Tag Archives: David Myles

Review: David Myles It’s Christmas at The Arden

To say that the Christmas season is a time of year that David Myles really gets into is probably a bit of an understatement — his website for the month of December features an Advent Calendar, with different videos, songs and even some colouring pages! And while Santa might not have brought him a banjo, with a guitar Myles packed St. Albert’s Arden Theatre for his It’s Christmas show.dsc_0602

In his signature suit, flanked by Kyle Cunjak and Alan Jeffries, Myles spun stories of Christmases past in between classics such as “White Christmas” and “Sleigh Ride”. Myles’ family, including a rather precocious four year old, featured heavily in the stories. Last week Myles’ daughter’s playschool class was the test audience before he played two shows with the Halifax Symphony. The kids, so the story goes, didn’t want to hear any “sleepy songs” like “Star of Hope” and instead demanded repeats of “Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo” … which is decidedly NOT a sleepy song.

It was one of those rare shows that you left with a sore face because you spent two plus hours with a massive grin on your face. Myles kept us in stitches, reliving in great detail a Christmas morning when his brother Sean focused on his new GT Snow Racer missed (or rather didn’t miss) the present left behind by the family dog Ginger.

dsc_0603From cajoling to carolling, audience participation was natural. Beginning with level one participation: imagining ourselves on a beach for “Simple Pleasures” off of Myles 2011 album Into the Sun, to full involvement for an acoustic encore that brought Myles, along with Jeffries and Cunjak, in front of the microphones for what felt like a spontaneous collective version of “Silent Night” at the concert’s close.

Myles made a point of mentioning that Christmas albums can come back to haunt performers (yearly, in fact) and if they didn’t REALLY like a song, in the long run it would be not good for them. He spoke about selecting the songs for the album, apparently his daughter is a fan of Nat King Cole’s voice, his mother-in-law was able to point him to a French song to include (“Have you listened to Céline Dion?”), and how a bluegrass version of most any Christmas song but especially Meaghan Smith’s “It Snowed” (non-bluegrass original here) is his default.

Based on the reactions of those around me I doubt that I am alone in hoping that It’s Christmas haunts Myles for many years to come. Like the playschool friends of Myles’ daughter I’ve got “Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo” on repeat, and I will be heading back to Myles’ website every day from now until Christmas to see what fresh treat awaits me in the It’s Christmas Advent Calendar.

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The Arden Theatre’s Professional Series musical offerings continue with The McDades on December 16 & 17, for more information please see their site.

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Interview Preview: Fortunate Ones at the Arden Theatre

fortunate-ones

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.

100 Mile House

During 100 Mile House‘s packed Saturday afternoon at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Peter Stone and Denise MacKay, settle down to chat, glowing with enthusiasm and showing minimal signs of fatigue. They are playing their hometown festival as hometown musicians. As a result, the dichotomy of domesticity and art is interesting. “We’re staying at home. So we woke up this morning and thought, ‘we’re playing Folk Fest today!’ And then we’re feeding the cat and washing dishes,” says MacKay before Pete adds, “it’s weird because when we normally do folk festivals like this you’re immersed and your whole weekend is just based around the festival.” However, balancing dual roles did not affect their performances throughout the weekend. There was a momentary glimpse of warm sunshine on a rainy and chill Friday evening during their piece, Better, Still during the Hereos workshop session with Elephant Revival, John Mann, and Gregory Alan Isakov.

While 100 Mile House began in Stone’s hometown of London, it was really the community that lured them back to MacKay’s hometown of Edmonton. “We’ve felt really welcome to come back and play to a room full of people who just listen. That was something that was pretty shocking after playing so many pubs in London where we never really had much of a captive audience,” says MacKay. Stone also mentions that there is a sense of competition amongst the London music scene: “A lot of time people to move to the big cities to get their big break. When we were in a London all we wanted to do was make music and meet people. Everybody was just waiting for their big moment.” Stone and MacKay have been back in Edmonton for the last five and a half years and they humbly attribute their success to the support from the community. “The only reason we are where are is because we have the support of the community around us. The reason we’re playing the Edmonton Folk Fest is the support of the fans that have got us here, ” MacKay says before Stone summarizes with a smirk, “it takes a community to raise a musician.”

The sense of homeland and identity is pervasive in 100 Mile House’s two albums of Hollow Ponds (2011) and Wait with Me (2013). Even though they are now more settled into Edmonton, MacKay notes “that sense of home and what means” is an influential aspect of their work. In discussing their duo songwriting approach, they note that there are multiple entry points.  “Every song has a different life to it,” states Stone, “the second last song we did on our set today, we’ve never practiced it. I just started playing it and Denise started singing. Every song is different. I don’t know where they come from. It’s a little terrifying. It sounds a bit wanky,” he states making fun of himself in that hallmark self-deprecating Brit humor. MacKay chimes in at this point to support Stone’s statement: “Sometimes he’ll just write an entire song on the bus. It’ll just be in his head. Whereas, when I write, I can’t write a song without an instrument in front of me.” Stone wishes he had more control over his inspirational flow. “I wish I could turn it off. Like there was a dial to turn it down and turn it up when I want to use it,” he says before MacKay adds, “sometimes it comes really quickly, all at once. And sometimes you take your time with it. There is no right or wrong way.” Oftentimes the songwriting process consists of Stone getting a musical idea and then his first test round is playing it to MacKay. “It’s part of the process. I get excited to play her the song. I’m excited for her to come home to play it to her. If I didn’t, all I have are cats,” he says, jokingly alluding to a life as a male spinster. If MacKay deems the song to be a keeper, they play the song live to see if it gets a reaction.

The origins of 100 Mile House have the characteristics of a good folk love story since they sang together before they even spoke. MacKay was touring an EP she had produced as a solo singer/songwriter and saw an advertisement for an open mic night at a Toronto cafe. Unbeknownst to her, when she arrived at the cafe, guitar in hand, Stone was already playing.  “Pete was on stage and he kinda looked at me funny. When he finished his song, he said, ‘oh, they totally said it was an open stage but it’s not,'” she says. “But I let her play anyway,” he states with a comedic lightness demonstrating his generosity. After performing a cover of Damien Rice’s Volcano together, Stone happily let her play for most of the night. “She was better than me and my friend. We were rubbish,” he says with a gentle smile. At this point in the interview, Stone realized that he never officially proposed to MacKay if they should be in a group together. “We always just did it. There was no question in it,” he says with a sense of clarity and confidence. “Denise is my muse,” says Stone. MacKay notes that he didn’t really write a lot of songs when they met, he just played mostly covers. “There was one song that was mine,” Stone reveals, “but I didn’t tell anybody it was mine. And played it as a cover. I hated it.” Their budding musical as well as personal relationship was complementary in every sense. MacKay reveals: “I never really liked being a solo singer/songwriter. I love singing harmonies and being up on stage by myself is terrifying. So I’m glad that worked out. So now I always have someone with me,” she says looking at Stone with a glance that would melt any romantics heart.

In moving forward as a group, they are booking shows into 2016 and details for a future album release are percolating in their minds. While there is a lot of hard work behind-the-scenes to keep the flow of musical work, Stone notes it’s important to “enjoy the fun bits!” when it comes to soaking in the experiences of the festival weekend. “Sometimes it’s overwhelming but just to remember how great it is to be here. To have fun and not let the nerves get the best of you. A lot of artists that we really admire and love and to be on the same stage as them, it can be pretty crazy,” says MacKay.

In terms of providing teaser details for a future album release. Stone notes that he likes the concept of a prevailing sense of hope in a future album. The melancholy tone on Wait with Me (2013) was influenced by the hurdles they faced together as a couple; however, they both note it is easier when there is companionship in overcoming those obstacles. “It’s pretty much impossible to keep your person out of your songwriting. And I think the one thing that I think about is sometimes there are songs that are really personal, as somebody listening to our music, they’re not listening to us as people, they’re listening to how that song relates to them. That’s really comforting when somebody is listening to our music and they are hopefully finding themselves relating to the song or pieces of themselves in that song. Something that they can hold onto and make them feel like they’re not alone,” says MacKay about her aspirations for their music to connect with other. Stone notes that they have received personal e-mails where people have shared how their music have gotten them through difficult times. “If we that’s what we can offer people, if that’s our job, then that’s a great job,” says MacKay. At this point, Stone takes a reflective moment to reveal another perspective. “I just think of growing up. People constantly find comfort, that’s what I do. If that’s what we can do for other people, then, it’s like pretty much a dream come true,” he states with a quiet wisdom.

Until then, 100 Mile House, united in love and music, continue to share their message of hope with others.

Upcoming performances

Opening for David Myles at the Arden Theatre on October 4, 2014

Performing at the Folk Exchange in Winnipeg on October 24, 2014

Performing at Foothills Folk Club in High River on November 20, 2014

Performance at the Ontario Folk Alliance Conference October 16-19, 2014

 

 

Winnipeg What a Whirlwind

I can’t even begin to put into words the epic experience that was the Winnipeg Folk Festival. We camped in the Festival Campground. That means that the party and music didn’t stop with the 12 hours of programming on the festival site, it just went on and on and on. I never got more than 4 hours of sleep at a time, and not because the pop up drum circles and wandering minstrels were keeping me awake (I can sleep through almost anything) but because there was always something to so, fire dancers to see or at the very least a song to sing. You started to feel like a little kid who wouldn’t nap because they were afraid of missing something.

Wednesday night found us at Vinyl Village jamming into the wee hours of the morning on tambourines, washboards and even a didgeridoo. Pacts for learning campfire sing-a-long songs were made under the prairie moon, and ‘The Weight’ by The Band was belted out more than once. Then there was the night that we got a tour of the campground through the generosity of some new friends, which involved fire dancers, a campfire side concert by the Riel Gentleman’s Choir, a random stranger roped into free-styling lyrics over another guitarist’s strummed acoustic chords, and the creation of some epic Prom worthy outfits at Wardrobe. The adventures that you could get entangled in at the Campground were almost enough to make you wish that the Festival programming wasn’t so amazing.

If the main stage acts weren’t to your taste you could head over to the Big Bluestem day stage for Big Blue @ Night for something completely different. Video art projections created by Natalie Baird and Kenneth Lavallee were shown on the overhang of the stage, and a crush of bodies danced to exhaustion in front of the stage. When the Mexican Institute Of Sound took to the stage on Saturday night a prairie field was transformed into a techno dance party, while on Friday The Strumbellas and The Sheepdogs drew crowds of fans that rivaled the main stage events of Hurray for the Riff Raff and Baskery.

Although the weather took a turn for the worse on Sunday (by the end of the day workshops my hands were actually blue from the cold) there is not a place I can imagine wanting to be more in early July than camped out in a prairie field, drifting off to dream while serenaded by the sounds of revelers returning from a full day of inspiring performances.

Saturday Winnipeg Folk Fest (Day 4)

A brief spell of rain in the afternoon didn’t dampen spirits. Check out some photos from Day 4 of Winnipeg’s Folk Fest.

Winnipeg Folk Festival Workshop Picks

After spending an evening curled up with my Winnipeg Folk Festival app, listening to the Soundcloud clips, reading Artist biographies, and starring my must-see sessions. Here is where you can find me at the Winnipeg Folk Festival:

Indie 500

Sunday July 13, 2014. 1-2:15 PM. Big Bluestem.

Rueben and the Dark, The Strumbellas, and The Wooden Sky

After taking a listen to this track from the Strumbellas I am sold on this session:

Cover Me

Saturday July 12 2-3:30 PM. Shady Grove.

David Myles, JP Hoe, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Sweet Alibi, The Bros. Landreth

IMGP0012Michael Bernard Fitzgerald has been through Edmonton many times for me to catch him live in concert and I was able to see David Myles live at communitea in Camrose this past Fall. I am excited to see them on stage together to see what they come up with in addition to JP Hoe, Sweet Alibit, and the Bros. Landreth. Plus, Shady Grove is one of the stage in the woodland area so I will be looking forward to some shade mid-Saturday afternoon.

Roll on Saskatchewan

Saturday July 12, 2014. 2:30-4 PM. Big Bluestem.

Kacy & Clayton, Little Miss Higgins & The Winnipeg Five, The Deep Dark Woods, and The Sheepdogs

This workshop session is exactly the way it is. Deep Dark Woods + Sheepdogs on a stage together? I am there. Plus, I feel extremely connected to Saskatchewan after driving through that golden prairie landscape on my way over to Winnipeg from Edmonton.

A Room of Her Own

Friday, July 11 4:15-5:30 PM, Big Bluestem

Calypso Rose, Little Miss Higgins & The Winnipeg Five, Martha Redbone Roots Project, Ruth Moody, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar.

Maybe it was the numerous years singing in treble voiced choirs but I love the sound of female singer-songwriters. I have been a fan of Little Miss Higgins, and Ruth Moody’s work in the Wailin’ Jennys for many years so to hear them on stage together, in addition established female voices, is a must see for me.

We Shall Overcome – Pete Seeger Tribute

Sunday July 13, 2014 4:15-5:30 PM. Big Bluestem

Ani DiFranco, Elephant Revival, Jake Shumabukuro, Joan Beez, Reuben and the Dark, Sarah Lee Gunthrie & Johnny Iron

A folkie must pay homage where homage is due. The death of Pete Seeger was a significant musical loss this past year. There is no place I would rather be than at this workshop. I have sense that everybody at the Folk Fest will be thinking the same thing so I will be lucky to get a spot. It doesn’t hurt that headlining names like Ani DiFranco are on the workshop roster. I am also excited to hear Elephant Revival for the first time live.