Tag Archives: Tom Russell

Review: Tom Russell with opener Lucas Chaisson at New Moon Folk Club

For the third time this season the New Moon Folk Club was packed for Tom Russell with opener Lucas Chaisson. But before  they took to the stage the #yegfolkies at New Moon took a few minutes to remember Leonard Cohen with an ingenuous rendition of the Bard of Montreal’s Hallelujah.  There was a therapeutic sense of musical healing granted by singing in an audience chorus.

From the first strum of his intricate guitar playing Lucas Chaisson‘s set zapped the stress of the week right out of the audience. His mellow vocals created a meditative atmosphere that continued through the rest of the night. The repeated phrase within Ashes : “We are all born from the ashes of another” also provided an organic transition to Russell’s act.

Lucas Chaisson – Ashes from Daelan Wood on Vimeo.

Beginning with Chaisson and continuing through Russell’s two sets each song that rang through St. Basil’s Culture Centre on Friday night told a story. Russell’s stories weren’t chronological (don’t think about it like a Facebook timeline where everything is organized by date & time) and they weren’t always related by topic. It was more like sitting down with a family photo album and paging through it. Sometimes you flip forward, and sometimes a story from one photo forces you back through earlier pages. Russell’s vocals, have matured with years of life experience, compelling the audience to listen closely to his words. Some of the messages may not be apparent upon the first telling; however, there is the sense that the understanding of his poetic lines will be complete later within the appropriate context. Each song, like each photo in an album, was accompanied by a story. For Blue Wing Russell told us about playing a gig at the Edmonton penitentiary and about a game reserve near Edmonton that had five wolverines; for East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam he transported us to Nigeria and a career switch from criminologist to singer; and with Jesus Met the Woman at the Well we got one of many glimpses into Russell’s on-going friendship with Ian Tyson. Russell also revealed that he was going to be meeting up with Tyson when his tour heads towards Calgary. It was just enough of a teaser to tempt Edmonton audiences to consider a trip down south for a continued encore.

Touring with Russell right now is Max De Bernardi on guitar and Veronica Sbergia as tour manager. Sbergia and De Bernardi are also known as The Red Wine Serenaders and both joined Russell for a tune in the second set. Veronica’s clear and gentle vocals provided a refreshing new vocal texture as they harmonized with Lay Down My Old Guitar.

The audience was craving a sing-along throughout the performance as he surveyed the audience for what they wanted to hear next. He joked that the audience needed to listen to some of his newer records to replace the requests for his classics. Russell’s prophetic Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall was the final song of the night, and was met with a standing ovation and cheering. This response brought Russell back out on stage for Navajo Rug as the encore. Navajo Rug sung in unison with the entire audience, ended with a gradual decrescendo, settling like a gentle hum in the hearts of audience members to conclude the evening.

Ay, ay, ay Katie
Shades of red and blue
Ay, ay, ay Katie
Whatever became of that Navajo rug and you, Katie?

Danny Michel on December 2nd is sold out! If you want to attend and don’t have your ticket, your best bet is to make friends with a season pass holder who can’t come that evening. The season pass holder can lend you their card or you can give their card number at the door.

This review is co-written by Sable and Twila.

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


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.

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 EFMF 2016

Twila: This week has been tough – no live banjo music serenading my daily activities, which have included packing up the tarps for another year, washing industrial amounts of both DEET and sunscreen out of my clothes,  editing a ton of festival photos and drinking black coffee like it is going out of style.

I’m not sure if the 16-18 hour days on site (Saturday and Sunday) were what did me in this year, but it has been an extra rough Folk-Over. So as we return to our previously scheduled lives, let’s take stock of what awesomeness happened at EFMF 2016.

Sable: Folk Fest is equal parts of thrilling and exhausting. I was able to bike down to the festival all four days and I didn’t have to rainproof all my electronic equipment! It was a waning on the hot Saturday afternoon with hours of intense sun but I gained momentum with my consecutive interviews on Sunday with Chloe Albert and The East Pointers.

Thank goodness for the annual tradition of Folkover Brunch with Twila and friends on the Monday following EFMF. I think it’s one of the best methods of recovery from so much musical enrichment.

Favourite Festival Moment:

Twila: At Matthew Bryne‘s concert on Saturday he described the moment that made his festival – Jason Wilber playing a songWatching Picasso” he wrote for Ron Hynes at the “Men of the Deep” workshop (it was pretty special).

It is a series of these sort of moments that touch us individually that makes up the magic that is a folk festival. My festival moment was at the “Losing Traditions” workshop on Saturday afternoon on Stage 3. In real life I’m a musicologist, who studies Western classical music, imagine my surprise and delight when Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen the violinist of Dreamers’ Circus stood up and started rocking out with some unaccompanied Bach only to be joined by Ale Carr (cittern) and Nikolaj Busk (accordion). My love of folk music was instantly combined with some of the most gorgeous Western classical music around. I was hooked, and haven’t stopped talking about them or that moment to anyone who will listen.

Imagine this being performed on the corner of a workshop stage in the middle of Gallagher park –PURE MAGIC!



Nathaniel Rateliff
Nathaniel Rateliff

My favourite festival moment was dancing with the majority of my tarp mates during Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats Mainstage act on Sunday night. The four day EFMF can feel like a long haul with many hours in the sun and stepping over bubbling, muddy grass, but there is that cathartic release when you can just dance all that energy out. The hill was hopping on Sunday night. I mean, how can you stay still when a hit like this comes on?

Favourite New Discovery:


Sarah MacDougall
Sarah MacDougall

I was a fan of Sarah MacDougall. She has this soulful warmth in her vocal tone that really resonated with me, especially in her Swedish rep. It also didn’t hurt that she had some of the best festival fashion I saw at the festival.



Dreamers’ Circus

Twila: Unsurprisingly Dreamers’ Circus is my top fest pick. I was at all their performances this past weekend, I even re-jigged my schedule on Sunday to catch more of their music. Not only was there the J.S. Bach influence, on further listening I wonder now if I  hear shades of minimalism – Philip Glass or Terry Riley? And other composers like maybe a little Aaron Copland? Fantastic stuff.  As far as I can tell these fabulous musicians are only performing in Denmark and Japan for the foreseeable future, but I will definitely be keeping tabs on them.


Favourite Workshop:

Twila: “Nashville”, Stage 3, Saturday, 3 PM: Tom Russell, Mike Farris, Lera Lynn, Maura O’Connell and Karan Casey

I was waffling between the “Ancestors” workshop and this one. But the stage-wide jam of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues put this one over the top for me. Tom Russell and Mike Farris’ interactions made this workshop all the more enjoyable.

Sable: “Desperados Waiting for a Train”, Stage 6, Friday, 6 PM: Rose Cousins, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dar Williams, Lisa Hannigan

I am always a fan of a good workshop host and Rose Cousins led the way with the perfect balance of wit and admiration for her musical colleagues. I loved this sisterhood of  vocal power on stage. Cousins was able to round it all out with comedic banter and getting them all to think of their Olympic events which ranged from sleeping to tarp rolling.

Favourite Festival Food:

Sable: I’m so glad Curry N Hurry is back because I absolutely love eating curry that looks like it has been stewing all day in a large pan. Seriously, there is something so comforting to have large spoonfuls of bubbling curry over coconut rice, crispy samosas, and fresh nan.

Twila: Coffee from Kicking Horse Coffee, now also being served at the bottom of the Hill (my legs thank you).

*N.B. Although this is a post about festival favourites, I need to state a regret. I didn’t get to see The Steep Canyon Rangers due to scheduling conflicts. This made me incredibly sad and I live in the hope that they are back in town soon, so I can catch them then. – TB

*N.B. I am sad to say I was absent for Saturday afternoon to early evening. Folk Fest is a sacred time, but alas, when friend plans a wedding, they don’t always take a folkie’s priorities into consideration. I have serious regrets for not making the “Losing Traditions” workshop with The East Pointers, Dreamer’s Circus, and The Stepcrew. I heard there was jamming on Bach! – SC

Fairy-tale in a Song

Saturday was full of stories shared and songs sung.