I have no idea where December and January went! The holidays have always tended to be a pretty busy time for me, but this year was the craziest in memory and had me performing regularly throughout december and right into the early new year.
Now that I've had a chance to catch my breath, I want to share a few highlights here (and news of what's coming up next, which is also lots!).
My good friend Jared Rosenbaum took some beautiful photos of me and the band at the El Mocambo on Dec 8th. You can see them here.
The wonderful Joe Strutt, of Mechanical Forest Sound, made some great recordings at the kith&kin Holiday Wassail at the Music Gallery on Dec 16th. Listen to them here. Thanks Joe!
I don't have any link-able material from the kith&kin shows on Dec 21 and 22, or from the Bruce Peninsula show in Hamilton on Dec 29th – only good memories! On January 4th I performed at Hugh's Room in A Man Called Wrycraft's James Taylor tribute night, and Robert Saxe took this beautiful photo…
And now onto what's next! This Saturday Jan 19th I'll be playing a few songs at the Cameron House as part of the Elsethings Festival – a nation-wide celebration of local music that also marks the release of my good friend Nick Everett's new album, Elsethings. Read more about the festival here.
Then, on January 30, my best friend and collaborator Matthew Bailey will be releasing his first solo album, Tendrils, at the Tranzac Club. My sister Martha and I sang lots on this album and I'm so excited for the big old world to hear it – we're so proud of Matt! You can get a sneak preview of the album here, and watch the new Southern Souls video we did below.
In other other news, my family vocal trio kith&kin has begun recording our long-put-off second album!
I have the first of my many December shows tonight at the El Mocambo! All the details are on facebook right here.
I had a great chat with Sarah Greene from NOW Magazine earlier this week about my upcoming shows, No Talker, and more. Check out our Q&A here.
AND I just got a wonderful gift from my friend Graham Ereaux of Bolivia and Devarrow. While we were on tour in his town of Sackville NB in October, he shot a takeaway show of Matt Bailey and I performing Neil Young's One of These Days. He just put it up moments ago, so here it is for you!
It's that time of year! After a break from playing live after my October tour, I'm now busy rehearsing for a few big December shows.
The first is the Holiday Highnote on December 8th at the famous El Mocambo with some of my best musical friends KIRTY, Joshua Cockerill's Animal Parts, and Dear Sister. It's going to be an amazing night of young roots musicians. All details are at the facebook event here.
The second show is the fifth annual edition of kith&kin's Holiday Wassail at the beautiful Music Gallery. kith&kin is the vocal trio I sing in with my sister Martha and our mother Kathleen McDonnell (you can hear our seasonal album Yet Will I be Merry on my music page, here). The show has become a wonderful holiday tradition for our friends, family, and musical community, and includes a 7-person choir, a contemporary Mummers Play by the Shadowland Youth Theatre Troupe, and opportunities to sing along with our collection of lesser-known carols from Appalachia, the British Isles, and Medieval Europe! All the details and facebook event are right here.
kith&kin will also be playing a more informal concert at the Imperial Pub on December 21st which will feature yet more musical friends and a special puppet show by Max Kelly! More details on this show coming soon. And finally, we've been invited to perform as part of the Rivoli's annual Christmas Show, which raises money for Second Harvest. This show is always a great one!
Another piece of news – I'm on a new release! This past Sunday a group of devoted fans and friends came together to celebrate the release of my good friend Isla Craig's new tape Both the One and the Other on the Totally Disconnected label. The album is now available on cassette tape (old school cool!) and for digital download at bandcamp here. Side A of the tape features arrangements of Isla's solo music for 5 singers: Isla, Daniela Gesundheit of Snowblink, Tamara Lindeman of the Weather Station, Felicity Williams, and myself. It is a heavy-hitting group that I'm honored to be a part of! Do yourself a favour and check out this amazing release!
To prime you for my upcoming holiday shows, here's a video from last winter of kith&kin singing Jean Ritchie's The Cool of the Day. See you soon!
We're out in New Brunswick and having the BEST TIME!! Check out me and Matt's gas station jump skills!
We've just gotten home from an amazing show in Sackville NB with our friends Bolivia. We are having a ridiculously fun time with these guys, we laugh all day long (except when we're listening to their beautiful singing voices)! Today we visited Fort Beausejour and ran around on the hills, took photos, and made a live video. We'll be taking the train back to Toronto on Sunday, at which time I promise to post photos from tonight's show, and from our Beausejour adventure!
Tomorrow we're playing in Halifax – come early to help carve pumpkins to light the show! Details here.
More photos and reports soon! The East Coast is the greatest!
My October eastbound tour starts today! I’m typing from my bandmate’s van as we cruise down the 401 headed for Trois Rivieres, Quebec. It is home to Cafe-Bar Zenob, which is certainly one of Canada’s hidden-treasure venues. Wonderful atmosphere, and even better people! I’ll be out for the next week doing shows with my friends KIRTY (who just released their awesome new album), and Bolivia. Check all the dates here.
To celebrate the start of the tour, I made a new video with the incomparable Mitchell Fillion of SouthernSouls.ca for my song Kenyatta. This is a very special video for me, because it features the original arrangement of the song, which I wrote with my good friend Anne Bourne. We have been working on this song on and off for 5 years, so it’s amazing to have a document of it’s original arrangement to contrast with the album version! Enjoy!
After a fairly low-key summer, my musical life is coming back into force in many ways!
My band and I are getting all set to hit the road in celebration of the summer release of our new album No Talker. We’ll be out for the better part of this month, starting in Toronto and working our way east to Halifax! Check all the tour dates right here. We’re super excited to be playing dates with our good friend KIRTY (whose awesome new album is coming out on Oct 17th), as well as our friends Bolivia from New Brunswick. It’s going to be a total time! Look at this beautiful poster by the amazing Nima Lorris….
I’ll also be heading to the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals’ annual conference to play as part of Global Cafe’s showcase on Friday Oct 12th. The OCFF conference is a place where tons of musical friends you’ve made at home and on the road converge for a silly and wonderful weekend of great music and people. Thanks to Global Cafe for having me!
Another neat thing I’ve got on the horizon is the release of All My Trials, a new song I made with my old friend, drum n bass producer Rene LaVice. This track has been years in the making, so it’s amazing to finally have it come out! RAM Records is putting it out as a single on Oct 22nd, but you can stream it right away on Soundcloud here. I guess you can say it’s a bit of a departure from the stuff I’ve released so far!
Look at the amazing cover art! Check that hair! Check Rene’s pro face! Photo by Visualbass.
During the past two years, I’ve had my favourite summer job ever – programming the Summer Concert Series at the Island Cafe on Ward’s Island, where I grew up and continue to spend most of my summer time. This job basically consists of booking some of my favourite Toronto musicians to play on an outdoor stage on the Cafe’s garden patio. I get to enjoy a meal with my musical friends, and introduce them to the wonderful Island community.
In response to the success of last summer’s concert series, we decided to expand on the format this year and host our own little festival to showcase the talents and creations of Islanders, Cafe staff, and other Toronto friends. Finally, this labour day weekend, our project is ready for its debut! I’m proud of our little baby! While I’m not performing at the festival, I will be around all weekend, so come visit me!
Island Cafe presents: Long Weekend Arts Festival
Aug 31st – Sept 3rd
A pay-what-you-can weekend of live music, performance, artists, artisans, and food on Ward’s Island!
On Sunday I rehearsed in the morning, went to work, left work, played at the ALL CAPS! festival, went back to work, and then ended up returning to the festival later that evening with my work! So it was quite a day. The festival was so so wonderful – awesome bands, a big lake to swim in, and all your friends were there. The festival is held at Artscape Gibraltar Point - a building which used to be an elementary school – and the school that I attended from grades 1 through 5! It was pretty hilarious and cool to play a show on my old soccer field.
That beautiful photo above is courtesy of the wonderful Joe Strutt of Mechanical Forest Sound. You can listen to a recording Joe made of our song Passing Cars (click here!) at the event. Be sure to check out the other great bands he recorded at the festival!
We also got a nice little mention in NOW magazine’s roundup of Day 2 of the festival. You can read that one right here.
Up next for me is another fun show that they’d only try in summer – playing on a rooftop! Next Thursday August 23rd I’ll be joining my Bruce Peninsula bandmates for a show as part of the Amsterdam Brewery’s Open Roof Festival, which combines live music and film screenings, all on the roof of the brewery! Details are here!
During the summers, I always spend a lot of time on Toronto Island, where I grew up, but this summer I’ve been lucky to have much of that time involving performing. Over the past few years, the Island has become a more and more popular spot for unique shows in festivals.
This past Sunday, kith&kin, the vocal trio I sing in with my sister Martha and our mother Kathleen McDonnell, performed as part of the 5th Poor Pilgrim Island Show, which is a festival focusing on fringe folk and experimental music that travels around to different sites all over the Island. We performed at St. Andrew-by-the-Lake church (by candle courtesy of Isla Craig) towards the end of the evening. Mechanical Forest Sound captured some audio from the performance, and you can hear it here. You should also take a look at more photos and recordings from the festival here, it was such an amazing day!
I also have another Island musical engagement coming up this Friday July 13th. I’ll be playing at the Island Cafe, where I curate and host their Summer Concert Series. I’m so excited to play because it will be the return show for my guitarist and best bud Matt Bailey, who has been away for 2 months! The show starts at 7pm, and the Cafe has great food! More info here!
Here’s a nice photo of me playing last month at the Summerworks Festival launch party, by Omer Yukseker. Check out more of his stuff here!