It is very cold in Toronto. The coldest winter in years! It's been a big deal for lots of folks, but I've actually been enjoying it a lot – skating on natural ice on Toronto Island with my family and cooking lots of big braises and stews at home! I have a few shows coming up that will bring me out of semi-hibernation – maybe they'll get you out too.
First up, I'll be playing a show of Ivy Mairi tunes with my pal Matt Bailey at the Dakota Tavern on Jan 29th. It's been awhile since I've played my own stuff live, so I'm excited. We're gonna take the opportunity to try out some new songs. We're opening up the show and will be followed by our good friends Animal Parts and Dear Sister – both amazing!! All the details are on facebook here.
Then the following night, on Jan 30th, I'll be taking on a new role playing keyboard in the latest incarnation of Matthew Bailey's band! This will be my second time ever playing keyboards live, so wish me luck on my big solos! That show will be at the Common on College – details here.
And then later on in February I'm taking part in Returning Current at the Music Gallery – a really cool talk/performance being put on by my friend Daniela Gesundheit of Snowblink and renowned acoustic biologist Katy Payne. In the show, Katy will give a talk about her landmark research into elephant communication and humpback whale song. I am part of an amazing choir put together by Daniela that will present some musical moments to illustrate Katy's points, or give context. What we have learned so far about how these animals communicate is amazing – I'm so excited to meet Katy in person and hear her stories! This will be an awesome evening! All the details are here.
Here's a great video by Dear Sister to warm your winter…
I've got shows of all kinds coming up in the next few weeks!
First, this Thursday the 21st I'll jump up to do a couple tunes with my good pal Sam Cash at the Dakota Tavern. You can a video of us doing a duet here. This band is tied for my favourite hometown act!
Then on November 22nd and 23rd I am honoured to be performing as part of the live debut of the Kennedy Suite, a song cycle that explores the Kennedy assasination. The songs were written by Scott Garbe and were recorded by an amazing group of performers including Cowboy Junkies, Sarah Harmer, Skydiggers, Jason Collett, Doug Paisley, Lee Harvey Osmond, and so many more great people. I was lucky enough to asked to sing on a couple of songs! To celebrate the release of the album and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assasination we are performing the album from front to back for two nights at the beautiful Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto. Tickets are still available for the 23rd and can be purchased here. At the bottom of this post is an interview with Michael Timmins and Scott Garbe about the project.
On December 12th I'll be performing in the first Bruce Peninsula show in many months! The rock-choral-prog mega crew I sing with hasn't played in a long time, so we're excited to play a special show as part of the Wired City Music Fest at the new downtown venue Adelaide Hall. It's going to be a a great, big show. You can get tickets here.
And as I have done for the past 5 years, my family a capella trio kith&kin will be performing our annual seasonal concerts. This year we will perform a more formal sit-down concert at the beautiful Music Gallery on Sunday December 15th. This show will feature our all-star choir, the Shadowland Youth Mummers, and other special guests! For tickets and more information click here. Then, on Friday December 20th we'll have a more casual show/gathering at the Imperial Pub - a chance to play some music and see our friends! This show will also feature a set by Matt Bailey's new surf outfit the Poinsettias to take us into the night! This show will be pay-what-you-can. To RSVP to either kith&kin show on facebook click here.
More info coming soon on the new kith&kin album and some January shows!
I'll be singing as part of two great groups next week, back-to-back!
First, on Tuesday Oct 15th I'll be singing with my all-lady a capella group Soul Sisters Supreme Redux v2.0 at the Rivoli in Toronto, opening for the beautiful Leif Vollebekk. This Soul Sisters show will be a little different, as we're doing it as a trio – just myself, Isla Craig, and Felicity Williams and a loop pedal. Should be neat!
On the following night I'll be singing with my friend Tim Moxam at the Drake for the release of his first solo EP Blue Son, out on the awesome Nevado Records. Tim's song and voice are just amazing! Since I had to learn the songs, I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of the EP, and let me say that it is quite the introduction! This will be a great show. You can preview one of his songs here, and RSVP on facebook here.
Here's Tim's new live video for the song Come and Gone By…
Two recordings of my music recently surfaced online! Thought they would be worth sharing here. The first is very old – from my first-ever appearance at Hugh's Room at one of their A Man Called Wrycraft shows when I was 17. At that show, I sang two songs by Otis Redding. At an interview with Points North on CKUA Radio this year my good friend Michael Wrycraft (who hosted the show at Hugh's Room that night) shared this recording that he's been hanging on to all these years! I wasn't able to find a recording of the broadcast online until a fan shared it with me on facebook recently. So, here it is! My song is about 30 mins in, but the whole interview is great! Link below…
The new recording I mentioned is actually a preview of a recording, hehe. But it's a nice one too! This summer I was honoured to be invited to record my version of the great Skydiggers song Feel You Closer for their new project She Comes into the Room – a album of Diggers covers sung by some of their favourite female vocalists. They've put together a preview video to give folks a sneak peak at what to expect from the project! Check it out below!
I've been a busy lady this summer programming music over at the Island Cafe, and have barely had a chance to do my own thing! But this long weekend, I'm combining the two! On Monday Sept 2nd I'll play the final night of the Cafe's 2nd annual Long Weekend Arts Fest. Myself and Matthew Bailey are going to debut a bunch of new music that we worked on together over the winter, while he was living down at the coldest end of the island, and we'll also do some reworked versions of old songs. My dear sister Martha will do a fire hoop dance as well (hence the picture). It's going to be a beautiful show, and I'm excited to do some of my own singing! You can get all the info on facebook here.
In the spring I did some recording with Michael Timmins for one of his long-running projects: Scott Garbe's Kennedy Suite – a folk-rock opera about the Kennedy assasination, featuring some amazing Canadian musicians. The Cowboy Junkies are putting together a big live show to showcase the project at the Winter Garden Theatre on November 22nd. Guests will includeSarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Skydiggers, Lee Harvey Osmond, Harlan Pepper, Jessy Bell Smith, Reid Jameison, The Good Family (Bruce and Margaret Good), The Screwed, The Potion Kings and myself! Tickets are now on sale here. It's sure to be an amazing night!
Another piece of news – I've reached a new milestone – my first-ever youtube cover! You can watch it here.
I've been doing lots of singing with my dear friend Matthew Bailey, and also with Isla Craig's lady a capella group, which features some of my favourite Toronto singers. I'll be singing with Matt at the Island Cafe on Wednesday July 17.
That's it for now! Check out this beautiful video of Isla and the girls at the Music Gallery last month!
I'm performing in three a capella shows this weekend!
On Saturday May 11th, kith&kin, the vocal trio I sing in with my mother Kathleen McDonnell and sister Martha Farquhar-McDonnell, will be performing an a capella set as part of Habourfront Centre's SING! Vocal Arts Festival . We'll be performing at 5pm sharp in the Lakeside Terrance and the show is FREE! We're excited to be premiering some new songs that we've recorded for our next album!
This Friday and Saturday (May 10 and 11) I'll be doing two shows with my dear friend Isla Craig and our recently-christened girl group Soul Sisters Supreme Redux 2.0 (for real!). This a an amazing group - Tamara Lindeman (the Weather Station), Daniela Gesundheit (Snowblink), and Felicity Williams (Bahamas and Hobson's Choice) round out the crew! We'll be singing music off Isla's recently-released Both the One and the Other tape, as well as putting our own spin on some traditional vocal music. We will be doing these two shows entirely a capella! These concerts are being presented by Weird Canada and the Suoni Per il Popolo festival, and are really not to be missed! More information about both shows is here.
Here is Isla and the Soul Sisters' new video for "Played in the Cards". Beautifully shot by Yuula Benivolski and danced by Mairi Greig.
Last summer my sister Martha and I got to flex our hula-hooping muscles while filming the new video for Snowblink's Inner Mini-Mississippi. Snowblink are good friends of mine from the Toronto music community, and their latest record, Inner Classics is amazing! You can stream the whole thing on Brooklyn Vegan here. (BV even calls Martha and I "world class" hula hoopers!) Oh and speaking of friends, the video was directed by Neil Haverty, one of my bandmates from Bruce Peninsula. Bigups to Snowblink for the beautiful song, Neil for the gorgeous video, and to all three of them for having Martha and I dance in their video! Lucky us !
We had an amazing show on Friday night with Andy Maize and friends at Hugh's Room – what a special place to play. I love it more and more each time! If some photos from the night resurface, I'll be sure to put them up!
This first week of March is, for me, dominated by one person – my guitarist and best bud Matthew Bailey! I'm playing shows with him every other day this week! Matt put out his debut album, Tendrils (see the beautiful artwork by Raven Julia Shields below), earlier this year, and I was lucky enough to be one of the many great singers featured on the record. Matt is playing two shows this week, and I'll be singing backup. You can see us play…
– On Monday March 4th at the Common on College (hosted by that same Raven Shields – if you've never been to her music nights at the Common, you must go!). This show is with our friend Sean Donald.
And then this Friday March 8th, Matt and I will be playing as a duo at the Holy Oak. We've been invited by our good friend Max Kelly to share in his monthly residency there. We're going to play our own songs, as well as lots of covers and some of our old favourites that have fallen off our setlists over the years. You can get all the info here!
And finally, you can check out Matt's song Until You Arrived on the latest installment of Tim Sweeney's podcast Rock the Shackhere. It's a duet!
February is coming to a close, and we're through the longest nights of the winter now, and I can feel some good spring things coming!
In this post I want to tell you about three very different things I'm involved with right now.
The first is that I'm thrilled to be playing with my band this coming Friday March 1st at Hugh's Room, opening up for Andy Maize (of Skydiggers), in a special solo performance. Andy has for many years been a close musical friend and a great supporter of mine, so I am so excited to share the stage with him this week. The show will also feature a set of music by Michael Johnston, who plays keys in Andy's band. For tickets and info click here.
The second piece of news is that I'll be calling a squaredance as part of the annual Trinity Bellwoods Ice-In, an awesome winter event that takes place in a small enclave on the western edge of Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto. The event is a beautiful celebration of art, music, ice, snow, fire, and community and will feature films projected onto ice, a fire-spinning show, hot drinks, ice art of many kinds, and of course, a squaredance called by me to warm everybody up! More info is here. And it's free!
And my third piece! My good friend and collaborator Rene LaVice has just released his debut LP on RAM Records. I sing on two songs on the album, including the title track, Insidious. Rene makes drum'n'bass music, and I always enjoy how completely different it feels for me to sing over that kind of music. Listen to Insidious below!