The Fairly Odd Hillcrest Folk

It’s always humbling to hear other people sing covers of my songs, but walking into a school gymnasium and hearing 300 kids singing Brave Face took that feeling to a whole new level. Their sweet innocence and the purity of all their voices together singing about how they can do anything they put their mind to, was so humbling, so inspiring, so fulfilling.

Let me back up a little bit. Last summer I played a show on Mayne Island, BC and a guy named Brook Roberts was in attendance with his family. Brook is a music teacher in Salmon Arm, BC and had put on a program with Shred Kelly a few years ago where the band came to the school, taught the kids some of their songs and did a concert with them. After our show on Mayne Island, Brook approached us about doing something similar and though we didn’t know what that would entail or how it would look, we were very interested.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, we arrived at Hillcrest Elementary School where the grade 4’s and 5’s had been learning seven of my songs since spring break and had been crafting a show around them. They had a different band for each song (drums, bass, piano) and vocal soloists for each verse, about 30 soloists in total! It was amazing to see kids come out of their shell as they played and sang and found their voices even in the few days that we had with them leading up to the show. I was able to do some music mentorship and work on mic technique and stage presence with the soloists, and Zoltan designed an entire production with sound, lights, and smoke and exposed the kids to that side of performing which was totally inspiring for the kids, and the highlight of the show for a lot of them.

We also had the opportunity to visit the other classes in the school and do some Q & A’s, and chat with the kids. One of the classes said that they had had a discussion earlier about their connections to the lyrics of the songs and a few of the kids shared how they had a connection to the song Brave Face because they have dreams of doing big things with their life and that song was an encouragement to them. It was so humbling, and was a really incredible reminder of why I write and play music. These kids have their whole lives in front of them, and if I can give them a little inspiration to follow their dreams, that gives me purpose in what I do because I want to see them be all they can be.

It was an amazing experience that culminated in three concerts with the students that went so well and blew the audiences away. It was amazing to see how they all worked together, shone their lights, sang their hearts out, and made music come alive.

Since being home, Zoltan put together a short film with a live video of one of the songs, Brave Face, that the whole concert centred around, and some shots from our time at the school. I will always hold these students and our time there close to my heart and this video is such a great glimpse into what we did and what the kids accomplished.

Music in the hearts of children is such a beautiful thing and can truly change the world.

Much Love,
Lauren.

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Over Land and Sea Till Now

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!

❤ Lauren.

Fuss About the Bus

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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!

Until next time,
Lauren.

Share Your Brave Face Story and Win a Deluxe Vinyl

brave-face-contestAfter writing about the inspiration behind the song Brave Face, and the recording process that helped make it what it is, I thought it would be really neat to hear your stories of overcoming fear and insecurity and being brave. We all have so much to share and learn from each other, and when we do that it makes us a lot more connected, and builds a strong community.

So, share your story by commenting below with your story, and on February 17 I will randomly choose someone who will receive a signed Dearestly deluxe vinyl!

If you missed the post about my experience writing Brave Face, you can check out this post, where you can also watch a live ukulele version of the song.

I can’t wait to be inspired by you!

Much love,
Lauren.

Memorable Moments of 2016

This past year was a lot different than years past but it was filled with so many wonderful moments and was a significant year for us in many ways. I had a lot of fun looking back at photos from the year and thinking of what some of the highlights were. Even though we’re already a few days into 2017, I thought I’d share them with you (in no particular order).

This was our first full year living on Pender Island and we spent a lot of our home time exploring different spots on the island. There are so many nooks and crannies and beautiful viewpoints and all of them feel like a totally different place and leave me awe-inspired every time. Living on this beautiful island will never get old, and I love being able to share it with friends and family.

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One of the biggest blessings about this year was being able to host friends, family, and musicians in our house. At the beginning of the year I joined about 10 other friends for a collaborative benefit concert, and we spent many evenings rehearsing in our house. We hosted eight house concerts and lots of guests come through, and we even got to be part of helping our friends WhiteBird record their first album. It was a musically fulfilling year, for sure!

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In the spring we gathered up the Fairly Odd Folk and hit the road for a two week tour through Alberta. It was a joyous time, made even more fun by the presence of Phoenix, our three year old honourary tour manager.

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Also in the spring we filmed a few music videos with very talented friends of ours, and I had my first acting roles! We filmed the Hibernate video with Ross and Madison Bodenmann here on Pender Island, and then flew to Ontario to film the Brave Face music video (and another one which we’ll be releasing soon) with Cole and Lydia of Portage Creative. It was really fun and stretching to do a little bit of acting in the videos, something I haven’t done before but I really enjoyed it!

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In the summer I spent a LOT of time in my garden. It still doesn’t look like much, but I did a lot of weeding and built a couple garden beds. This year I hope to clean up more of the garden and do some planting as well.

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In the summer we got to be part of the Folk on the Rocks Festival in Yellowknife, NWT. It was the first time to Canada’s north for all of us and we were enamoured by the wonderful community and the long summer nights. Someday I’d love to visit in the winter and check out the northern lights.

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The highlight of the year for me was FINALLY releasing Dearestly, my second studio full length album. I recorded it in fall of 2015 with Howard Redekopp and Josh Gwilliam at the lovely OCL Studios, and being able to finally share it with the world after a long wait has been so wonderful. It’s very humbling to release music that is so close to my heart and have it be part of so many people’s lives. The album is still a pay-what-you-feel download on my website, and we have CDs and vinyl too, so feel free to check it out if you haven’t yet!

In the fall Zoltan and I got to take Dearestly on the road with a 50 date solo tour across Canada. He built a beautiful stage set up and I came up with a really fun solo set, and we headed out on a long adventure. We got to see many of you, and that was the highlight for me, reconnecting with friends and making so many beautiful new connections.

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We finished the year at our home on Pender with sweet Maxine (our kitty, if you haven’t yet been acquainted) and a quiet Christmas and New Years. It’s wonderful to be back in our house and spend time with our friends who I missed like crazy when we were on tour. I’ve been able to do a lot of reflecting on the past year, and look ahead to 2017 and set some goals and intentions. I am so grateful to the growth that happened last year, and I am so excited to see what adventures lay ahead for us in 2017! Happy New Year to all of you, and I hope to do more writing on here in the coming weeks and months.

Cheers,
Lauren.