Tag Archives: Birds of Chicago

Top Picks from EFMF 2017

Main Stage

Sable: This was the first Folk Fest where I could feel my stamina slipping. Whether it was coming off from a OSHEAGA-packed weekend in Montreal or just general summer lethargy, I had to shake myself awake in the Saturday afternoon heat and will myself to get out of bed on Sunday. However, I was still there for a majority of the festival and I was happy to soak in the tunes and the rays to fuel me for another year.

 

Twila: This year in addition to my Folk on the Road duties, I also volunteered for the Greetings crew. The extra-early starts combined with the late nights of photos etc. definitely took a toll on me—meaning I ended up taking a few serious tarp naps (sometimes when I thought I’d just rest my eyes).

Note: Twila’s sister, Ardelle, took this accompanying pic of Twila passed out with a death grip on her coffee thermos.

Favourite Festival Moment

Twila: Having just mentioned that I took an unintended tarp nap (or two) and the fact that I am still recovering from lack of sleep I’d still have to say that my favourite festival moments all derived from the camaraderie of volunteering. The people I met while volunteering were interesting and all had fantastic tales of folk fests past. Most of my folkie friends have been volunteering for 10+ years, so I have a ways to go before I unlock that level of volunteer achievement, but I think that if they’ll have me that I will be back again next year.

Sable: Folk on the Road has been attending the EFMF for the past years now as media but this year I feel like we really hit our stride in the media tent. I enjoyed saying hello to all the familiar faces and volunteers in the media tent day after day. The volunteers do an amazing job of keeping a quiet and safe place for media to work as well as liaising with artists and their agents to book interviews. I wish I had this crew with me throughout the year to follow-up on e-mails and phone calls. It makes doing FOTR, which is a volunteer and passion driven project as well, so much easier in achieving our goal of sharing the work of fantastic artists.

 

Favourite New Discovery

Sable: For me it’s a close call between Marlon Williams  and Darlingside but I think Darlingside wins out for me this time. I love the cooperative use of the microphone which creates a dreamy, choral sound with the soft strums of their acoustic. They sound like one musical organism when they’re all singing and standing together like that. I hope this is not the last time I see them perform live.

Twila: I was also really delighted by Darlingside’s harmonies, but Ten Strings and a Goat Skin get my vote for my favourite new musical discovery at EFMF 2017. The trio was having such a good time, you couldn’t help but be pulled into the joy in their music making. Also I loved how they slipped between different instrumental sets and songs, with ease. I can hardly wait to see them play again next weekend at the Bear Creek Folk Fest!

 

Favourite Workshop

Twila: STAGE 3, Northern Exposure, Friday August 11, 2017. [Colleen Brown, The Jerry Cans, Dylan Menzie, Altameda]

There is a reason that The Jerry Cans won EFMF’s emerging artist award … musically they make everything better. At this session, they jammed along with everyone, creating a truly beautiful folk fest workshop experience. Just thinking back on how The Jerry Cans fit themselves into this workshop brings a smile to my face.

Sable: STAGE 6, Sing Out, Friday August 11, 2017. [Birds of Chicago, Darlingside, Brandi Carlile, Rhiannon Giddens]

There was a moment of utter vocal duo beauty from Allison Russell from Birds of Chicago and Rhiannon Giddens during that workshop. It was the perfect vocal pairing and they knew it too as they gazes at each other interweaving their melodic and harmonic lines for Barley by Birds of Chicago.

See you next year on the Hill for #EFMF2018!

 

Advertisements

Friday on the Hill

Friday signaled the start of workshop sessions at the 2017 Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

EFMF 2017 Pre-Fest Picks

Edmonton Folk Music Festival is just around the corner and here are our picks of what we can’t wait to hear this festival.

Most Anticipated Artists

Sable: The Unthanks

I find it hard to resist the melodic and harmonic intertwining of treble voices. Their upcoming performances at EFMF is significant because its their only North American stop on their summer festival circuit with their other dates based in England, Scotland, and Finland. While their recent series of folk music symphonic collaborations demonstrate a progressive move to share their art, I am excited to see them in their raw vocal form.

Twila: The Jerry Cans

I’m about 95% sure I ran across The Jerry Cans at a folk fest a few years ago, and seem to remember enjoying what I heard immensely. However, surrounded now with old festival programs I can’t seem to put my finger on where & when exactly that crossing of paths might have taken place. Regardless of my own questionable memory, The Jerry Cans are my pick for most anticipated artist of EFMF 2017 … have you heard their cover of The Hip’s “Ahead by a Century”?

Most Anticipated Workshop

Sable: Talking About My Generation; Saturday, August 12, 11:00 AM – 12:20 PM; STAGE 6

Artists: Altameda, Andy Shauf, Birds of Chicago, Colleen Brown and Major Love

I will be in the mood for some mellow vocals and heavy strums of the acoustic guitar at this Saturday morning session. I find the workshop title alluring since it’s always interesting to consider perspective through a distinct musical voice.




Twila: Ceili; Saturday August 12, 11:00 AM–12:30 PM; STAGE 5

Artists: Duncan Chisholm, Four Men and a Dog, Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, The Paul McKenna Band

On Saturday morning I’m anticipating requiring the high energy infusion that is an EFMF Ceili. Hopefully these talented artists blending, Irish, Scottish & Acadian trad music, will make up for me running on lots of coffee and very little sleep.

 

Old Favourites

Sable: Birds of Chicago

The sweet tunes of Allison Russell and JT Nero last played to a sell-out crowd at New Moon Folk Club. That performance left YEG audiences with a desire for a return visit. I am so excited to listen to their tunes on the hill!

Twila: Solo (De Temps Antan and Le Vent Du Nord)

Combining two amazing Quebec trad bands = essentially one of the greatest ideas yet. It’ll be a powerful kick off to EFMF 2017.

Review: Birds of Chicago & Ryan Boldt at New Moon Folk Club

Intimate, inspiring and, intense are just a few of the things that the Birds of Chicago show at Edmonton’s New Moon Folk Club was to me. The performance was sold out but I never felt overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd. Instead it was as if JT Nero and Allison Russell had invited us into their living room to share some songs, a feeling that began with Ryan Boldt‘s opening set.

Russell and Nero’s approach to life as demonstrated through their music was inspiring. Family and community were at the heart of many of the songs on last night’s two sets. In “Flying Dreams” Nero and Russell shared some hopes for their daughter:

I wish you flying dreams …
I don’t wish you wings …
’Cause if you grow those things, that’s everything
There’s no more dreams
There’s only silence in the night.

While, “Barley (in memory of Isobel Rodger Robertson)” written in memory of Russell’s grandmother was packed with personal resolve:

The wind that shakes the barley will not shake me
The wind that shakes the barley will not shake me
The wind that shakes the barley no it won’t won’t shake me
As my grandma told me this I sew though that I see

The intensity of the show was in part found in the audience’s balance of laughter and tears. In particular Nero had the audience chuckling and relaxing between songs while Russell captivated us with songs like “Kathy” and “Barley“.

To borrow a friend of mine’s words, the evening “was good for the soul.”

If the inclement road conditions kept you from the show last night, you can still get a copy of Birds of Chicago’s latest release, pair it with some wine and keep your eyes on the sky because hopefully these birds will be back with the summer.

————————————————————————–

New Moon Folk Club’s next show is Tom Russell on Nov. 18, 2016 and is expected to sell out so get your tickets early.

Interview and Preview with Birds of Chicago

012-012-dsc_8252-version2

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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.

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.

Top Picks from Mariposa Folk Festival 2014

Mariposa was a blast, but this morning we were back on the road. Headed north then west, on our way to Winnipeg. The seemingly endless trees, lakes and highway gave us lots of time to reminisce and evaluate our own Mariposa’s. The categories and results are in:

 

Wish I Was There

Sable: I had Folk Rock group, the Most Loyal on my schedule but was unable to make it to their sessions. I wanted to check out their combined use of vocals, piano, organ, bass, drums, strings, and electric guitar. Alas, I will have to placate myself with sound samples for now.

Twila: I wanted to see Craig Cardiff‘s concert. I’d heard excellent things about a house concert he  played in Edmonton earlier this year, but being in Wales hadn’t been there myself. I managed to catch a few tunes of his at the ‘Songwriting Basics’ workshop was left wanting more and wishing I had been able to hear the concert on Saturday.

New Discovery

Sable: Elephant Revival gave a rousing Maintage performance on Saturday night. There was a strong sense of ensemble between all the players and I enjoyed how different members came to the forefront to have vocals or instrumental solos throughout their set. It emphasized the strength of each individual player and there was no one particular Artist at the forefront. Their collective musical jams were powerful and trance-inducing.

Twila: Ennis. I Caught their performances as a by-product of them being grouped with some known-to-me quantities, so when I started waxing poetically about Ennis to some friends over the internet, I got a chorus of ‘HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW ENNIS?’ and ‘YEAH THEY ARE AWESOME’. Both true statements. The blended quality of the sister’s voices and their enormous stage presence captivated myself and those around me too. Better still was their ability to tell us (the audience) stories that became part of our own stories.

Favorite Workshop

Sable: Saturday morning with Birds of Chicago, Aviva, and The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer was the perfect way to start a chill day. The groups were getting used to the collaborative workshop segment but the Birds of Chicago did a great job of building a musical foundation for improvization to occur. Numerous bending harmonia solos from the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer and soaring melodic lines from Aviva complimented the musical genesis on stage.

Twila: Saturday afternoon at the Estelle Klein Stage ‘The Gordon Lightfoot Songbook’. Magoo, Tim ChaissonJD Edwards and Dala were joined by the man himself. The group on stage was a huge ball of nerves and excitement (for reasons only revealed when Gordon Lightfoot graced the stage after a few tunes had been sung). It was great hearing different interpretations of this iconic songwriter and then hearing Lightfoot sing too, well it was really the cherry on top. The playlist for today’s drive was updated to include many more Lightfoot songs…