Archive for the ‘Mary Gauthier’ Tag

Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots and Singer-Songwriter Albums of the Year 2018   1 comment

*the ones that weren’t bluegrass, blues, or ‘old stuff’ like compilations, reissues, and archival releases

This is the second run at my list. The first is lost somewhere on my hard drive, obliterated by the Blue Screen of Death. Reassembling the list wasn’t terribly difficult (although I did decide to cut back from thirty to twenty titles), but I do know some of the placings changed, which is natural: once past the ‘top five,’ albums could flip-and-flop a position or three all down the list. What was more difficult was recalling all my brilliance of opinion- so, that is lacking. Still, this is how I’m feeling today, and I think I am comfortable with this being representative of my Roots Music Opinion for 2018.  As always, these are my favourite albums of the year; it is not a ‘best of’…although, really it is!

  1. Mike Plume Band Born By The Radio– It took twenty-five years, but Mike Plume has emerged as the next great Canadian songwriter, a man who comfortably stands shoulder-to-shoulder with those who influenced him. It has been a long ride, filled with songs memorable and albums impactful, but full realization is achieved with Born By The Radio. The songs are comprised of images universal and personal. “Waste a Kiss on Me,” on which he again squeezes in Kerouac, “Mama’s Rolling Stone,” “Monroe’s Mandolin,” and “Western Wind” are as strong songs as Plume has created, and the instrumentation and energy from the MPB is the stuff of legend. An album without waver. One of two Steve Coffey album covers on the list! (purchased download) 
  2. Pharis & Jason Romero Sweet Old Religion– A pair of Canadian Folk Music Awards last month further embellished the repute of this  focused British Columbia duo, and well-deserved they were of the recognition. Pharis’ voice is a wonder, Jason is no slouch, and together their old-timey harmonies and instrumentation are things of wonder, while their songs are contemporary slices of the world past and present. A beautiful album replete with memorable performances. (serviced CD) 

3. John Wort Hannam Acres of Elbow Room– Alberta’s venerable folk songwriter went even deeper on his seventh album, sharing with listeners his innermost tribulations. Recent years appear to have (almost) got the best of Hannam, and he has poured his darkness and challenges into an expertly-crafted collection of songs that are inspiring and impactful while being just plain enjoyable. “Key of D Minor,” “The Quiet Life,” and “Ain’t Enough” are among the finest songs he has written and recorded, and the title track is a wonder: “where the dotted-lines turn to gravel” may become Fervor Coulee’s new tagline. John has long been a Fervor Coulee favourite, and that his album comes in #3 is testament to the strength of the Plume and Romero albums. (purchased download)


The new Word Press settings and features are turning what should be a twenty-minute copy and paste, insert the links, and publish activity into an hour of misery and wonky formats. Bear with me- I will try to fix upon publishing via editing. Sigh. 

4. Gretchen Peters Dancing With the Beast Reviewed here (serviced CD)

5. Ashleigh Flynn & the Riveters Ashleigh Flynn & the Riveters Reviewed here (serviced CD)

6. Hadley McCall Thackston Hadley McCall Thackston Reviewed here (serviced CD)

7. Rosanne Cash She Remembers Everything From first listen, and as she has since Seven Year Ache and Somewhere In The Stars hit the turntable at Climax Records 35 years ago, Cash drew me into her current state of mind. As she has long done, Cash is reflecting on current circumstances- politics, division, gender inequality, complexity of relationships- encouraging engagement at higher levels while ensuring her songs are listenable, intriguing, and nuanced. Beautiful, as ever. That she can address weighty topics without sounding didactic is a bonus. (purchased CD and vinyl) 

8. Craig Moreau- A Different Kind of Train Reviewed here (serviced CD)

9. Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore Downey to Lubbock– Albums like this are the reason I continue to listen to music with a passion that has only increased over forty+ years. Two Americana masters come together to create an album standing with everything they’ve produced across lengthy careers. Hearing Alvin sing John Stewart’s “July, You’re A Woman” gets Downey to Lubbck a place in the top thirty: the two originals (including the autobiographical, mood-establishing title track- “I’m an old Flatlander,” Gilmore sings) and the expertly executed covers sneak it into top ten territory. (purchased download) 

10. Mary Gauthier Rifles and Rosary Beads– An early favourite this year, the album dropped in regard simply because I lost the disc in June: sometimes I really regret my propensity toward clutter. Had I had it all year, Rifles and Rosary Beads may well have rated higher on this list. Still, I bought the vinyl last week and I was immediately reminded of the recording’s intensity. Gauthier and her songwriting collaborators have delved as deep into the experiences of America’s military service men and women (and their families) as likely anyone has before done. The effect is lasting, with lyrical detail capturing the full-impact of service experiences shared in songs far-reaching and memorable. Mary Gauthier has been quietly building her career and artistic vision for twenty years- it is terrific to see her ‘break-through’ (again!) in 2018. (purchased download; purchased vinyl)

11. Florent Vollant Mishta Meshkenu Long one of Canada’s finest and most influential roots musician, Vollant has been making time-stopping music since Kashtin’s first album. As far as I have heard, he never falters; Mishta Meshkenu is as anticipated- rhythmic, energetic, and memorable. I don’t need to know what he is singing about to appreciate this album. (purchased download)

12. Roscoe & Etta Roscoe & Etta– Maia Sharp and Anna Schulze are about as rock ‘n’ roll as this list is going to get. I ignored this album when it arrived- to be fair, it came without cover art or notes, a simple advance disc housed in a clear plastic sleeve. Once I listened, I was won over. Rewriting “You Oughta Know” as “Stupid Pretty Face” was fair brilliant, but the strength of the album is found across the entirety of eleven songs. “Play On” and “Broken Headlights” are among the strongest songs heard this year. Roscoe & Etta is a terrific album. (serviced CD)

13. John Prine The Tree of Forgiveness– A master who refuses to compromise. The Tree of Forgiveness is a concise album, all the more powerful for its intensity. Little lightness here, Prine is on a mission to expose his human condition. (purchased CD)

14. Kaia Kater- Grenades– Where our favourite female, biracial, Canadian, old-timey clawhammer banjo player reaches way out to grasp the flowers at the end of the branches. Kaia explores her heritage and family throughout Grenades, creating an album singularly engaging and insightful. More mainstream, even pop-oriented, than previous Kater albums, Grenades is a natural progression. (serviced download)

15. Ashley McBryde Girl Going NowhereYeah, there is no room for music this good on country radio. (That clip brings this cynical and grizzled old man to tears. Seriously- the emotion!) No filler, these eleven songs alternately create moods and describe experiences that everyone can relate with, for good or bad. This is what country music needs to once again become. Fingers crossed; breath not held. (purchased download)

16. Eliza Gilkyson SeculariaReviewed here (serviced download)

17. The Gibson Brothers Mockingbird– A significant departure for the perennial bluegrass powerhouse, but not a jarring one. The lead and harmony vocal signatures remain, and that they’ve broadened their approach for this album isn’t something anyone within the paranoid, protectionist bluegrass collective should fear. As always, excellent songs. (purchased download)

18. Pistol Annies- Interstate Gospel– A little bit irreverent (The album kicks off with, “Jesus is the bread of life without him, you’re toast”) and a whole lot brilliant (“I Got My Name Changed Back,” “5 Acres of Turnips,” “When I Was His Wife,” and “Masterpiece,” being but four) their third album is somehow even better than those which came before. The trio of dixie chicks- Lambert, Monroe, and Presley- mine fifty-plus years of songwriting history to craft a set of original, self-written songs that is smart, sassy, and certainly superior to that clogging country music airwaves.  (purchased CD)

19. Leslie Satcher & the Electric Honey Badgers 2 Days in Muscle Shoals– While previous albums were enjoyable but uneven, everything comes together for Satcher on 2 Days in Muscle Shoals. A venerable rockin’ southern country masterpiece that dares you to not dance. (purchased download)

20. Joe Nolan Cry Baby A moody, soulful album of finely-tuned roots music. Last time I heard Nolan, he was busking at a farmers’ market. While good practice to test-run his songs, I hope Cry Baby takes him further down his hillbilly highway. (serviced download)

Honourable mentions: D. B. Rielly Live From Chester (#21, and bumped by the late arrival of the Pistol Annies) reviewed here, Vivian Leva Time Is Everything (reviewed here), Steve Forbert The Magic Tree, Mandy Barnett Strange Conversation, J. P. Harris Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing (reviewed here), Edward David Anderson Chasing Butterflies (reviewed here), Kevin Gordon Tilt and Shine, Amos Lee My New Moon, Tim Easton Paco & the Melodic Polaroids, Mark Erelli Mixtape, Mariel Buckley Driving in the Dark, The LYNNes Heartbreak Song For the Radio (reviewed here)and Thomas Stajcer Will I Learn to Love Again? (reviewed here)

There you have it, my favourite singer-songwriter (-ish) albums if 2018. Hopefully my choices lead you in a direction you find satisfying; my list is likely different from others’ you’ve encountered. Later this month we will finalize my Top Ten albums of the year. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. 


Favourite Roots Albums of 2018, so far   2 comments

It’s July 1. The year is half over and during the past six months some terrific music has been released. While I have heard my share of the roots music that has come out, I haven’t heard it all. I do have my favourites and that is what I share today: Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots releases of 2018, so far. In no particular order…

GauthierMary Gauthier- Rifles & Rosary Beads An ambitious undertaking that has received its fair share of attention. Co-writing with American veterans and their families, Gauthier has created a piece of art greater than its parts. Of course, none of it would be as significant if the songs themselves were weak or if Gauthier faltered in their delivery. No worries. Gauthier’s indomitable performances bridge the gap between those of us who have never considered serving in the military, and those whose lives have inalterably changed because of their sacrifices. Key tracks: “Got Your Six” “The War After the War” “Brothers” (purchased download)

JohnnyCash-ForeverWordsVarious Artists- Johnny Cash Forever Words: The Music Excepting the typically overwrought Elvis Costello track (When he sang—prior to about 2000—there were few who had greater regard for him, but he lost me a long time ago—his voice is shot, he mistakes emoting for expression, and has completely lost the plot on what even sounds ‘good’) this collection provides an hour of entertainment and contemplation. Comprised of unrecorded Cash ‘songs’—lyrics, poems, or musings, depending—that were—for the most part—fleshed out by the various performers, one is transported into a series of ethereal collaborations that is very affecting. Again, like the Gauthier album, what matters is more than the process, it’s the music: this album enhances the Cash legacy, unlike some other more exploitive sets that have been released. Key tracks:    Alison Krauss & Union Station’s interpretation of Robert Lee Castleman’s “The Captain’s Daughter” Rosanne Cash’s “The Walking Wounded” Carlene Carter’s “June’s Sundown” Jamey Johnson “Spirit Rider” (purchased CD)

GebtryBobbie Gentry- Live At The BBC A Record Store Day release, this 12-track compilation of cuts from 1968 and 1969 are simply a fan’s greatest attainable wish. Performances—excepting “Ode to Billie Joe”—unheard since their original broadcast (so, brand new to most of us) that add to Gentry’s legacy. Her voice is huskier on these numbers, the arrangements sparser, the mood slightly playful: the effect is  even greater intimacy that that expressed through the album versions of the songs. Key tracks: “Papa Won’t You Let Me Go To Town With You” “Recollection” “Nikki Hokey” in a medley with Robert Parker’s “Barefootin'” name-checking Long John Baldry. (purchased vinyl)

Motel MirrorsMotel Mirrors- In The Meantime The second collaboration between Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith is every bit as satisfying as their first, with the added bonus of having folded Will Sexton and Shawn Zorn into the mix to become a genuine band. Americana with a heavy dose of Memphis heart, this is a country-rock album that owes much to the music that influenced it. Key tracks: “Things I Learned” “Do With Me What You Want” “The Man Who Comes Around” (purchased download)

MarielMariel Buckley- Driving In The Dark I would have felt bad had I not been able to include an Alberta artist on this list, and Mariel Buckley doesn’t place out of any obligation. I wasn’t familiar with her until late last year, but she has quickly become a Fervor Coulee favourite. Produced by Leeroy Stagger, these ten songs contain lyrical and instrumental nuances that make them individually appealing and collectively stout. There isn’t much polish herein, just as it should be. I avoid using the word ‘authentic,’ but that is what works here. Straight-forward, modern country (think Kelly Willis) for those of us who live in the past. Key tracks: “Rose Coloured Frames” “Heart Is On Fire” “Pride” (purchased download)

David DavisDavid Davis & the Warrior River Boys- Didn’t He Ramble: The Songs of Charlie Poole A welcome return for one of bluegrass music’s most consistently satisfying bands with a traditional bent (serviced with CD). My full review here. 

DuffeyVarious Artists- Epilogue: A Tribute to John Duffey A bluegrass legend and innovator gets his due, more than two decades after his passing (Serviced with download). My full review here.

JoyannJoyann Parker- Hard To Love Soulful and blue (serviced with CD). My full review here.

dancing500Gretchen Peters- Dancing With the Beast Americana/folk doesn’t get better than this, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member’s ninth album of original material (purchased CD). My full review here.

HMT-Cover-862x785Hadley McCall Thackston- Hadley McCall Thackston A beautiful, stunning debut: like Venus, she emerges fully realized (serviced with CD). My full review here.

marewakefieldnomad_largeMare Wakefield & Nomad- Time to Fly There is so much good music, we can only hope that the best of it finds its way to us. Sometimes it is up to us to do the work. Search out this Nashville-based duo: they are worth it (serviced with CD). My full review here.

smds-album-cover-768x767Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar- Run To Me Southern Ontario’s soul revue gift to the world- lively, bright, and brassy (serviced with CD). My full review here.

DocWatson_LiveAtClub47_COVER-494x494Doc Watson Live at Club 47 There is no end to the live Doc Watson albums available, and some (Doc Watson On Stage, for one) are definitely more well-rounded than this set. However, this 1963 set recorded in Massachusetts is a welcome and indispensable addition for those of us who just can’t get enough of the deft, affable roots legend. Several of the songs contained here would remain staples of his live and recorded repertoire for the next five decades (“Little Sadie,” “Deep River Blues,” “Sittin’ On Top Of The World”) while others are less frequently encountered (“Little Margaret,” “Hop High Ladies The Cake’s All Dough,” and “Blue Smoke, for example.”) Watson’s connection to his audience would not waver throughout his career, and this early archival recording- coming in at almost 80 minutes- is riveting. (Purchased download)

 I limited myself to a  baker’s dozen albums. Look around Fervor Coulee- I have reviewed a lot of great roots music since January, and many wonderful albums just wouldn’t fit on this list: the latest from Peter Rowan, Sylvia, John Prine, Bob Rea, Sue Foley, The Lynnes, John Paul Keith, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Travelin’ McCourys…

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots & Bluegrass Albums since 2000   1 comment

I’ve been writing about music since 2000. Naturally, I’ve heard a lot of great music, have written about much of it, and have often put together a list of favourite roots and bluegrass albums of the year. And, I will do the same again this year. For perspective and to sprinkle some flavourful anticipation, here are my favourite roots and bluegrass albums for each year (based on my notes, lists, and digital footprints) since 2000. In the case of 2006, where my favourite roots album was a bluegrass album, it is listed alongside my ‘second’ favourite bluegrass disc of the year.

Crooked Jades2000 The Crooked Jades The Unfortunate Rake Vol. 1; SlowdragSlowdrag Ploughin’ It Right to the Fence

Paul Burch2001 Paul Burch Last of My Kind;  Del and the boysDel McCoury Band Del & The Boys

Doc Watson2002 Doc Watson & David Hold Legacy;  Lost in the lonesome pinesRalph Stanley & Jim Lauderdale Lost in the Lonesome Pines

Kate Campbell2003 Kate Campbell Monuments; DTTWDown to the Wood Up All Night

Maria Dunn 32004 Maria Dunn We Were Good People; Jimmy MarinAudie Blaylock, J.D. Crowe, Paul Williams, and Kenny Ingram A Tribute to Jimmy Martin

Bruce S2005 Bruce Springsteen Devils and Dust; Reams TroubledJames Reams & The Barnstormers Troubled Times

Dale Ann 12006 Dale Ann Bradley Catch Tomorrow; David DavisDavid Davis & The Warrior River Boys Troubled Times

John Wort Hannam 12009 John Wort Hannam Queen’s Hotel; Dale Ann BackDale Ann Bradley Don’ t Turn Your Back

Mary Gauther2010 Mary Gauthier The Foundling; SteeldriversThe Steeldrivers- Reckless

Dave-Alvin-Eleven-Eleven2011 Dave Alvin Eleven Eleven; dale ann southDale Ann Bradley Somewhere South of Crazy

dunn2012 Maria Dunn Piece By Piece; earl brothersThe Earl Brothers Outlaw Hillbilly

Guy_Clark_My_Favorite_Picture_of_You2013 Guy Clark My Favorite Picture of You; Walk along johnJohn Reischman Walk Along John

Eliza-Gilkyson2014 Eliza Gilkyson The Nocturne Diaries; laurie_kathyLaurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick Sing the Songs of Vern and Ray

JWH-final-printtext-FULL-RED-BG-rev1lowres2015 John Wort Hannam Love Lives On; Dale Ann PocketDale Ann Bradley Pocket Full of Keys

cds1882-201603221219022016 Mark Erelli For a Song;  untitledLaurie Lewis & the Right Hands The Hazel and Alice Sessions

Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots and Bluegrass Albums of 2017 coming next week. Or the week after…

David G. Smith- First Love review   Leave a comment

smithDavid G. Smith

First Love

You need to check yourself sometimes.

Maybe you are starting to slack off at work. Perhaps you are starting to imbibe just a little too frequently. You may notice you aren’t really engaged in your relationship, allowing the mundane to become routine.

You recognize the issue, and because you realize its importance, you make a change to get yourself back on track.

David G. Smith, challenged by mentors Darrell Scott and Mary Gauthier, realized he was losing himself some years ago. Chasing the Nashville brass ring—co-writes, pitches, holds—Smith found himself writing material that no longer spoke to him. He needed to get back to ‘the truth.’

He did. Finding his voice and his songwriting soul, Smith has crafted a series of independently released albums, including live projects capturing his songs in their natural environment. Reflective and demanding, Smith has received kudos from folks who know good music, the likes of Peter Cooper, Robert K. Oermann, and Gauthier.

“One House” stretches peace, love, and understanding to contemporary circumstance. The uncertainty bred by 9/11 is juxtaposed by the selfless sacrifices of those who responded when “Angels Flew.” “Other Side of Free” is the type of song we used to discover on Nanci Griffith albums. Which doesn’t mean everything has to be heavy: Smith’s “You’re the Reason God Made Tequila”  is both playful in execution and honest in tone.

First Love is Smith’s third studio album. It contains ten artfully arranged original numbers of the type that brings to mind the likes of Kieran Kane, Stephen Fearing, and David Francey. There is an aching reality populating the title track, a thread of hope woven through experience: “first love…after the last one died.” Life goes on, renewed. Larry Jon Wilson might have enjoyed “Nightlife in the Stix,” a song that (perhaps inadvertently) captures his swampy, southern soul approach to true life blues, “with some sweet lowdown on the stand up bass” from Doug Kahan.

Smith explores the unknown certainties of life (“Questions,”) juxtaposing the wonderings of a child with those of a grandfather. “Carrie” possesses the simplicity and purity of mid-70s folk rock, while “Ocean Soul” appeals to the freedom-lover that (hopefully) exists in each of us, if only when on vacation. Keb’ Mo slips reso into “I Can’t Tell,” a relaxed, bluesy jam with shades of Delaney and Bonnie.

The album’s lead track should garner notice. “Fear” is a soneofabitch sonofagun that Smith faces down: if only all of us could! Featuring pals Buddy Mondlock (guitars and vocals) and Gauthier (vocals) as well as Kenny Malone (percussion,) Bryn Davies (bass,) and Steve Conn (keys,) this song is possibly Smith’s calling card: it was featured in a different, and more profane, arrangement on Non-Fiction; deceptively straight-forward, the song has depth beyond its inspired performance.

First Love. Damn.

To be released February 5, 2016.

Hey, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee; I appreciate it.


Mary Gauthier- Live at Blue Rock review   Leave a comment

Mary Gauthier Live at Blue Rock Baby/Latent

BlueRock_CD_300x300-220x220Earlier this month came word that Mary Gauthier was in the studio recording a ‘live to tape’ album, one with the band carrying the load without an abundance of extra tools and gimmicks. Great news, that, and serves as impetus to get busy reflecting on her most recent release, Live at Blue Rock.

Long one of the most striking members of the Americana community, Gauthier’s profile has slowly increased over the past ten or so years. Still, there are pockets where Gauthier remains under-known. Almost universal positive reviews have slowly spread the word, as has relentless touring. Having had a song (“How You Learn to Live Alone” co-written with Gretchen Peters) featured this past week on Nashville likely doubled the number of folks who have heard her songs, if not her performance of them.

Live at Blue Rock widespread release occurred this  spring. My excuse in being so tardy is the album made its way to me only earlier this month, but it is everything a casual fan could want in a Gauthier live set. Hardcore Gauthier followers will be disappointed only in the album’s perceived brevity at eleven songs.

Accompanied here by percussionist Mike Meadows and fiddler/vocalist Tania Elizabeth (who adds additional percussion), Gauthier spends more than an hour doing what she does- singing her songs, utilizing most impressive lyrics to give voice to outlanders and broken souls populating some of the finest songs to emerge from the Americana field in the last fifteen years.

Several of Gauthier’s earliest songs- the first four songs from her second album Drag Queens In Limousines including the title track and “Karla Faye” and “I Drink,” the pair of songs that will likely serve as Gauthier’s calling cards until she retires- as well as a fifth with “Our Lady of the Shooting Stars” and one or a pair from every album since.

One is tempted to quibble with some of the songs excluded- I’m partial to “Mercy Now” and “Ways of the World”- one can’t find fault with the songs presented. Having only caught Gauthier live solo, I’m impressed by the textures that a pair of instrumentalists bring to Gauthier’s live presence. “Last of the Hobo Kings” and “Sugar Cane” are but two songs that seem much more complete given their presentation here.

Gauthier also performs three Fred Eaglesmith songs, never a bad thing but highly unusual for a live recording comprised of eleven tracks. “Your Sister Cried” has been Gauthier’s since it first appeared on a fairly obscure Eaglesmith tribute album, and she similarly takes possession of “Cigarette Machine” (featuring beautiful sounds from Elizabeth) and “The Rocket.”

While a live album usually serves as fresh merchandise to sell to fans between albums- and I’m not suggesting Live at Blue Rock is more than that- one can be assured that there should be little disappointment accompanying the purchase of this album. The production values are high, the audience doesn’t get in the way, and Gauthier’s voice is acute.

Live at Blue Rock whets the appetite for the album currently under construction: given that Gauthier has never disappointed, I eagerly anticipate its release. Until then, this set works- and I’ll be giving Drag Queens, Dixie Kitchen, and Between Daylight and Dark another listen this week.

As always- thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee.

I’m on Twitter at @FervorCoulee

Roots Music Column- Kayla Luky review: Fred Eaglesmith, Mary Gauthier, Dan Bern Red Deer dates   Leave a comment

With the summer break totally messing with my normal publication schedule in the Red Deer Advocate, my Roots Music column has fallen by the wayside. Not intentially, I’m sure- just the nature of summer holidays I suppose. I’m posting this week’s (actually last week’s revised) column here in the hopes of spreading the word about some local Red Deer gigs that roots fans will want to attend this weekend and in the days following. Also, you may recall the nice things I posted about Kayla Luky’s album a couple weeks back ( the review follows below. Best, thanks for your patience, and thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee- Donald

Alberta’s finest touring roots artists continue to make their way to The Hideout.

Appearing this weekend at the Gasoline Alley tavern and eatery are Canadian and international folk and roots performers. Tonight (July 8), The Heartbroken– featuring Damhnait Doyle- has a slicker sound than some, but their music remains very agreeable to those who listen with ears attuned to rootsy sounds. Tomorrow, Vancouver’s Graham Brown Band-featuring exceptionally strong vocals- pops in for a show.

In what has to be The Hideout’s most substantial coup thus far, Mary Gauthier appears with fiery fiddler Tania Elizabeth this coming Sunday evening (July 10).

For the second summer in a row, Fred Eaglesmith is spending a great deal of time in Alberta. July 14 finds Eaglesmith at the Grandview Stage near Rocky Mountain House while the next night he takes over The Vat.

Dan Bern also appears this month at The Vat; Bern brings his impressive songbook to The Vat July 20. Bern, who last appeared in town about a decade ago, is a top-notch entertainer as well as a terrific writer and singer.

Red Deer’s Central Music Festival features blues, roots, and rock from many popular performers: David Essig, Souljah Fyah, David Vest, the Jack Semple Trio, and Jonas and the Massive Attraction alongside local performers take over a wonderful rural site north of Red Deer August 12-14. Ticket information is available at

Blues-rock legend Johnny Winter is slated for Red Deer’s Memorial Centre October 13.

This week’s disc review:

Kayla Luky The Time It Takes

Arriving unheralded this month was the third album from Grandview, Manitoba’s Kayla Luky.

A full-blown alternative country release, The Time It Takes doesn’t waste any time in establishing itself as a revitalizing shot of natural sounding, roots music. From the initial seconds of the album’s opening track “Cowboys are Coming”, one suspects that the album is going to be something special.

And it is.

Similar in sound and approach to recent and excellent recordings from Kim Beggs, Ruth Moody, and Kate Maki, The Time It Takes marks Kayla Luky as an artist for whom we should keep an ear open. Swinging into Neko Case territory on “You Won’t Find Me” and “Arizona”, Luky takes on the fair-haired child of the Americana scene and wins an uncontested victory.

Among the many things one appreciates about this recording is the quality of Luky’s annunciation. While several noted artists have in recent years started slurring their lyrics in an attempt at (one supposes) poetic mystery, Luky lays everything out clearly.

“Lonesome Ranger” wouldn’t sound out of place on an Uncle Earl disc, and closes the album with energy and attitude.

This music could have been made anywhere, I suppose. But knowing that it comes from a group of friends gathered in small town Manitoba this past winter, living on liquor and lottery tickets, makes it all the more appealing and authentic.

Kayla Luky has an ache in her heart, but through music transforms it into something joyful.

Donald Teplyske is a local freelance writer who contributes a twice-monthly column on roots music; visit for additional reviews. If you know a roots music event of which he should be aware, contact him at

Mary Gauthier- The Foundling review   Leave a comment

Welcome back to Fervor Coulee. In my Red Deer Advocate roots music column today (May 21, 2010) I advance the local happenings and review Mary Gauthier’s new one, The Foundling. Regular visitors to Fervor Coulee know I’ve been praising this one for several weeks, and now that it is on store shelves I hope my words provide some guidance, helping you decide if the album is for you. Like Gauthier, I am adopted and although my journey has been a bit smoother than hers in many ways, I suspect it has been less interesting. I think all adoptees have a story to share, and I’m glad Mary put hers to song.

Mary Gauthier The Foundling Razor & Tie

An impressive writer with a distinctive delivery, Mary Gauthier has established herself as one of the foremost songwriters of her generation. Rivaling Guy Clark, Gauthier crafts lyrical paintings that become vivid, living testimonials in four minutes.

With five stellar recordings under her belt, the product of the Louisiana school of hard knocks delivers The Founding, her most ambitious and personal album yet. Once again delving into personal darkness, Gauthier writes about her own abandonment and adoption with honesty and clarity.

Recording for the first time with Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), Gauthier expands on the story previously shared in “Goodbye”, a song from her breakthrough Filth & Fire. Blessed with the insight of a philosopher, Gauthier peeks into the abyss while pulling back from self-pity.

Gauthier’s song-cycle explores the lack of family attachment she has felt- the missing connection experienced by many children of adoption- while never becoming  disconnected from the importance of creating stand-alone songs that flow through a sustained narrative.

Gauthier and Timmins take chances throughout the recording. “March 1, 1962” is a one-sided transcript of Gauthier’s conversation with her birth mother, a meeting that ended in shamed rebuff. The liveliness of New Orleans jazz and blues provides juxtaposition to the isolation of “Sideshow.”

“The Orphan King” turns rejection into hopeful strength. Written with Darrell Scott, “Another Day Borrowed” brings the story to its close, at least for now; “passing through, I might be gone tomorrow,” Gauthier sings with acceptance, embracing her gifts.

The more one listens, the stronger the bond one feels with Gauthier and her experiences, the more one absorbs; one never feels more than about five seconds from tears. To Mary Gauthier’s credit, the tears are of admiration, not pity.

Beyond that, nothing much in my world- lots of listening, less writing than I should, and of course the real world dictates the balance. Thanks for dropping by. Donald