Friday, May 22, 2015

countdown to crustacean elation

Hi there,

After a wee (unintentional) break from the blog, I'd like to tell you a bit of news.  I've been busy here at Belle Plaine Corp.  I'm putting days in at the computer.  Dialing phone numbers.  Making it happen.

"Making what happen?" you ask.

Well friends, my trustworthy bandmates and I are hitting the East Coast in a week.  I'm thrilled about it.  We've put a lot of time into planning this baby, and in the end, we've come up with 20+ dates that have us singing songs all over Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.  You can see the tour dates here.  We're playing everything from halls to art galleries to soft-seat theatres to B & Bs.  You got an audience?  We got a concert.  We're set on getting the word out.  Speaking of which, would you do me a favour?  Tell your friends, aunts, East Coast pen-pals... anyone.  I want to meet them all.

Another massive thank you to the Saskatchewan Arts Board for their support of this tour.  We certainly would not be able to take on such an ambitious project without them.  I. am. grateful.  Without the Arts Board, I just don't know what I'd do. 

Hey, on that note, here's something I really want you to know.  My community lost a wonderful woman in February: the unequivocal Michele Sereda.  The last time I saw her was a warm and vibrant exchange, as they always were.  That day, Elizabeth and I were puzzling over how we could connect with an audience on the East Coast, and Michele encouraged us to take our project to the Arts Board.  Without her guidance, we would have never done so.  This tour is in thanks, remembrance and celebration of her.

And I want you to know about the delightful poster that I built.  It was reliant on the contributions of three talented artists.  Carey Shaw on photography, Terri Fidelak on illustrations and Brianna Coffin on graphic design.  This is a favourite of mine.  Praise be to visual artists!!!  You can see the full version here.  Even download it, if you like.

Please send well wishes, must-see eastern sights and musings to belleplaine@belleplainemusic.com.

xoxo
bp

p.s. if you're thinking, "Why didn't she tell me about this sooner?" I highly recommend signing up for the newsletter.  On the first of the month, you'll get all the straight dope about what I have planned.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

bootcamped

I went to my first ever bootcamp this weekend. Two great humans, Vel and Liam, from Coalition Music came out from Toronto and did their 10 week Artist Entrepreneur course in two days. It was intense, and fantastic. I'm honored to have been among the artists that were selected.

I'm so grateful to SaskMusic and Creative Saskatchewan for bringing the program out, and making it possible for me to attend. After the two days, I feel better informed, better supported in my career and even more connected to my community of musicians in the province.

And honestly, running a business based on creativity can be a hard slog. A weekend like this allowed me to see the good work of my peers, and that goes a long way.

As for the picture above, I didn't meet an artist manager, but after Blake drew this face on my snack, I began privately referring to it as my bananager. Not sure how my personal assistant, Siri, will react to this new team member, but we'll all just endeavor to get along.

Take some time to check out the other artists that I spent the weekend with:
Amy Nelson
Blake Berglund
Cquel
Del Suelo
DGS
Eric Taylor
Smokekiller
Judith Morrissey
Keiffer Mclean & The Curiousity Club
Mabaleka
Nick Faye & The Deputies
The Pistolwhips
Rebecca Lascue
We Were Lovers

Monday, April 13, 2015

what am I reading?


I've been working away at this little baby for awhile now.  Since I was in Australia.  I won't lie, it's challenging me.  But it's a good one to chew through slowly, while mulling over the finer points.


I can't yet figure out what D.H. thinks of Australians, but his characters are whole, his language is gratifying and his opinions fierce.


Anyway, I'm enjoying it.

And say, if you're looking for something to do on Saturday night, I'll be playing at the Creative City Centre with Blake Berglund and Amy Nelson in a songwriter's circle. We'll be talking a lot about the craft. (I feel like I do this at every show, but maybe I'll have some new nuggets of wisdom to share.)

till we meet again.
xo
bp

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

open sesame

I left Sydney a few days ago, not knowing when I will return next.  I'm not really a jet-setter.  Thanks to touring, I've become accustomed to long white lines, with every kilometer of progress made with the rotation of a wheel.

I can't drive to Australia. (Although, oy! What a trip that would be!) So, I fly.

Hey, here's a phenomenon that doesn't exist on the open road: the airport lounge.  I've heard of them.  I was even in one once – as the guest of a fellow traveler who knew the magical phrase that opened the mouth of the cave.

It was in the Sydney Kingsford Smith International, tucked away in a far off corner, that I found my haven.  Judging only from the entrance, this lounge was clearly more expansive than the one mentioned previously.  I noticed fellow travelers presenting their boarding passes.  I immediately felt I was playing the part of an interloper, and made the unanimous and unspoken decision with my travel companion to keep eyes forward and assume a brisk walk.

Which brings me to my #1 air travel tip: Dress well.  It just helps.

Shortly thereafter I found myself bellied up to the cold breakfast buffet with granola, yogurt, a smoothie, and a glass of juice in my hands.  I was sure we were trespassing.  With as much casualty as I could muster I surveyed what seemed to be a free-pour, fully stocked bar.  My transgression had to be obvious to all by now.

I sat down to enjoy my breakfast somewhat nervously while eyeing the bar, and was soon met by my smiling sweetie who had hit up the hot breakfast buffet.  His plate was full with eggs, bacon, potatoes, stewed tomatoes and beans. 

"I don't think we're supposed to be in here," I said.

But on second thought, why throw yourself out of paradise when you've entered undetected???  In addition to the open bar, there was a barista for goodness sakes!  When I grasped that everyone around me was drinking champagne it seemed best to do as the Romans, right?  It was halfway through my first flute that I saw we had one brief beautiful hour of bliss before a 13 hour flight to LA, then a connecting flight to Calgary for an eight hour layover and then home sweet...

"Would you get me another glass of bubbly, dear?"

We remained under the radar in the lounge until it was time to board.  By that time I was nearly convinced that we did in fact belong in the lounge.  We all do!  Equality and champagne for everyone.

Tipsy and full of smiles, we boarded alongside the tired masses who had missed the glorious secret breakfast made especially for the travel elites and the sneaky Petes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

teenagers, right?

UPDATE FROM OZ:
still beautiful.  still hot.

I didn't start in the professional world of music early in life.  Though I had plenty of music training, I generally worked on the fringes of the arts industries.  Aside from waitressing, which fits squarely in the realm of the entertainment industry as I see it, I've been employed by a children's theatre, a recording studio, and as a lighting technician.  It was that last one (which kept me in a tiny, windowless, black room for six nights a week), combined with my father's death that made me realize you have to chase down what you want in this world.  So I saved up as much money as I could and dove into the deep end to tread water full-time.

I have a couple of musician friends who are teenagers.  I'm in awe of them.  They're such great writers.  They inspire me to be fearless.  Since I've been in Australia they've both released music into the world.

Take a minute to check these young'ins out: Colter Wall and Kacy Anderson.

And yeah, that's yours truly singing on Colter's "Caroline".  Ya got me.

Friday, March 6, 2015

nina

 

She's been popping up a lot lately.  Maybe it has something to do with Australia.  At any rate, I've been meaning to share more of my favourite videos in this little thread, so why not start with Ms. Simone.  

Someone once told me that they saw her perform.  According to him, when she entered she walked straight to the edge of the stage, and stared into the crowd daring them into action.  Any action.  No one moved.  

I wasn't there, but just watching a few videos gave me a sense of why the audience was paralyzed.  If you're interested, watch a couple songs from her performance at Montreax Jazz Festival in 1976.  It'll give you a solid understanding of how Nina didn't take shit from no one.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

hello from below

Hello from Australia!

Having arrived in Oz straight from a prairie winter, I'm quite certain that I'm literally the fairest in the land.  I've found a new look, and it's defined by a massive sunhat, sunglasses and copious amounts of 60 SPF.  I may actually shoot light back at the sun.

After flight delays, lost baggage, and a box of electrolyte sachets, I'm finding my groove on the other side of the world.  I've managed to squeeze a lot of critical activities into my first five days here including:
    - the smelling of the frangipanis
    - multiple ocean swims
    - a schooner of VB
    - crushing and smelling eucalyptus leaves
    - a meal of kangaroo, cooked on the barbie
    - group crosswords (possibly an activity specific to my friend group)
    - vegemite and toast
    - supping, aka stand-up paddle boarding (I couldn't figure out why my friends kept asking if I was going to sup with them.  Why would I eat alone?)
    - consumption of mangos and passionfruit.  What we get in Canada does not hold a candle.
    - enjoying a Golden Gaytime.  Aside from the frangipanis, this may be the thing I looked forward to most.

Despite the fact that I lived here, and was fluent in the fantastic local slang, I'm back to my old ways of asking the meanings of words, for people to keep repeating what they've said, and still being lost even after an explanation.  So it goes.

And as it turns out, I really do like long walks on the beach.

xo

The first of many Australian Gaytimes.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

testy little beauties

Dropping a needle on a record warms me right up.  Vinyl and magnetic tape are like living things.  Affected by nature.  Destroyed by the elements.

I took great delight in teaching my niece how to fire up the turntable when she was barely three.  We played Paul Simon's Graceland.  Now she's a leading expert at four years old in the art of vinyl care.

A few days ago I got a package delivered to my door that brought a small dream of mine into fruition.  After breaking through a few layers of protective cardboard, I found four 45s containing the tracks that Blake and recorded with Jason Plumb this past summer.  Blake and I convened for a first listen and got to hear our voices replicated through the magic of vinyl grooves, stylus and speakers.  I've never experienced the like.  It's so exhilarating to hear your music surrounded by the warmth of analog.

The test presses that I was sent passed the test.  Somewhere in America, an order has been placed for 300 little beauties to be manufactured.  I can't wait to share them with you.  You'll have to be patient though.  Vinyl will not be hurried.

I should also mention that I'm writing you this little post from the comfort of an airport bar.  In 23 hours (metal creatures of the sky willing) I will touch down in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and resume my activities, with a healthy dose of daily vitamin D.

xo and g'day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

tour update

thanks to Jay Kimball for this snap of Mervin's show.
Hello friends,

It's been going really well out here on the Saskatchewan tour trail.  The weather has been unseasonably warm and although it's undermined our angle of being resolute winter warriors, I don't really miss packing the van in -40°C weather.  I can live with Mother Nature getting the best of me on that one.

We've had the privilege of connecting with our arts community in the province and have unveiled some brand new songs (that made us a little nervous at first).  We're midway through a great run.

In Swift Current we were greeted with many friendly faces, the friendliest of which being our host, aka the bass player from the Midnight Roses.  We were royalty in Kindersley on account of my familial connections.  North Battleford brought an incredible spread of food, thanks to the hard work of our concert host/chef and we had a third of the population of Mervin come out to our show – as Jeremy put it, that would be 60,000 people in Regina... making us the Rolling Stones of Mervin.

On the road, Willie's Roadhouse has been serenading us in the tour van, teaching us more and more about classic country and the hitherto unknown gems therein.  Elizabeth has been on top of all the meal planning, keeping us far from the fare sold in gas stations and fast food joints.  We've had comfy homes to stay in, and plenty to be grateful for.

We're back singing in Christopher Lake today, then to the amazing Keyhole Castle in Prince Albert, and onwards to Wynyard from there.  Huge thank you to all the hosts, presenters, and audience members who have shown us such huge support, as well as Creative Saskatchewan for providing assistance to us artists through their tour funding.

lots of love from the road,
bp

Monday, January 5, 2015

five years running

Somehow I've created an annual tradition of touring Saskatchewan in the coldest of months.  I'm not sure how it happened, exactly.  The first tour was a lark... I'd never booked a tour before and just kind of put one snowshoe in front of the other until I found myself in a 1985 Corolla with Farideh and Jeans Boots.

The following year I was promoting the release of Notes from a Waitress, and then it just seemed the thing to do.

And so, I announce to you, my Fifth Annual Prairie Winter Tour!!!  Ta da!

This year, Jeremy, Beth and I are hitting venues from January 22nd to February 7th.  We've got a nice mix of shows in art galleries, town halls, caf├ęs and our old favourite, house concerts.  You can see all the newly added dates on the Shows page (with a few updates coming soon), and if you're super keen, you could have a look-see at the press release.  Especially if you wanted to release some press about it.

So, zip up your parka and warm your little heart with one of these shows we're putting on.  And drop me a line!  I'm always there: belleplaine@belleplainemusic.com

And it's only -35°C in Regina with the windchill.