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,

IMG_4468IMG_4486Processed with VSCO with oc preset


Behind the Song: Oregon

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.

The Oregon desert behind the site of Crawfest. July, 2013.
A highway sunset on our way from Bend, OR to San Francisco, CA. July 2013.

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!

Sequence 01.Still012

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.

Much love,

Fuss About the Bus

Processed with VSCO with oc preset

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,

MUSIC VIDEO – Hibernate

Happy new year everyone!

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to believe that another year has passed and it’s already 2017. It seems like time moves faster every year, a good reminder to slow down and enjoy all the moments along the way.

Anyway, I’m excited to share a new music video with you for the song Hibernate! We’ve been doing a lot of hibernating ourselves the past few weeks since getting home from tour, so it seems fitting to release the video right now. It was written & directed by our friend Ross Bodenmann, with additional shooting by Zoltan, and production help from Madison Bodenmann.

Here are a few behind-the-scenes shots from the shoot, which we did on a very rainy day at some of our favourite locations around Pender. It was so much fun getting to collaborate with good friends, and also get to show them around the island!








Set Course to Love

Earlier this week I released the music video for my song Brave Face, the first single from Dearestly. The song has been in rotation on CBC Radio 2 across Canada and it’s been pretty cool to tune in randomly a few times and hear it over the airwaves! And I’m excited to have a visual to accompany the song, filmed and produced by our good friends at Portage Creative.

When Cole from Portage Creative told us his vision for the song, I was pretty excited that it involved going sailing in a friend’s boat around Georgian Bay. I had been in a sailboat before, but never under full sail, and definitely not being the one to navigate! Scott was a wonderful guide, teaching me the ways of sailing, and helping us do some tricky manuevers to get all the shots. It was a day of many new experiences, and I think that’s why I love this video so much, because it marries my two passions: music and adventure.

We also got to work with some of Cole & Lydia’s friends who did a wonderful job as the other characters in the story, and we even grabbed a few random people to be extras, which turned out great! It was a beautiful collaborative effort that involved late nights, crying babes, Subway runs, and lots of stepping out of my comfort zone. I thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot that will give you a closer look at what went in to create such a beautiful video.