey classics like “Old Log Cabin,” “The Crooked Stovepipe,” and “The Wilno Hills of Home.”
The tribute concert included performances by the trio of Stephanie Pinkerton, Robin Pinkerton and Eric Stuart, Ray Chapeskie and Shirley Watson, Clint Degarrie, Marek Milan, Terry McLeish, Ray Heney, Peter Dawson and Carol Kennedy, Peter Sabourin, Jim Beattie, and Gabriel and Daniel McCaffrey.
Among those performing and watching were close friends of Mr. McCaffrey, who reflected on what his music will mean to the region’s culture. Carol Dawson, former owner of the Music Loft, said he wrote more songs about the Ottawa Valley than most give him credit.
“He loved it here,” said Ms. Dawson. “He was a very colourful personality to begin with, so whatever he did people loved. He was one of those guys you would never forget.”
She recalled times when she would repair his fiddle and accordion at her shop. While she didn’t describe him as the greatest musician in the world, she said his performances and songs leave a lasting legacy.
“He was a very emotional player,” she said. “He may not have always be on the right chord but he made you sound good.”
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist