CM Archive
CM Archive Video Review line

Produced by Robert Lang
Kensington Communications Inc., 1989. VHS cassette, 45 min., $129.95. Distributed by Lynx Images Releasing, #606 -174 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ont. M5T 2C2.

Subject Headings:
Rogers, Stan.
Folk singers-Canada-Biography.
Folk music-Canada-Biography.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by Frances Daw Bergles

Volume 21 Number 6
1993 November

Stan Rogers was, is, and always will be one of our most magnificent national treasures. His voice, music and sensibility capture the essence of this country. The freak airplane disaster that took his life in 1983 at the age of thirty-four is one of Canada's great tragedies. His appeal however, was not limited to his compatriots. At the time of his death, Stan Rogers had become known worldwide.

The production, a tribute to and a reminiscence of the great artist and his band, uses archival footage of formal and informal performances intercut with reminiscences of family and friends and scenes of Canada, particularly sequences of the swelling Atlantic and the men who toil on it.

If this sounds bland, trust me, it isn't. The combination is profound. Stan's music and his rich, sonorous baritone imposed on images of the vastness of this country combine to a monumental whole. The visuals, like the man and his magnificent voice, are larger than life. My one complaint is that video does not do the subject justice: it needs not a large but a HUGE screen.

Here was a voice! Nancy White once said it was a voice "you could take a bath in." The video does justice to the voice and Stan with classics such as "I'll Go to Sea No More," "Barrett's Privateers," "The Field behind the Plow," "The Lock-keeper" and "Forty-five Years." These are set up and discussed by his wife Ariel, his mother Valerie, his brother and colleague, Garnet, as well as friends and colleagues in the music business and his family home of Little Dover, Nova Scotia.

Rogers started out as a contemporary songwriter, but the landscape of Nova Scotia and the need to interpret it captured him. Mansell Davies of the Calgary Folk Festival makes the perceptive point that Stan's music, originally influenced by British and Maritime music styles, became a tradition in itself-- "as if it's always been there."

The presentation is up-beat and the performance exuberant. Lyrics and music carry us on a swell of song, ending with the symbolic "Mary Ellen Carter" ("Rise again, rise again"). Guaranteed not to leave a dry eye in the audience.

Frances Daw Bergles is a librarian in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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