Don Cavin

Don is one of the founding members of FullCircle bringing a vast repertoire of folk music and skilled musicianship as lead guitarist, banjo player, vocalist and master autoharp tuner between 1999 and 2002.

Don was born and raised in Port Credit, Ontario, where his family's farm had been settled in the 1820s. While in high school, he and four other friends organized a country string band called The County Ramblers . They played locally, sometimes even for money, and entertained at school assemblies. Don's musical inspirations came from such greats as Hank Williams, (his favourite), Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Grampa Jones, and Canadian favourites such as Wilf Carter, Don Messer, and of course, Hank Snow. Many a Saturday night saw him glued to his little plastic radio, pulling in through the static, these and other singers on WSM or WWVA.

By the age of sixteen, he had saved enough money from cutting grass to order a brand new Lone Ranger guitar from the Eaton's catalogue ($11.95, delivered), and it wasn't long before his fingers resembled mincemeat from hours of practicing all his country favourites. It was in 1951, however, that an influence on his musical tastes was to embed itself, although he was unaware of this at the time. The Weavers had burst upon the popular music stage and paved the way for what was to become the folk music boom of the 60s. Pete Seeger's vocal and instrumental style had a major impact on Don, and by the mid 60s, his search was on for a five-string banjo, virtually unknown in most circles at that time. With the Travellers establishing themselves as a latter day but definitely Canadian Weavers-style folk quartet, Don's musical tastes were almost solidified. It took the music of Ian and Sylvia Tyson to help round out what was fast becoming a definite personal style for him; a strange blend of old-time country and Seeger-style delivery. When Don met Barb in 1954, he not only found a compatible soul mate, but a musical partner as well. When Barb picked up her autoharp and joined him on stage, the unique blend of musical styles was noticeable. Somewhere around 1967, they joined up with two other like-minded 'folkies', and The Joyful was born, playing all over Southern Ontario. For Don, the highlight of this time was when the band was asked to appear in Montreal in 1969 at the 'Hemispheric Conference to End the War in Vietnam'. Having an audience of nearly a thousand voices joining them in the singing of "Die Gedunken Sind Frei" and other antiwar anthems was an unforgettable and moving experience.

By the mid 70s, The Joyful had disbanded and Don and Barb joined with Carole Norgrove, another ex-Joyful member, to form a new country/folk band called Townline. They acquired the services of Adrian Bevis, a fine multi-instrumentalist, whose eclectic background included everything from Django Reinhardt to Phil Ochs, with more than a smattering of country songs, styles and lore thrown in. Don owes much of his musical growth and knowledge from that time to Adrian whose many talents, (not the least of which was a seemingly uncontrollable compulsion to pun), helped to give breadth and stylistic know-how to the new band. Barb and Don's son, Brenden, a talented musician in his own right, completed the sound with the addition of acoustic bass. Townline entertained locally over a period of six years at many functions, and maintained what was by then an annual tradition, begun by The Joyful, of holding a yearly concert at the St. Lawrence Market Hall in Toronto.

When Townline disbanded in the early 80s, Barb and Don continued to sing and play, but a new interest had arisen for them and performing was, for the time being, put in the background. A love affair with an old derelict farm homestead outside of Fenelon Falls was to occupy their time for some years to come. The magazines, "Harrowsmith" and "Century Home" had replaced "Sing Out" as the reading material of choice for the better part of a decade. It was not until 1999 that Don and Barb began performing with a group again, following the serendipitous coming together of the members of FullCircle. (The Cavins had been long time birding acquaintances of Reid and Margaret Wilson, never knowing that they shared a common passion for folk music.) Don's collaboration as a member of FullCircle continued from 1999 to 2002.

After his retirement from a thirty year teaching career in 1989 (the last fifteen spent in Special Education with the Toronto Board), another longtime interest of Don's began to re-emerge art! Painting has gradually moved from being an absorbing pastime to a full time passion for Don during the last decade. As an experienced and keen birder, it was initially "wildlife" art, but his artistic horizons have since broadened. Landscapes have come to replace birds and his artistic expression has now evolved from the realms of realism to semi-abstraction. Always the teacher, Don is now very busy instructing in landscape painting and its fundamentals all across Ontario, and, to the consternation of the galleries which represent him, often spends more time teaching art than producing his own work. (See the LINKS section of this web site to see some of Don's art.)

In 2002, Don and Barb formally bid farewell to FullCircle and began to concentrate their efforts on their other artistic pursuits. Don's talent and recognition as a watercolor teacher and painter has now virtually become a full time occupation for him.

Don and Barb currently make their home in Sutton, Ontario near to Lake Simcoe and a provincial park where the surrounding natural beauty continues to "inspire the muse" and provide fodder to both of them in their many and diverse artistic pursuits. They have recently enjoyed a new musical collaboration with Adrian Bevis (formerly of Townline) and Joanne Crabtree under the name Silver Fox.

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