#70: April Fool by Chalk Circle

City: Hamilton, ON
Radio Station: CKOC
Peak Month: July 1986
Peak Position in Hamilton ~ #11
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “April Fool
Lyrics: “April Fool

Chalk Circle is a band from Newcastle, Ontario. Its origins grew from a band formed in 1982 called The Casualties. The continuous members were lead singer and guitarist Chris Tait, and bass guitarist Brad Hopkins. The band changed their name to The Reactors, and then to New Addition. In 1984 they became Chalk Circle. The name was taken from Bertolt Brecht’s play The Caucasian Chalk Circle. The play is set in the Soviet Union around the end of WWII. It shows a dispute between two communes, the Collective Fruit Farm Galinsk fruit growing commune and the Collective Goat Farmers. They are arguing over who is to own and manage an area of farm land after the Nazis have retreated from a village and left it abandoned. A parable has been organised by one group, an old folk tale, to be played out to cast light on the dispute. In one part of the play, two women argue over whether a boy named Michael is their own son. A chalk circle is drawn and Michael is placed in the center. The two women are invited to pull Michael out of the chalk circle. If they both pull, they will tear the child in half and get half each? Choosing such a reference for the band’s name, Chalk Circle recorded some interesting songs commenting on contemporary culture.

In addition to Tait and Hopkins, the keyboard, melodica and saxophone player was Tad Winklarz, and Derick Murphy on drums.

In 1986, Chalk Circle released a single titled “April Fool”, along with the album, The Great Lake. 

April Fool by Chalk Circle
“April Fool” was written by Chalk Circle, but primarily by Chris Tait.

“Walk on water, part the sea,” and “When my kingdom falls,” all reference holy men from the Bible. Jesus of Nazareth walked on water in one of the gospel stories. The Hebrew slave, Moses, parted the Red Sea and led his people out of Egyptian captivity as they crossed into the wilderness. In John 18, Jesus is asked about his ‘kingdom.’ He answers, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest… But my kingdom is not of this world.”

“April Fool” is a song that recalls April the 1st: April Fools Day. Some historians suggest that April Fools’ originated because, in the Middle Ages, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 in most European towns. The holiday, in some areas of France, ended on 1 April. Those who celebrated New Year’s Eve on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates by the invention of April Fools’ Day. The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day became common in France only in the mid-16th century. January 1 was not adopted officially as New Year’s Day until 1564, by the Edict of Roussillon, as called for during the Council of Trent in 1563.

As April Fools Day is associated with people playing pranks on each other, an April 1, 2009, announcement was met with disbelief. A news story told that the long running soap opera Guiding Light was being cancelled. The date was so heavily associated with jokes and pranks that even some of the cast and crew members did not believe the news when it was announced by CBS, the TV network that aired the show.

Whatever relief April Fool’s can offer, the troubled days of the song’s individual subject “just stay and stay.” While his kingdom falls, another he has been in relationship with has their kingdom remain in tact: “When my kingdom falls, yours will stay.”

“April Fool” peaked at #11 in Hamilton, #12 in Ottawa, and Medicine Hat (AB), and #15 in Toronto.

A minor single, “Me, Myself and I” followed later in 1986. At the Juno Awards, Chalk Circle received a nomination for Most Promising Group.

In 1987, the band released their second album, Mending Wall. The debut single release was “This Mourning”. The band followed up with a cover of a T. Rex single titled “20th Century Boy”.

A third album, As the Crow Flies, was less commercially successful upon release in 1989. Neither of the two tracks released as singles cracked the pop charts in Canada.

After Chalk Circle broke up around 1990, Tait formed the group Big Faith. They released several albums. After the breakup of Big Faith, Tait pursued a career in advertising and promotion with a company that produced jingles. Tait has written music for various ads including the BMW MINI when it was re-launched in Canada in 2002.

In 2003, Tait released a solo album entitled Hello… my name is Chris Tait, which he produced independently in Canada. In 2004, he wrote a song titled “A Little Music” for the annual Coalition For Music Education in Canada promotion “Music Monday”.

Brad Hopkins formed a band called Nothing In Particular. They released one album in 1995.

In 2006 Chalk Circle released the 20th Century Masters best of album and played its first reunion, a sold out show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. In 2011 the 40th anniversary of the Juno Awards prompted the band to do it again. Events at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto featured live performances of Canadian artists from the 70’s, 80’s and the 90’s to celebrate the milestone. Chalk Circle performed on the 80’s night. Blue Peter Keyboardist Jason Sniderman now joins original members Chris, Derrick and Brad to round out the lineup.

Since its inception, Chalk Circle has performed over 66 times in concert, as reported on the Setlist.fm website. This includes concerts in Hamilton at Ivor Wyne Centre on September 12th, 1987 and September 8th and 9th, 1989; And at Copps Coliseum on May 15, 1990.

May 22, 2024
Ray McGinnis

Liam Lahey, “From chart topper to image maker: Former Chalk Circle singer Chris Tait and the business of making cool,”
Scene and Heard, October 4, 2006.
The Box bringing Closer Together Tour and Chalk Circle to Pembroke’s Festival Hall,” Pembroke Observer and News, September 8, 2022.
Chalk Circle – Concert Dates – Canada,” setlist.fm.
Francesca Mari, “Guiding Light, Snuffed: Scene From A Dying Daytime Drama,” Observer, September 15, 2009.
The Origin of April Fool’s,” Museum of Hoaxes.
Winick, Stephen, “April Fool’s: The Roots of an International Tradition,” Library of Congress, March 28, 2016.
Alan Cross, “Chalk Circle: Back Together Yet Again,” A Journal of Musical Things.com, June 6, 2013.

April Fool by Chalk Circle
CKOC 1150-AM Hamilton (ON) Top 15 | July 9, 1986

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