This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting the very first Songwriting Intensive at Wildwood Artist Retreat, put on by Ptarmigan Music and Theatre Society. Nine wonderful people decided to come and learn together and we laughed, ate food together, and became friends, all while learning the different aspects of songwriting (including alliteration!), and how to maintain a songwriting practice. On Sunday we had the studio all set up so each participant was able to record a demo of a song they either wrote or were working on during the weekend.
It’s amazing to see how when you get a group of creative people together, the creative and collaborative energy is so great, and we feed off each other. Being a bit of an introvert and not much of a talker, it was tiring for me to be facilitating and teaching the entire weekend but though I was quite exhausted come Sunday evening, I was so full of joy and inspiration and gratitude for the opportunity to share one of my greatest passions with others.
If you’re interested in songwriting and would like some help in the right direction, send me a message! I am definitely planning on hosting more workshops, and I’m also available for individual sessions.
To celebrate Over Land and Sea’s fifth birthday, we’re having a merch sale! Head to my online store to find Over Land and Sea on CD for only $5, and a ton of stuff including limited quantities of early LMATFOF t-shirt designs, Dearestly black vinyl and Where the Ocean Meets the Sky: A Visual EP on sale as well! You can also finally buy Dearestea and the Exclusive screen printed poster on their own. Sale runs until 05/17/17. ✨
Five years ago I released my first studio album, Over Land and Sea, recorded at the Vanguard Room in Lakeland, FL with Aaron Marsh back in 2011. During the writing and recording process I had no idea that this album would kickstart my music career and open up so many opportunities in the five years following. It was truly a dream come true, and has led us on quite the journey. To celebrate Over Land and Sea’s fifth birthday, I thought I’d dig into the archives and share some of the highlights from the past five years.
Our touring took us all over North America, circling the continent many times and playing a lot of shows! In fall 2012 we got to open for Rusted Root on their American comeback tour, which was an incredible opportunity to share Over Land and Sea with a big audience and play in some really notable venues. There were many nights spent in the van, many long drives, many gas stations, many sandwich making parties in the van…you get the idea. And five years later I can see how the constant movement and lack of home base really took a toll on me in many ways, but I can also look back on those moments with a fondness for the memories that we created that will last a lifetime, and hopefully someday end up in a book.
There have been many people who joined me along the way as Fairly Odd Folk or just plain friends including, but not limited to, Aaron, Mike, Hammer, Jeremy, Jay, Jessica, Josh, Ray, Dane, Darryl, Greg, Adam, Sherry, Mat, Phoenix, and Clark. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all these wonderful people and more who have come through my life and through my music in so many ways.
In the past two years we’ve slowed down a lot, even with releasing another album and touring across Canada this fall. We’ve been taking more time off the road, finding a balance between home and work life, and putting down deep roots into our community on Pender Island, BC. In 2014 we started developing the Exclusive Content Project which allows me to spend time throughout the week focussed on my career, and has become a really great way to keep in touch with fans when we’re not touring. It’s been a lot of change but in the best way, and I’m in a better place now more than ever to continue writing and performing and inspiring others to do the same. I never imagined my life looking like this, and even with the hard stuff we’ve gone through, it’s more than anything I could have come up with.
I had a great time going through these photos…what a blast from the past. Lots of good memories. I hope you enjoy looking through them!
Aaron, Hammer, Mike in a pretty classic van scenario.
Driving through icy mountains.
First time to In-N-Out!
Setting up on the street in Kelowna, BC.
The nickel! Sudbury, ON.
Spending time on Î’le d’Orléans, QC with our friend Pierre.
After playing an outdoor festival in Rochester, NY we decided to play some acoustic songs as people were leaving.
Hammer, Mike & Jeremy with their cheap fireworks.
That one time our trailer flipped…
Saying goodbye to these Fairly Odd Folk for now.
Sidewalk picnics at the start of another tour.
Did you know the eastern half of Oregon is all desert? It was a strange discovery for me.
Classic van scene. I remember this day…it was SO HOT. I’m pretty sure I was lying down on the floor between the front seats and the next bench trying to stay cool and get some rest.
Hiking the Flat Irons in Boulder, CO with Zoltan’s cousin Joel.
Eating big southern brunch in Austin, TX after a gruelling night drive.
Hammer and Zoltan fixing cables on time off between tours.
Picnic in Quebec City!
Josh & Hammer, no caption needed.
The Bean in Chicago, on a tour of the city with our friend Arturo.
Live at The Orpheum in Tampa Bay, FL.
After a corn maze fight, we picked apples and made pie. I think this was right around Thanksgiving.
Scott at The Ship & Plough in Gimli, MB made us a cake for reaching 5000 likes on Facebook!
Hanging with Grant Lawrence after our set at CBC Music Fest in Burnaby, BC as Searchlight winners. That was a huge moment for us.
Leaving our mark on the gum wall in Seattle, WA.
Promo photo taken on Pender Island, BC (before we had any idea we’d end up living there) with Kyle & Katie’s awesome car.
Peak Performance Project boot camp doing a co-write with Jon Bryant.
Our Peak showcase. We had so much fun with these shows!
After the craziness of Searchlight, Peak, and Jay & Jess moving on, we recorded some Christmas songs.
Eating cake on the final tour of 2014.
A new year, a new album! Beginning pre-production for Dearestly at OCL Studios with Josh Gwilliam.
More pre-production…this time in Vancouver with Howard Redekopp.
Visiting Cafe Balou in Chicago where we played on our very first tour together in 2010. We still keep in touch with Khosro, the owner.
And then we bought a house! This was the day we looked at it and decided it would be ours (if the bank allowed it, and they did with some persuasion).
Sharing some insight to the next year’s Peak Performance Project.
Our progress chart for Dearestly.
Kurt Dahle on the drums.
Lots of keyboards.
What do you get with an airsoft gun, a hatchet, and old metal cans? Some cool samples for the album!
Chris Byrne on the bass.
Recording an impromtu song on an old (very out of tune) piano.
I got to be part of the Prophets of Music fundraiser and play with an all star band…such a treat.
Taking promo photos for Dearestly with the lovely Kristy-Anne Swart
My favourite corner of our new house.
Shortly after moving to Pender we started hosting house concerts. It was something we always wanted to do, and now we had the space to do it.
Wit more time off the road I’ve had more time to work on recording myself.
Getting together with our friends for the Amazing Grace concert: a refugee benefit concert.
The Pender Island Community Hall. Much magic has happened under these timber beams.
We also had the opportunity to record our friends WhiteBird record their first album, Force of Love.
Filming a music video for Hibernate on Mt. Menzies, Pender Island.
In honour of David Bowie, I recorded covers of three of his songs for the Exclusive Content Project. My friend Elizabeth was a magician and transformed for the photo shoot.
Recording drums in the living room…not an uncommon sight!
Clark and Mat and I playing a trio show together at our house.
A spring tour with Adam, Darryl and Mat (and Sherry and Phoenix too)
The gang on our spring tour featuring Travis and Mikaela’s Westy.
Filming music videos with our friend Cole in Ontario…one that hasn’t even been released yet!
Since we’ve been off the road more I’ve been able to collaborate with other artists. I got to play keys for my friend Jonny’s rock ‘n roll band and we won the Battle of the Bands!
The night we released Dearestly. Another milestone achieved.
Heading up to Yellowknife with our crew. Phoenix, Clark, Mat, Sherry, myself.
Stopping at our favourite fruit stand for cherries and pie.
First time in the territories! We played Folk on the Rocks and fell in love with Yellowknife.
Signing deluxe vinyl at Canada Boy in Calgary, AB.
The Dearestly release show on Pender Island, BC. What a beautiful thing it was to share something so close to my heart to a sold-out hometown crowd.
After the release show we turned on the garden lights and sang songs together.
Getting ready for the Dearestly release tour…my first ever solo tour.
Maxine helping us pack the van. She’s not in a lot of these pictures but she’s been a really important part of our life, especially through all the change and transition.
Home in the studio, writing new songs and finding balance all over again.
A few weeks ago I played a small string of shows through Southern BC and Alberta. We combined the shows with some time with friends in Portland and Seattle, an amazing evening seeing Radiohead play in Seattle(!!!), and family time in Calgary for Easter. The shows were so fun, in some really unique venues full of lovely people. The first of the three shows was in Christina Lake, BC, where we had played for the first time on the Dearestly fall tour. Thanks to the venue being right beside an art gallery featuring local artists and artisans, I came home with a lovely handmade mug.
The next night we were in Cranbrook, BC playing at The Stage Door, a really quaint community theatre. The show was really lovely, and it was great to meet so many awesome people. We stayed at the Elizabeth Lake Lodge (HIGHLY recommended if you’re ever in the area) and played a rousing game of mini golf in the morning!
We finished this short run in Black Diamond, AB, a tiny town but with an unusually high number of really unique thrift/vintage/boho/handmade shops. We played at The Westwood, which used to be called The Stop, also highly recommended if you’re ever driving through! I thought I’d share a few shots from the final show of the weekend taken by Mae Bunn. Enjoy!
Find a mountain to see where you come from Follow your footsteps back to the forest You belong here, out in the wilderness Among the dust that brought you up
In July 2013, we were on tour through America, and on one particular day found ourselves driving from the desert of Oregon to the California coast. We had just played a backwoods festival called Crawfest in Bend, OR (think dusty desert, rockabilly bands, lots of dogs, very windy, and a delicious burger food truck). Instead of staying the night and participating in the late night “activities,”, we got a head start on our drive to San Francisco. It was a long, hot drive, and as we crossed the California border and made our way to San Francisco, I remember seeing hills off in the distant with the glow of fire coming off of them. We had noticed some smoky air on our drives, but seeing the wildfires during the height of California’s drought was a sobering sight.
I remember sitting in the front seat of the van, watching the fiery hills roll by in the distance, thinking of the birth and death that happens so naturally, and the fleetingness of it all. I have always been struck by the contrast of the barren desert and the lush, old growth forests on the west coast, and those paradoxes wove themselves into the pattern of this song. A few weeks before this drive I had penned the lyrics “Even the mountains strong and silent crumble to dust someday,” and as we were driving through those starkly contrasted landscapes, I was inspired to write the verses of Oregon on that drive, and hummed a quick melody idea into my phone. When we got home from tour, I was finally able to sit down and pair the melody and lyrics to some chords I had written shortly before that, but it actually wasn’t until January 2015 that I actually finished the song.
It’s one of those songs that has stuck with me for years, and has taken on new meaning as I’ve experienced the paradoxes of life…travelling and seeing so many parts of the world but not having a home to come back to; building relationships and the end of relationships, having plenty and having little. But finding meaning through all the mountains and valleys, and staying grounded in truth and in the purity of nature has helped turn those experiences into beautiful things: memories, songs, and grateful attitudes.
This is probably one of my favourite songs from Dearestly because it captures some intense feelings, both musically and lyrically. It is brooding and haunting, but there is lots of life, and a sense of ethereal wistfulness. Josh Rob Gwilliam (who co-produced Dearestly) had a huge part to play in the soundscape of the song, even encouraging me to re-write the second verse and a few other lyrics. The song mostly took shape in an early pre-production session months before the actual recording. We decided to keep the percussion minimal but build the dynamic with the piano and layers upon layers of different sounds including mellotron, clarinet, vioin, pedal steel, a choir, and lots of harmonies.
I hope you enjoy this live video of Oregon that we recorded at our house. It was so fun to strip the song down and capture the beauty of it, especially with some wonderful friends. Thank you Austin, Josh, Johnny, Charlie, Mat, Bob, Lyn, Katie, Tija, and Nadia for being part of the choir!
If you are part of the Exclusive Content Project (sign up HERE) you will also be receiving an EP of voice memos and demos of Oregon from throughout the writing process. You’ll be able to hear how the song sounded at various stages, and what changed through the process.
Living in this little community of Pender Island has given me so many opportunities to collaborate and play with other musicians that I probably never would have otherwise crossed paths with. I’ve been able to step out of my comfort zone, learn new things and be amazed at what can happen when people get together and play music.
This past weekend was no exception. I had the honour of helping organize the Fuss About the Bus: a fundraiser for our local community bus that currently only operates on Fridays. It was the brainchild of my neighbour Robert who uses a wheelchair to get around and who knows first hand how much it would benefit the community to have the bus running every day. We enlisted the help of a wonderful group of local musicians including Juno award winning guitarist Lester Quitzau, and our dear friends Whitebird and Deer & Coyote and we raised $1000 for the bus!
We all had so much fun on stage, playing lots of originals as well as a set of classic blues, rock, pop, funk covers. It was a great opportunity to get out of our comfort zones, learn new songs, and improvise together. There were so many moments during the night where all eight of us were singing together and it was just heavenly!
Anyway, I thought I’d share some videos from the night so you can check it out for yourself. Enjoy!