The CFL Sessions

The CFL Sessions

 London, Ontario, CAN

The CFL Sessions is an archive of songs written by Canadian football players, songs originally recorded in the 1970s but rearranged and recorded by Henry Adam Svec and WL Altman. Actually, it's not true! -- but this weird, thoughtful performance project entertains the possibility.


The original CFL Sessions were captured in the 1970s by the late Canadian folklorist Staunton R. Livingston. The tapes (of Canadian football players performing both original and traditional works) collected dust in the National Archives of Canada until the summer of 2008, when they were discovered by resident folklorist Henry Adam Svec. Now, with the help of ethnomusicologist and composer WL Altman, Svec has transposed the rough, deteriorating recordings into lush and contemporary orchestrations.

At least, that's the story told by the "The CFL Sessions," which came on the Canadian scene with a bang when a Moncton journalist took the project at face value in the summer of 2009. Since then, the strange performance project has delighted and provoked audiences across the country, blending virtual Canadiana, a bizarre approach to stage banter, and just plain good songs.

The "front" of the fiction is maintained throughout the performance -- I tell the audience I am a folklorist who discovered the songs, and I proceed to perform and briefly discuss the historical documents. "Ethnomusicologist" WL Altman occasionally helps me to recapture the vision of the original authors. A fun mix of stand-up, hoaxing, theatre, and Edith Fowke-style Canadiana (and Pynchon to boot!), there isn't really another artist -- or even genre -- that can be compared to this unique and entertaining project.

I began to play music, with WL Altman, in the Sackville, NB, band Peter Mansbridge and the CBCs. My next project was called The Boy from ET, in which I claimed to be Henry Thomas, the (Canadian, I claimed) songwriter who was formerly a child actor. I have performed these projects across the country, but especially in Ontario and Eastern Canada.

See to learn more about the project or to freely download the whole recording.


"Song Written Upon Getting Cut by the Argos" has been played heavily on CBC Radio 3. The CFL Sessions' self-titled recording reached #2 on the national folk/roots/blues charts (earshot) in the summer of 2009.

Set List

Set is 40 minutes - 1 hour. The set consists of the CFL songs as well as historical and contextual explanation.