Chet Greason email@example.com
A chance encounter introduced photographer and documentarian Steve Bayne to the music of Stratford-based Celtic fusion band Rant Maggie Rant. And now, after a year spent following the group on its cross-Canada Frost & Fire tour, he has published a book of photographs chronicling the band’s musical adventures.
Growing up in St. Marys, Bayne went to school with author Bruce Barber. While walking in Stratford one day, he noticed a copy of one of Barber’s books in the front display window of Elizagoth, a music store owned and operated by Rant Maggie Rant vocalist, percussionist, and recorder player Glen Dias.
Ducking into the store to ask how he might get in contact with his old school chum, Bayne found himself engaged in a conversation with Dias. Eventually the discussion turned to Dias’ band.
“I thought Glen had a terrific voice,” Bayne recalls. “It was a lovely encounter.”
Dias mentioned that Rant Maggie Rant was performing at the forthcoming St. Marys Storytelling Festival.
“I went with my camera, and I’ve been following them ever since,” he adds.
Bayne’s book, Rant Maggie Rant: A remarkable year in the life of a band, follows the trio around Ontario, from intimate gigs at Molly Blooms in Stratford to large collaborations with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra at Knox Presbyterian Church to the famed Hugh’s Room in Toronto. It also chronicles the band’s 11 days spent in Newfoundland as part of its Screech-In Tour, playing venues both large and small, from pubs and house shows to ferries and busking to the Beaches Heritage Centre in Eastport.
In addition to snapping photos, Bayne also documented the trip on film. He’s currently editing the footage together for a music video set to the band’s recording of The Islander. He hopes to have it ready for Rant Maggie Rant’s St. Patrick’s Day show at Molly Bloom’s in Stratford on March 17.
The St. Pats show will also double as the official release party for Bayne’s book with copies on sale. Awash with colourful photos of live performances, candid backstage moments, and stops between, Bayne describes the work as “a fan-based, limited edition, souvenir-type thing.”
Currently residing in Montreal, Bayne says he still considers Perth County home. Studying film animation at the University of Montreal, he was inspired to take up photography but drifted away from the medium for a number of years. Rediscovering his passion for being behind the lens in 2010, he’s been at it ever since, and is even planning to eventually cut a documentary film from his Newfoundland footage.
When the Stratford Gazette spoke with Bayne on March. 10, it happened to be his 63rd birthday.
“It feels like I’m just get getting started with my life,” he admitted, sounding slightly melancholic over lost opportunities and the swift passage of the years. “There’s nothing like waking up when you’re 50 and realizing you’ve wasted too much time.”
However, it’s better late than never, and Bayne says he’s very happy with the book, which proved more challenging than initially expected.
“It was quite a process getting all the photos to look right. I was not expecting it to be as much work as it was.”
Copies of Rant Maggie Rant: A remarkable year in the life of a band can be found at Fanfare Books on Ontario Street. E-copies of the book should be available online by the end of the month.