Between Two Covers: The Power of Pink

Becky and special guest Olivia look at books with pink covers. Can they guess these books are about or will they be overwhelmed by the power of pink?


 A Musical Year at John Muir Branch by Sean Antaya 

In recent years, the Windsor Public Library has emphasized that we are “more than just books.” Indeed, at all of our branches, staff come up with fun and innovative programs for our library patrons. While many people might not associate libraries with musical performances, West Windsor’s John Muir Branch has developed a fantastic concert series over the past year called the Old Time Music Café, which highlights the history of folk music in North America. Both dedicated folk music aficionados and newcomers to the genre enjoy the opportunity to mingle and enjoy a bit of music history right here in the heart of Sandwich town.


Beginner’s Blues

The Old Time Music Café first began in February 2023. I developed a program highlighting the history of early Blues music as part of WPL’s yearly celebration of Black History Month. For the event, I created displays with books, CDs, and DVDs from our collection – in addition to an interactive Hoopla computer station – and decorated our Local History room with interpretive signage, old record advertisements, and portraits of blues artists from illustrator R. Crumb’s book, Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country.[1] A friend brought in his collection of vintage harmonicas to display and performed a short demonstration on the instruments, while I gave a short lecture on the history of the blues and played recordings of different regional variations of blues music before facilitating a discussion amongst our attendees. The discussion was a real highlight. One woman was particularly well versed in the work of John and Alan Lomax, two ethnomusicologists who conducted field recordings of many blues and folk singers throughout the early 20th century.[2] She also noted that her late husband had been a devoted fan of Piedmont blues, a particular blues style native to the Carolinas, and that he had once made some recordings of his own playing in this style. Another patron shared some evidence that Johnny Shines and the great Robert Johnson had possibly busked on the streets of Windsor during a trip north during the 1930s before Johnson’s untimely death. The patron cited an interview with Johnny Shines from the journal Living Blues where Shines mentioned that he and Johnson crossed over from Detroit into Canada to busk for a few days. Yet another patron shared a humorous story of a Muddy Waters concert in Detroit during the 1970s, recounting that the blues legend squared off with a raucous audience member. Despite a nasty winter storm that evening in February we had dozens of attendees at the event, all of whom seemed to have a great time. Their only request? Next time there should be live music!

One of the displays from the inaugural blues-themed Old Time Music Cafe in February.


A Folk in the Road

After the success of February Blues event, I realized that there was a real opportunity to continue to grow the Old Time Music program. I quickly got to work contacting musician friends to put together an April concert at John Muir Branch that would highlight different forms of North American folk music. This was particularly exciting due to the nature of our library branch itself. Originally a fire hall built in 1921, John Muir Branch was designed with concerts in mind by its architect, Jason Grossi, during its recent renovations. Grossi, himself a classically-trained musician, believed the main floor of the library would make an excellent concert space and designed the area to have concert hall-style acoustic qualities.[3] Unfortunately, though there were two concerts following the branch’s opening in 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic precluded any future musical events. By April 2023, however, with library service back in full swing and patrons increasingly returning to in-person events, it was the perfect time to bring musical performances back to John Muir Branch.

The Hub Cap Blues Band performs Son House’s Death Letter Blues at John Muir Branch.

The day of the concert, I performed alongside my own Hub Cap Blues Band featuring myself on guitar, Jesse Armstrong on harmonica, and Shane Vellinga on bass, and we performed a variety of blues tunes ranging from the pre-war Mississippi Delta Blues of Son House and Robert Johnson to post-war Chicago blues in the styles of Sonny Boy Williamson II and Muddy Waters. The second set was led by the Wilkinson Family Band featuring local musicians Jeff Wilkinson and his son Keith who performed on a variety of instruments including mandolin and upright bass. The duo performed an array of folk, country, and bluegrass including traditional classics like “In the Pines” and “Rollin’ in my Sweet Baby’s Arms.” The audience turnout was incredible – the main floor was so packed that some patrons chose to sit on Muir’s second level and watch the concert from above. Some attendees were regular patrons, while others came from as far away as Detroit. One older gentleman was so happy after the concert that he literally sang and danced his way out of the building.

Sandwich town resident Joe Pekar leads the Hub Cap Blues Band and Wilkinson Family Band in a rendition of St. James Infirmary Blues at the April concert.


The Music Never Stopped

Building on the energy of the April folk Café, we had two more concerts over the summer – the first featuring folk musician Tom Markham who has performed concerts across the country for decades and has been featured on the CBC program, The Music Makers. Strumming his 12-string guitar, Tom performed a great set in the style of a 1970s coffee house performance. By the end of the night, the audience was singing along in unison to the classic, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” a song first popularized by the Carter Family and later adopted as an anthem of the peace movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

The second concert of the summer brought old time music to the next generation. WPL’s Summer Reading program focuses on providing children’s activities during the summer months and I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce younger children to folk music. I donned a makeshift conductor’s outfit of striped overalls with a red bandanna kerchief. My performance included old work-songs like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, cowboy ballads such as “Home on the Range,” and my personal favorite, the Depression-era tune, “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” a song featured in opening credits of the Coen Brothers’ film O Brother Where Art Thou. The children happily clapped and shouted along to the music and stuck around the library afterwards to pick out books, fill colouring pages, play board games, and work on crafts. Once again, this timeless music was able to bring happiness to a young audience that some might associate only with newer technologies and trends.

A younger audience enjoys the Summer Reading edition of the Old Time Music Café.


The Show Must Go On

The Old Time Music Café will return for its final concert of the year on Saturday November 25th at 3pm at the John Muir Branch. Featuring the return of Jeff Wilkinson and other special guests, it is shaping up to be another hit! And make sure to check out the great programs happening all over the city at the libraries nearest to you!

[1] Crumb’s book is available on Hoopla, one of WPL’s free e-services. For some histories of blues music available at WPL see The History of the Blues by Francis Davis, Delta Blues by Ted Gioia, and Blues Fell This Morning by Paul Oliver.

[2] Some of the books written by the Lomaxes are available at WPL. See The Land Where the Blues Began by Alan Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs by John Lomax, Our Singing Country by John Lomax, and Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp by John Lomax.

[3] For an informative article on the John Muir Branch building, see  Restorative Space: John Muir Library, Windsor, Ontario by WPL librarian Rebekah Mayer.

Between Two Covers: Episode the Third

Windsor Public Library presents Between Two Covers, a reader’s advisory program all about judging books by their cover. This time it’s all about making assumptions, as Becky challenges Erin to guess the plot of a book based on its cover.

Between Two Covers: Episode Two

Windsor Public Library presents Between Two Covers, a reader’s advisory program all about judging books by their cover. This time its Olivia’s turn to see if Becky can guess these books are about based off of their covers.

Between Two Covers

Windsor Public Library presents Between Two Covers, a reader’s advisory program all about judging books by their cover. Each episode has a theme, and guests will discuss what they think the book is about, the genre, whether they would read it or not, etc. Join Becky and Olivia for this episode and put in the comments whether you would read these books based on their covers.


Looking for a new mystery to read that is light and not too serious? Let Katie help by recommending some Cosy Mystery titles.

Author and producer Craig Colby spoke to us about his book ALL CAPS: STORIES THAT JUSTIFY AN OUTRAGEOUS HAT COLLECTION. A finalist for the Canadian Book Club Awards, this work explores the connections between family, friends, work, and even sports teams, that give life meaning. You can borrow ALL CAPS from Windsor Public Library.


Looking for a new romance to read with a hint of suspense and intrigue? Let Katie help by recommending some titles that explore the romance trope of romantic suspense.

Looking for a new sizzling September romance read? Let Katie help by recommending some titles that explore the romance trope of workplace romances.


Summer is the time for summer reads and summer romance.

Check out this video that combines the two!

Learn about Canadian romance authors and get some great recommendations here!

In June we celebrate Pride and examine tropes that represent love is love is love.

This video explores the trope of sibling’s best friend or best friend’s sibling as a love interest.

Margaret Jacobson was born April 5, 1944. On what would have been her 78th birthday, we honour her, and all the Margarets out there with this discussion between WPL librarian Erica and author Denise Davy. Davy’s book Her Name was Margaret is a compelling examination of the tragedy of how multiple systems fail individuals, resulting in chronic homelessness.

You can borrow the book from WPL or visit Denise Davy’s website for more information.

Learn why Diversity Story Times are important, and how they can help your children!

Need a suggested title?

Ready for a new kind of book club? Reading for Pleasure Romance Editions are for you!

Check out these great recommendations for the trope “Second Chance Romance” brought to you by your romance-loving library staff!

How about Historical Romances?

What IS Fake Dating?

Looking to sink your teeth into some Paranormal Romance?

How about Friends to Lovers?

Marriage of Convenience, Anyone?

In the mood for some Holiday Romance?

Sunshine and Grumpy?

Learn about the “friends with benefits” trope, and get some great suggested titles!