Archive for the ‘John Wort Hannam’ Tag
A very poor quality snap of John Wort Hannam in Leduc Saturday evening.
The John Wort Hannam Trio did a “pretty good” show in Leduc, Alberta this past evening, Sept. 29, 2012. The Fort MacLeod-based singer and songwriter featured a number of songs from the new Brambles and Thorns album (due October 2 from Borealis Records). Among the songs featured were “Pretty Good,” the clever “Great Lakes,” Lee Roy Stagger’s “Radiant Land,” the humourous “Damn Tattoo,” as well as the Alberta-proud “Out Here” and “Ain’t Lonesome Enough,” a song that was inspired by a recent sojourn into country music listening. (And I trust JWH knows “I Fall to Pieces” was written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard!)
The evening’s most impactful song was the one written for John’s life-long friend, the apt and well-constructed “Beautiful Friend.” As well, John dusted off “Dickson’s Slough,” a song from Dynamite and ‘Dozers that has been resurrected for Brambles and Thorns.
John was in as good of voice as ever, and positively presented himself and his music to an appreciative audience, the majority of which didn’t appear to have been familiar with his music before the concert. His increasing resemblance to both Raffi and Fred Penner was only slightly off-putting.
I don’t recall any songs from Two-Bit Suit being performed, a bit of an oddity as the title song, Damn It Gwenivere, and Infantryman are always appreciated. Requiem for a Small Town, Come Back to Me, Church of the Long Grass, Gypsies Grove, and a song in tribute of Fort MacLeod’s Empress Theatre were also performed. It was especially good to hear “Scotsman’s Bluff” and “We’re Gettin’ By” again. No “Pier 21,” though.
The sound was excellent, a nice change from the Red Deer venue I’ve heard John at the last few times I’ve seen him.
All in all, a pretty darn good night that was well worth the 45-minute drive home.
Six or seven October shows are listed at http://www.johnworthannam.com/John_Wort_Hannam_Website/HOME.html
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Alberta’s Arts Days, while a bit of a fabrication on the part of the government, has its benefits including a performance this Saturday evening by Alberta’s answer to Guy Clark, John Wort Hannam. John is playing in Leduc, and I plan on driving up to the McLab Theatre housed within the high school from which I graduated. Hmm, just occured to me: the first band I attempted to write about- and whose lead singer was the first I interviewed- were Edmonton’s The Models, and the gig and interview occured at Leduc Composite. Thirty-three years later…
Information about the gig and John Wort Hannam, who has a new album coming out October 2 (his first for Borealis) available at http://www.johnworthannam.com/John_Wort_Hannam_Website/HOME.html If he has copies for sale in Leduc, I’ll be purchasing one and will let you know what I think. I’m anticipating that it will be as good as Maria Dunn’s recently released Piece by Piece.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
To quote Stompin’ Tom Connors, it’s Canada Day up Canada
way, and in honour of our great Canadian celebration- marked traditionally by hailstorms, watching the NHL Free Agent Frenzy on TSN, and mega-sleep-ins to recover from a school year (6 PM last evening until 7:45 this morning, a personal best perhaps)- I thought I would offer up 10 Roots Songs for Canada Day.
Not a list of the 10 greatest Canadian songs, or my favourites even- just 10 songs to consider pulling off the shelf or downloading (legally, dagnabit) this DFKADD (day formerly known as Dominion Day).
- “8:30 Newfoundland” Mike Plume Band- Okay, maybe
this is the best roots song itemizing the charms and challenges of our fine
country. As a proud Canadian- one who doesn’t usually agree with our governments’
decisions- this song is 4:08 of joy. I haven’t been to all the places mentioned, but that doesn’t make it less appealing- we’re all tied together, especially those of us who watched lots of CBC in the 60s and 70s, by the fact that we know what ‘8:30 Newfoundland’ means. Originally released on 8:30 Newfoundland 2009
- “Acadian Driftwood” The Band- Maybe the band’s finest moments this side of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” A stylized account of the forced exodus of the Acadians from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and their eventual settlement in Louisiana. I took my Canadian history courses in university, but I never really understood the expulsion of the Acadians until I started to understand the meaning behind and context of “Acadian Driftwood.” Unfortunately, that didn’t happen until I was well out of university. A great listen: a solid groove, a story clearly told, and wonderful vocal performances from the triad of Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Richard Manuel. Originally released on Northern Lights-Southern Cross 1975
- “O Saskatchewan” Matt Masters- As a reluctant Saskatchewanian for a few years, I came to appreciate the province in ways that others- like me, once upon a time- simply can’t because of our stereotypes and our willingness to go for the easy joke. Saskatchewan has always been viewed by Albertans as the poor cousin to the east, but it really isn’t that different from us, save the mountains. Yes, you can see your dog run away for three days out on the prairie, but the same can be said for most of Alberta. The real Saskatchewan is pretty magnificent and I got to explore a bit of it living in
the north country for a few years: you don’t know Saskatchewan until you’ve
walked the Methye Portage three different times and been left breathless each
time at the view of the Clearwater River as you break through the bush at that
final ridge. Matt Masters doesn’t get much off the Trans-Canada in his view of
the province, but we’ll forgive that as his appreciation for Saskatchewan
appears genuine, and the album gets its release today. Originally released on All-Western Winners TODAY, July 1, 2011!
- “Do You Know Slim Evans?” Maria Dunn- As we see labour and worker rights eroded weekly in our country- ask the postal workers and Air Canada workers about that- it is good to reflect on the sacrifices of those who came in previous generations and made the choices necessary to allow others- including those workers who today benefit greatly from their efforts while speaking negatively of unions- to lead more satisfying and fair lives. Maria Dunn’s We Were Good People is a wonderful collection of songs telling the stories of those who really founded our province. In short, Slim Evans was a labour organizer who was accused and convicted of misusing union money; he had diverted funds to feed the families of miners on strike during the winter of 1921-22. Every story tells a picture, and this album does more than that- it allows the seldom heard stories of Albertan pioneering labour organizers, political rabble-rousers, and ordinary people to be shared. Originally released on We Were Good People 2004
- “Out on the Weekend” Doug Paisley- A list of Canadian roots songs without Neil Young would be akin to an issue of enRoute without Neil Young being represented on the in-flight audio program. I chose to go with this cover by Doug Paisley rather than Neil himself because, well frankly Neil isn’t too dang Canadian these days, is he. As part of Mojo magazine’s never-ending quest to recreate every single album released between 1965 and 1975, Harvest received the honour last fall and this track is one of the standout performances. Whether we head toward L.A. or not, what Canadian hasn’t had the urge to “pack it in and buy a pickup”? Originally released on Harvest Revisited 2010
- “Prairie Town” T. Buckley- From an Albertan I’m convinced will become a household name in roots circles, “Prairie Town” is songwriting perfection in under four and a half minutes. This one has the lonesome qualities of the finest songs, crafted with an eye for detailed images that resonate with anyone who was raised on or near the prairie, built upon decisions of love and home. Do you stay or do you follow? Originally released on Roll On 2010
- “Love Shines” Ron Sexsmith- A power pop masterpiece. Everyone knows Ron Sexsmith doesn’t have the most commercially accessible voice, but it does have its appeal. The recent documentary about Sexsmith and his journey to find himself- not to mention album sales- shares a title with this number, and much like the movie this song has a slow build that sucks you right in until you’re hanging on every phrase and sound. Beautiful. Originally released on Long Player, Late Bloomer 2011.
- “I Like Trains” Fred Eaglesmith- As a farm kid, I can still remember the thrill of waiting at the crossing at Duffield as the train passed through town. Sitting in the red Ford pickup, counting the cars, waving at the engineer and the crew in the caboose…those are memories as fresh today as they were when they happened forty years ago. All kids like trains. Only folks like Fred get to write about them. I love the phrase “shake the gravel loose”- it captures the trembling that you felt as a kid as the train
roared by. Originally released on Drive-In Movie 1995.
- “Sometimes I Think I Can Fly” Suzie Vinnick- Sparse blues. If I could play music, it wouldn’t sound anything like this. But I wish it would. Originally released on Me
‘N’ Mabel 2011.
- “Pier 21” John Wort Hannam- This is where the journey started for many Canadians of previous generations. Like Maria Dunn and I suppose Robbie Robertson, John Wort Hannam gives life to Canadian history, and any one of a dozen of his songs could have had a place on this list. With the exception of its Native people, Canada is a country of immigrant stock and JWH captured that experience in this song from his debut:
“He said Go Laddie Go, Go Laddie Go, Find your dreams over on Pier 21, He said Go Laddie Go, Go Laddie Go, But don’t you ever forget where you’re from.” Originally released on Pocket Full of Holes 2003
And that sums up Canada Day for me- “Don’t forget where you’re from!” We or our ancestors might have come from Scotland, Germany, Ukraine, India, and anyone of twenty-four dozen other countries, but we’re Canadian. And let’s not forget it.
Now, go play some Trooper.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
BTW- I posted a similarly-themed but different posting of 10 Canadian Bluegrass songs over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass: http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=770
It takes a lot to get me out of the house, but I seldom miss an opportunity to catch John Wort Hannam live. Fort McLeod’s most famous folk resident stopped by for an appearance at The Hideout, Red Deer’s newest bar and grill featuring live music.
As always, John was in excellent form and voice. On this evening, he was joined by fiddler Scott Duncan. I don’t believe I’ve previously heard JWH with accompaniment, so I was intrigued from the start.
What is it about an energetic fiddler that makes any set better? That was certainly the case tonight/last night; in some places Duncan simply added additional life or texture to the songs, and in other places- as on “Infantryman”- brought a sense of increased solemnness.
Kicking off his performance with the apt “Requiem for a Small Town” (“How about we get all dressed up, go out and get all messed up”), JWH covered most of the essential ground within the 22 songs performed, including a couple choice covers.
“Annabelle,” JWH’s revisioning of “Long Black Veil” had Marty Robbins got a hold of the Marijohn Wilkin/Danny Dill classic, was another early highlight. One in a series of peaks, as expected, and complete with toe-tappers and knee-bouncers and a couple almost sing-a-longs. Actually, the most crowd participation came on a song I hadn’t heard before, a lovely children’s lullaby entitled “Chompy, The Head Biter-Offer.”
I’m always pleased when a familiar song ‘pops’ on a particular evening, and for me on this night that song was “Gypsies Grove.” The line “My boots may be dirty but my conscience is spit polish clean” hit me as particularly impressive, even though I’ve heard it twenty or more time while listening to Dynamite & Dozers.
“Two-Bit Suit,” “Church of the Long Grass,” Sweet, Sweet Rose,” “Tonight We Strike,” and especially “Wheatland” all sounded great and met with appreciation from the audience. I love that lyric “I guess some of us are wheat, and some of us are chaff.”
“Lucky Strikes” was performed late in the evening, long after many of the listeners had departed, and the evening ended with a gentle performance of “50 Miles.”
As for the covers, in honour of the never-ending winter we’re experiencing- including a blizzard JWH had to drive through on his way to Red Deer- Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family” was trotted out for (hopefully) one last time this spring. I’d never heard him perform Guy Clark’s “L.A. Freeway” before so that was a most excellent treat. Duncan’s fiddle added a lonesome despair to that one. Nicely done. But now that I reflect, I wasn’t surprised when he started to introduce the song, so maybe I have heard him do it previously. Doesn’t matter, the duo nailed it.
A bit of a strange venue for a folk show certainly. I’m not sure if a pool-table laden bar and grill is the best atmosphere to experience JWH, but so be it. If he’s willing and the booker is too, I’m game. I’d never visited The Hideout before tonight/last night, but I’ll be back- it is quite a nice place, very roomy. The beer was cold, and it was good to see 40 or so folks come out specifically to hear John.
John Wort Hannam is next in Vermillion on Saturday night before heading to Calgary and Fort McLeod for performances of The Gift, the Ian Tyson tribute before heading to California and Ontario.
Well, technically, outside of Red Deer on Gasoline Alley at The Hideout. I’m planning on getting off my behind and getting out to this concert tonight, and if you’re in the area, you’re well-advised to do the same. I’ve seen John Wort Hannam several times- in house concerts, in coffee houses, on festival stages- and have never had reason to be disappointed. Sorry for the short notice- I heard about this concert last week, but didn’t think of posting about it until just now. Yes, bad blogger, bad. 9:00 start, the posters say with an opening act.
Canadian Folk Music Award winner for album of the year- and for once, the voters agree with me!
If I get a chance to speak with JWH, I hope I remember to ask him about Craig McKerron, he of the lamented Slowdrag- according to the website, Craig opened a recent Salt Spring Island show for John.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee, Donald
I was on a brief vacation for most of this past week and my listening reflects what is on my mp3 player. It was lovely to be sitting in the Vancouver Island sun watching the waves lap the shoreline with bald eagles flying overhead while listening to Doc Watson and such. A nice, relaxing break. As always, only whole album listening gets listed; this is what passed my ears this week:
Tom Russell- The Tom Russell Anthology: Veteran’s Day
Doc Watson- Trouble in Mind: The Doc Watson Country Blues Collection and Hayes Carll- Trouble in Mind Through a glitch in how my machine sorts files, these two ended up in the same folder. Listening to them trading songs in this manner was perfect. This is the first time I have been able to listen to the Carll album in its entirety- for no reason than lack of attention span- and I found myself quite enjoying it. The Doc set is faultless.
Guy Clark- Sometimes the Song Writes You Truly a master. His strongest set in quite awhile, and he has never recorded a less than satisfying album.
Various Artists- Real: The Tom T. Hall Project One of the best tribute albums, and possibly my favourite. Without fault.
Steve Earle- Train A Comin’ Still my favourite Steve Earle recording.
The Gaslight Anthem- The ’59 Sound I love everything about this album, including all the Springsteen references, deliberate and obvious as they are.
Slowdrag- Slow-Fidelity One of the finest acoustiblue albums of the past ten years.
John Wort Hannam- Queen’s Hotel As a member of the Polaris Music Prize jury, I wasn’t surprised that this album didn’t get through to the long list. I was disappointed, though. Folk music doesn’t get much better than this.
Charlie Sizemore- The Story Is…The Songs of Tom T. Hall The second best Tom T. Hall tribute. And it is pretty darn good.
Paul Burch- Pan-American Flash
The Wooden Sky- If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone Another album that was considered for the Polaris Music Prize this year; it didn’t make the short list.
Kate Campbell- Blues and Lamentations
The Drive-By Truckers- The Fine Print A collection of odds & sods that rivals several of their albums.
John Stewart- Bombs Away Dream Babies
James Reams & the Barnstormers- Troubled Times and Barnstormin’ Listening to these two last week made me realize, again, how strong his original material is, and how different it is from typical bluegrass fare.
That’s the mp3 album list from last week; I never thought I’d become a portable device person, but I’m glad I did; the convenience is great, the battery life is unreal, and the capacity- even on my wee 4 gig machine, is incredible.
My wife is convinced I have a record store GPS inserted somewhere in my body. This was proven, again, when I pulled into a random parking spot in Parksville and looked up to see the community’s new and used record store in front of me. The Cranky Dog was visited three times over five days and offered up some discs I couldn’t leave without, including:
Thin Lizzy- The Universal masters Collection A set of pre-Vertigo Thin Lizzy. A nice collection I hadn’t previously seen.
The album I am most glad I listened to last week.
Dwight Yoakam- South of Heaven, West of Hell I’ve been looking for this one for three or four years, after passing up on it the only other time I saw it in a store. I love searches like this; it makes the locating of the album that much more meaningful. Good for driving, as are most Yoakam albums.
James Gordon- Mining for Gold (Disc 2) A retrospective of the Ontario songwriter’s material up to 2000; 8 bucks for the 2-disc set. The deal of the trip.
Ray Wylie Hubbard- Live at Cibolo Creek Country Club
Marshall Crenshw- The Definitive Pop Collection I already have most of the songs. Who cares? A non-stop power pop , two-disc set.
Graham Parker and the Rumour- The Up Escalator Not among the critic’s favourites, The Up Escalator is one of my essential GP albums. It may have been the first album of his I bought and the album holds up. “Endless Night” remains a stone classic.
Bookending our Vancouver Island getaway was more listening:
Various Artists- Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine I missed this one last week. Review is up at the Lonesome Road Review.
Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez- The Trouble with Humans
Lainie Marsh- The Hills Will Cradle Thee Liking it more with every listen.
Various Artists- Putumayo Presents Tribute to a Reggae Legend A nice set for casual reggae fans. I prefer my reggae with a bit more anger.
Mississippi Live- Mississippi Live
Kim Beggs- Blue Bones To be reviewed in the paper this Friday. A great album.
The Sadies- Darker Circles With a well-deserved place on the Polaris Prize short-list.
Andre Williams- That’s All I Need
The past two days have been very busy at Fervor Coulee, the busiest two days since the blog launched. I thank all of you for that, and again I’m hoping you are finding music recommendations that will lead you to new discoveries. Here are the top five- but really six- entries in my list of Favourite Albums of the Aughts. Thanks for all the feedback, too. Best, Donald
- Paul Burch- Last of My Kind 2001- I couldn’t believe it when this album remained atop my list through several revisions. But it deserves its place. Not only was it my introduction to a singer and songwriter who has become a favourite, it is a crackerjack recording in its own right. Back when my CD collection was several thousand albums lighter that it is now, I returned to this album time and again. It was, for me, a perfect storm- a bringing together of mountain influences, literature, and damned good songwriting and performance.
Commissioned to accompany a reading of Tony Earley’s Jim the Boy, the album took on its own life to allow readers and listeners to hear more from the characters, to experience more of their internal observations, struggles and challenges. Coming out at around the same time of O Brother, Where Art Thou? the visuals were fresh in mind without requiring Burch to indulge in extended prose. Instead, Burch- and Earley, of course- could concentrate on the impact and emotions of their characters. Given all that, Last of My Kind is remarkable as one doesn’t need to have read the novel to appreciate its impact. I heard the album well before searching out the book, and as a result I felt I already knew Jim, his uncles, and estranged extended family.
As I type these words, I am again listening to Last of My Kind- probably for the first time in three years. The album is all Burch, recorded and performed at home, seemingly in isolation in the same manner I imagine Earley wrote the novel. From the opening bars of “Aliceville Rag,” Burch sketches a sepia-toned setting of time and place. As we move through the album, to “Up on the Mountain” through to “Amos’s Blues” we meet complex characters brought to life by Burch’s interpretation of Earley’s imaginings.
None of this would matter if Burch’s approach to the music was less than attentive. When I first reviewed the album, I wrote words that hold true for me now: Burch’s compositions capture the essence of Earley’s novel- carefully constructed phrases that read simple but contain a spark for life and common-sense wisdom. The melodies pleasantly linger and the album constructs another layer to Earley’s characters and reinforces the novel’s [straight-forward] but intriguing plot.
When I set out to create this little list of favourites from the last decade, I wouldn’t have expected Last of My Kind to top the list. (Really, I didn’t even think about what would be on top.) Now that it has, nothing seems more natural, nothing would be more right. It was one of the albums I started with when I initiated this journey into writing about music. It is an immensely enjoyable slice of My Kind of Music. It is only fitting that it sits atop my list as my Favourite Album of the Aughts.
2. Dale Ann Bradley- Catch Tomorrow 2006 When a favourite artist takes a great leap forward, one is sometimes left behind. Not so with Dale Ann Bradley’s remarkable Catch Tomorrow album. The sound she had worked so hard to achieve was finally realized through the production support of Alison Brown. Every song on the album is memorable, and she explores not only bluegrass and its foundation- including a duet with Larry Sparks- but she brings in new songs, fresh perspectives, and even a bit of musical history with the Irish band Lunasa on “When the Mist Comes Again.” Dale Ann made Chris Stuart’s “Julia Belle” a standard, while already classic songs- “Live Forever” and “Me and Bobby McGee”- are revitalized. There isn’t a missed step anywhere, and while other artists may be off-putting with slickness in pursuit of a similar sound, Dale Ann and Alison have created an album that breathes its quality rather than having had its breath squeezed from it in the pursuit of perfection. An ideal contemporary bluegrass recording.
3. Maria Dunn- …For A Song 2001 (Albertan/Canadian) I can’t say much more about Maria Dunn than I already have. She is a tremendous writer, one who bridges old world charm with modern trials and situations. I have seen her live more times than I can count, and she always sparkles. …For a Song remains my favourite album although it may not be her best. The songs just wash over me, and her voice- with just a hint of the Old Country punctuating each phrase- is beautiful. Defying classification as adeptly as Van Morrison and Sinead O’Conner, Dunn produced a compelling album of ballads that entwined her influences within a lush, invigorating tapestry. Find her music.
4. James Reams & The Barnstormers- Troubled Times 2005 I have likely played albums from Brooklyn-based (but via Kentucky) James Reams than any other bluegrass act this decade. I do know Troubled Times was the second most played album during the year and a half I hosted the bluegrass show on the Olds station. Reams’ bluegrass may not be ‘perfect’ in the way a Rhonda, Skaggs, or Dailey Vincent album may be, and it is all the better for it. Excellent original songs (“Hills of My County” about mountain top removal coalmining and “Eye of the Storm”) blended with under-heard songs from outside writers (Robbie Fulks’ “Cold Statesboro Ground” and Marvin Goins’ “Head of the Holler”) have kept this one in my CD player for more than five years.
5. John Wort Hannam- Queen’s Hotel 2009 (Albertan/Canadian) Seldom does one get to experience musical history being made. I hope I’m right in stating that this is the last album we’ll hear from John Wort Hannam where the reverberations are localized to Alberta and western Canada. The international folk world needs to sit up and pay attention to this man. There are few like him. Get him on a stage with a Joe Ely or a Guy Clark and he’ll hold his own, I’m certain.
Down to the Wood- Up All Night 2003 (Albertan/Canadian) Okay, I’m an idiot. I knew going into this project I would manage to screw things up somehow, and of course I did. Somehow, in scanning the shelves, examining my inventory list, and racking my brain, I missed Up All Night. Ridiculous, given how much time I’ve spent not only listening to the album but swapping scotch with the trio at various festivals. So, allow me the additional indulgence of revising my list to allow for two #5 albums. Had I not overlooked the album, this is about where it would have landed.
When I hosted the radio show, DTTW was by far the most played band and since Up All Night is their only recording it was the most played album. For good reason. What the album may lack in original material- only one band written song, that being Curtis Appleton’s very strong “Shameless Drive”- they make up for in enthusiasm, energy, and passion.
The band was blessed with one of Alberta’s most proficient and tasteful guitarists in Marc Ladouceur, and his many influences- blues, Celtic, folk, and naturally bluegrass- shade this album’s arrangements all the way through. With three lead voices, natural spontaneity that transferred from the stage to the studio, and an understanding of traditional brother harmonies that served them well, Up All Night was an ideal document of the group’s early days. That they never came together to record a follow-up was unfortunate but not unexpected, given the various factors that place pressure on a regional bluegrass band- careers, finances, family, and limited stages.
I love listening to this album- and am listening to it again as I type- and continue to be impressed by the band’s maturity and vision. They weren’t content just to duplicate the songs they heard on scratchy old bluegrass cassettes and albums. Give a listen to “Crossroad Blues/The Old Crossroads Is Waiting,” a formidable piece of music that has Mr. Monroe meeting up with Robert Johnson on a dusty rural road. That took balls, and they pulled it off not only in the studio but on stage time and again.
For a while, Down to the Wood was the most entertaining Canadian bluegrass band I was fortunate to hear. Up All Night is a terrific album and is well-deserving of a place on my 151 favourite albums of the decade.
What just missed the Top 150? Amongst others: Sam Bush Circles Around Me 2009; Alejandro Escovedo Real Animal 2008; Various Artists The Songs of Fred Eaglesmith 2003; Ian Tyson- Yellowhead to Yellowstone and other Love Stories 2008; The Grascals- The Grascals 2005; Ron Block- Faraway Land 2001; Blackie and the Rodeo Kings- Let’s Frolic Again 2007; The Notorious Cherry Bombs- The Notorious Cherry Bombs 2004; Acoustic Syndicate- Crazy Little Life 2000; Audrey Auld Mezara- Lost Men & Angry Girls 2007
Again, sincere thanks for spending time at Fervor Coulee.
My top 21 albums of the year- in no particular order beyond #1 & #2 which are either Dale Ann Bradley’s Don’ t Turn Your Back or John Wort Hannam’s Queen’s Hotel, depending on the day and my mood. This list was submitted to the Postcard 2 survey with one exception; I only just heard the latest from Nanci Griffith and fell for it immediately.
I thought it was another outstanding year for roots music; I likely listened to more music than ever and know I enjoyed so many different sounds. I was glad that I didn’t have to listen to quite as much acoustic twee-folk as in the past. You’ll notice my list includes several Fervor Coulee favourites who either continued to produce outstanding music or made fine comebacks after a few years away. Not too much ‘off the radar’ music, but I’m not in a competition to discover the most unheard music. Thanks for visiting throughout the year- Donald
Dale Ann Bradley’s Don’ t Turn Your Back
The Duke & the King- Nothing Gold Can Stay
Guy Clark- Some Days the Song Writes You
Bill Callahan- Sometimes I Wish We Were Eagles
Loudon Wainwright III- High Wide and Handsome- The Charlie Poole Project
Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women- Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women
Danny Barnes- Pizza Box
Dave Rawlings Machine- A Friend of a Friend
Great Lake Swimmers- Lost Channels
Steve Forbert- The Place and the Time
Sam Bush- Circles Around Me
The Deep Dark Woods- Winter Hours
The Undesirables- Travelling Show
Leeroy Stagger- Everything Is Real
John Wort Hannam- Queen’s Hotel
Dry Branch Fire Squad- Echoes of the Mountain
The Wooden Sky- If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone
Various Artists- Things About Comin’ My Way- A Tribute to the Music of the Mississippi Sheiks
Mike Plume Band- 8:30 Newfoundland
David Davis & the Warrior River Boys- Two Dimes & A Nickel
Nanci Griffith- The Loving Kind
My wife and I just got home from a really enjoyable house concert in Sylvan Lake tonight. Our friends Ross and Cheryl hosted twentysome of us for a ‘songwriters in the round’ with John Wort Hannam, Dave McCann, and Leeroy Stagger. The Highway 3 Roots Revue, it was.
I went in knowing how much I enjoyed John, who I truly feel is one of the most original and talented songwriters and vocalists working today. His voice is pure and his words resonate; every song has cinematic qualities that allow the listener to see the events dance with the words he sings with the imagination providing additional details.
The biggest surprise was that he didn’t sing “Church of the Long Grass,” followed closely by his decision- well-timed as it was- to perform Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas From the Family.” It provided a nice, light interlude within the evening of (often) more serious songs. Each of John’s songs were warmly received by these ears with “With the Grain” and “Lucky Strikes” being favourites. Oh, and “Requiem for a Small Town.” And don’t forget about…Buy his music. You’ll be glad you did!
I was very familiar with Dave McCann as well, having enjoyed his albums and having caught him on a few different occassions. He didn’t disappoint, with “Circle of Stones” and “Leaving this Town” being highlights. He got a lot of sound out of his Gibson, and the intimate setting allowed listeners to hang on his every word.
Leeroy Stagger was a bit of a surprise as I am not overly familiar with his music. He quickly won me over with songs like “Stormy” and “Brothers.” “Beautiful House” was dedicated to the hosts and is another fine song. I’ve already downloaded one of his albums from iTunes and imagine that others will soon follow.
The entire evening was perfect. Each performed only six songs, but I can honestly say I enjoyed them all and the singers did jump in and play and sing a little on each others tunes, always a nice touch. Stories were told, laughs were had. Snacks were eaten. Recipes were swapped.
A great night. Thanks to the hosts for making it possible, to the friends to attended and supported the performers, and the three very talented men who stopped by Sylvan lake on too cold of a night. Hopefully we get to do something similar again before too long. See www.johnworthannam.com for a listing of the remaining shows on this tour- they are back in Central Alberta Monday for a show in Red Deer.
As do many of us who write about music, I have thoughts. Some deep, mostly not. Listening to as much roots-based music as I do, song lyrics are especially important to me. My problem is, I’m lazy. And I don’t read music. And I don’t write songs. But I come up with the occasional line that- I think- is clever, pointed, and/or semi-humourous and may work in a song- if I had any talent in that area. So I’ve decided to start offering up some of these here at Fervor Coulee. Songwriters are welcome to use them if the words inspire them to create something from the words or to include the words in something already being created.
Two offerings to start, both of which came to mind yesterday:
1. Her Father Thanked Me (On Our Wedding Day)- this could go two ways. One would be as a sincere, syrupy “Butterfly Kisses” type of song where the Father takes the groom aside and offers his thanks for making his little girl so happy and ensuring her future. Or, and I prefer this one, it could be a twisted little thing where the father thanks the groom for taking on the daughter and all her baggage, for making Daddy’s problem child someone else’s. I can see it working.
2. Here is the lyric I’ve got floating in my head- “I’m getting a sense for how those bison felt, long ago at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.” I hear Tom Russell singing it (knowing he already dropped Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump into a song) or John Wort Hannam, given his southern Alberta roots. I see the song as being about a guy feeling pressure from behind his back, being rushed into decisions he regrets, and ultimately seeing a cliff before him.
There. I’m awaiting the royalty cheques. Seriously, though- maybe if I throw enough of these pearls (perils) of wisdom out there, something will take! Cheers, and thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald