my crazy summer is drawing to a close. or the more stressful part anyway (summer chemistry course hey!).
i'm gonna be playing a few little things here and there hopefully now that i am less busy, although i need to get some beach time in for sure. there's an exciting gig in the works for early september and i'll update once it's confirmed, but until then i'll let you know about what i am doing tonight.
i'm playing at take back the night - a march in protest of violence against women which ends in a free concert at the bandshell in wentworth park. the set is short and then i'm running over to the casino to judge a battle of the bands put on by music nova scotia.
i did this once before in the very first round and i am back for the finals, which consists of the winners from each round: heartwood slacks, ricochet and the regal beagle band, plus a wild card: hello click. i am going to go out on a limb and say this is gonna be a tough call.
i was lucky to be a part of the song and video featured below - it's a commercial for the creative island, a project by the cape breton center for craft and design, which shows all the amazing hands-on creative activities that are available for people to do in cape breton.
the song was written by yvette rogers specifically for the project and the recording features yvette's lovely voice and guitar (obviously), as well as me on harms and ben on harms and guitars. i can't get it out of my head! it's one of my favorite yvette songs for sure (though i will probably say that after each one).
anyway, give it a listen and a look, and keep an eye out for the 30 second version which will be on CTV this summer.
so as you can see i've been playing a bunch with billie yvette avenue. which works for me because i think yvette has some of the most amazing songs, lyrics and voice of just about anyone i know. there's even a bit of recordin' and video'in' going on. so i will have to get the master of this website, aka my wonderful partner adam, to update the music section and add a spot for all the yvette goodness that is going to appear soon. and the first installment is the video below from the gig we played at caper radio last night! courtesy of, who else, the incomparable jenni welsh.
in other news, i have a new awesome summer job at the library where i am going to be teaching kids about science all summer. it's seriously amazing. however the whole 9-5 thing, plus taking a course in school is gonna be putting a strain on my extracurricular activities. so hopefully i can play as many gigs as i planned. let's see if i can survive the summer!
by the way check out the online portfolio of jenni welsh here , and here is the facebook version. i gotta say, jenni is one of the most motivated, passionate people i know, and she really tries (and succeeds) to enrich the cape breton arts and music scene.
so i've neglected my website for a while. a hilarious chain of events has occurred following the end of school - i got a bad cold and missed a bunch of gigs, and then i decided to book a bunch of shows (4 in one weekend) once i was on the mend. and then i got another bad cold! but this time i powered through, despite the terrible cough and the voice problems (at least the people who were at the IWK fundraiser got a laugh out of my voice cracking).
the static in action show at the elks lodge was a blast. those gigs are always good, and even though i was a bit ill and a lot tired, i had a great time. harry and hector are such awesome musicians and excellent friends that playing shows with them can fix any sort of bad mood. for sunday's show, i had ben and yvette backing me up for most of the set, so obviously they saved my sick self from sounding terrible. consummate professionals, those two. i also got a chance to do a songwriting workshop with my friend shane o'handley (of the jaynes, see my previous post for a video), at a high school in eskasoni. that was a great experience and i got to meet a lot of cool high school kids who were really into music.
on thursday i broke my 6-month longstanding vow of not playing at bars solo, which came about after a particularly annoying experience. i saw that my friends john gill, bob gill, and mallery williams were going to be playing, and it was a thursday night, so i thought maybe it would be a chilled out, listening environment. i was wrong.
it's not that being screamed over while playing heartfelt songs that i wrote makes me feel like i must be a terrible musician -- i know that some people like my music, and i like my music and know how much work has gone into making me what i am today. so at least i finally have the confidence to stop second guessing myself (you'd never believe how long that takes to build up, or how tenuous that confidence is, but at least i can finally rely on it).
it's just that it doesn't feel good.
i don't need the exposure (in sydney anyway), i mean, every once in a while someone who hasn't seen me play will be really pleased and tell me nice things afterward, but i've spent years gaining exposure so that's not really my objective these days. so i don't need the exposure, it doesn't make me feel good, and i certainly am not making any money -- if anything getting handed 25 dollars after a night like that is almost worse than nothing (i'm sure the away band could have used it for gas).
but to tell the truth, if i had made an amount of money that could do more than buy me a mountain fries poutine or two, it still wouldn't have been worth it. what is the point of those types of shows really? music is not my job. i have never in my life had the gumption to do the boring, plodding work involved in the business aspect of music for the immense number of hours it takes to get anywhere, and i've been ok with that. if i need money desperately, i can get a job or spend my student loan (heh).
so really, all these years, the thing that made it worth it for me is the feeling i get -- the physical satisfaction of singing, feeling pride in myself for doing a good job, feeling grateful that people want to hear me, and feeling awesome if i think i can make people feel good by playing them music from my heart. so when i'm playing music in a room with a bunch of people yelling and not paying attention, first of all, i feel bad because no one's listening, and second, if someone IS there that wants to listen, they don't get to hear it either.
i know every musician has dealt with this stuff, and i might sound like some sort of entitled jerk, but i just felt like i should explain why i'm not going to be doing that sort of thing anymore. if it isn't going to be my job, then it should at least remain something that brings me joy.
so the ranting is done, and the last thing i want to say is that i have a lot of gigs coming up (heh), and quite a few with billie yvette avenue (we have a new facebook page, check it out). and i have updated the video section with the video from st. george's church and one from ideas powered by passion . i didn't really mention it when i posted it, but the st. george's one came out amazing, and as always, i can't say enough good things about the people who made it happen for me. ideas is also a really cool thing - it's all about people from the community getting together and talking about ways to make it better. i made a long winded speech about how i figured out the way to make myself happy with music was by not trying to fit into anyone's expectations, but luckily the video they chose was this one, in which i more briefly discuss my love for cape breton.
school is over (i aced everything), i went on a lovely vacation, and then i got a terrible cold. it was so terrible i had to cancel two gigs! and they were nice gigs too, one was a fundraiser for a local radio station and the other was an outdoor show that was part of the international day against homophobia / transphobia. but luckily both shows had other awesome musicians to fill the gap and i'm sure neither one missed me very much.
now i am starting to feel better, and i'll be looking to play some shows. especially since the weather is beginning to turn nice and warm and sunny - it just makes me want to sing. when i don't sing for a while i get all anxious. it's also the lovely interval in between school and working - i applied for a few jobs, but no one has called me yet. i kind of hope they wait a bit so i can enjoy the spring-ness and relaxation for a while.
i hope this summer i get the chance to play all around the island, and it looks like it might shape up that way. check out the events listings for some cool upcoming shows with billie yvette avenue (including one at the cape north culture center). and static in action are also looking to play some shows around the island this summer, i'll let you know when anything is confirmed.
anyhow, i don't have much in the way of news, there should be some video from the church show we played a while back any day now. one of the videos is up by the jaynes, so check that out for now. you can see how gorgeous the church was, if you weren't there.
school has been nuts lately. but today i finished the lab report from hell and i have a breather before exams begin. i'm focusing on the coral reef at the end of the tunnel to get me through - hopefully a tropical vacation and the prospect of cape breton summer will inspire some new music.
the harmonia show went awesome. ben and carolyn are the best people to sing with in the world, it just feels like a warm breeze. made of something delicious, like chocolate sauce. i can't wait until the videos are done so i can show you just how awesome it was. also i love playing with a drummer. i think i was spoiled because i used to play with devon strang, the former drummer for slowcoaster and tom fun. he's one of the best drummers in canada, as far as i am concerned. i have played with some awesome drummers, and recorded some great tracks with them, but devon is just the ideal match for me. he was such a thoughful percussionist -- he put so much dynamics and feel into my simple songs, it made them sound way better than they were. so imagine how stoked i am to play with steve wilton, who also happens to be a world class drummer. who also wants to play with me! who also makes my songs sound amazing. and has the same kind of dynamic, intelligent style. i am on cloud nine. the fact that this was recorded is so exciting for me.
so static in action has been playing a bit, and i think now that school's almost over i'll be playing a lot more with all of my bands and friends. depending on my summer employment (wild horses will not drag me back to the corner store), i may have a lot of time on my hands.
so check out the events bar, hopefully it will be populated soon with exciting shows. and sometime soon i'll have videos up from that show. happy springtime, everyone.
since having a website is relatively new to me, i'm still kind of figuring it out. something i am enjoying immensely is having a blog where i can talk about all the stuff that makes me really excited, especially when it comes to friends of mine who are amazing at music. continuing with that trend, today i will rave about sean macgillivray, who i've mentioned before, briefly.
i posted a video where he sang with me at gobblefest, which should be enough to show you how awesome he is at singing. but you may not know that he is also an amazing guitarist, songwriter, drummer, sound engineer, and player of every other thing, basically. he plays with classified and jenn grant, but he also plays in alright already - which was previously called great plains - which is a band where he writes the songs and sings and plays the guitars. they hadn't been playing much in the last little while, but seem to be at it again (to my delight). here's an interview he did recently:
so yeah, that band is obviously awesome. anyway it's just reminding me of how when i was younger i looked up to sean and harry and all these guys who were kind of the first wave of independent music in cape breton. bands like blindside/nothing to say (sean's old band), 77 impala special (harry and hector's old band), rock ranger, pulse, three piece suit. they were all so talented and only got better and better with time. now i have played with most of the guys i admired at one point or another, and you'd think the admiration would wear off, but it really doesn't, it's just that a layer of friendship is added on. it's kinda weird when younger people come up to me and say they feel the way about me that i did about those guys.
so i am playing a show on the 22nd (super soon!) with my pals carolyn, ben and steve. we are going to call ourselves harmonia. i like that name because it sounds musical, and describes pretty much where i envision this band going but at the same time it's the genus of ladybugs, showing exactly how nerdy i am. in case you were wondering why this collection of people seems familiar (and delightful), let me refresh your memory:
the show is being put on by the incomparable caper radio. it will be filmed and recorded as well, similar to a show done in the same venue last year with the yarnells and heartwood slacks. you can check out the video from that show here. the venue is gorgeous!
and to top it all off, i did an interview with leah noble at dream big cape breton. it's a blog where she talks to people from cape breton to see what keeps them here and what they have to deal with to remain here among other things, in the hopes that it will shed some light on what needs to be done to keep young people around. anyway i did an interview where i mostly talk (complain) about music venues in cape breton, so i felt it was relevant. and here it is.