Category Archives: Articles

Review: Jim and Penny Malmberg, Rosie and the Riveters at Northern Lights Folk Club

I’m constantly amazed by the diversity of musicians in Edmonton and the range of genres that they perform. At the Northern Lights Folk Club last night, locals Jim & Penny Malmberg showed off their quirkiness in song lyrics like Muffin Tops in Love or when they drew comparisons between courtship and fishing in I Took the Bait. Even throwing in a good o’le bluegrass murder ballad with Urban Coyote.

But it wasn’t all hilarious stage banter and eccentric songs, when Penny announced that she was at the Women’s March earlier that day at the Alberta Legislature, she brought the focus to the fight for women’s rights. She excused herself for screaming herself hoarse earlier that day, disregarding texts from Jim to save her voice for the gig, and it was evident her passion for this issue could not be silenced. For the conclusion of their half of the show, the Malmbergs sang a cover of the Rolling Stone’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want echoing their sentiments.

The ethos of the first half of the evening transferred seamlessly to Rosie & The Riveters who added a refreshing dose of colour therapy with their stylized charm from the 1940s. Without a synchronized snap or a foot tap out of place, their dense harmonies wove throughout each of their tunes with a comedic sparkle while singing about their Red Dress or Dancing ‘Cause of My Joy.  With A Million Little Things they reminded us that sometimes we can all benefit from a change in perspective, especially in the dark of January.

Rosie & The Riveters made it was easy for us not to take ourselves too seriously, by teaching us how to dance with moves such as “petting the horse’s head” and “touch the sky” — sidenote: if you feel ridiculous and awkward, you are doing these moves right — and somehow it felt inherently right when the kazoos came out for a song battle or the beat box app played the underlying beat as they rapped Johnny Cash on top of it.

It was a power packed evening full of good humour and quirkiness — if you didn’t show up with a smile on your face, you certainly left with one.

Women of Folkways is up next at the Northern Lights Folk Club on Saturday, February 4, 2017 with Dana Wylie, Linda McRae, and Shawna Caspi.

Review: Tim Isberg and Ben Rogers at New Moon Folk Club

 

 

Drawn by the warmth of St. Basil’s Edmonton folkies shuffled their feet across icy surfaces in search of the secure grip of gravel into the venue. As incongruous as it might seem the grittiness of Edmonton’s January streets was matched by the stories and sounds of New Moon Folk Club’s two headliners, Tim Isberg and Ben Rogers, who played full sets to the cozy audience of 300. It wasn’t simply an evening of pleasant entertainment, as both Isberg and Rogers brought provocative subjects to the foreground and challenged the audience to consider their roles in the world.

Isberg’s service in the Canadian military has taken him to conflict torn areas such as Rwanda and Afghanistan. Readily admitting that he left a piece of his soul overseas as he bore witness to the devastation in those areas he also notes that he has gained a lot of perspective. Yet the turmoil that one might expect to manifest from witnessing such extremes of human behaviour does not surface on Isberg’s face, instead, he displays his emotions in his music. An energy of contemplation is present in Isberg’s music even when his lyrics grapple with challenging subject matter. He suggests that his listeners self-evaluate the types of physical and emotional walls they create in order to separate people and consider their disassembly in The Walls, “Does freedom bring peace or the other way around?”

 

If you close your eyes and listen to Ben Rogers, you hear a gritty bass voice of that might make you think of an ancient character, sipping whiskey that is borderline poisonous, perched on a stool at the end of a weathered bar in a dusty old western town. Rogers shares stories of all types through his songs, especially those that might otherwise be unspoken and forgotten. His gift, even stronger than his voice, is helping us to remember—whether it is songs of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Highway of Tears or the tragedy of interracial love in his encore, Cowboys and Indians—and challenging us, as individuals, to do better. When you open your eyes, you may be perplexed by how a voice like Roger’s has chosen such a young vessel. However, it doesn’t matter what physical form his voice is contained in.  His voice speaks for the marginalized.

This post is co-written by Twila and Sable.

Next up at New Moon Folk Club is Catherine MacLellan on Friday, February 3, 2017.

Metaphors & Motors: Review of West My Friend & Union Duke at Northern Lights Folk Club

Literary allusions and mechanical metaphors were the order of the evening at the second concert on the Northern Lights Folk Club 2016–17 series with West My Friend and Union Duke. Having been caught on the west (appropriately enough) side of Jasper by a rockslide, West My Friend arrived 45 minutes before the show was begin and proceeded to rip through a quick soundcheck. Even in a rush West My Friend was so spot on that audience members were wondering whether or not it was appropriate to applaud for a soundcheck.

West My Friend kicked their set off with ‘No Good Monster‘ off Quiet Hum their latest release. The song, as Eden Oliver told us, is about the little voice in our head that tries to stop us from doing great things — no one will like it anyway right? Luckily West My Friend has decided to face that no good monster head on and create a little bit of magic with their music. Oliver then led us through some of the literary references that punctuated their set including Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Christina Rossetti’s “A Birthday”. West My Friend’s sound is highly melodic and although at times it is gentle it is incredibly intense. When the end of the set was reached the audience just wasn’t ready for our time with West My Friend to be over. An encore called them back to the stage and they had the crowd sing ‘All Day Long‘ a song by Zachary Gough that ends rather abruptly, and caught a few of us crowd-singers out.

Following the break Union Duke  took to the stage. A high-octane folk/country quintet based out of Toronto, Union Duke had the audience clapping their hands, stomping their feet and even sharing their best vampire dance moves (on cue in ‘The Heartbreak Kid‘).

Union Duke is unrelentingly rhythmic with a touch of twang, and their lyrics have the occasional car reference, like carburetors in ‘Chasing Headlights’ from their most recent album Golden Days. Matt Warry-Smith kept the forward momentum of the show with his tambourine/cymbal combination beating out the rhythm of many of the songs. As Union Duke splits the responsibility of lead vocals Rob McLaren (electric guitar, fiddle) shared his Alberta roots with ‘Quit This Town‘ and then Ethan Smith his frugal tendencies with ‘Dime-Store Shirt‘ both off the Cash & Carry album from 2014. Northern Lights Folk Club usually doesn’t book a band without having experienced a live show by them, so Union Duke was a wild card for them having been booked based on YouTube and recordings. In this case the gamble paid huge dividends and Union Duke was called back to the stage for an encore which caused continued hand-clapping and feet stomping in the audience.

If you missed last night’s concert, both Union Duke & West My Friend be heard in the greater Edmonton area over the next few months:

West My Friend
Monday Oct 10 in Sherwood Park (House Concert)
and throughout the prairies in Alberta: Lloydminster, Cochrane, Canmore; Saskatchewan: Maple Creek, Regina & Saskatoon; Manitoba: Flin Flon & Winnipeg.

Union Duke
Thursday Oct 13 in Athabasca (Nancy Appleby Theatre)
Friday April 28, 2017 in Spruce Grove (Horizon Stage)
and further afield in Saskatoon, Drayton Valley & Forestburg this coming year.

The Northern Lights Folk Club continues their season on October 22nd with Chloe Albert opening for Jez Lowe.

Review: Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra with Soap Box Duo at New Moon Folk Club

Last night the New Moon Folk Club kicked off the 2016–17 season with Victoria’s Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra and the local Soap Box Duo. Also known as, Alexander and Jenesa MacMullin, the Soap Box Duo entertained with songs rooted in their personal experience and shared snippets of their life before TMO took the stage.

I first started hearing about Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra in the early 2010s while living in Victoria, but I never managed to get out to hear them play. Fast forward a few years and through a series of missed opportunities by autumn 2015 I’d only managed to hear OQO (a TMO side project) at a house concert in Edmonton (a particularly memorable event as the host’s shirt caught on fire when he got a bit too close to a candle). Decidedly different from hearing OQO’s set in a cozy living room, last night the New Moon Folk Club was packed—the tables were all full and rows of chairs filled the far edge of the hall—with around 350 fans for TMO’s performance. Beginning with some songs from their 2012 release Follow my Lead, Lead me to Follow TMO shifted into some tunes off their more recent 2015 album Love.

In his introduction and welcome to the season Joseph Duperreault the New Moon artistic director described his own experience of first hearing TMO live in terms of losing track of time, and indeed his description had merit. Ian Griffiths (accordion/synth) or Mack Shields (violin) would often play a riff or two between songs that acted as connective tissue between the tunes. For me TMO’s performance was akin to driving thrimg_1455ough a series of small towns that are practically connected (think New England). Each town has its own quirks, but somewhere along the drive you’ve been distracted by the scenery and now you are no longer sure which town you are in or if it is two or three away from your starting point. Like an unexpected journey through a series of small towns, TMO’s show had the audience winding up in an unforeseen locale. A sizable dance group formed at stage right, while the rest of the audience joined together as TMO’s latest backing choir. The musical journey guided by TMO will continue with an EP expected in the spring of 2017 that they were recording tracks for in Olds, AB last week.

The start of the New Moon Folk Club season coincided with a black moon (the second new moon in a calendar month) a lunar event that happens only every year or so, luckily the next musical event (Birds of Chicago) isn’t as rare of an occurrence happening in two weeks on October 14th. Remember that the doors open at 6:30pm (a half hour earlier than previously) so you can have perogies and cabbage rolls for your evening meal rather than as a late night snack.

Preview: Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra at New Moon Folk Club

Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra

Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra opens  Edmonton’s New Moon Folk Club season at St. Basil’s Cultural Centre. A musical collective TMO formed while the musicians were all living in Victoria B.C., however in recent years they have spread out a bit geographically. Currently consisting of Ian Griffiths, Kurt Loewen, Paul Wolda, Mack Shields, and Keith Rodger the TMO musical nomads have been travelling across Canada and bringing their contemporary folk music works to audiences.

Gypsy-folk, jazz influenced, flamenco tinged, gypsy-ska-roots-grass, mega-eclectic, alternative-folk and, West Coast jams have been used among other terms to describe TMO’s sound. And that list doesn’t even touch on some of the band’s influences, both musical and natural. Such diversity of the creative energies in TMO allow them to continually reinvent themselves, making their sound anything but static—the constant is high quality music.

True to their roots, there is a collaborative spirit heard in TMO’s work and specifically their most recent album, LOVE. Whether it’s the two strings playing a relaxed unison melody on Boo Boo’s Waltz and or the nostalgic-sounding keyboard rhythms and faraway back-up vocals in the expansive Wolfe et Montcalm, there is an ease that is audible among the musicians.

It is a rare (some might say eclectic) opportunity to be able to enjoy a beer and homestyle Ukrainian perogies while taking in a folk music performance. TMO’s laid-back folk tunes will be the perfect pairing with the atmosphere at St. Basil’s Cultural Centre.

The performance is Friday, September 30. Tickets are available in advance at Tix on the Square and at the door. Click here for more ticket information.

This preview is co-written by Sable and Twila.

Upcoming shows at the New Moon Folk Club include: Birds of Chicago, Tom Russell, and Danny Michel. For more information on their season, please see their website.

Review: Royal Wood and Jessica Mitchell at The Arden Theatre

The first musical stop on The Arden Theatre’s Made in Canada 2016 Professional Series, celebrating Canada’s upcoming sesquicentennial was Ontario with a performance by Royal Wood with Jessica Mitchell as the show’s opener. Mitchell may have been the opening musical act of  but there was nothing in her performance that suggested she was a novice to the stage. A fact also evident in her nominee nod from CCMA earlier this year for their Roots Artist of the year award.

fullsizerenderJessica Mitchell came on stage addressing the audience with a tone of familiarity that made her feel like she was already a close friend. Her performance didn’t merely invite the audience to be her friend, she engaged with us as if we were her personal confidantes. At times, she sang with searing clarity when her resolve was evident, yet other moments featured a breathy vulnerability. Whether she was sharing her insights on love, growing up, or how music has served an important role in her own mental health — she sang with honesty that asked us as audience members to know her as a person.

 

Royal Wood

A singular incandescent bulb glowed on the stage at the start of Royal Wood’s set. While the ghost light is normally lit after the theatre closes, Royal Wood decided to invite the spirits of the theatre to share the stage with him. The light would glow with varying intensity throughout the show or stay silent in the darkness.

imageFive white clothe panels suspended from the stage created a versatile visual backdrop for lighting effects. When lit from the bottom, the fabric displayed a rough texture not unlike concrete but when the backlight turned on to shine from behind the panels, the outline of tattered drapes hung as another layer behind the fabric. While such lighting theatrics could have easily turned into a haunted house effect, the vibrant purples and pinks projected created an inviting warmth. If there were indeed ghosts sharing the stage, they appeared happy to be present among the living musicians on the stage.

dsc_0270

Musicians entertain, they tell stories both through music and between songs. It can be a difficult balance to strike — How much banter is appropriate? Should I just sing the next song? Should I suggest a sing-along for this song? Would the audience even know what to sing if I did suggest it? Royal Wood’s performance didn’t seem hindered by such questions. When if came time for the audience to dust off our own vocal chords, for Woods’ “Forever and Ever” he taught us the part, rehearsed it with us and then cajoled us from a few people singing sotta voce into a choir that resonated the intimate ~500 seat theatre.

There is a sense of professional design in Royal Wood’s show: the flow of his set list alternating between solo numbers and arrangements with his full band, an appropriate amount of audience sing-along that felt inviting but not imposing, tdsc_0275he lighting design, even his styling was consistent with his trademark vest. While this artifice could appear disingenuous, his stories of preteen love and clear passion for sharing the stage with his band members made his generosity palpable. He recognized each one of his band members throughout the show. The audience developed quite an affection for Robbie playing the keyboard, who also happens to hold a Doctorate in Physics. During his encore, Royal Wood invited Jessica Mitchell back to the stage to share the spotlight with him for a closing duet. The congenial atmosphere cultivated on-stage by the musicians transferred to the audience as they spilled out into the St. Albert night.

For more information on The Arden Theatre’s Professional Musical Series visit their website. Some upcoming Artists include: Monkeyjunk, Terra Lightfoot, Andrea House, Fred Eaglesmith, and Fortunate Ones.

This review is co-written by Sable and Twila.

Art & Activism: An interview with Rosie & the Riveters

Completing a triptych of Saskatoon performers Rosie & the Riveters captivated the Saturday audience of the 2016 Jasper Folk Fest while a full rainbow emerged from the grey gloom and hung over the valley. The upbeat tunes and tight harmonies of the vintage-folk inspired quartet stayed with me all weekend, and on returning to Edmonton I was delighted to get in touch with Allyson Reigh of Rosie & the Riveters to ask her some questions about female empowerment, social change, education and the Riveters’ home province.


During your live show in Jasper a story about the inspiring vitality of one of the Riveters grandmother’s was shared, and on your band blog there are mentions of other inspiring women. It seems obvious that you feel that it is important to model this empowerment of women, how is being an all female musical group important in your goal to share music about the empowerment of women?

Rosie & the Riveters was formed back in 2011 when Farideh Olsen had the idea to get a group of female singer-songwriters together who were interested in collaborating and building something unique and different. We initially came together to support one another and hone our craft and things sort of just grew from there.

On one hand, it works really well that our band is made up of all women and as a group we’re very vocal about the importance of women supporting women. We know lots of men who would be great additions to the band – in fact we did a big CD release tour last fall and brought three men from Saskatoon as our backup band – but arranging more than four individual schedules is tough so we’re sticking with just the four of us for now!dsc_0434

What do you hope to communicate to your listeners by portraying women in this way through your music?

One of our biggest goals in putting ourselves out there is to show that women can and do work well together. All you have to do is turn on the TV or read a magazine and see how common it is to criticize and tear people down, particularly women, rather than build them up. We’d love for people to see our band perform or hear our music and know that there is genuine love and respect for one another; that it’s possible to admire and be happy for another woman’s success without questioning your own value or talent.

We take turns singing lead while the other three sing back up and we’re having a helluva time doing it!
dsc_0386
Twenty percent of your merchandise sales go toward supporting women’s projects at www.kiva.org. Where did this idea come from?

We wanted to use what we’ve been given and help other women around the world, particularly those working in the arts. A lot of research has shown that investing in local female entrepreneurs can have the greatest social and economic impact because women play so many different roles in their communities. Essentially, the empowerment of women has the ability to support entire communities in the long run.


Do the Riveters get together to pick which Kiva projects to support?

We take turns choosing which projects to support. Generally speaking, they’re usually arts or textile-based businesses.

Have you seen first hand your support of Kiva makes a difference in women’s lives?

Kiva posts updates on projects fairly regularly, so in that sense we can all keep updated on projects we’ve lent to. I spent six months living in rural Ecuador a couple years ago in a community that has benefited from investment through Kiva. So I’ve seen some of the direct benefits of microfinance loan initiatives firsthand, also within the arts and textile sectors.

Education through music is another element that permeates Rosie & the Riveters online presence. What kind of music education experiences as young musicians did you have?

Between the four of us we’ve got all kinds of musical experience. Two musical degrees, countless years of picking up instruments in our homes and teaching ourselves, a musical parent who still tours and performs in different groups, semi-professional choir experience, classical vocal training, musical theatre training, years of jamming with other musician friends, and probably a million campfires where someone passes around a guitar and everybody learns the tune. We’ve got a pretty eclectic background but we all just genuinely love music.

As for education through music, we’re all big fans of songwriters with something to say. I definitely believe that art and activism go hand in hand and Buffy Sainte-dsc_0416Marie and Joni Mitchell are two of my personal favourite artist-activists who both just happen to be from the prairies!

Have you modelled your own teaching after any particular instructor/mentor? If so, how?

We like to say we take our inspiration from a lot of places – the sweetness of The Good Lovelies, the soul of Mahalia Jackson, and the vintage touch of The Andrews Sisters – combine all that with our very own sass and charm and voilà! You’ve got Rosie & the Riveters.
Music is often about universals. Song lyrics will typically speak about love, heartbreak, family and place. Rosie & the Riveters songs seem to focus on the positive as the universal, and not necessarily the scenario or situation of the song. Has this always been a conscious choice?

 

We choose to focus most of our energy and song writing on positive things in general. It’s so easy to feel sad for all the horrible things going on in the world, including our own backyard. The Husky Energy oil spill that polluted our beautiful North Saskatchewan River this summer was heartbreaking and incredibly maddening all at the same time. We do sing songs about the environment (covers and original music), and we have a song or two about ex-boyfriends, but in general we want people to come to our shows, forget their troubles, and leave feeling happier than when they walked in.
Does the Rosie & the Riveter approach to song writing differ from your solo music projects?

The overall goal with our solo projects and Rosie & the Riveters is to create meaningful art that impacts the listener in some way. So in that sense, writing and performing solo or as Rosie & the Riveters is very similar.dsc_0406

Rosie & the Riveters proudly hail from Saskatoon – what is your favourite thing about Saskatchewan and what place should we check out the next time we are in the land of the living skies?

One of the things I love most about Saskatchewan, other than the gorgeous sky, is that it feels like a hidden gem that hasn’t ever been really been properly appreciated, which means it’s not flooded with tourists. Whether you’re here in summer or winter you’re never far from an outdoor adventure – kayaking, camping, paddle boarding, skiing, snowshoeing – the list is endless!


Rosie & the Riveters have shows lined up through 2017, check out their tour dates here!

An Interview with The East Pointers at EFMF

 

 

The East Pointers may appear like newcomers to the traditional music scene in Canada but each individual member has amassed performance experience in a wide variety of genres from country to folk. Comprised of Koady Chaisson (KC) on Banjo and the resident step dancer, Jake Charron (JC) on Guitar, and Tim Chaisson (TC) on Fiddle; the trio are a musically proficient generation of Traditional musicians based out of Charlottetown, PEI. Their debut album, Secret Victory, is primarily instrumental music compositions with some singer-songwriter tunes in the mix as well.

Their down-to-earth likeability and passion for music is evident as they begin their interview with handshakes and hugs all around. Their enthusiasm to be at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival is evident with Tim noting that EFMF is one of his favorite festivals, “They treat us so well out here, it’s so organized, it’s amazing!” They also had the time to check out some of the other musical acts with Jake noting his excitement to see Dervish, “They’re staples in the Trad music scene. It’s great to see what they’re doing out here” and Koady’s love of Dreamer’s Circus.

DSC_0453

How do you make Traditional music accessible to modern audiences?

KC: Drop the bass!

JC: We’ve got a couple little tricks to fatten up the sound a bit. We’ve got a bass pedal, stomp box, and traditional tambourine. We’re trying to make as big a sound as possible in order to be able to play these big stages and be comparable to these big bands. We’ve been writing new tunes and hope people will like them.

Why did you decide to incorporate aspects of singer-songwriter tunes as well into your  instrumental approach as well?

KC: I feel with this style of music, there are the diehards that like strictly the tunes. For a broader audience, it’s always nice to sprinkle in a bit of song to change it up a little bit. Plus, we love it! It’s been fun writing songs. I’ve always written tunes, but songs are a new thing.

TC: With songwriting, we grew up listening to Traditional Celtic music. But obviously, you’re exposed to many types of contemporary music like the radio. You grow up playing fiddle tunes but then you hear top 40 and think, “that’s cool too,” and go back to playing fiddle tunes. You subconsciously hear all those melodies in your head. It’s cool to incorporate a bit of contemporary song-writing style into playing tunes.

DSC_0509Is there any fear of missing out on an audience because you’re playing Traditional instrumental music?

TC: There was no pressure in the band. It was very organic. We would get together to play tunes and have a few beers and play tunes all night. And thought, “we should start a Trad band!” and we’d laugh about it but none of us had time to do it at that time. But organically it kinda grew so there was no pressure from the get-go.

What is it about Trad music that connects to people?

TC: It’s in everyone’s blood. Maybe, not everyone, but it’s such an old style of music. It’s been around from the beginning of time.

KC: There’s always been dance music. We seem to have forgot that fact about Trad music. It’s actually dance music. There’s EDM dance music but there’s actual dance music that goes back hundreds of years. All of you have to do is expose people to it and they can see that rhythm that is very danceable. The music, as Tim said, with the Irish, Scottish, and French in Canada, the music resonates with so many people.

TC: Our parents were advocates to keeping the tradition alive. As teenagers, Koady and I were shy to step dance or play the fiddle in front of others because none of our friends are doing it. But now, it’s such a good thing to do!

When did Trad music become a cool thing to do again for you?

KC: When I got old enough to realize it doesn’t matter what certain people think. If it feels right for us, if it’s fun for us, then hopefully that is expressed through our tunes and on-stage shenanigans.

TC: It’s interesting to see people shy away from it at a certain point because you’re influenced by friends and popular culture. But you tend to go back to it, because it’s in you, and it’s part of your make-up.

JC: There seems to be a bit of resurgence of acoustic music in popular music. There are successful bands out there playing acoustic instruments that comes in waves over the years.DSC_0249

Why was it important to incorporate step dancing, Koady, into your live shows?

KC: I think it might loosen the crowd up a bit if one of us gets up and step dances. In our family, from the time you could walk, you danced to this music. It was your initiation to the music besides always being exposed to it. My mom taught me how to step dance when I was a little kid. It’s so funny, when I talk to mom she says, “I’m so happy you’re still doing those steps I taught ya!”

TC: Are some of those Donna Chaisson specials?

KC: I’m literally stealing my mom’s moves. How cool is that?!?

Do I sense a dancing throw-down?

KC: She would dance me under the table. She’s an amazing dancer.

You all have different genres of music experience coming to Trad music. How do those experiences influence your work in The East Pointers?

JC: We all grew up listening to a lot of different music. We draw from that when we’ve been writing music today, it’s not just Traditional. It’s everything we like that we try to put into our music.

TC: We don’t purposely go out to a certain style; it comes in somehow.

KC: I love danceable music and I feel like we just want people to dance.

Do you think we’ve lost some of the dancing magic?

KC: Everybody is so self-conscious about what their neighbor thinks. If you all just danced, then it just gets crazy.

You have all had diverse occupations from lobster fishing to personal training, when did you all switch to professional musicians?

KC: I didn’t really enjoy lobster fishing. I always wanted to be a musician. I feel like I was biding my time until I could navigate that path to get out of lobster fishing. It was a good job, don’t get me wrong. I always dreamed about being able to play music and whenever this band started that was my number one goal: We have to make it successful enough so I don’t have to go lobster fishing again! I haven’t lobster fished in the past two years so things are going alright.

TC: I did work on a potato farm, and I worked in a fish plant, and substitute taught. I did rough it out for a bit. I’ve been playing music for a long time doing solo stuff. I always loved playing music and I’d play with different artists over the years. Nothing beats doing what you love.

JC: Same sort of thing, I guess. I didn’t necessarily think I’d be doing it for a living but it was always what I loved to do the most and eventually realized what I should be doing. I’m really happy to be doing it.

DSC_0176

Is it difficult to multi-task when you have other musical commitments in terms of solo work or accompanying other groups?

TC: The East Pointers has been so busy especially the last year. It’s been so amazing and we’ve been working with great people in different countries and get to travel to places we’d otherwise never go to. As far as I go, I’ve done a few solo shows in between and always writing different kinds of stuff.

JC: It’s been a priority for us to get this band up and going.

What is your group songwriting process like?

JC: You come up with little ideas on your own. We’ve been together for the past 8 months on the road and been writing stuff on the go.

KC: That’s something I’m grateful for. There are lots of bands for one reason or another, they find it hard to write on the road. When you’re traveling to such beautiful places, it’s pretty easy to get inspired to write. Festivals like Edmonton and Winnipeg, when you’re there and you hear the music, something happens inside and you think: “I wanna write and I wanna grow as a writer and musician.” We all feel the same way in that way. It’s inspiring to be places like this. The people are amazing. The music is amazing. It’s just happiness.

What wDSC_0121ere the first instruments that you all began to play?

TC: Fiddle came first for me.

KC: Step dancing and then fiddle was my first instrument.

JC: Piano but we also had fiddles around the house all the time so I was playing that pretty young too.

TC: There was just a bunch of instruments kicking around the house. I had a bunch of older brothers that played drum and bass and guitar. So fiddle then drums and guitar.

KC: That’s something else I was happy about: [being surrounded by instruments]. “I’m going to play a mandolin because there’s a mandolin in the house!”

TC: My brother hated when I played his drums. He got so mad when I was done playing them.

KC: I remember that! He would check the drums sticks!

TC: I would play drums for four hours while he was gone and put everything perfectly back. My dad was a piano player so he didn’t mind me playing his piano.

How is it being programmed in the more Traditional music sessions when you attend folk festivals now?

KC: It’s different in the different countries that we tour in. In Australia, they put us in dance spots and people just dance their faces off. It’s awesome. I mean, I like both. It’s an honor to share the stage with some of the bands we’ve done workshops with. The fact that you’re up stage with them is humbling. I love when people dance. I don’t know if I mentioned that 🙂

DSC_0505What are some of the future goals for the group?

TC: I think more of what we’ve been doing. We’ve been fortunate over the last little while to travel and play different festivals and meet great musicians. We’re working on a new record and working on a lot of tune writing. What’s the ultimate goal? It’s great to make people happy and keep people smiling.

JC: It’s exciting to grow as a band and really excited to get going on the new record. Get touring and playing for different people. Hopefully, we’ll be back here again someday too.

KC: I never thought that playing this style of music could take me the places it has taken me. The places you’ll go! We’re going to Spain in a couple of months. That is something that blows my mind. I think the goal is just to see where it goes. It’s been a great run so far and it’s only been a couple of years.

Do you ever have any checkpoints throughout this process?

TC: I definitely take moments to realize how fortunate to just play music and tour. I try to take moments to stop and sometimes on stage like today look up and see people dancing. Trying to be in the moment and realize it’s a beautiful thing.

KC: I try to live in the moment. I don’t necessarily do it all the time.

JC: We definitely don’t take it for granted to play at festivals like this.

TC: As a musician, there are so many years to work towards something. I remember thinking: “Oh, it would be so cool to play festivals every weekend and tour full-time.” I don’t forget pushing through to make that happen. Now that we’re actually doing it, I don’t take it for granted.

Do you find it’s a challenge to acknowledge your achievements as well as move forward?

JC: To be successful, you need a bit of both of that: You have to recognize where you’re at but see where you need to get to – keep moving forward and not be satisfied with where you’re at.

It is clear that The East Pointers are only just beginning their work to revitalize Traditional music for a modern generation of listeners.

An Interview with Chloe Albert at EFMF

 

Chloe Albert enters the media tent with a sense of exterior calm amongst the festival frenzy. Numerous accolades surround Albert, an Edmonton based singer-songwriter, with a 2014 Juno Nominee and Western Canadian Music and Edmonton Music Awards for her most recent album, Dreamcatcher.

This is Albert’s second time performing at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival; she notes with a smile that the first time she was on Gallagher Hill, she was just a bundle of nerves. She exudes the patience of an Artist that has the stamina to build her career in gradual manner.

Tell me about a formative musical moment in your upbringing.

C: For me, actually, it was Lilith Fair, probably around 15 years ago. Right around when I bought my first guitar was when Lilith Fair happened. There were all these women and artists I really loved and looked up to. The merging of those two things together at the same time was when I got excited about it and thought: “I’d really love to do this!” I was always really shy and performing was not something I did otherwise. It was struggle to get out but I love the rush of it.

Are you ever surprised about people’s connection with you through your music?

C: That’s my favorite thing ever. Even at this Festival, I still have this idea in my head that I must know everybody who listens to my music because I must have a relatively small fanbase. However, CKUA has a really broad reach. Even at this Festival I’ve had people say they’ve been listening for years. A kind gentleman yesterday, said to me: “your voice has stopped me in my tracks so many times over the years,” that still surprises me and makes me feel really good. A lot of times you really don’t have a way of knowing. Not everyone is on social media and even if they do they might not reach out.

What made you decide to pursue music as a profession?

C: It really changed year to year. Fifteen is where I thought: “Oh, I want to do this.” I was really naïve, I didn’t know the road ahead of me that was awaiting. This is embarrassing to admit, but I kinda grew up in a time where my favorite singer/songwriters were discovered singing on a street corner. I wasn’t too worried about it. I played some open mics and I was interested in traveling. I wasn’t too worried about pounding the pavement and thought, “someone will discover me!” Then I put out my first record and that changed things a lot.

Then I took music in college. I was in college taking a Bachelor of Arts program, I felt like a fish out of water. I enjoyed it but I didn’t feel like I was in the right place. My mom suggested the music program cause I’ve always played music. I wasn’t hoping to go to school for music but it ended up being the best. That’s where I got my first glimpse of the idea of playing music and not necessarily having to be a superstar. Many of my professors have been jazz musicians and played music for their whole lives in Edmonton and Alberta. I remember thinking, “that’s so cool!”

I have a local band I play in here with some of my best girlfriends. Now it’s really nice because when I’m taking a break, I had a baby last year, not taking a break from my own stuff but focusing on writing and not performing. And this band can keep me busy and pay some bills. It’s been an evolution. Between my first and second record I knew that [a career as a professional musician] was possible and this was what I wanted to do.

It sounds like post-secondary education seemed like a positive move in your training.

C: Just the level of musicianship was so high and was something to strive for. Hearing that practical side of making a living while playing music. It was really positive.

Even the world of grant writing was important to learn about, which as an independent artist, you really need to know. That was really important because grants funded both my albums. It gives you the power back from “maybe I’ll get discovered someday!” to “I’m going to apply for some grants and I’m going to get the work.”

Motherhood is a new component into your various roles. Do you enjoy the diversity and change each of your roles offer?

C: I knew I wanted to continue to play when I had a baby. Singing and playing is the same as exercise, if you stop you gotta to start from scratch again and you’re out of shape. It’s definitely a juggle that I’m still adjusting to. I’m still trying to do everything I was doing before and obviously there’s this beautiful, human being that I’m taking care of so that takes a large portion of my time. The first year I was putting no pressure on myself. I was enjoying motherhood and performing every couple of weeks. Now I’m starting to find the balance. He’s 1.5 now so it’s a little more structured. I’ll probably be figuring out this juggle for the next while. It’s good, it’s fun!

Do you feel like motherhood has introduced a new perspective to your work?

C: Not so much. The most common question I get asked is: “now that you have had a baby, has this inspired a whole bunch of new songs?” Not yet. Well, like I said, for the first year I didn’t write at all.

I just attended a writing workshop in Nashville last week and I found that when I was focused on it and delving into it, I find that I do have a lot to say and maybe I haven’t realized it. But now it’s all starting to bud.

Do you have general guidelines in your songwriting session?

C: The most important ingredient for me is the inspiration behind the song. There has to be this inexplicable thing when I’m playing my guitar. It could be a lyric or a melody. You either get a feeling or you don’t about it. That is the sacred special piece of the song. What often happens, the way I write, I get that bout of inspiration that comes to me and from there I work outwards from there lyrically and melodically. Sometimes when you’re writing, you can lose the essence of why you’re writing. Sometimes in co-writing or if you go back to the song many times and re-write it, you can lose the essence. Not getting too caught up in, for example, as far as lyrics are concerned, there can be a lot of rules.

But really, there are no rules, because it’s art. In the last five years taking songwriting classes, really focusing on a lyric needing to be a certain way, I find sometimes you can compromise the essence of trying to make it fit into a box. That’s another learning and juggling act to dance around that fine line. I’m really pulling back now and realizing I was focusing too much on framework and structure and sometimes that can take away from the magic of the song. What I found generally speaking is that there are always exceptions to rules. You think, “that song one of my favorite and it doesn’t follow any of those rules.”

Do you have any checks to see if pieces work?

C: Before I used to be: “when a song is done, it’s done!” But now I’m more open to people’s takes and opinions. I want to be making music people enjoy. I’ve been writing a few new songs for the new record and I’ve been doing that playing it for friends or sending voice memos to family. I’ve also been trying them at smaller shows to get some feedback.

What do you enjoy about being a working musician based out of Edmonton?

C: Surprisingly, people think of Alberta of being oil country but we have a phenomenal Arts community. Having toured Canada now and traveled as an independent musician – that was when I realized how great Alberta is. Calgary has six folk clubs, Edmonton has two or three, that’s more than most cities!

The CKUA Radio Network is a huge part of keeping this circuit alive amongst folk independent artists. I find Alberta has been really great. The other is the corporate world. If you are dabbling in both, like I am, it’s really great here. There’s a wealth of Arts funding.

With social media coming into play, there was a time 10 years ago that I did feel the pressure to move to a bigger centre like Toronto, Vancouver, or out of Canada. But now, I feel like it’s not necessary. There’s the internet and you can share your music that way.

What is moving you forward in the next few years?

C: The thing that really drives me is the fulfillment of creativity. That’s why I love songwriting. I hope to continue to have a rich experience of collaborating with people and writing music. Ultimately, I’d like to be playing for larger audiences and touring more.

It is evident that this calm resilience and pursuit of songwriting excellent will continue to fuel Albert’s artistic work into the future.

An Interview with Post Script

Photography by Twila Bakker

On a hot Saturday afternoon at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Edmonton-based band, Post Script, joins me to chat about their first time at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

S: Steph Blais – Vocals and guitar
P: Paul Cournoyer – Vocals and bass
B: Brayden Treble – Vocal and guitar

What is the significance of playing the Edmonton Folk Music Festival for the first time?

S: We started with the in-betweener set and that’s just pushing you right into the middle of the festival. It was really amazing to see everyone on the hill. The hill looks different from the Mainstage.

P: My parents brought me [to EFMF] when I was not even a year old yet. Thursday I was so nervous about going backstage. I’ve never allowed back there! It’s very nice recognition. It’s a lot of family and friends you know watching you so it’s emotional in that way too.

How was Post Script initially formed?

S: It started off with me and Paul. We have been dating for four years and about three years ago my brother said: “You’re both playing music separately, I want you to open for my show and you guys are going to do it as a duo.” And I said, “I don’t know, Justin, we can try it.” We rehearsed a few times and opened up for my brother at the Yellowhead Brewery. Then we started writing more songs and recorded a small three song EP and started growing from there. About a year ago Brayden, started playing with us. Brayden has known Paul for a while from school and once we started playing together it felt more complete. Our goals and ideas of what we wanted to sound like came together once Brayden joined us. Now we are done our full-length album, If Not For You, and are promoting that for sale here this weekend.

Can you describe the process of how your sound began to solidify once Brayden joined Post Script?

S: It was always just me and Paul, which was fine, but we had an idea of make our sound a bit fuller. Brayden adds a lot guitar wise. I’m very simple on guitar and Brayden is one of the best. We’re really a trio where we bring in our own ideas and songs into the project. Now it’s really a collaboration.

P: It builds up the musical palette with bass, guitar, and voices. It glued everything together and filled in the spots we couldn’t do as a duo.

What do your collaborative songwriting sessions look like?

S: It depends. I could have written a song and I might not be sure about it yet but I bring it to rehearsal or I show the lyrics to Paul and I’ll play it for Brayden. They might say: “I hear this” or “change a few of these words.” We try to workshop it together and adjust to the way we want to sound a trio. We all write and bring it together into the project to voice our opinions.

How do you acknowledge your Franco-Albertan roots in the ensemble’s sound?

P: In terms of songwriting, we go with the flow. It’s important for us to recognize the opportunities we have had to develop through French music and mentorship. We want to recognize that those are our roots. It’s a good way to breakdown language barriers. People seem to enjoy it when we play French songs even if they don’t understand; to let them into our universe and to make it more of a shared experience.

When did you realize you had the potential to move forward as a group?

B: They gave me their three song EP and I immediately played it in my car. Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I listened to it. By the first rehearsal, I already knew all the chords. As soon as I started playing with these guys, I thought: “This is it.”

How was the process of recording the album?

P: As we worked on it, it started casually and then the arrangements got fuller. We started in November 2014 and finished it in June 2015. We took a long time to look over the songwriting and arrangements.

S: We’ve matured a lot in the past few years. In terms of songwriting, we have more experience and we’re more comfortable with each other. For the first EP, those were the first songs we had written. We’ve grown a lot through the process too.

B: You can take songs in different directions, even dynamically, that changed a lot.

P: You can rock out a little more.

Are there certain things you consider while songwriting?

P: I personally try to take an approach that there is no wrong answer. I think especially when you’re starting and put it all out. The biggest rule is: try to be honest. Whatever story or concept you’re writing about – you’re committing to it and you’re being truthful.

S: Delivering the message and intention of what you want to say. A lot of our songs on the record are personal. Brayden also brought out our fun side. For me, personally, sad songs are fine, I can write a sad song anytime. Writing a fun song that can make people happy, it’s the hardest things for me to do.

Why do you think that is?

S: I think when I’m happy I want to be out and about. Doing fun things and seeing my friends. I don’t want to be in my room writing a song by myself. But when I’m sad and upset, I want to be in my room writing by myself.

B: Once you have a sad concept, it’s easy to wallow in that. Happiness is harder to hold onto.

Isn’t that an interesting human observation?

All: Yeah!

S: I’m really hoping I can write a happy song after this weekend!

What do you hope your audiences are taking away from your music?

S: The things we are writing about is personal but you can connect to it. When people walk away from our shows and have that moment: “I know exactly what she’s saying. I’ve felt that way before.”

P: I want them to walk away having fun too. To just enjoy watching and being there in the moment.

Is it challenging to be vulnerable in front of audiences?

S: I love that feeling. When I feel like I’m being exposed and people are getting what I’m saying, I get this feeling, it’s an amazing feeling. I feel like I’ve succeeded in transferring the message to the audience.

Is there a particular song that elicits this feeling?

S: Dear Marie and Impossible. We’ve recorded it on our EP and we re-recorded it for our album. It’s one of those songs when you go listen to a song live, and everything is really quiet, and you can’t stop looking at the performer. It’s kind of one of those songs.

What are your future goals for the group moving forward with the new upcoming album release on October 15, 2015?

B: More Folk Fests!

P: Getting out and expanding our reach. We’re very Edmonton based at the moment and haven’t done much touring. We’ve done Grand Prairie and Iceland. We’re hoping to hop across the country at some point.

Are there any dream venues you’d love to play at?

B: Massey Hall.

S: I love the Interstellar Rodeo.

B: Regina Folk Fest. That’s my hometown festival. I grew up going to the Regina Folk Fest. That would be huge to play there and all my family is from Regina.

P: The Dakota Tavern

All: We like Toronto.

Post Script’s album, If Not For You, will be released on October 15, 2015 and is now available for pre-order. Dear Marie is the album’s first single.