Tag Archives: Tim Chaisson

EFMF 2016 Photo Review

Now that the tarps are packed up, and a semblance of a sleep schedule has once again been established, here are some of our favourite photos from the weekend that was the 2016 Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

 

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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…

 

Thanks for the Good Times Mariposa Folk Festival

As the sun sets on the Mariposa Folk Festival, I wonder where the three days have gone. Just the other day I was setting up camp with Twila next to grassy patch near a baseball diamond in Tudhope Park. I knew the festival culture was upon us when I could hear the quiet strumming of a few acoustic guitars at the campsite. A baby on a tarp playing with an array of plastic toys as his mother arranged the coolers and a metallic thud came from his father hammering in the tent pegs to secure their family sized tent. This site would be our temporary home for the weekend.

Lining up at the festival gate to get into the grounds for Mainstage, the sensation that was immediately prevalent was this sense of calm.

“What is going on?!” Twila asks me in disbelief.

There was no frenzied 7 AM color lottery to set up a tarp, no snaking lines out into the parking lot, just smiles from the festival volunteers and courteous patrons. A mini utopia created for a few days with great music, friendly people, sunshine, and a festival site bordered by the lake. There were also many activities for families with children. It was lovely to see children running around in their barefeet with woven wreaths in their hair, wading into the shallow waters of the lake to cool off, and and peeling off corkscrew segments of a Tornado Potato.

I felt calm in this idyllic atmosphere. I would often set up my chair under the shaded canopy of trees to work on my iPad while enjoying the breeze from the lake and the musical tinkering from children at the musical petting zoo. Every volunteer I met was so friendly, whether they were helping to sort through my compostable trash or find me areas with charging stations for my electronics. It felt like I could do no wrong as a guest. Not once was I told to vacate an area I shouldn’t be in or have my ID and bag checked at security. I was even allowed in the backstage performer area to work on my laptop because I was sporting a golden ticket wristband. It gives me a glimpse into a classless society and how it works when its community is united in this vision. All the staff, volunteers, vendors, artists, audience members – they’re all working together to produce something greater than themselves: a safe haven for music and people. Mitch Podoluk mentioned that Mariposa is his hometown festival and I can see why.

I really shouldn’t have been surprised at how quickly Twila and I were accepted into this community. All we brought with us on our 2.5 day commute was an open mind and memories of how other folk festivals function. My folk festival crowd survival instinct was subdued and attending Mariposa felt more like a vacation than anything else. There is a chill energy that comes from rolling out of a tent, successfully washing ones hair from a water bottle, grabbing a breakfast frittata from a foodtruck, and sauntering over to a workshop stage by 11 AM. I’m glad Mariposa has been able to return home to Orillia after being hosted at other locations throughout Ontario. Orillia has something really special and I’m glad I got to be a part of its world for the past few days.

Tim Chaisson – The Drive to Communicate Through Music

Tim Chaisson leans forward on his elbows at the picnic table settling in with ease for our chat. We’re in a park around the corner from Communitea, the Canmore venue for his evening concert. He sits down with me just after unloading his gear and braving the Highway 1 traffic from Calgary. The frenzy of his packed schedule does not seem to perturb him as he sits down to discuss his music.

If there were any imagined constructs of the lazy musician, Chaisson abolishes them when he outlines a typical tour day for him. That may include a 7 AM TV morning show appearance, a 6-8 hour solo commute to the next venue, media events in each location, and late nights after playing, selling merch, and stage tear-down. Prince Edward Island singer/songwriter, Chaisson released his album, The Other Side (2012), which has already won Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards and Entertainer of the Year from the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities. His “Beat This Heart” collaboration with Serena Ryder was also nominated for “Song of the Year” at the East Coast Music Awards. He has toured across Canada this past year, which included appearances at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Stan Rogers Folk Festival, and The Canadian Country Music Association’s Awards. He also toured Australia in June and has another follow-up tour in Australia next month.

However, Chaisson’s career didn’t materialize over this past year; it has been building gradually. He has been playing fiddle since childhood and played in instrumental Celtic band, Kindle, before focusing more on singer/songwriter pursuits in his teens. Even while he was completing his undergraduate degree in Psychology and History, he would play at the University of PEI bar or tour when opportunities presented themselves. His multitasking ensured that he didn’t compromise his musical interests for academia but it did make his professors question his priorities: “I’d go away for two weeks, and my professors would be like, “Why are you even here?”” He says with a light-hearted ease reflecting back on his memories.

Photography by Twila

Patrons sip coffee and wine at the long communal tables, rows of chairs orient themselves to the corner for the evening’s live music offerings; the intimacy of the Communitea venue is a perfect compliment to his solo set. Chaisson begins his evening set with his album’s title track, “The Other Side.” Curving his shoulders, he begins with easy strums on his guitar before straightening out to add percussive drum stomps at the chorus. He follows his title track with “Beat this Heart,” “The Healing,” and “Come Clean,” singing them with an authentic torment and pliability in his vocals. Deciding to break into a jig on the fiddle, Chaisson first establishes a percussive foundation, which begins looping with a pedal. He embellishes upon this scaffold with his soaring and sinuous fiddle lines. “Long Hot Summer Days” finishes his opening set, where he pairs the fiddle with the tune’s soulful lyrics. The neighborhood coffee shop transforms into an Eastern Canadian pub with his bow strokes that have a sense of sureness about them.

Even though Chaisson’s solo work is primarily with voice and guitar, fiddle appears in every one of his sets. His fiddle heritage is not to be overlooked; Chaisson is part of the seventh generation of fiddle players in his family. In many ways, Chaisson inherited the fiddle. He grew up playing at local ceilidhs and touring as a fiddle player with Kindle. However, Chaisson deviated from the musical norm of his family by pursuing singing and songwriting. “Playing fiddle is awesome and it really connects with people. But words and melodies and songs… they grip more people. There is a broader audience. When you’re so genre-specific you’re missing out on all these people that could be listening,” he cites as a reason for his singer/songwriter focus now. He continues, “I write songs for other people so they will enjoy them and listen. But you also have to like your own songs as well. I’ve never gotten to the point where I had to write a song that I didn’t like that would appeal to more people. You can really communicate a lot through song and tell your experiences and storytell a bit… it’s a really neat thing when people can connect with a song and enjoy it.”

After taking a break from fiddle in his teens to focus on singing/songwriting, the distance brought a new perspective. “[The fiddle] is such a part of what I do and who I am,” he reveals with honesty. “I couldn’t imagine going to a show without taking my fiddle now. It’s definitely something I’ve inherited and will continue to do.” Chaisson smiles when he admits that his father would love for him to produce a fiddle record; however, he has introduced audiences to traditional music and fiddle music through his work as a singer/songwriter.

It is clear that the aspect of career and life balance is on Chaisson’s mind. There are many talented musicians in PEI, but many of them are not heard beyond the island’s shores. “You have to sacrifice a lot to make a touring life work,” he states. “Time is going past so fast, it’s ridiculous. It’s almost been a year since I put out my record and this year flew by… you have to be conscious of what you do and how you take your lifestyle on the road. If you spend so much time on the road, it can really wear on you. Have fun and live life because it’s short,” he says thoughtfully.

No matter where Chaisson’s career takes him in the coming years, regardless of his location or primary instrument, his genuine drive to communicate through music ensures his musical sustainability. And, who knows, maybe one day, he will release a fiddle EP that his father can play on his record player.

Lightning Round of Questions!

Listen to the full interview to learn more, such as how he approaches songwriting, if he’s been tempted to move from PEI, and the differences between performing tour shows vs. home shows.

My Top 10 Musical Moments of EFMF

A lot happened over this past weekend at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival (EFMF). In no particular order, here are some of my top moments of the festival:

Pics by Twila

1. One of the Avett Brothers running out into the crowd to rock out with audience members up close.

2. David Francey’s honest and humble introductions to his songs like the perspective of teenage love in “Broken Glass.”

3. The Milk Carton Kids’ blunt inter-song banter.
E.g., Joey: “Kenneth’s daughter will be named Charlie… after the song…his child doesn’t have a due date yet… or a mother.”

4. Carolina Chocolate Drops’ ability to sing attitude-filled cover of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit Em Up Style” before leaving the stage early to jet-set to Regina.

5. Good for Grapes put out some serious energy on stage. Never before have I seen somebody rock out on accordion like Sean MacKeigan.

6. Tim Chaisson’s instrumental flexibility as he switched from guitar to fiddle in his sets.

7. The torrential thunderstorm that brought Loreena McKennitt’s set and EFMF to an epic end.

8. Shakey Graves tempo manipulation on stage.

9. In the process of getting the audience on their feet, Langhorne Slim jumped out into the crowd. He proceeded to shake off his sunglasses and hat in the heat of the jamming moment.

10. LP’s soaring “Tokyo Sunrise” vocals during the lantern parade on Gallagher Hill.

What were some of your top moments of EFMF?