A while back, Country Standard Time asked me to review Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’ latest, Kings and Kings. I had previously bought the download of the album for my own enjoyment, so I was more familiar with it than I normally am with an album by the time came to write about it. It holds up. My review can be accessed here.
Archive for the ‘Stephen Fearing’ Tag
Galaxie is one of the great music services offered in Canada. It is a streaming ‘radio’ service offered with some cable providers, and it is something I don’t take advantage of often enough. There is a large range of channels on offer, with my favourite naturally being Folk Roots.
I’m not in the habit of promoting corporations, but I mention Galaxie because- while listening yesterday morning- I was reminded of the absolute brilliance of Stephen Fearing & Andy White’s second album, Tea and Confidences.
I listened to this album a lot in March and April, but it fell off my radar during May. When I heard “Emigrant Song” again yesterday, the power of this duo resurfaced and I knew I had found this week’s Roots Song of the Week.
Fearing sings the first half of the song, and White takes over for the rest with Fearing joining back in on harmony. It captures the conflict that I imagine people must experience, people who- for whatever reason- feel forced to turn their back on the land of their birth: you’ve loved this land ‘from the first’, even when it is at its worst, but because ‘my country doesn’t want me’ you’ll head elsewhere.
It is a gorgeous song. There is a video of the song captured on someone’s phone available at the Fearing & White website, so please sample it there- but trust me, the song is well worth a download; heck, splurge and get the album.
By the way, it looks like Andy White is returning to Red Deer for a show in July– if my memory of Red Deer addresses is still accurate after two years absence, it is a house show. Also on his site are shows for Edmonton and Calgary.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Stephen Fearing & Andy White have been crisscrossing the northwestern US and western Canada for a month or more now, and each time I read a tweet about their latest backtracking I wonder to myself, “Who did the routing on this tour?” They wrapped things up in Winnipeg this weekend, and (I believe) have more shows coming up in July.
For those unfamiliar with Fearing & White, a (very) brief background: Stephen Fearing is the pretty member of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings and Andy White is Andy White. Their second album together is called Tea and Confidences and it is a fair blast.
“We Came Together” is my favourite song on the album, simply because it is one of those songs that cries out for a sunroof and spring. Fearing & White go full-frontal Everlys on this track, so much so that the spirit of Boudeloux Bryant is likely to send his bird dog out to track the boys down should they ever make their way near the vicinity of Nashville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park.
I have no idea what the song is about.
It sounds great. You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/matt-21-1/we-came-together
And you should.
Gary Craig is fast becoming my favourite Canadian roots drummer.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
I received this in an email from Matt Charlton this weekend- if you are familiar with Stephen Fearing, this set of three broadcasts is sure to be of interest. If you don’t know Stephen’s music, you should. Details here:
We’re putting together a series of live, online concerts for Stephen Fearing that’ll be taking place over the next few months. The first one is Wednesday, June 26th and will see him play his current touring set. The second is taking place July 31st and will be a complete performance of Yellowjacket. The third will take place on August 28th and will be a set voted on by his fans. You can find more details on the series (in Stephen’s words) here: http://www.stephenfearing.com/roots-on-the-wire/
And those words from Stephen are here:
Welcome to Roots On The Wire!
The idea behind this Live Stream concert series was hatched by my friend Matt Charlton and I, over coffee one afternoon. We thought it would be exciting to put together a series of three concert that are only accessible via the internet, so if you’re up at a cottage or still stuck in the city on the last Wednesday of June, July or August, you can tune in for a live mini-festival concert set from the comfort of your own WiFi. As well as the music, we will have a chat-room area where you can talk amongst yourselves without getting any dirty looks from fellow concert-goers, or ask me questions between songs… like “Why did you write that one Stephen?”, “What gauge strings do you use Stephen?”, “Is that water glass full of water Stephen?”… you get the picture. The idea is that we can interact, although mostly I will be playing and hopefully you will be listening. This is a big continent and that proves to be a challenge when it comes to picking a time when everybody can watch (and I can get to bed at a reasonable hour!) so… shows will all kick off at 11:00pm NST / 10:30pm AST / 9:30pm EST / 8:30pm CST / 7:30 MST and 6:30pm PST Confused? -check here). West Coasters can watch right after dinner and Newfoundlanders can watch on their laptop in bed… or when they get home from the pub. The rest of you? Well I hope it fits in with your evening plans… what else were you going to do on a Wednesday evening? So mark these dates on your calendar and plan to sit out on the back-deck or drag a deckchair out to the dock and put something decent in the ice bucket. Please tell your friends, I’ll do everything I can to publicise these shows (I’ll be tweeting using #rootsonthewire), but the more people you can tell, re-post to, tweet, talk to at the water cooler etc. etc. – the better. I will post each event on Facebook and hopefully you can make one or more of the shows. Further details and a link for the concerts will be right here on this page as soon as we get all the tech information completed. My plan is to make these shows look and sound as good as we can make them.
Show #1: June 26th -my current touring show
This show will be drawing from what is currently on my playlist in concert with the odd surprise thrown in… dealers choice. The show will be approximately 1.5 hours long comprising of roughly 14 songs.
Show #2 – July 31st – Yellowjacket
The Yellowjacket album in it’s entirety from beginning to end, solo and acoustic. I’ve never done this before, so it should be interesting to play these songs back to back. 11 songs. Probably about an hour+ with the stories behind the songs (tunings – guitar geek alert!) and other fascinating trivia.
Show #3 – August 28th – Fan’s Choice
You choose the setlist – Send in a list of your favourite 12 tunes. Songs that get the most votes will be played. Songs can be drawn from SF Solo, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, Fearing & White… if I can play it (and enough of you vote for it) I will. Sign up for my mailing list and send your songlist to
I hope you can make it/them. Thanks for listening.
Getting most of his notice as a third of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, Stephen Fearing has been slowly (very slowly) increasing his profile on the Canadian folk scene for the past twenty-five years. While BARK has brought regular attention to Fearing since the release of High & Hurtin’ in 1996, Fearing has remained more under-the-populist-radar than his partners Colin Linden (who has become familiar to some with his sideman appearances on Nashville) and Tom Wilson (Lee Harvey Osmond).
When it comes to making music, Fearing has consistently, if infrequently, released albums of substance and growing appeal; Between Hurricanes, like Yellowjacket and That’s How I Walk before it, simply becomes more interesting and enthralling the more one listens.
Opening with clean picking and an immediately appealing groove, “As the Crow Flies” sets the course for an album of constant delight. “Rising from the ash and the dust, you turn the key from hope to trust…look ahead,” signals that Fearing has perhaps turned to a new chapter. “As my car flew off the road, images and memories were running through my head; promises I never kept, lies and pretty faces in my bed…” he sings in “Don’t You Wish Your Bread Was Dough,” touching on those regrets we all own.
“Cold Dawn” is staggering, as are “These Golden Days” and his reading of “Early Morning Rain,” and each in different ways and for a variety of reasons.”Keep Your Mouth Shut” is a raucously BARKy, while “The Fool” is as acute as the finest ballads ever sung by Marty Robbins or written by Kris Kristofferson. In many ways, Between Hurricanes reminds one most frequently of an album The Band (whom I have been listening to quite steadily recently) might have made had they been born and raised thirty years later.
I suggest that from my perspective, Fearing has never sounded in better voice, but that seems a bit much as he has always had a pleasing one; still, things seem a bit more focused, more mature even, if such makes any sense. Let it stand, then, that he sounds wonderful throughout the album.
Inhabiting a space somewhere between John Hiatt’s muddy Americana waters and Bruce Cockburn’s warm, comfort folk, Between Hurricanes is a bit minimalist in places, but never feels unduly spare. Co-producer with Fearing, John Whynot, serves as Fearing’s musical foil, contributing everything from piano and organ to percussion, bass, and autoharp.
Stephen Fearing is on a western swing, appearing in Saskatchewan and Alberta this week and next including at Red Deer’s Elks Lodge on March 7; all details at his website.
A little less than a month from tonight, one of Canada’s most consistently acclaimed folkish songwriters and vocalists visits Red Deer. He plays at the Elks Lodge on March 7. The show is part of a tour in support of his new album Between Hurricanes.
Like most followers of the Canadian folk scene and industry, I’ve tripped across Stephen Fearing more than a few times, both as a member of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings and as a self-supporting troubadour of some distinguished repute. I own a couple of his albums, and realize the man has a terrifically melodic voice and more often than not can be counted upon to give a satisfying performance.
I’m not as familiar with Andy White, Ireland-born and Australia-based songwriter, musician, and singer. Again, I have a couple of his albums, but don’t really know his music.
So, I come to Fearing & White positively predisposed to enjoy the album, but without the familiarity that would provide strong prejudice of what it should sound like. Given that I’m not entirely confident about who is singing what on the album, forgive me the lack of detail here and there.
This is what I know today: Fearing & White is a collection of wonderful music, much of it catchy and appealing in the broadest sense. “What We Know Now,” in a better world and time, would be a hit single played on Top 40 and underground stations as well as the programs devoted to folk sounds. “Mothership,” a dreamy tune sporting intangible lyrics, and “Under a Silver Sky” might meet a similar fate were they not so obviously out of time and space with current popular tastes.
“If I Catch You Crying” goes back almost a decade to BARK’s third album; it is a horrible song in that it- with bitter honesty- absolutely captures the devastation one can feel when love’s door is slammed in one’s face, and the helplessness of friends left to soothe the injury.
“Heaven for a Lonely Man” and “October Lies” are similarly reborn from BARK’s often overlooked Let’s Frolic album. The latter song especially is given new life here, with Fearing giving the song the consistent voice, conveying the loss with more impact than sharing the lead with his BARK compatriots on the previous version did. Meanwhile, the shared lead vocal on “Heaven for a Lonely Man” works quite well. All of which goes to prove that songs can be effectively rearranged and refiltered on any number of occasions.
The album’s opening track, “Say You Will,” has a frivolous Traveling Wilburys vibe that is instantly attractive and should fill the dance floors of the various community halls and clubs the duo are touring in Western Canada. Seemingly a song of love-at-first-sight, the protagonist’s less than authentic intentions are made a bit clearer through lines including “what can I do so we can walk away” and “say you’re willing to be this naïve.”
The album is self-produced and largely acoustic, featuring a single guest, percussionist Ray Farrugia. Fearing and White handle all other instrumentation: acoustic and electric guitars, including resophonic, from Fearing, acoustic and bass guitar and a spot or two of pump organ from White, with both contributing percussion via a vibraphone.
The duo most obviously has great chemistry, comfortable drifting toward the lead mic and away in near equal measure. Instrumental touches are slipped-in between verses and phrases deftly, giving punctuation to a thoughtful or pointed observance.
Generously packaged and timed, Fearing & White has much to recommend it. Over the past week it has become a new favourite, and unlike the Fearing & White albums already on my shelves, I suspect this one will remain in the oft-played pile for some time. It also provides a nudge to go explore those albums with fresh ears.
As a bonus, the digital version of the album includes the bonus track “How Long.” In no way a throwaway, this 14th track provides the album with an appropriate coda. And don’t despair- near-luddites (like me) who prefer to possess the physical album will be pleased to know that the pair also offer a free download of “How Long” on their website http://www.fearingandwhite.com/.
By the way, Fearing & White visit Red Deer’s Elks Lodge March 25; additional dates posted at their website.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald