Archive » Arts and Entertainment

Campfire Poets coming to the Alton Mill for 26th Annual Fall Festival Show

September 22, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

It is with great pleasure that we can tell you that the Campfire Poets are coming to the Alton Mill Arts Centre on Friday, September 30 at 7:30 pm, to play all your favourite songs under the venue’s outdoor tent – to dance – to have a wonderful time, as a part of the Headwaters Arts Fall Festival.

“They just reached out,” said long-time member of the band, Ryan Hancock of the invitation from the festival to the Poets to play. “They were interested in having the band play. The last time we played as a whole band was [before] the pandemic.”

In talking about the band’s engagements generally, even though Mr. Hancock thinks that we are out of the lockdown, the band is not in general, guaranteeing concert dates for the time being.

Especially the duo and the trio of the band have been doing really well at private functions.

Said Mr. Hancock, “I’m hoping that we’re a lot more comfortable than we were. We’re comfortable with this level of performance. Two shows a week is good.”

January through March, things are relatively quiet, he reflected.

A career of performing locally from high school at organized events, on up to various community functions, sometimes invited and sometimes volunteered. It was years of learning how to understand the audience and how to earn their appreciation by the end of each show. Through a decade of promoting the band there were plenty of late nights playing to crowds.

“We’re over staying late at bars,” he admitted.

Returning to a comment that he is still only in his 30’s, “Yes, but I have been doing this since I was 15.”

Starting just before the pandemic set in, as a day job, Ryan Hancock has been working for Dufferin Media in sales.

A local media company, Dufferin Media offers social media management, an account manager handling the SEO (search engine optimization for those of us who did not know), which is about showing up on Google search properly, improving a site’s positioning on Google search results.

For his musical career, Mr. Hancock started playing at 15, “essentially full time by the time I was 17 or 18. My education was years and years of doing it – you learn more playing in crappy bars than rehearsing at home,” Mr. Hancock said.

The pandemic laid it on musicians to play if they would, as a free online entertainment and Mr. Hancock was very active in the promotion of musicians, bringing their music to the online community, helping to support the moral and sense of the positive over those long lonely months. 

Still: “At one point, I had to decide: do I keep playing and also find something else to do. There were some grants but they didn’t amount to much. Musicians are always being asked to come to work for free. Meanwhile during that pandemic,” he noted, “who was hurt more than artists?” 

It has become clear: “I think the days should be over that musicians are asked to play for nothing. We’ve put in our time,” offering, “Right now it’s time for musicians to recover.”

He added, “We haven’t seen a lot of push back – it’s been a good summer.”

About the upcoming show at the Alton Mill, “We are very excited. We haven’t got to play together much as we usually have. One of the founding members, Neil – he and Geoff started the band way back maybe 2001 and I joined it right after.”

The band members are five, normally, plus Neil. The others are Geoff, Ryan, Dennis, Scott and Steve.

Outlining how the Poets run their concerts, Mr. Hancock explained, “We make a basic set list and then also go with what the audience likes. Some of the time, they call the music. We play popular hits.”

Campfire Poets are mostly a cover band and while they are not necessarily writing their own music, they certainly arrange favourites “with our own little twists.”

He told us, “In the last three years, I have sung on over 100 sessions. I’ve written melodies; I just don’t write words very often.”

He has the knack for writing whatever the client wants. Sometimes, a person gives him a basic melody and the lyrics and he builds a song around them. Recording is possible in the small studio in his house, where he can also do video editing.

“We’re coming to Alton with the full band,” Mr. Hancock said. “We’re going to sing and play. If the crowds want to sing, we’ll get them singing; if they want to dance, there’ll be dancing.”

This is a flexibility to their concerts: “If we’re playing to a crowd that is 50 and up- we’re going to gear the show that way.”

In other words, the Campfire Poets have such a good and extensive play list, such a flexibility in their concerts style and such a pleasure to please, everybody is going to have such a good time!

To be sure, there are staple songs that almost always get played, it was explained, like The Joker – with a surprise special guest, he mentioned. Could be Brown Eyed Girl. Could be any number of other call-outs from the audience.

“As I was alluding,” Mr. Hancock said. “It’s exciting for us that we can have the whole band for this concert and for the audience to see us all is special. Because we have been doing a lot of private events that we do with just two or three of us, people haven’t had the chance to see us all.”

On a bit of a personal note, Ryan Hancock went to the same Catholic high school and the same time as Patricia, this writer’s daughter. There was so much music, as Patricia, herself a musician, recalled and “Ryan was always part of it.” 

When she tentatively asked him if he could sing or play or add to the moment of an upcoming event, he was always gracious.

She said of him, “I can’t remember ever seeing him without a guitar, except when we were in band. He played the saxophone in band.”

Why should we fill the tent covered courtyard, the annex, at the Alton Mill Arts Centre at 7:30 pm on September 30 to join the Campfire Poets?

“To have a good time,” Mr. Hancock told us. “To enjoy some music and the beautiful place and get in one more outdoor event before the winter starts.”

Tickets are available at

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.