Category Archives: Preview

Interview Preview with The Wardens

Scott Ward of The Wardens took some time to chat with Folk on the Road prior to the group’s upcoming concert at the Horizon Stage. The trio of park wardens/musicians (Ray Schmidt, Bradley Bischoff and Ward) have been described as humbly telling homespun stories, and are based in the Canadian Rockies of Banff National Park.

Did you start out with the intention of making warden stories known through song?

Yes, we started at the national gathering of park wardens in 2009 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the park wardens service—we wrote some songs to perform there. We kept going after that and have branched out from that into mountain culture songs.

How do you do go about researching the stories that become The Wardens songs? Or are they from first hand accounts?

Most songs are from first hand experience and a few such as Bill Neish [“The Ballad of Bill Neish”] are based on research.

Some of the characters in The Wardens’ songs are really interesting — where did you find the characters that are woven into your songs like “War(den) Bride” or “The Ballad of Bill Neish”?

These characters are historical persons affiliated with the National Park Warden Service. Dorothy [featured in “War(den) Bride”] is a friend of Scott’s—he worked with her husband Ed during the first ten years of his career. Bill Neish was a warden from the ’30s. Lots of colorful characters to choose from in the Canadian Rockies.

Who writes the music and lyrics? Is it a collaborative process?

We each write our own songs, bring them to the group, and work on the arrangements together. Whoever is singing the song is the one who originally wrote it.

Where do you draw musical inspiration?

All three of us as singer/songwriters have different influences. Both Brad and I are big Tom Russell and Ian Tyson fans. As well I am influenced by Gordon Lightfoot, John Prine, Bob Dylan and a host of other “folkies”. Ray loves bluegrass. We all like folk/rock.

How did you gain your instrumental ability? And how did you maintain it while in the backcountry?

We have all played since we were kids. I had one guitar stashed for the summer in one of my backcountry patrol cabins—but my district had 13 cabins and 2000 square kilometers of area so I didn’t get to it all that often! We always performed or jammed at parties in the bygone days.

Are there any similarities between being a National Park Warden and performing in a band?

Similarities—both require hard work and team effort!

What is your favourite part of performing?

My favourite part of performing is meeting great folks from all over western Canada and hearing some of their stories and connections with people we know at the end of the show and often staying with hosts.

What is your most memorable warden story?

So many gripping stories—some that can’t be told and others told in song. This is what sets us apart—very real and gripping stories between the songs that lead up to a song. Mountain rescue, bears, lonely horse patrols for weeks at a time, working with wildlife.

What are The Wardens’ future plans?

We just finished our third album and it’s now in Toronto for printing—it’s definitely our best effort to date—recorded at Leeroy Stagger’s Rebeltone ranch in Lethbridge with four months of pre-production working closely with Vicki Ambinder a producer and performance coach from Oregon. It has 11 new songs and a new version of our classic “Ya Ha Tinda Bound”. We are headed to the International Folk Alliance in Kansas city as a part of Team Alberta in mid February. We plan to take this little band as far as we can!

Is there anything else you’d like to mention that we haven’t asked?

We are having great fun with this project now in its 8th year and are grateful to be playing fantastic venues such as the Horizon Theatre.

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The Wardens are playing an afternoon show at Spruce Grove’s Horizon Stage on February 9th, for more information or tickets please see the Horizon Stage’s website.

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Interview Preview with Catherine MacLellan

Photo cred: Jule Malet-Veale
Photo cred: Jule Malet-Veale

Catherine MacLellan takes some time to chat with Folk on the Road prior to her upcoming concert at the New Moon Folk Club.

Coming from PEI, an island that has a small town feel, how does the warmth of this community emerge in your music?

Prince Edward Island is an amazing place to grow up, no matter what your interests are, but as a writer or an artist, it is so engaging and encouraging you can’t help but create. There is music everywhere, in every home, every bar and nook and cranny.
As a musician here, there isn’t the sense of competition there might be in larger urban centres, we are a very close knit community.
But what also makes this a perfect place to create is the quiet, the solitude. I live in the country and am inspired by the life around me, whether it is the animals in my yard, the wild ocean churning or the leaves or snow falling to the ground. There is a lot of time for me to contemplate and to turn the world around me into song.

Your Father, Gene MacLellan, was a songwriter while you were growing up before he passed away when you were 14. Are there any memories of his songwriting process or lifestyle that stood out to you as a child?

I will never forget the image of my father sitting in the living room with book and pen and guitar, always at work, always editing and creating. He would never take the easy way out with his music, he worked every line until it rolled off the tongue perfectly.
Sometimes, I would wake in the middle of the night and go downstairs to find my dad in the kitchen, at the table, working on music. I think those quiet moments were his most productive times. When the whole world is asleep, there is a sort of quiet magic or inspiration.

You manage multiple roles, such as being a singer songwriter as well as a mother, do you find multiple roles informs your perspective while performing in either domain?
My writing certainly changed after becoming a mother. There is a certain shift in perspective that happens when you give birth, a very abrupt awakening to the realization that the world and all the people in it are multifaceted, many layered, and all someone’s child.
Perhaps it’s just a growing up, maturing thing as well – you realize that not everything is about you. It has allowed me to look into other people’s stories and wonder about what’s going on in their heads, which became a whole new source of inspiration.

You have mentioned in previous interviews that songs may be subconsciously percolating in your mind while you are creating quiet moments for yourself, such as through gardening. How do you create a meditative atmosphere for yourself in order to channel the creative flow of your thoughts?

I’m not sure it’s something that can be planned, but it is a common phenomenon. If you think too hard about something, you’ll never find the answer. But if you take a break and do something mundane or meditative the answer or the idea may come to you out of the blue. I meditate every day, which helps keep my mind clear and present. Other than that, I try to give myself over to my hobbies like gardening or this time of year it may be knitting or sewing. I’m a maker, it turns out. I like to plant a seed and see how it grows.

Is there anything else you would like to mention that I’ve missed?

I feel very grateful that I get to play music for a living… I think everyone needs some sort of creative outlet and I feel fortunate that mine is also my job.

Catherine MacLellan performs at New Moon Folk Club on Friday, February 3, 2017.

Interview Preview with New North Collective

 

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Spoken word Artists and Bassist, Pat Braden, from the New North Collective takes some time to speak with Folk on the Road while on are on tour.

What is the significance for you to live a traditional lifestyle but translate this for contemporary audiences?

In our understanding of a traditional lifestyle, we see ourselves as contemporary northern artists. We connect to traditions in our individual lives through language, community, our teachers and elders and living like most northerners do by connecting daily to the land. We interpret our northern lifestyle through our music, acknowledging and paying respect to the traditional cultures that have formed and influenced us. These traditional values as well as our own stories and experiences of living in today’s modern world are all subjects that we write about in the NNC.

Do you have any specific memories of living in the North that was formative in you becoming an Artist?

Pat:  My Mother played organ in the church for as long as I can remember and my brothers would bring home LP records and Rolling Stone magazines which I consumed voraciously. As a boy in the mid 1960s, I had the opportunity to hear a few of the local musicians playing around town. In the basement of the Legion one Christmas, I was able to catch a glimpse of a guitar player on the stage and thought that was the coolest thing I had ever seen. Later on, I got to know that guitar player and after I started to play music in Yellowknife, many of the other musicians as well who played music through the 1960s and 1970s.

What does a collaborative session with the other Artists look like when you are rehearsing?

Our rehearsals or writing sessions have taken place in recording studios, performance spaces and in one of our sessions, in Burwash Landing in Kluane Park, YT at Diyet and Robert’s home where we were quite rudely interrupted by a visiting grizzly bear.
We set up our instruments and amplifiers in a circular or semicircular arrangement and jam and pitch ideas back and forth until we have the structure of a song. There are usually band member’s children around our sessions as the work/life balance can be demanding for all of us. This also helps to keep our work real with family close by. Meal times and downtimes are also an important part of our process as we take these times to reflect and discuss the work of the day.

New North Collective – First Sign of Spring from Brett Elliot on Vimeo.

It has been mentioned that there is a common goal in NNC to discard the stereotypes of the North, instead, what image do you wish to leave audiences with instead?

We hope that an audience will leave with a sense of having been invited into our lives and welcomed into our community. Leaving our concert with a small sense of freedom and leaving whatever assumptions of the north that came in the door of north behind. Maybe a spark for an adventure and desire to learn more about this incredible, diverse and humble part of the country.

Members of the NNC are passionate about a wide range of musical styles, including folk, rock, jazz, improvisation, classical, singer-songwriter, storytelling, etc. and we bring them together in the Collective.

What is the personal significance for you to be a part of the NNC?

Pat: It is important to be a part of a group of northern based musicians who have similar values, lifestyles, life experience that we all wish to express in our music. It is also significant in that this is based on first and foremost, the creation and performance of collective / collaborative created music. Each of us have our own solo careers but the NNC gives us a chance to contribute new ideas to a collective process and to gather new ideas for our own personal creative works.

New North Collective will be performing at the Arden Theatre on Saturday January 28, 2017.

St. John’s Waltz – A Ron Hynes Tribute at Northern Lights Folk Club

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Northern Lights Folk Club is hosting a Ron Hynes tribute with musicians, Maria Dunn, Eileen Laverty, Saskatchewan’s Tom Wilson, Bill Werthmann, Ben Sures and Shantel Koenig sharing their voices to honor his tunes.

Singer-Songwriter, Maria Dunn, had time to speak with FOTR in anticipation of the upcoming performance at NLFC.

What is the significance for you as a singer/songwriter to pay tribute to Ron Hynes?

Ron Hynes was a profoundly gifted songwriter who wrote so eloquently about Newfoundland and its people, bringing that part of our country to life in his songs.
His songs made a huge impact, in Newfoundland, across Canada and beyond. Sonny’s Dream is sung by people everywhere and was recorded by artists as varied as country star Emmylou Harris and Scottish folk singer Hamish Imlach.

As a songwriter who wants to improve my craft all the time, I admire Ron’s ability with words, story, melody, point of view. His catalogue of moving and memorable songs is huge.

Do you have any specific musical memories of Ron Hynes tunes from your childhood?

I didn’t know Ron’s music as a child, but became aware of his songs in my 20s, when I was a volunteer DJ with a weekly folk/roots show on CJSR FM88, University of Alberta Campus/Community Radio in Edmonton. In fact, Hamish Imlach’s version of Sonny’s Dream might have been one of the first that I heard in the late 1980s.

By the time I met Ron Hynes in person, at the 1999 Vancouver Island Folk Festival, I was sufficiently in awe of his abilities as a writer and not very articulate about how much I admired his songwriting. He was kind to me in that first meeting and encouraging in many other meetings over the years at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the Northern Lights Folk Club (Edmonton) and The Ship Inn in St. John’s, NL.

Around that same time, I heard a CBC Radio live recording with Ron singing a song of his that I hadn’t heard before. I rushed to record it on cassette and caught about half the song. It was called “Dublin With Love”. In those years, I still drove a Firefly hatchback with a cassette deck as part of the car stereo and for several weeks, every time I was driving in that car, I would play that half-a-song and harmonize with Ron, I loved his singing of that melody that much. Lo and behold, the Edmonton Folk Festival rolled around a summer or two later and Terry Wickham gave me the wonderful opportunity of performing on a session stage with several Atlantic Canadian music icons, including Ron Hynes and Cape Breton Fiddler Buddy McMaster. Of all the songs that “The Man of a Thousand Songs” could have chosen to sing in that session, he started Dublin With Love. When I chimed in with the harmony that I had been singing for weeks in my car, he raised his eyebrows and gave me a sidelong glance which seemed encouraging at the time (as opposed to a “stop-that-racket!” glare). The experience was one of those little dreams come true, getting to sing along with one of my songwriting heroes! I must have done OK, because he invited me back to sing harmony with him at his folk fest concert the next afternoon.

What are you most looking forward to at the Ron Hynes tribute?

Hearing Eileen Laverty sing my favourite Ron Hynes song, Godspeed, written for the late songwriter Gene MacLellan (writer of Anne Murray’s hit song “Snowbird”) and brilliantly referencing Gene’s own song “Put Your Hand In The Hand Of The Man”. Ron had huge respect for Gene’s songwriting talent and his compassion in this song for Gene (who had taken his own life) rings through every line. Godspeed always moves me to tears and Eileen is a beautiful interpreter of songs. She will do a gorgeous job, I’m sure!

What current projects are you currently focused on in your own repertoire?

I am currently promoting and touring the new album, released in April 2016, entitled Gathering.

I’m thrilled that Gathering has received some accolades recently:

(1) Winner – 2016 Independent Music Award – Social Action Song category for the song “Malala”
(2) Shortlisted for the 2016 Edmonton Music Prize

In the months ahead:

I’ll be heading to Folk Alliance 2017 in February. I’ve been selected to perform an Official Showcase.
March 2017, I’ll be performing 4 special Triple Bill concerts in NY State with two US songwriters Si Kahn (legendary songwriter of “Aragon Mill”) and Joe Jencks.
Sep 2017, I’ll be heading back to the UK for another month-long tour of folk clubs.
And more dates to come in Summer 2017.
All shows will be posted on the website at: http://www.mariadunn.com
Folks interested in my music can subscribe to my e-mailing list there too, listen to lots of song samples and purchase the music.

Newfoundland has a rich history of folk music but you have documented many tales in Alberta which you have shared through song, what kind of stories inspire you to communicate them?

Stories of resilience and grace in the face of adversity.
Stories of courage and compassion.
Stories of so-called “ordinary” people doing extraordinary things.
Stories of people standing up to injustice.

The most recent CD, Gathering, is devoted to celebrating those kinds of stories with songs of family, community, humanity and the love that fires our actions to make the world a better place. In keeping with Pete Seeger’s words (1994), “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known”, the songs range from historical and narrative to personal and immediate, inspired by social justice stories both global (Malala, When The Grandmothers Meet) and local (When I Was Young, How I Live).

Stories from our history that I think more people should know about, for e.g:
When I Was Young – inspired by the 1980s-90s work of indigenous rights activist Dorothy McDonald-Hyde for her community, the Fort McKay First Nation.

We Were Good People – tells the story of the 1932 Hunger March in Edmonton

In the Shadow of the Rockies – about Ukrainian Canadians forced into the Castle Mountain internment camp (Banff National Park) in WWI
I Cannot Tell You – the story of a Vietnamese refugee coming to Canada in the late 70s

The Ron Hynes tribute is Saturday, November 26, 2016. Please see the NLFC Website for more ticket information. Upcoming acts at the NLFC include Rosie and the Riveters and Jim and Penny Malmberg,

Interview Preview: Jayme Stone at the Arden Theatre

Jayme Stone graciously managed to spare a few moments for FOTR during his busy tour to answer some questions about his Lomax Project, an album which encapsulates the folk process in action!

As a banjo-player well versed in the history of the instrument it seems reasonable that you would be familiar with Alan Lomax’s work in a general sense, yet the tunes selected for Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project demonstrate a deep knowledge of and engagement with the breadth of Lomax’s work. How did you get started utilizing Lomax’s recordings as material for shows (and ultimately a recording)?

I started listening to field recordings 22 years ago when I took up the banjo. Lomax’s recordings have been a touchstone for a long while but it was reading John’s Swzed’s riveting biography, “Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World,” that really instigated the project. I started listening voraciously and the book brought the stories behind the songs to life.

For Africa to Appalachia you made your own field recordings (like Lomax did) do you feel a responsibility to contribute to the collecting aspect of Lomax’s legacy?

I made recordings when I travelled to Mali in 2008. I was interested in instruments that predated the banjo, like the n’goni, and there were few commercial recordings available. I wanted to document the people I was meeting and capture the sound of these instruments in their natural environment. I’ve never released them—they were purely for my own learning process.

In the late 1990s Wilco and Billy Bragg set unheard Woody Guthrie lyrics with the Mermaid Avenue albums, and more recently The New Basement Tapes have set some of Bob Dylan’s. Your Lomax Project on the other hand takes whole songs and reimagines them; do you feel that there is a similarity between the three projects?

Conceptually, I suppose there’s some similarity. That said, those other projects were about crafting new songs around old lyrics. We didn’t do much of that. We kept original melodies (for the most part) and focused on creating new arrangements and reimagining how these songs could be heard. I’ve heard a couple tracks from Mermaid Avenue but not the Basement Tapes so neither were an influence.

How have audiences responded to the recording and tour? Have you found that people are going back to the “original” recordings of Lomax and becoming more familiar with the cultural history that he archived?

People are moved by the songs and stories behind them. The chemistry of the musicians I’ve brought together is always powerful. It feels like a community gathering and that energy is contagious. Some people certainly go back to original recordings and we encourage that. I wrote 6000 words of liner notes for the album and share all the details so folks can trace the provenance of the songs.

One of the tunes, track ten “Now Your Man Done Gone” isn’t actually based on a Lomax recording, but a recording made by Harold Courlander — do you see the Lomax Project as a way of engaging your audience with the vast recorded repertoire held at archives such at the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) and the Library of Congress (LOC)?

Yes and in fact, my forthcoming album, Jayme Stone’s Folklife, branches out to the larger Archive of Folk Culture at the LOC and the Smithsonian Folkways collection. It’s been great to focus on the Lomax archive exclusively, but there are many other fantastic collections and folklorists doing similar work and it’s time to branch out.

In a 2015 interview with Brianna Goldberg of the Toronto Star you noted that “It’s like each style of American music is a different recipe of European- and African-American influence.” Following this analogy are there any specialty (music) dishes in the Lomax recordings that you have discovered a particular taste for?

I adore the Caribbean recordings and always come back around to the vast repertoire of shouts and spirituals from the Georgia Sea Islands. 

Accompanying the Lomax Project are extensive liner notes. Do you think the providence of a tune is important for the audience? The performer?

Having a connection to a song’s history helps me foster a deeper connection to the music. It’s also balances out the fact that we often take the songs in a decidedly more modern direction. I feel better branching out when I know the roots. Plus, I’m simply fascinated by the rich history of this music!

In his preface to Folk Song U.S.A.†, Alan Lomax said:

“If these songs had composers at first, they have largely been forgotten, and rightly so, since folk composers are adapters of old material rather than creators of original set pieces. The folk ballad-maker prefers to change an old song slightly to fit a new situation, making use of a tried tune and a well-loved plot formula and thus assuring himself of the favor of his audience. Every singer may then make his own emendations, to be accepted and passed on or rejected and forgotten by his audiences. So the mass of a people participate in folk song’s growth, forever reweaving old materials to create new versions, much as an old lady creates a new quilt out of an old by adding, year by year, new scraps and patches.” (viii)

Do you feel that the Lomax Project is partaking in the tradition that Lomax describes here?

Absolutely! This is the folk process in action.

So in a sense you’re making a new musical quilt? 

I believe so.

Do you plan on continuing the Lomax Project with more recordings?

Jayme Stone’s Folklife will be out in March on Borealis Records.

Is there anything else we didn’t ask that you’d like to say?

Thank you!

 

Folk Song U.S.A. is an 111 song collection published in 1947, collected and adapted by John A. Lomax & Alan Lomax including musical arrangements by Charles & Ruth Seeger.

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Some of the source recordings (available online) for & about tunes included on the Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project album:

1 Lazy John
[from Lomax’s commercial album Raise a Ruckus]
2 Before This Time Another Year
3 Shenandoah
4 Goodbye Old Paint
5 Sheep Sheep Dont’cha Know the Road
6 I Want to Hear Somebody Pray
7 T-I-M-O-T-H-Y
8 Hog Went Through the Fence Yoke and All
9 What is the Soul of Man
10 Now Your Man Done Gone
[from Folkways album Negro Folk Music of Alabama]
11 The Devil’s Nine Questions
12 Bury Boula For Me
13 Julie and Joe
14 Susan Anna Gal
15 Maids When You’re Young
16 Prayer Wheel
17 Old Christmas
18 Whoa, Back Buck
[recorded several times, JS recommends the Golden Gate Quartet version]
19 Lambs on the Green Hills

Many of these tracks have introductory segments and feature multiple takes, these are just a few of examples. Take some time to explore the Lomax tapes that inspired Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project!

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Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project is coming to St. Albert’s Arden Theatre November 12, 2016. For more information on tickets and The Arden Theatre’s Professional Musical Series, please visit their website.

Interview Preview: Fortunate Ones at the Arden Theatre

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Andrew O’Brien from Fortunate Ones had some time to chat with FOTR.

How has your tour been going so far?

The tour has been fantastic. Too often stops in Saskatchewan only include Regina and Saskatoon. It has been a real education, getting to see and experience smaller towns in the province. Saskatchewan is an exceptionally beautiful place and the people we’ve met have been so welcoming and kind. We’ve also been setting up/mixing and tearing down our own sound system each night. Historically, we’ve been spoiled by having sound people and equipment provided so at first we were a little hesitant about the the time and effort it was going to take to do it all ourselves but it has been surprisingly rewarding and we’ve gotten it down to a science!

You’ve previously mentioned that the more your tour Canada the more it feels like a unified country instead of being from Eastern Canada or Western Canada, why do you think that is?

The music of this country is so diverse but it is that diversity that binds us and brings us together. We run into fellow musicians and friends as we travel from coast to coast and we see ourselves in them. We’re all out here trying to make a living at doing what we love. Rather than feeling a sense of division or competition we have come to see that there is an empowering community of like-minded artists in this country. This sense of community has been the greatest takeaway from this career. It really doesn’t matter if you’re making music in Vancouver, Saskatoon or St. John’s, we’re all trying to achieve the same goals.

There is such a strong folk music culture from your home province of Newfoundland. What do you think it is about NFLD that produces such accomplished musicians?

As Newfoundlanders we are fiercely proud and protective of our cultural heritage. We come from a culture of storytellers and singers. This sense of entertainment is almost certainly rooted in the geographical isolation of living on an island. When people started to settle in Newfoundland they brought with them oral and musical traditions from Ireland, England, Scotland, France and other regions and over time this melting pot of cultural styles has morphed into a patchwork that we think of as traditional Newfoundland music. The wonderful thing, now in Newfoundland, is that “folk music” is not solely recognized by the traditional instruments that have come to define it, rather it is a multi-genre art form that has grown exponentially over the last number of decades. It’s either that or there’s something in the water.

In the initial stages, you both were musicians in larger bands, do these larger collaborative interests still exist for you as Artists or do you find more drawn to the duo work in Fortunate Ones?

The urge to collaborate is always there and I think that is partly due to the fact that we have surrounded ourselves with such talented and inspiring people. We love what we do as Fortunate Ones but are definitely excited to expand on our sound and performances. We are looking forward to see where our next album will take that journey and will most definitely be calling on our friends to help us in that exploration.

How do you continue to challenge yourself as Artists and stay accountable to one another in your artistic vision?

We write and perform music to express ourselves and to connect with people. That connection is a powerful thing and strengthening that bond is always the goal. We always try to create work that comes from a meaningful and honest place. If we don’t hold ourselves up to a creative standard and level of honesty in the work it would be difficult to get behind the music. If we can’t stand behind our work then our fans won’t either.

Previously, you have mentioned that time is a present theme in your music, do you find that communicating through the medium of music helps to make a transient thing like time feel more permanent by capturing the moment in music?

We’ve written many songs about time, it’s passing and it’s effect. I’ve yet to come to comfortable terms with it and I suspect my trepidation surrounding it will continue to be a central theme in our creation. I can’t think of anything specifically that feels as though it has a true sense of permanence. All good and bad things fade with time. There is a joyful sorrow in moments as they pass. It’s really quite beautiful and serene to know how utterly minuscule we all are.

Is there something you would like to mention that I have not asked?

We have a Christmas EP called All Will Be Well coming out this Friday, November 4.  All details can be found at www.fortunateones.ca.

Fortunate Ones performs at the Arden Theatre Friday November 4, 2016. For more information on tickets and The Arden Theatre’s Professional Musical Series, please visit their website. Some upcoming Artists include: Aoife O’Donovan, Jayme Stone’s Lorax Project, David Myles, and The McDades.

Fun Fact: The last time Folk on the Road saw Forunate Ones was at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Interview and Preview with Birds of Chicago

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The New Moon Folk Club prepares to welcome Birds of Chicago, comprised of Allison Russell and JT Nero, who will be performing this Friday.  This is Birds of Chicago first Canadian tour and Edmonton audiences will be delighted by their soul, gospel, and folk inspired tunes that conjure images of sultry summer heat. JT Nero, takes some time to chat with Folk on the Road before the show.

How has the tour been going so far?

Great.  The rooms have been full of humans, folks have been spoiling us … there are homecomings at a lot of these stops for Alli, who has family scattered across the country — and, of course, I made this trek a fair few times with Po Girl.

How do you feel audiences have been receiving Real Midnight since its release in February?

I feel like it’s been hitting em them in the sweet spot we hoped it would. It’s a cathartic bunch of songs for us, and it seems as though a lot of folks are needing to wring themselves out in a similar way.

 

You’ve discussed the transformative and healing power of music, could you share a moment in which this was true for you?

There are lots of instances in which people will let us know that a lyric or a song has helped them through a particularly rough patch, and nothing in the world makes us happier than that… but as far as personal healing, it’s literally a daily thing – sort of a small and abiding miracle: you can feel miserable, sing a song about feeling miserable, and come out feeling LESS MISERABLE. Where else can I get that kind of trusty magic? Nowhere. Not that you feel miserable every day. But that you can transport through song — get yourself to a different place.. that’s the thing.

JT, you’re identified as the main writer for Birds of Chicago and Allison as the song interpreter – what does this collaborative process look like when you are beginning to work through a song for the first time together?

I play her a new song I’ve written for her … while she’s listening to it for the first time, I’ll hit pause every few seconds and say “do you like it? Do you love it?? You hate it, don’t you!!? I KNOW YOU HATE IT!!”
Uh, seriously, I try to skeleton a melody for her and a phrasing — but I am careful not to box her in too much, since she is such a masterful phraser and can do so much more with her vocal instrument than I can… I make sure to leave as much room for take it where it needs to go.

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Folk on the Road first saw you perform at Mariposa Folk Festival in 2014. At that time you had a little one with you on the road, has touring with the family changed at all in recent years?

Our babe is not a babe anymore – she’s a toddler with the disposition of a grizzled rocker. In all seriousness, she’s 3 months shy of her 3rd birthday, which I am fairly certain is a challenging stretch for all parents (right?) and it’s no different for us on the road. She’s a wonder of a human, with endless energy, and we have to make sure we are building park and library stops and such into our schedule. It actually makes for healthier touring all around

Any concluding thoughts you would like to mention?

This is our first proper Canadian tour, and we are so jazzed by the response. We are going to get back in the studio in January, then hopefully make it back to Canada in the summer for some fests.

 

The performance is Friday, October 14. The performance is sold-out. There will be no tickets at the door.

This preview is co-written by Sable and Twila.

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