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.

Spring Shows and Snows

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!

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XO
Lauren.

Winter Comes to Pender Island

Last week, Old Man Winter made a special trip to the Southern Gulf Islands, covering us with layers upon layers of snow. I guess he wanted to see what all the hype was about for a place that was featured in the New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2016.” Though the snow made travel quite treacherous, it turned the island into a winter wonderland, like something out of a storybook. I’m used to the snow from living in Calgary most of my adult life, but thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of it here on the island.

A week ago, I joined some friends and went tobogganing at the local golf course, which has an amazing hill! We had plenty of good runs and some equally awesome wipeouts and left before the snow started falling too hard. Unfortunately that didn’t stop me from getting stuck and not being able to get out of the parking lot without a tow from a kind passer-by. It was a harrowing drive home, but I made it without incident. Well, I almost made it. We live at the top of a really steep hill, so I opted to park at the bottom and walk up for fear of not making it.

We’ve spent a lot of time holed up inside the house while the snow was falling, and even though I’m enjoying this wintery season, I’m glad the snow has melted and we’ve had some days of sun and warmth…a glimmer of spring that is coming soon! I had started pruning all the fruit trees and that progress got halted because of the snow so as soon as I can I’ll be back at it.

Enjoy these shots of our magical winter wonderland, and I hope you’re enjoying winter wherever you are as well! Any crazy weather that has happened your way this year?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Dearestly vinyl giveaway by sharing a story about putting on a brave face and overcoming your fears! Check out this post for more info and to enter!

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Stay safe out there, friends!

❤ Lauren.

An Afternoon on Mont Royal

Some of you may have seen my Instagram post yesterday about songwriting. I was flipping through my notebook and realized that I didn’t get many songs written last year. It seemed to be the year of bits and pieces. While I sometimes allow that to make me feel guilty for not “doing my job” or being creative enough, the truth is that there is a place for bits and pieces of inspiration that had a great start, but didn’t go anywhere. Now those little voice memos and scribbled notes are starting points, launching me into a new season of songwriting. I feel very inspired and though it can be a slow go like any creative endeavour, I’m excited to diligently work through all the bits and pieces from last year’s writing and watch them turn into beautiful songs.

One of the reasons that there weren’t as many songs being written last year was our focus on releasing Dearestly, and the huge tour we went on in the fall. While in Monteral, I got to spend a few hours before our show to take some photos with my friend Stéphane Lord on the beautiful Mont Royal. If you haven’t been to Montreal, Mont Royal is a small mountain in the middle of the city, home to a sprawling park full of forests, pathways, and parkland that makes you forget you’re in one of the largest cities in Canada. Most of the leaves had fallen when we were there making for a barren landscape that gave a stark backdrop to the bold, velvet outfits I decided to wear.

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Velvet Maxi Dress: Free People // Embroidered Cape: vintage // Velvet Skirt: vintage Holt Renfrew // Turtleneck: vintage Ralph Lauren

Makeup: Pure Anada

Cheers,
Lauren.