Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Markin’s New CD About Doukhobors

12 original new folk songs dedicated to the Doukhobors are composed, played and sung by Dr. Allan Markin of Penticton, British Columbia.

Places: Songs of Toil and Peaceful Life is his new album with themes about arms burning, sailing to Canada, women pulling plows, building communal villages, zealotry in the Kootenays, and constructing the Brilliant Suspension Bridge.

Dr. Markin reports the 46-minute album took 18 months to write, and describes the music genre as:
... folk-roots, more specifically original Doukhobor folk music in English. I aimed for a traditional Russian feel (in various degrees) throughout the whole album. Deda’s Song in particular uses the accordion, balalaika, and spoons to capture the sound.
Regarding the historic accuracy of the album (lyrics, photos), he responds: 'I used some poetic license.'

Background vocals are by Maureen Haworth and Naida Cochran, both in Grand Forks. Dave Favell, Kelowna, plays acoustic guitars. Other orchestration is composed and performed by Ron Mahonin, Grand Forks, who also recorded and produced the CD.

Dr. Eclectic’ (Markin’s stage name) is an avid guitar player, singer, entertainer, storyteller and part-time songwriter. Selections were first performed on July 2016 at the Whatshan Jam 2016 Family and Friends Festival.

His website — — has lyrics for all 12 songs, and a list of 5 songs with summaries and audio samples.

In Comments, Jim Popoff, Grand Forks, wrote:
… the CD... gave me a strange feeling of sadness and wistfulness about the moving panorama of our people's existence over the past 120 years or so, which you've covered well in your lyrics... and at the same time a kind of pride that a PhD academic could return to his roots in this touching way, with more than a modicum of musical talent, and come out so strongly in artistic manifestation of his heritage. A commendable endeavour by all concerned!
To produce the album, in October 2014 he tried to raise $7,500 on, but only collected $395 from 6 people, not Doukhobors, in 21 months (accessed 7/26/2016). The album is self-financed.

Price: $20 (Canadian), from: Allan Markin, 112 - 170 Stocks Crescent, Penticton, British Columbia V2A 9C6. Phone: 250-493-6150. And, 4 places in Grand Forks and Castlegar, including the USCC office and Doukhobor Discovery Centre.
In November 2011, Markin submitted a letter to the Boundary Sentinel newspaper protesting an editorial that referred to Doukhobors as undesirable ‘borscht’, 13 times.
A different Doukhobor, Allan P. Markin, Calgary, was chairman of Canadian Natural (oil, gas) and co-owner of the Calgary Flames ice hockey team. These two Allan Markins are not related.

Album Review

My wife Kristina Kristova and I enjoyed the album very much. The selections are fresh, the lyrics are written in a way that praise the Russian / Canadian pioneers for their commitment to peace, honest labour and adaptability, and the accompaniment music is colourfully unique. Great rhythm!

Here are some phrases that easily roll of the tongue and create images of a proud people striving to survive in a strange land and build a world without wars:
  • #4 : Baba’s Waltz — ‘I can hear your voice so crystal clear... Do you think of coming to Canada, To a land you’d never seen ….’
  • #6 : The Bridge —‘The Brilliant bridge that Doukhobors built ... was built to last.’ Doukhobors built for the future.
  • #7 : Grave Digging Man — ‘Big John was a grave digging man. ... We were his crew. ... He said to do it right.’ Perfection was the way.
  • #9 : The Five-String Guitar — ‘Deda said “Guitars are not the Doukhobor way. ... a sin”. But the new generation was open and adopted to new ways.
  • #10 : Doukhobor Assimilation Blues — While children moved to the cities ‘in search of high degrees’, others remained home with toil and peaceful life stemming from the God of Love Within.
  • #11 : The Wish — ‘Unlock the secrets of your heart, and bless a bright day.’ The heritage calls to make a better world.
  • # 12 : Burning of the Guns — ‘War no more. Nor more fighting. No more. No more.’ This is a classic Doukhobor call for a nonkilling philosophy in a troubled world. Bravo to our brave pioneers for their eternal wisdom!
‘Places: Songs of Toil and Peaceful Life’ is probably the only original CD in the English language that is authored by one composer and one theme (the life and times of the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors). It is an example of adaptation and creativity in our times. But, I have 2 complaints:
  1. The background music is at times too loud for me, especially #2 ‘Deda’s Song’, making it difficult to hear the words.
  2. #5 ‘Wagon Train to Verigin’ is historically unclear. The photo (lower right) on the disc below shows Yorkton, Saskatchewan (not Verigin). From Yorkton, the wagon train traveled ~100 km (~60 miles) south, ending at Broadview, where the community Doukhobors boarded trains to British Columbia.

Though he dropped out of high school, Markin persevered to earn a PhD in 19th Century English Literature from the University of Calgary in 1981 (thesis: "George Eliot and Education"), and won a Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship to conduct research in the rare-books libraries at Yale University and the British Museum. In 1988 he became a 'Doukhobor professor' (his words) then administrator in 1988, and retired in 2003 as Dean of OUC’s Okanagan/ Similkameen Region in British Columbia. He learned to play the guitar in his youth, and did not play for 35 years until after he retired. Bravo for contributing new folk songs about his Doukhobor roots.

Markin has already contributed to the forthcoming eBook that I am producing (Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers and Friends) which is scheduled to be published later this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment