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,

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:

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

a show of diversity

photo thanks to @ReginaFoodBank for this beaut.

Hello friends,

It's been a busy Christmas season thus far, and I've been playing an array of shows.  Everything from immaculately planned holiday parties with topless male models(!), to CBC Saskatchewan's Christmas Party, to Johnny Cash Tribute nights, to owning the role of a sultry lounge singer.  

It's rare that I play such a variety of shows and I've been eating it up.  

Tonight, I have the pleasure of performing my last trio show of 2014 at Slate Gallery here in Regina.  It'll be a mash-up of the new songs we're crafting, the Christmas songs we've mastered (and still enjoy!) and some old standard BP fare that we have a soft spot for.  We're all looking forward to it very much.

And tomorrow!  My goodness.  Tomorrow night Elizabeth and I are playing for an audience of yogis...  who will be yoga-ing while we play!  My beat-the-lack-of-heat winter activity is a new found yoga practice, and I am deeply grateful to Emma Korkola of Yoga Mala for inviting us into her community by asking us to perform.  It's entirely new territory, and I'm so thankful to be padding around a warm studio developing my practice.

By Saturday I'll be rushing around the city trying to jam in all my last minute Christmas To Dos with the rest of you.

And if you haven't seen this yet, here's a teaser video that my sweetie took during one of my jazzier moments.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

the leading role


A long-time reader of this blog would know that my childhood portraits may have displayed a streak of... independence.

Behold.  Another photo displaying my childhood insolence.

But dear reader, this is where it all began.  In Kindergarten I was cast as The Virgin Mary, and made my stage debut singing "Little Donkey".  This was a big deal in a five year old's life.  A leading role, setting the path for a lifetime of dreams.

However, as you may glean from the photographic evidence, I was displeased with my co-star.  I thought my childhood crush Scott Wozniak was worthy of Joseph's role, but it was Anish Kanungo who won the  part. (And who Mr. Google has informed me has become a doctor.  Well done, Anish!)

So it goes in life.

Though I have no appearances as the Virgin this year, I will be singing a bucket load of Christmas songs over the next few days.  The band and I have been hard at work learning every Jingle Claus Merry Sleighbell Marshmallow Christmas tune there is going.  Though many of our performances are of the private party variety – email to book yours today! – I recommend that early birds head down to CBC Regina on Friday from 6 to 9 am for The Morning Edition's open house.  You can support their Comfort and Joy campaign for the Food Bank of Saskatchewan by doing so, and that's a very good thing.  There's lots of fun reasons to attend: a CBC prize wheel, kids craft table, hot chocolate and coffee... plus it's free!

May your heart be light, friends.


Monday, December 1, 2014

country mouse

BB and I visit Corner Gas at TIFF 2014

My childhood years were spent on a small grain farm in Saskatchewan.  I was a border-farm kid: I went to school in Rose Valley, had a line on the Quill Lake phone exchange and our mail was delivered to Fosston.  With populations of 296, 409 and 55 respectively, you can make your own assumptions about the booming metropolis that surrounded me.

With thanks to the Regina Folk Festival and Agribition I got back to my roots on Saturday night, playing music to open up the rodeo cabaret.  The bill was shared with that guy in the photo, Blake Berglund.  My band performed a good dose of twang – with heartache, drinking and death as the central themes.  We did our best to get them dancing, but still have a thing or two to learn about it all from Berglund.

Will I continue down this path and become a country singer?  Will I find a plot of land with an old barn to house a half dozen goats and a pair of ponies?  Will I just dream longingly of my imaginary double wide trailer in Pincher Creek?  It all remains to be seen...

Monday, November 24, 2014

professional help

Applying the final coat of glaze...
hi friends,

I got started on the artwork for our live album last week.  I had a whole team of talented ladies whose primary goal was to make me look good.  Which is awesome.  Let's just admit that right off the hop.

The whole process started when I fell in love with artist & superb human, Monique Blom.  I'm often surprised by the truth she teases out of me in our easy conversation.  She's a force, and you should just get on board with her art.  Basically, I met her and then selfishly devised a reason to collaborate.

But then I wanted to work with photographer Carey Shaw too.  Her portraits make me ache with nostalgia for things I've never experienced.  As Monique said, "You take pictures of my childhood memories."

And then there's my old pal and collaborator, Avril Biggin.  We've grown up as freelance artists over the last three years, and frankly, I can't imagine working without her.  Together we created the artwork for both Hello from Belle Plaine and Notes From A Waitress.

So... I just figured I'd throw them all together and see what happened.  I have no idea what it's going to look like, but I'm sure it'll be real good.

Also, I have to say a huge thanks for the expert skills of April McDougald, and Danni Knox for applying the powders, creams, sprays and various elixirs to tranform me from Farm Girl to Super Fancy Lady.

As a group, these ladies made what is usually a sweaty, uncomfortable experience into something that was creative, collaborative and made my face hurt from laughing.

And since you've read this far, I'll reward you with a little sneak peak of what we made.  I think it's really exciting.

Friday, October 17, 2014

that old familiar feeling

Hi buddies.

This week has been a good one.  The photo here is a post Mayor's Arts & Business Awards moment after I was presented with their Emerging Artist award.

It's another important reminder that I am in a state of constant dependence.  I'm in debt of music lovers, venue owners, concert presenters, fellow musicians, sponsors, journalists, technicians, funding agencies, car mechanics... hell, the list is endless. Most of all I'm reliant on Jeremy and Beth, who have devoted their time to making music a livelihood with me.

Dependance has a beautiful effect of becoming community.  We've built a solid network of support across the prairies, and it's pushing outwards to reach the east and west coasts of Canada, with a few pockets in the USA beginning to form.  It is so exciting.  Being able to sing for a living and be cared for along the way is an incredible feeling.  I'm completely lost without all the help.

So thank you already!  For listening, writing about us, taking photos, booking shows, buying merch... everything.  Special thanks to those venues like the Bassment, Ironwood, Park Theatre, Artesian, and Carleton who give me street cred by bringing me onboard with major Canadian acts and making me look good in the process.

I'm just grateful.  Full stop.  Let's just all keep doing this, ok?


Thursday, October 9, 2014

supporting the girls


This past weekend the band and I went to Winnipeg for BreakOut West.  If you're not in the know, BOW is a music conference that occurs in some lucky Western Canadian city every year.  It also serves as a reunion for industry types.  Basically, I get together with my extended community, talk business, learn me a thing or two, introduce myself to new pals, and everyone hangs out digging the music going on in the evenings.  I always enjoy the event, and I'm legitimate in telling myself that I'm "working" while having a hell of a time.

This year at BreakOut West, some smart friends of mine thought we should have a hockey game for the ladies.  It's fair to say that I did not want to play.  I'm pretty unsure of myself on skates, and I don't know the rules.  A strange gap in my prairie education, I know.

But Elizabeth signed me up, and so it was that I played in the first ever Double D Cup.  Most shocking to me was that I didn't totally stink.  Sure, ok... I played in figure skates, but you gotta start somewhere.

I must attest to the sheer awesomeness of everyone involved – players and otherwise.  Jeremy was even among the supporters and sang Oh Canada! Man, did he ever earn points for being there at 8:45 am after a few late nights out on the town.

May the tradition continue next year... and may I improve at hockey in the meantime.

Here's to the Double D Cup!  Supporting the girls since 2014.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

bg vox

Hi guys.

I've been practicing something a lot lately: harmonies. Holy crap.

Who knew I was such a lead singer?

It started with Del Barber, who asked me to play his CD release in March at Winnipeg's Park Theatre. Del casually asked me to join in on harmonies for "Someday Soon" by Ian Tyson.

I'm always (usually) up for a challenge and so I said yes... and then practiced for an absurd amount of time.

That gave me enough confidence to try it again, so I signed up to sing with Blake Berglund on a few shows. With all the practice, it's possible that I'm improving.

Maybe you think harmonies are easy.  I dunno... maybe they are. But I find it hard. Really hard. I don't know how people just "find a part". I have to bang it out on the piano. Plug my ears. Block out everything else and try to just sing in tune. And that's never been an issue for me. I can sing lead, dammit. Why do harmonies gotta be so different?

Through the struggle of getting my stubborn ear to hear something other than the melody I've developed much more respect for Anna Rose, who is a truly gifted harmony singer and gives my live show depth and nuance with her voice.  Not to mention bassist Beth who didn't sing at all before we met, and is now belting out the second part.

To further drive the point home, last night I watched 20 Feet From Stardom. It's good. Ugh... so good. I'm a big softie, so I had tears in my eyes from the women's beautiful voices throughout. Their joy of singing is too familiar to me, as is their the love of performance. It's just fabulous. It's incredible what a few women did to shape popular music. Watch it.

And so I'm gonna keep working at it because harmonies are incredible. Hearing two voices in parallel is the most moving sound that humans can produce, as far as I'm concerned.

Even if I have to learn how to sing all over again, I'm proud to do it.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

gateway pt. 2

Thx to Chris Sleightholm for this snap.
Hi buddies,

A dear friend once told me that choosing to be a musician seemed like joining a new family. He was right. And in the few years that have passed since becoming a full time musician I've seen my family grow from local to international. The glue is the sense that we're looking after each other. Whether it's a place to crash in another city, supporting each other at gigs or sharing contacts... there's a lotta love around here.

So if I'm in a family, I figure summer festivals are pretty much a series of reunions.

Last Friday night at the Gateway Festival opened for me by watching the absurdly talented Kacy & Clayton play. Follow that by two stepping with Blake Berglund to The Deep Dark Woods, and then being totally knocked over by Library Voices' new material. My evening was at its height watching The Sadies for probably the eighth time in my life. (Y'know, I'll just never tire of those dudes. My favourite memory of the band is from a show in Banff in 2007. After a killer night, their encore began with one of the brothers dryly announcing "And now The Sadies would like to play nine more songs for you," prior to ripping into a third set.)

Thankfully, Bend Sinister prevented me from falling into a post-Sadies funk. I then enjoyed my sister bands Snake River and The Pile O' Bones Brass Band close up the evening.  Day one complete.

Saturday began with the familiar Coffee Stagger as well as a failed attempt at distributing Revello ice cream bars to the festival's first risers around 9:30 am.  Eventually I found my feet, and it happened to coincide with hearing Miss Megan Nash's incredible voice.  Saturday's schedule was filled by excellent artists, with Ridley Bent, The Bros Landreth, Indigo Joseph, and The Dead South really knocking me over.

More than anything, an unexpected encounter with Tex Emery truly brought home the beauty of the festival. I've heard tales of Moose Jaw harboring one of Nashville's country legends. Rumour has it that Tex was Buck Owens' pedal steel player and it was through him that Tex made appearances on Hee Haw. Tex is now 84, and be damned if he doesn't want a spot in my band after seeing us on Saturday's main stage. And I'm all for it. That bit of news made my weekend, to be quite honest.

So there you have it! A successful family reunion where I got to relax and see the locals, reconnect with long lost buddies and finally met the guy everyone has been talking about all these years.

I'm in your debt, Gateway. Thank you for a wonderful weekend.