May has been a great month so far, and there’s lots to tell!
About 10 years ago I was introduced to Michael Timmins, and in many ways that meeting laid the groundwork for my wonderful musical life to come. I was introduced to him by my good friend Anne Bourne, who had seen me sing my version of Pete Seeger’s One Grain of Sand and thought I should record it. I went to Mike’s old studio, the Clubhouse, and sang my 15-year old heart out! Mike and I went on to make my first 2 records together and I’ve learned immensely from working with him. Latent Recordings has chosen that original recording of One Grain of Sand as their feature for May’s Under Cover free download. You can download the song by clicking here.
In other news, kith&kin – my family a cappella trio – are branching out a bit this summer and presenting a music/theatre piece called The Hollow Square as part of the Toronto Fringe. The show will feature lots of the haunting Shapenote music that we perform, and our awesome choir will take part in the project as well! We have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the costs of this labour-of-love, and donations can be made by clicking here. We only have a couple of weeks left to reach our goal – and we MUST reach our goal or we don’t get the money!
Also I have a new(ish) video to share! On the very last day of wintry weather in Toronto, Matt Bailey and I went out to shoot a live video of our song The First Day of Winter – we did it just in time! Many thanks to the Live in Bellwoods boys for making this beautiful video!
First – I recorded a version of the beautiful Mary Margaret O'Hara song Dear Darling last year, and it's now available as a free download via the Latent RecordingsUnder Cover series. Follow the prompts on this link to get it! If you don't know Mary Margaret's music, you should check it out – she is a rare treasure. My version of Dear Darling also features some pretty playing by Matthew Bailey and Noah Reid – thanks you two!
Second – my darling dear friend Tamara Lindeman (aka the Weather Station) is going to put out her much-anticipated new album Loyalty in May. It is so beautiful! The folks at Stereogum previewed one of the tracks recently and you must hear it! I've posted the track below, you can read the Stereogum feature here.
AND FINALLY – one nice note: The Calling (the drum n bass song that I made with my friend Rene LaVice) has been in steady heavy rotation on BBC Radio in the UK as part of their A List! We are blessed to be occupying space on the list next to Kanye, Rihanna, and Paul McCartney !! If you haven't heard the song you can listen on youtube here.
I love winter, but in the last couple of days I've been feeling the first of those spring-pangs – when you're starting to feel ready for the warmer weather to return. In that spirit, I thought I'd post a video I sang in at the end of last summer with my friend Tim Moxam. I've been doing a bunch of work with him and our third bandmate Raffa Weyman over the past year, and a new album is on the way this spring! The video is by our pals at Live in Bellwoods- bigups Mike and Kyle!
And speaking of videos, mine and Rene LaVice's new track the Calling is well over 100K views on youtube now, which is AMAZING! You can watch the video here. Thanks to all the drum n bass fans who've been sending love our way!
It's an exciting week! Two projects that I poured a lot of love into over the past year are finally being released!
The first actually already has been released…sort of. My good friend and drum n bass producer supreme Rene LaVice (who is poised to have a HUGE year) and I worked our butts off on a couple of new collaborations in Spring 2014. The first of them – the Calling – finally saw the light of day last week when BBC's Zane Lowe chose it as his Hottest Record that day and premeired it on the radio! UKF Drum n Bass also put it out on youtube and the love has been flowing in! I'm so proud of Rene – this song was a true labour of love. Check out the UKF video below.
Then, on January 25th, my best bud Matthew Bailey will release his new EP, You Said I Said. I sing and play keyboards on it (I'm slowly getting better). We've been performing these songs for about a year now, so it is awesome to finally have them recorded and ready for the world! We'll be celebrating the release at the Common on the 25th. Details can be found on facebook here. Check out the teaser video below (the one with the long hair is me!). The album will be out on Bandcamp shortly, and I'll post the link here when it is!
For the last seven years, my Novembers and Decembers have been dedicated to a lovely show I put on at the Music Gallery with kith&kin – the vocal trio I sing in with my sister Martha, and our mom Kathleen. Over the years it's become a wonderful tradition not only for our family, but also for many other people – the members of our kith&kin choir, the Music Gallery staff, and of course all the families and friends who come year after year.
It is always a special night. This year our choir will feature the Toronto talents of Isla Craig, Frank Griggs, Max Milton Kelly, Gabriel Levine, and a new member Andrew Patten, holding down the bass end of things. Our beloved member D. Alex Meeks can't join us this year because he'll be touring in warmer climates with the awesome Hooded Fang – we'll miss our beloved Holiday Rambler!
Below are the details for the show, and also be sure to check out the beautiful new video made by Tyler Hnatuk. It features kith&kin's performance of Oh My Mother is the Ocean Sea, a song that was originally composed by the great Wade Hemsworth for an NFB doc called Seaweeds. Tyler has edited the footage from Seaweeds beautifully to match our version of the song, which is on kith&kin's album Cool of the Day.
7th Annual kith&kin Holiday Wassail
at the Music Gallery, 197 John Street, just north of Queen
Last winter I became obsessed with the Tom Petty song "Only a Broken Heart", from the album Wildflowers. My friend Noah Reid and I worked out an arrangement of it and sang it together at various shows and parties that season. In early Spring, Mike Timmins asked me if I'd like to contribute a recording to his new series of cover-song recordings by Latent artists, and I knew I had just the song!
Our version of Only a Broken Heart (which also features Matt Bailey on electric guitar) is now available as a free download as part of the Under Cover project. By clicking here you get a free download of that song, as well as the Cowboy Junkies new cover of the Springsteen classic Thunder Road. You can read more about the Under Cover series on the Cowboy Junkies site here.
Noah Reid is a wonderful musician – he has quietly been working on his debut album, which will be out sometime in the near future – keep your eyes peeled!
In other news, the song Sad Man off my new album Nonbeliever was featured in the latest Torontoisgood podcast along with a bunch of other awesome music by Toronto artists. You can listen to it here.
Slowly but steadily over the past 2 years, my best friend Matthew Bailey and I have been tinkering away at a collection of my songs. Half were written years ago when I was a brand new adult living in Montreal. The other half were written over the past two years here in Toronto. We called the album Nonbeliever and released it surrounded by friends a couple of weeks ago. The mood of this record is a bit of a departure from my past two solo albums. It's moodier and weirder (dare I say!) and the arrangements are sparse but crafted with care. I am really proud of what Matt and I have created, and I'm particularly proud of my singing on the record. As many of those close to me know, I've struggled with voice problems over the past 4 years and have learned a lot about strong, healthy singing – and I think it shows on this record!
I must thank the incomparable Josh Van Tassel for contributing drums and sounds on three of the songs, and to my beautiful sister Martha for playing flute. Most importantly though, I must thank Matt Bailey. He put an incredible amount of work into this project – most of the guitars, keys, and other sounds were lovingly played and recorded by him. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful and creative collaborator and friend in him! (We are currently finishing up a new ep of Matt's music, so keep your ears open for its release, and in the meantime check out his last album here).
My friend Jake Sherman filmed our performance of Thrush at the Nonbeliever release party, and the resulting video is below. Try to ignore the sound of the shattering vase in the first minute – stuff happens! Thanks to Jake for his beautiful work and to our hosts that evening – the amazing Dean family. And thanks to new friend Lukas Horch for the photo at the top. Check him out!
I am certainly having a beautiful one so far. I have a couple pieces of news to share!
First, I was honoured to contribute a song to the compilation album DOMINIONATED – which celebrates eight great years of the Canadian music blog Quick Before it Melts. The assignment was to pick a favourite Canadian song of the 80s or 90s and record a cover of it for the compilation. I chose Mary Margaret O'Hara's Dear Darling, from her classic album Miss America. I recorded it with Michael Timmins, and my great friends Matt Bailey and Noah Reid contributed guitar and piano. You can download the entire album for free here. So delighted to be included in this great group of Canadian bands!
One of my favourite shows of the year is coming up soon! Sunday July 20th will be the seventh annual Poor Pilgrim Island Show – a traveling musical day on Toronto Island, which is organized by my good friend and Bruce Peninsula bandmate Matt Cully. Every year the show features beautiful unamplified performances by Toronto musicians in hidden natural settings all around the Islands. I'll be opening the show in a collaborative set of (mostly) traditional folk songs with my pal Sean Donald. More info on the show is here. Bring your bike if you have one! Below is a video of John Southworth, one of the great performers to see at Poor Pilgrim 7!
I'm excited to let you know about a show I'm doing with kith&kin (aka my family) in a couple of weeks. The show is happening at St. Andrew-by-the-Lake church on Toronto Island. This church is very spceial to us because it's where we started singing together as a trio in our community, and also because it's where we recorded our two albums. We'll be joined by our fantastic choir Isla Criag, Max Milton Kelly, Frank Griggs, Gabe Levine, and D. Alex Meeks. We'll perform songs as a trio, with the choir, and the choir members will lead some of their own songs as well. Oh and it's happening on MOTHER'S DAY! Music starts at 4pm, so come and ramble on the Island beforehand. All details are on facebook here. We'll be singing songs from our recently released album Cool of the Day, which you can listen to below…