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Ivy Mairi – No Talker

Monday, September 12th, 2011

About five years ago I was doing some recording with a friend of mine when she happened to mention a young woman that she had come across at a few open mic nights at a café that she frequented. She had gotten to know this young singer and was really impressed with her song writing and her underlying spirit. She asked if she could bring her in to our studio so that I could have a listen to her. The singer’s name was Ivy Mairi and she was in her last year of high school. Ivy had no experience with recording studios and had little experience outside of those open mic nights and singing with her family. I was blown away by her voice, the way it was both fragile and powerful at the same time. And I was stunned by the sophistication of her song writing. So we decided to do an album together. Despite Ivy’s lack of experience in the studio she had a very definite idea about how she wanted to represent herself on record. We made a very simple, almost naïve, album, which highlighted her voice and blossoming song writing skills. After we released the album, Ivy went off to university in Montreal. She was undecided as to whether she wanted to truly pursue a life in music. About two years ago she slowly made her way back to Toronto and found a music community that she could grow with, started writing songs again and found a few musicians that shared her vision.

Early this year she walked into our studio with a couple of friends and played me a few things that she had been working on and I fell in love all over again. Later we talked about what she wanted to do with this album, about how she wanted to present this batch of songs as a band and how she wanted to expand her sound, her singing style and her song writing. And I think that, with Lucas Gadke on bass, Matt Bailey on guitar and Mike Brushey on drums, she has done just that. On No Talker there are still the wispy folk leanings of her debut album represented by the delicate East Of The Don and the desolate Bruise, but there is also the fully charged Neil Young-styled No Talker; the bewildering and explosive Kenyatta; the rockabilly rave-up of Scar and the stunning, soul-laced I Can See You. This is a very young artist fully in command of her talent, surrounded by some excellent young musicians. I was very pleased to be the one to push the button, sit back and let them do their thing. Take a listen, and if it makes you feel good…buy a copy…share it on Facebook…tell a friend…we need to help young talent survive…we need things that make us feel good.

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Ivy Mairi – CD release gig

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Ivy Mairi has a new album (No Talker) coming out on Latent. It isn’t officially available until October, but in the meantime it will be exclusively available through Ivy’s site, later today. Ivy also has a CD release gig at the Dakota tomorrow night (Thursday), so come on down if you are in the area. I’ll be blogging more about the album in the next few days.

Ivy Mairi Gig Poster

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No Sleep Till……..Beijing?

Monday, May 30th, 2011

We’ve been working on this gig for a few months and I don’t think that any of us thought that it would actually happen. But tomorrow we head off to Beijing for a few days of sightseeing ending with a gig on June 5th as part of  The Kama Love Festival, which takes place in the Olympic Park. How amazingly awesome is that….there are a lot of ups and downs in the life of a working rock band, but occasionally you hit an “up” that just lifts you through the freakin’ roof. Beijing here we come….I’ll of course be blogging about the whole experience, so check back daily.

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Wrestlemania XXVII – epilogue

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Well, it was an epic night of fireworks, costumes, staging, choreography and physicality. Undertaker extended his streak to 19 – 0, despite the fact that he had to be carted from the ring on a stretcher; The Miz (my favourite…did you see him on Conan last week) beat John Cena to retain his title, in kind of a lame match ; Randy Orton and CM Punk tried to out-psycho each other in an excellent match that ended with a flying RKO; Rey Mysterio and Cody Rhodes got ugly with each other in a match that will only increase their hatred of each other; our homey, Edge, surprisingly defeated Alberto Delrrrrrrio and then proceeded to trash Alberto’s vintage Rolls Royce (a move which my eight year-old daughter felt was, “not necessary at all” and I agree with her).

Ever since my 10 year old son has got me involved in the WWE Universe (we’ve even attended two matches and we watch Smackdown every Friday night) I have become a bit obsessed. I love the storylines and the characters; the choreography and physicality of the matches is quite something. These guys (and gals) work their asses off. Their tour schedule looks like a rock band’s schedule with shows every night in all of the cities that any respectable rock tour would hit. Except these guys have to slam their bodies around every night (and some them are not all that much younger than some rockers that we know). They travel in tour busses with their crews and production in tow, some nights they play to half filled houses and some nights, like Sunday night, they find themselves in front of 70,000 people…but each night, no matter where they are, they need to “bring it” (as The Rock says). Its impressive and most importantly, really fun to watch. They are also marketing geniuses…no sooner had John Cena walked into the Wrestlemania ring in his new T-Shirt than I got an email hawking the sale of that new shirt. I’d love to see a behind the scenes documentary look at pro-wrestling (I’m sure its not a pretty sight) does anyone know of one? I would bet that the film The Wrestler is a pretty good depiction of what happens to a lot of these guys when their bodies finally give out. There is no doubt a lot of dark corners in this world (Chris Benoit found himself in the darkest of these corners), but I have grown to have tons of respect and admiration for these athlete-entertainers.

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Wrestlemania XXVII

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

I hope everyone has their pay-per-view paid for or their theater tickets for tonight’s epic bout at the Georgia Dome. It’s pretty darn exciting: The Rock returns; will Undertaker extend his Wrestlemania streak to 19-0 vs HHH (our household is betting that Shawn Michaels gets involved in some manner); will Michael Cole get his sneering grin slapped off his face by Jerry “The King” Lawler; who will survive the grudge match between CM Punk and Randy Orton; will Edge (our homeboy) be able to defend his title verse that upstart Alberto Delrrrrrrrrrrio?…and the storylines go on and on. In a word, it’s going to be AWWWWWESOME! Stay tuned for the postmortem.

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Demons Canadian Press reaction

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The press reaction to Demons has been pretty spectacular so far; we couldn’t have hoped for a better reception. Here is a skewed sampling of some of the comments from the Canadian pundits:

“The result is a celebration of both the Junkies and Chesnutt and one of the year’s best albums.” 4.5 Stars, The National Post

“Margo Timmins’ clear enunciation and Michael Timmins’ polished guitar mesh well with Chesnutt’s rough and uneasy style, contrasting rather than mimicking it. Demons is a respectful and intent tribute,  …a great blend of two talented forces.” 4 Stars, eye weekly

“Cowboy Junkies strike all the right chords with a performance that breaks through any tragic irony. Margo Timmins’ voice soars towards the heavens and the music swings in celebration of Vic Chesnutt’s life.” No Depression

“Unsurprisingly, Chesnutt’s forlorn balladry dovetails seamlessly with the Cowboys’ hazy slow-burn and Margo Timmins’ sunset vocals. “ 4 Stars, Sun Media

“…few bands other than Cowboy Junkies possess the sensitivity required to do justice to Chesnutt’s music, and Demons is essentially the wake that any Chesnutt fan wishes they could have attended. It’s sometimes difficult to grasp what possesses artists to make tribute albums, but Demons is a tribute in the truest sense: an acknowledgment of gratitude and admiration.” exclaim!

Most people, Chesnutt included, work hard to exorcise their demons. But the Junkies have embraced these Demons with excellent results.” 4 Stars, Chartattack

“Twenty-five years down the road and the Cowboy Junkies are more vibrant than ever.”
Here Magazine

“Demons is a revelation that shows the quartet to be savvy interpreters of a difficult songwriter, Vic Chesnutt. The Junkies’ trump card is singer Margo Timmins, who never attempts to imitate Chesnutt’s strange phrasing or vocal tics. Instead, she highlights the classic elements.” Vancouver Province

“It is a stirring and intense collection of songs, an unforced collaboration that sounds natural and destined to be.” Quick Before It Melts

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Jimmy Fallon – Wrong Piano

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Here’s our performance of “Wrong Piano” on Jimmy Fallon last night, just in case you missed us and here’s a link to our performance of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” which we played after the credits rolled.

And here’s a link to the show in its entirety. Enjoy.

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NPR – All Songs Considered

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

We got a very nice mention on NPR’s All Songs Considered yesterday and they played “I’ll See You Around” off of Demons. Take a listen to the discussion if you’ve got the time.

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Demons, volume 2 – Old Hotel

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

There is no doubt about it, Vic was a nomad….a nomad of the spirit and soul and a nomad of the road. He never stopped searching for meaning. His songs, right up to the end, were filled with internal wanderings and a determination to never settle down, to never be complacent, to never be satisfied with whatever meager offerings his journey unearthed. His wanderings in the real world were also well documented in his songs. One of the most common settings in his work are hotel rooms, unfamiliar spaces which he finds himself trapped in and screaming to escape. For anyone who has spent a lot of time on the road his settings are all too recognizable. The brilliance of Vic’s writing is the way he takes these external spaces and uses them to reflect the inner turmoil and sense of alienation that he was forever kicking against.

Here is our version of “Old Hotel” (which will appear on the Bonus Track EP), having just returned from Europe the sentiments expressed in the song strike close to the bone:

There are only a couple of more weeks left for the pre-order bundles….jump on in if you’ve got a bit of Festivus money burning a hole in your pocket.

To view the previous Demons blogs and to listen to some of the music, click away:

Introduction – Wrong Piano

West Of Rome

Marathon

Sad Peter Pan

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Tour Diary – Copenhagen, (Nov 12, 2010)

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Copenhagen backstage 2

I’ve always felt that Copenhagen had a slightly seamy, dark vibe to it. There is an underbelly that isn’t always apparent to the tourists gawking at the Little Mermaid or strolling through the Tivoli Gardens. Today we spent our day deep within its bowels, in Christiania: a very surreal day.

Christiania is a community that grew up around an abandoned army base, a few minutes walking distance from the center of Copenhagen. When the army moved out in the 1970’s the squatters and self-labelled anarchists moved in. It’s gone through many changes over the past few decades and the community has fallen in and out of favour with the local governments and the “straight” citizenry, but today it is a thriving community (it seems to be run much like a housing co-op) with its own restaurants and schools and hardware store and all the mod-cons that your average anarchist comes to crave as he or she grows older. It also has its very own thriving hashish market…and this is where the sleazy underbelly begins to expose itself. When I say “hashish market” I don’t mean that there are a bunch of guys standing around with their hands in their pockets whispering surreptitiously to passersby. This is a full blown market with stalls set up so that the consumer can see the various bricks of hashish for sale, as well as jars of various strains of marijuana and all of the necessary accoutrements for your smoking pleasure. The market has a heavy atmosphere with lots of tough young punks looking on with lots of ill tempered dogs in hand. Large signs everywhere scream of a “no photography” policy. There are oil drum fires every dozen feet or so, so that the goods can be quickly disposed of when the police make one of their fairly regular raids on the compound. We were told by the locals that this area is run by the Hells Angels and it certainly has that feel to it. It seems that drugs have always been the Achilles heel for this community. Back in the late 70’s when the police would pick up a junkie they would simply dump him or her in Christiania because the heroin problem was so rampant in the community that they figured it was easiest to corral them all in one location. Today they have been able to establish a “THC only” policy within the community, but it’s the market that gives this place a bit of a freak show vibe. The general aesthetic is also a bit Mad Max-ish. It kind of has that post-apocalyptic vibe with lots of open fires, strung lights, large iron works, odd-ish sculptures created from found materials, graffiti on every possible surface and lots of facial hair and dreadlocks.

copenhagen from tower

We played in one of the communities’ venues, a low ceiling, narrow, pit of a club. The promoter never showed up and there was a general who-gives-a-fuck vibe to the day. Despite that, the people who worked at the venue were very nice and as helpful as they could be and the show was sold-out. It was a standing gig, with people crammed up against our foot high stage. So we tried to crank it up a bit and blow through the bodies. We had fun and I think most of the audience did too.

copenhagen 2

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