Archive for the ‘Kim Beggs’ Tag

Kim Beggs- Said Little Sparrow review   1 comment


Kim Beggs Said Little Sparrow

Kim Beggs, perhaps Whitehorse’s strongest contribution to the contemporary Canadian folk circuit, has a voice and an outlook like no one else, and she reveals her path of experience at every turn.

That voice. Beggs has a timbre that is folksy, earthy, and woodsy all at once—natural-sounding, of course, but more than that: her voice is as her other gifts, quite simply pure. This comes through on each song of Said Little Sparrow, whether one notes the way she twists the end of lines—”Every second of every hour, planting and picking the prettiest flowers…”—or plainly reveals her heart in the most genuine of manner on “Hurts the Worst” and “Blister.”

The outlook. Listening to Said Little Sparrow, as one did with the previous Blue Bones and Beauty and Breaking, is to know Kim, her family—the Wooded Mix—and her extended circle of compatriots. Their stories are expanded upon within the honestly written notes and personal essays contained in this generously packaged release, but most assuredly are woven into the deeply personal songs. A child assisting her Gran in updating an address book (“They’re all dead and gone, she said, my little one”), common neighbourliness in a frozen community, or a beau presenting his beloved with a freshly dug outhouse hole: these are vignettes into which Beggs invites her listener.

As all great folksingers do, Beggs moves from the personal to the universal with ease. She connects British Columbia’s northern Highway of Tears and its innumerable victims with Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” and in doing so touches on her personal connection to the many women who took a final and fateful journey on Highway 16. A forest landscape is referenced when considering ones origin(s) and the meaning of family. In one song, teenaged adventure is viewed through the mirror of time passages, and in another the wise looks toward a future free of the remembered burdens of the past.

Beggs’ songwriting has never been more profound, simultaneously substantial and delicate. Producing herself this time out, she continues to surround herself with the finest of the Canadian roots community including folks like David Baxter (guitars) , Michelle Josef (drums), Brian Kobayakawa (bass, including atmospheric bow-work on the memorable lead track, “Vampire Love Song”), and Oh Susanna (vocals) further sweetened by selective touches of mandolin, banjo, fiddle, and organ.

Another beautiful creation from Kim Beggs. No shortcuts taken in this journey.



Kim Beggs- County of Ponoka, February 12, 2015   Leave a comment

kimJust got home from a wonderful evening of music, and since I’m too tired to sleep (I just typed ‘drive’ by mistake…which tells you something) I thought I would scatter out a few thoughts.

One of the beauties of house concerts is that wonderful music happens in unlikely spots. Such was the case as Kim Beggs, along with accompanist Marcel Desilets, performed in  a home just a bit off Menaik Road near Highway 2. Apparently a small group of friends have been presenting house concerts in the area for a couple years, and tonight was Ken and Leanne’s turn to step up and host their first show. They did a lovely job, and welcomed just over twenty of us into their home.

I’m not sure what it is about Yukon singers, songwriters, and musicians, but for some reason several of them are among my favourites: I think it all started with the Undertaken Daddies, and the list has expanded to folks like Gordie Tentrees, Annie Lou, Brandon Isaak, and a few others I’ve likely forgotten. But leading the way is Kim Beggs who I have written about several times here at Fervor Coulee (and elsewhere) and whose last album Beauty and Breaking headed my Polaris ballot last time out.

Kim and Marcel did nothing to disappoint us this evening. Opening with tunes from Beauty and Breaking, including “Not Only, Only From the Whiskey,” a personal fave, the duo presented a pair of musically clean, personable sets. While weighted toward her fourth album (with five or six songs culled from that most excellent disc including “Oh Boy” and “Not a Mermaid Song”), they also featured several songs from each of the albums including “Summertime Lonesome Blues” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” from Blue Bones. They closed the show with the lively “Can’t Drive Slow Yodel” after delivering a fairly devastating reading of “Longest Dream.” Songs from earlier releases included “Streetcar Heart,” Bucko,” “Down to the Station,” and, if I recall correctly, “Gidyup Cowboy.” Kim played guitar while Marcel handled things on the resophonic and 5-string banjo. A couple songs I’ve not previously heard performed by Beggs were the standard “Little Birdie” and the blues song, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”

I appreciated so many elements of this little concert. Kim Beggs’ voice is huge; seemingly without effort, her voice goes from soft, playful, or emotive to bluesy and rollicking with the turn of a couple notes. When the music would drop away, and Beggs was left singing a line or four without accompaniment, one was treated to something not soon to be forgotten. Desilets’ provided spot-on-perfect vocal harmony that provided depth to the show, while his instrumental contribution added unembroidered texture to each song.

While many of Beggs’ songs speak directly to her Yukon home (“A.J. Goddard Shipwreck” being just one-and maybe best- example), she makes the emotions behind the songs universally appealing; while I am guessing most of the audience was previously unfamiliar with her music, one could tell that she was making connections with just about everyone. This speaks to the magic that can happen at a house concert- fifteen or twenty folks walk out humming songs and singing the praises of those they may not have previously been familiar.

Wonderful stuff, then. Kim and Marcel next head to Crooked Creek in Northern Alberta before Kim continues on to Rolla and Fort St. John, BC before heading back south to Edmonton for a show at The Artery on February 19. She heads to Banff for a residency where she is planning on writing her next album. The next area Home Routes show is March 13 at the Usona Hall, but the New Mexico performer’s name slips my mind and the Homeroutes site is next to useless.

A great night of music with a personal favourite made the drive through the dark well-worth the effort. Thanks for hosting us, Ken and Leanne and thanks to Kim and Marcel for an enjoyable show.


Posted 2015 February 12 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Roots Song of the Week: 2014 Polaris Music Prize Edition   Leave a comment

[June 20- Since posting this piece on Thursday, the Long List has been announced.  While I have never seen more than three of my initial ballot choices make the Top 40 list, I don’t know if I’ve previously gone 0 for 5; likely, I have. I don’t get offended by this, but I do scratch my head. How can so many other jury members- 190 I believe this year- get it so wrong?

They haven’t, of course. The size of the jury provides for a wide range of opinions that collectively come to a consensus. I don’t agree with it- come on, no Kim Beggs or Leeroy Stagger? No BARK or Steve Dawson? I can only assume that my fellow jury members, in their efforts to listen to every pretentious and noisy skinny-boy band with ‘indie pop’ in their bio didn’t have time to listen to the amazing roots albums I include on my ballot. I suppose that since the artists I’ve chosen know how to use capitalization properly, use their real names, and are- in some cases- more than 40 years old- they don’t appeal to folks who are in the jury.

I don’t actually mean those last two sentences. What I do know is that there were a lot more folks who liked the Arcade Fire album than Doug Paisley’s. And that is okay, just sad. Numbers tell us there will always be more people on the look out for the ‘next’ big thing in electronic, pop, post-rock, and modern whatever than there will be listening to mature and, at least sometimes, meaningful roots music.

Now I need to listen to even more albums in the next week so that I can revise my choices, some of which- Timber Timbre, Rae Spoon, The Kennedy Sessions– received serious consideration for my first ballot.]

With less than a day to go before the 2014 Polaris Music Prize Long List is revealed, I thought I would catch up on my Roots Song of the Week by going for the quint- five roots songs of the week, Polaris edition.

My initial Polaris Ballot is traditionally roots centric. I was invited into the group several years ago to bring my roots- folk, country, bluegrass, blues- perspective to the jury, and I continue to take that responsibility seriously. Still, I’ve never knowingly ignored an album simply because it didn’t comfortably fall into the roots world.

Today, I thought I would share a link to a song from each of the five eligible albums I consider to be the ‘best’ released in the past year.

albums-kim-1024_largeRanked #1 on my Polaris Music Prize ballot is Kim Beggs’ independently released Beauty and Breaking. My full review of the album is available here , and I believe it captures my thoughts. I’ve listened to the album dozens of times, and it continues to positively impact me whether I’m driving, entertaining, reading, or simply puttering about the house.

My favourite song on the album- and there is considerable competition from songs like “Gold In The Ground,” “A Sailor’s Daughter,” “Le Chemin de Rondin/Corduroy Road,” and “Moonshiner”- is “Not Only Only From the Whiskey,” a live performance of which is here.

I am confident is fewer things daily, but I am certain that Kim Beggs is one of our country’s great singers and songwriters. She makes beautiful music.

Leeroy Stagger’sTruth Be Told was the first album I heard last summer that I knew was going to make my Polaris Top 5 ballot. It is an aggressive creation, and I wrote about it here

At Leeroy’s website, he has a few of his songs available for streaming, including “Goodnight Berlin” which is a loud ‘n proud slice that might do Nazareth proud: roots rock defined.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings has shown up on my Polaris ballot previously, and South is again well deserving of inclusion. I wish I had championed the album earlier, but I only purchased it rather recently. BARK has their formula down, and their songs remain fresh and lively. If you navigate around this link a little you’ll find “North” and other songs ready for streaming. It is an excellent album.

For me, the most surprising album to make my Polaris ballot is Steve Dawson’s recording of solo guitar explorations Rattlesnake Cage. I haven’t heard anything else like it this year. Long acknowledged as a master of acoustic and slide guitar, Dawson has repeatedly proven that he can do just about anything he sets his mind to. This time out, he has decided to simply play his guitar. Give a listen to the title track here, and prepare yourself to be mesmerized.

Doug Paisley’s “Strong Feelings” is an excellent example of mainstream country music, if by ‘mainstream’ one means accessible, catchy, and well-written as opposed to bro-country rap-a-longs about beer and trucks. At there is a promo video featuring an excerpt of “What’s Up Is Down” and audio of “Song My Love Can Sing” and a live performance of it via Q.

If you haven’t encountered these albums yet, you are well advised to do so at your earliest.

The Polaris Music Prize Long List will be announced early in the afternoon of June 19, 2014.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee.

Kim Beggs- Beauty and Breaking review   1 comment

albums-kim-1024_largeKim Beggs Beauty and Breaking

Like Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Come On Come On and even more fittingly Lucinda Williams’ self-titled third album, there isn’t a single wrong turn taken on this marvelous album.

Each song on Beauty and Breaking sparkles with sincerity: each character sketched, each moment captured, reveals textures of existence. The more time one spends listening to this 15-song collection, the deeper one’s experience.

Beauty and Breaking is Beggs’ fourth album in a decade, and it has been a good three years since Blue Bones wove its way into this writer’s soul. Beggs doesn’t rush things and Beauty and Breaking is more accessible, more challenging that that deep offering.

Folk music- the real stuff, not the indie-pop flab that CBC Radio 2 lumps in with modern interpretations of storied music tied to our country, our roots and history- it’s about people, right?: their family, their work, their recreation, religion, loves and feuds- has seldom been healthier.

Seemingly, some people are clamoring for those connections, supporting touring artists through their attendance at concerts, finding their songs however they can. There is no mistaking that Kim Beggs’ songs are filtered through the past, with the results being as contemporary as they are timeless.

Ancient tones, indeed.

The song sequence of Beauty and Breaking is ideal. Brooding, atmospherically heavy songs are balanced with lighter sounding romps whose nimbleness belies depth: jazzy blues one cut, a sassy bossa nova rhythm in another, and pedal steel providing a country wash over a third.

Acadian tradition (“Le Chemin de Rondin/Corduroy Road”) is set alongside Dylan (“A Sailor’s Daughter,”) Emmylou (“When I Walked Out on You”) sidles with the McGarrigles (“Working on the Railroad,”) each providing an original path for Beggs’ influences.

Justin Rutledge’s banjo touches (“Not Only, Only From the Whiskey,” “Working on the Railroad”) remind us this month of Pete Seeger’s influence, while co-producer David Baxter’s guitar elevates the project above others recently heard. Others contributing to this incredibly satisfying album are folks like John Showman, Paul Reddick, Suzie Ungerleider, Bob Wiseman, Kim Barlow, and a dozen or so others.

Still, the vision is Beggs’, and her stability, her musical and lyrical integrity and intensity allows the album to remain tight and uncompromised. Focused. Universal. Canadian.

An ocean of pain comes to life in “Not a Mermaid Song,” a melancholy winter waltz (“Gold In the Ground, Gold Not Found”) gently reveals the minutia of a tired life. “Now I’m Running From the River” is quite blue, and throughout the album, Beggs’ uses water- dew, frozen, river, ocean, lake- those related to it- sailors, sunken ships, mermaids, a rocky shore, whiskey-  and its absence (“No Water in Their Bones”) to create a complex, rich blanket of metaphor.

Beggs’ voice- robust with a touch of worldly flirtation- has never been more rounded. Having lived with these songs, her experiences have allowed her to find the vocal subtleties necessary for each.

“Le Chemin de Rondin/Corduroy Road” may be the album’s highlight, but one knows each listener will have their personal favourite. Having located a tear-smudged testament to love within her great me mere’s  fiddle, here the lives of ancestors are imagined, as artfully constructed and universally impactful as Guy Clark’s “The Randall Knife.”

This is folk music. This is beautiful.

With water at its center, put a pot on and let Beauty and Breaking sweep you away.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

@FervorCoulee on the Twitter. And that is my 700th post here at Fervor Coulee!

Roots Song of the Week: Kim Beggs- Not Only, Only From the Whiskey   Leave a comment

The first time I heard the song “The Bug” (written by Mark Knopfler) must have been the first time I listened to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s best selling album, Come On,Come On. There are twelve songs on that album, and scanning the album this evening I can ‘hear’ each of the songs in my head. I played that one a few times.

I tell you that to tell you this- “Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug.”

Today, I feel a little like the bug.

We all know the challenges that we must face daily- depending on your life, those challenges can be personal or professional, easily handled or insurmountable, self-inflicted or out of your control.

br100x89Feeling a little low this evening, I could only come up with one song for my Roots Song of the Week. “Not Only, Only From the Whiskey” is a song that reminds us that things are not always as simple as they appear. Our challenges are sometimes at least partially self-inflicted, but quite often they are also random, a product of circumstances we could never have envisioned, could never have anticipated. Seldom are challenges the product of any one thing- not only, only from the whiskey then.

We didn’t ask for these challenges, but we have to face them. They aren’t necessarily fair. They just have to be dealt with- one at a time.

Late last year, Kim Beggs, one of Canada’s finest singers and songwriters, released Beauty and Breaking. As with Come On Come On, there isn’t a weak moment on this magnificent album. I’ll need to write a thorough review of the album one day soon- maybe Saturday if things work out- but, alongside Leeroy Stagger’s Truth Be Sold– I can almost surely guarantee that Beauty and Breaking will be on my 2014 Polaris Music Prize ballot.

You can listen to all of the songs, including “Not Only, Only From the Whiskey” on Kim’s website: and there is a live video performance of the song HERE which features album co-producer David Baxter.

The album package is equally stunning.

If you’re interested, my review of Beggs’ previous album Blue Bones can be found by clicking here.

As always, thank you for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald




Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots Music Albums of 2013   2 comments

These types of lists are fairly self-indulgent, but most things we do seem to be. What the heck, then?

I am fairly confident in my choices this year- I created lists as the months passed, and have considered well in excess of a hundred albums for placement.  Here then are my favourite roots music albums of the year, accompanied by links to longer pieces I’ve written or, alternately when I didn’t write about a particular album, video.

[Update: #25 has been revised. Someone asked why so little mainstream country. Answer, I don’t listen to most of what would be considered modern country. I didn’t listen to the Brandy Clark album enough yet to place it in my Top 25, but I am really enjoying it. Whether that is mainstream…]

Favourite Album Covers-

skaggs1. Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby- Live Cluck Ol’ Hen

2. Guy Clark- My Favorite Picture of You– Great story behind this one. Well executed.

3. Noam Pikelny- Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe– some concert posters in the background may have pushed it over the top

4. Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain

5. Jack Lawrence- Arthel’s Guitar

Favorite Covers and Tribute Albums-

1.Don Rigsby- Doctor’s Orders: A Tribute to Ralph Stanley

2. Let Us In Americana- The Music of Paul McCartney

3. Unsung Hero : A Tribute to the Music of Ron Davies

4. Joe Mullins & Junior Sisk- Bluegrass Hall of Fame

5. Jack Lawrence- Arthel’s Guitar arthel

6. Martyn Joseph- Tires Rushing By in the Rain

7. Ben Sollee- The Hollow Sessions

8. You Don’t Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold

9. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs- Under the Covers, Vol.3

Favourite Reissues and Archival Releases of the Year-

1. George Jones- The Complete United Artists Solo Singles george

2. Steve Forbert- Early On: The Best of the Mississippi Recordings and the Alive on Arrival/Jackrabbit Slim twofer, more concise and accessible than the previous Rolling Tide reissues

3. Townes Van Zandt- Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Sessions & Demos 1971-1972

4. Guy Clark- Dixie’s Bar & Bus Stop

5. The Bottle Rockets- The Bottle Rockets/The Brooklyn SideThe Bottle Rockets was and is one of the greatest Americana/ albums ever recorded. The bonus tracks provide further context for the days that I wasn’t aware of until they were over. So enthralled with that album, I’ve allowed The Brooklyn Side to sit on the shelf untouched since the first and only time I played it all those years ago. My mistake. One I won’t allow to be repeated.

6. Billy Bragg Life’s A Riot with Spy vs Spy, 30th Anniversary Edition A most concise vision of the power of words and music; comes with a recent live encore of the 7-track e.p.

7. James Keelaghan History: The First 25 Years

Favourite Various Artists and Compilation Albums-

1.  Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War imagesJ2S505VN

2. The Daughters of Bluegrass- Pickin’ Like A Girl

3. God Didn’t Choose Sides

4. Classic Banjo from Smithsonian Folkways

5. Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

The following are my favourite stand-alone albums of 2013, often the albums I spent the most time with this past year (or, in the case of late year releases, the albums I feel I will end up spending the most time with):

1. Guy Clark- My Favorite Picture of You: The elder statesman does it again, producing another exceptional collection of songs, all but a cover of a Lyle Lovett song co-writes. Beautifully sung and played. Clark’s thirteenth album of new material, recorded at age 71, was head and shoulders this past year’s finest roots music album. If there is justice, and voters were actually listening, he’ll receive a Grammy in January.

2. John Reischman- Walk Along John

3. J. R. Shore- State Theatre

4. Slaid Cleaves- Still Fighting the War: Gives ol’ Guy a run for his money.

5. Mike Plume- Red and White Blues: Following up the very excellent 8:30 Newfoundland, Mike Plume returned not only with a most sincere Stompin’ Tom Connors tribute, but a set of songs- almost equal parts Maritime stomper and prairie balladry- that will soon stand with his best.

6. Kimberley Rew- Healing Broadway: Pub roots.

7. Bruce Foxton- Back in the Room: If by roots you mean rock n roll.

8. The Gibson Brothers- They Call It Music

9. Chris Jones & The Night Drivers- Lonely Comes Easy

10. D. B. Rielly- Cross My Heart & Hope to Die

11. Darden Smith- Love Calling

12. Robbie Fulks- Gone Away Backward

13. The Del McCoury Band- The Streets of Baltimore: Experience counts for a whole lot.

14. Leeroy Stagger- Truth Be Sold

15. Alice Gerrard- Bittersweet

16. Noam Pikelny- Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe

17. Marshall Chapman- Blaze of Glory: Another great album of honest roots rock.

18. Holly Williams- The Highway: Purchased after reading a couple reviews and having never heard her; glad I did.

19. Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain: I’m glad all music isn’t this well-grounded in the country tradition. Makes it all the more special when you find it.

20. John Paul Keith- Memphis 3 A.M.: A long-time favourite singer.

21. James King- Three Chords and the Truth: Only bought this one before Christmas; need to listen more, but nothing to lead me to believe it isn’t going to stay with me for a long time.

22. Kim Beggs- Beauty and Breaking: an exceptional collection of song that are already familiar. With more listens, I’m confident  it will become even more appreciated.

23. Jeff Black- B-Sidea and Confessions, Volume Two

24. Peter Rowan- The Old School

25. Blue Mafia- My Cold Heart Was in consideration right up until I wrote the final draft. Another listen brought it forward, knocking Emmylou & Rodney out of the 25th spot. I’m sure they will recover.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell- Old Yellow Moon: Once upon a time, an album this stunning would be much higher that #25; that is one indication of how great the last year has been.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee so often in 2013, and I hope you will continue to find roots music opinion of interest in 2014 and beyond.

As always, Donald @FervorCoulee on the Twittering thing.

My Polaris Music Prize Ballot 2011…for now   Leave a comment

I feel honoured to be part of the Polaris Music Prize jury. All year-long I listen to some of the finest Canadian music released and each June I am asked to narrow these down- for the initial ballot- to five. I’ve spent the last several days finalizing my list, re-listening to albums I previously considered, and catching up on a few I had missed. I’m ready to vote…I think. I entered my ballot this evening, and have the rest of the week to finalize it. As of this minute, these are my top 5 albums for this year’s Polaris:

#1 = Kim Beggs – Blue Bones
#2 = Ben Sures – Gone to Bolivia
#3 = Ohama – Earth History Multiambient
#4 = Ruth Moody – The Garden
#5 = David Baxter – Patina Luke Doucet- Steel City Trawler

No shortage of albums to consider, in my opinion. Some love to Ruth Moody, who I had a bit higher until tonight…I’m really hoping several jury members are considering sending Kim Beggs votes- a beautiful recording. You’ll notice, if you care, that Ohama doesn’t
fit my usual roots bias. I can’t stop listening to it- it has played all through my work day a couple of times in the last few weeks. I love the complexity of the sounds he produces. I’ve been enamoured with his music since university and was disappointed to find that I no longer have his early albums on my shelf- not sure what happened to them. Regrets. The new Ben Sures project sounds gorgeous and includes several excellent songs- it is much more than a folk album, if that is how your brain works. I’ve revised my ballot to include Luke Doucet’s Steel City Trawler, an album that was floating around #7 on my list. It moved up with another listen this week, largely because “The Ballad of Ian Curtis” is legendary, IMO.

Feel free to attempt to sway my votes and certainly consider giving the above a listen if you are open to roots sounds. And really, why would you be at Fervor Coulee if you weren’t? Reviews of all but Ohama are located here at Fervor Coulee. Thanks for visiting- Donald