Hey friends, I wanted to take a moment to talk about this years Folk Music Ontario conference, if you got a sec, read along!
I've been coming to this function for 5 years, and finally I was able to officially showcase, which is a huge honour and the most scared I've been for a gig in a long time. It's an audience full of my peers, so I knew I'd receive lots of love and support, but it just felt so important to put on a good show. With the help of my wonderful band, Michael McDonnell, Kristian Noel Pedersen, new comer Bill Simms & special guest and my musical sister Abigail Lapell, I feel like I might have accomplished that.
I couldn't possibly thank everyone who made this weekend special. But I’d like to quickly Thank the judges who saw fit to award Bellwoods Park the best Instrumental for this years Songs From The Heart awards (AHI, Noosa Al-Sarraj & Emma Julian). It’s really such a wonderful honour.
Emotionally, So many new and old friends kept me in working order, but special thanks to the The Campsite & The Lifers crew who managed to always be around when I needed moments of calm, and my Songwriters In The Round friends when I needed moments of chaos.
I’d just like to end this note with something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and was hoping to talk about more this weekend. I guess this is a call for thoughtfulness. To my songwriter friends who identify as male, I have a question, and maybe we can think think about this for a little while and come back to next years conference and try to have an open and honest discussion about it. My question is this;
In the songs that you write, and the songs that you cover, how are the women treated? What is their purpose?
These questions have already helped me learn a few things about myself, and I think it’s making me a stronger songwriter, and maybe you’ll find the same results. But I’d love to hear what you think.
See you on the road!
Hey friends, I wanted to take a moment to talk about this years Folk Music Ontario conference, if you got a sec, read along!
Folkie friends! This weekend is the Folk Music Ontario conference and yours truly has his first OFFICIAL SHOWCASE!! AAaaaaghhHHhh!! And I won an award (whaaaaaaaa???) Below you can find more info about those and two amazing private showcases I’ll be taking part in. Hope you can make it. Find out more about FMO at their website
Sat Sept 29th // York Room (Full band) // 9pm
This is the big one! I’ve been coming to FMO for the last 4 years and this has been the goal! I have a full band featuring my longtime keyboard player Kristian Pedersen, drummer Mike McDonnell and new face on the bass, Bill Simms! With special guest Abigail Lapell joining for a couple songs.
Fri Sept 28th // LAMApalooza Room 233 // 12:30pm
My good friend Preetam Sengupta puts on this room every year, and I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to be a part on a couple occasions. This year he’s doing something different, having a series of songwriter rounds. I’ll be joining two very talented songwriters Rachel Beck and Gabrielle Papillon!
Sat Sept 29th // Songwriters in The Round Room 229 // 11:30pm
This will be a new room for me. Gillian Nicola has been putting on this songwriters in the round series at Painted Lady for some time, and now she’s bringing it to FMO! This Saturday I’ll be joining friends Shawna Caspi and Sarah Hiltz to play share some tunes!
Bellwoods Park wins Songs From The Heart Best Instrumental Award!
Bellwoods Park seems to be the song that keeps on giving. Not only is it my highest played song on Spotify (over 1 million plays!), but it just won me my first songwriting award! The Folk Music Ontario Songs From The Heart Award for best instrumental. This was such a surprise. I submitted a bunch of my new songs to a few different categories, and threw this one in at the last minute… and here we are. Award Winning Songwriter Shawn William Clarke. Very nice. I’ll post a pic of my award later (will it be a statue? A nice piece of paper? A firm handshake?! We will soon find out!)
So see you at FMO 2018 folk lovers!
I'm excited to report that I'll be heading back to Europe in a couple weeks, with stops in Iceland, Germany & Denmark! Tell your friends!
August 24th - 26th: Melodica Festival. Reykjavik Iceland
August 28th - Kulturcafe Lichtung - Koln Germany
August 29th - Iva's Croatian Grill & Bar - Bad Soden Germany
August 31st - Madame Claude - Berlin German (with Drunk At Your Wedding)
September 3rd - Mojo Juke Joint - Copenhagen Denmark
September 5th - Altes Stellwerk - Solingen Germany
Friends in the East Coast! Fun stuff coming up. First off, VIA rail has the wonderful program called VIA On Board, where they have a Canadian musician play on one of their trips East or West. I'm excited to say that I'll be taking the train & playing my tunes from Montreal to Halifax! Should be a blast.
While I'm in the East, I'm going to play some shows! The schedule is above in the photo, but here's a little more info below. Please tell your friends!
April 21st: Syndey NS, house show (DM me for details!)
April 22nd: Halifax NS, Gus Pub with Cameron Nickerson
April 23rd: Digby NS, Sydney Street Pub
April 25th: Moncton NB, Plan B with Richard Laviolette
April 26th: Fredericton NB, Capital Theatre
April 27th: St. John NB, Taco Pica for Quality Block Party Festival, with Falling Leaves & East Coast Ragamuffins
April 28th: Breadalbane PEI, The Dunk with Richard Laviolette
April 29th: Sackville NB, Thunder & Lightning with Richard Laviolette
Hope you're all doing well! See you soon
Hello friends! I'd like to quickly thank a few of the collaborators who made "TOPAZ" with me. I can't tell you how much better this album is because of their contributions. (Please visit their websites, to check out all the amazing art they're creating!)
Thanks to the visual artists Laura Proctor who captured an appropriate moment of calmness for the album photo, and Jessica Rae Gordon (my longest running collaborator, working on all my albums since the very beginning), whose artwork perfectly captured the themes and ideas found in the music.
I tried my best to sustain a gender equality on the production of this album, and while I think it was successful, I know I can and will do better on making an inclusive team for future SWC projects.
Happy International Woman's Day! #IWD2018
Hey friends, it's still snowy & cold, so I'm still in a hibernation mode. I'll have some fun news for you soon re: touring, so all is not lost. In the meantime, I've had the absolute pleasure to appear on two very different music podcasts, that you can listen to below. If you have the time, check out some of the other episodes on each of these, they're both a blast. (Click the titles to listen!)
No Sleep Til Sudbury has a simple but fun concept. Host Brent Jensen walks a different artist each week through a few songs of their choice that "makes their skin vibrate". I go through a quick chronology of my influences, from Supertramp to Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, The Blue Nile and ending on Land of Talk.
Further Listening: check the episodes featuring Stephen Stanley & Dave Bidini
Michael McDonnell is a wonderful musician (has played bass with me over the last couple months), and a very thoughtful interviewer. Like myself, he favours the long form interview, where you can really dig deep into a musicians background & feelings. We cover A LOT of ground on this interview, from my early high school days up to today. I play 3 songs on this podcast, including a new song that you can't hear anywhere else!
Further Listening: Check out the episodes featuring Sean Mendes drummer Mike Sleath, and Parallel's songwriter Holly Dodson
Hope you're well! Keep in touch.
And we're at the end. 2017 was another crazy year for the world, but a pretty solid year for me. I released what I think is my best work yet, TOPAZ (which you can listen to by clicking this run on sentance). I also toured Europe for the first time ever, and that was such an amazing experience. I'll be heading back soon, you can bet on that. In the new year you can expect more shows in Ontario, an East Coast tour in April/May, and as I just mentioned, a trip back to Europe. Know any places I should play? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now on to something I love to do every year, somehow take the hundreds of albums I heard and narrow them down to a few for totally arbitrary reasons! At the bottom you'll find a super handy Spotify link where you can listen to a track from all the albums I mention (or just click on this sentence!). Enjoy!
The Top 10
- Weather Station - Weather Station
- Alvvays - Antisocialites
- Little Kid - Sun Milk
- Sampha - The Process
- Moses Sumney - Aromanticism
- Land of Talk - Life After Youth
- Abigail Lapell - Hide Nor Hair
- Fiest - Pleasure
- Jon McKiel - Memorial Ten Count
- Big Thief - Capacity
The Next 5
- Richard Laviolette - Taking The Long Way Home
- Jerry Leger - Nonsense And Heartache
- Kelela - Take Me Apart
- Timber Timbre - Sincerely, Future Pollution
- Kendrick Lamar - DAMN
Extra: Two Reissues you should definitely own
So here are 2 fun extras for you. I absolutely loved these reissues, and played them so much. First, Jackie Shane - Any Other Way . Jackie was a pioneer of transgender rights born in a male body, living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable. And she was an icon in Toronto during the 60's. All that and the music is fantastic. She should be more well known.
Next is the longest title of the year, World Sprituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda . Another artist who should be better known. This is a collection of her spiritual music, recorded at the Ashram she established and directed in 1983. As someone who spent a lot of time with Ambient, New Age and Spiritual music this year (and as someone who's spent a lifetime exploring the world of Free Jazz and experimental music), this comp is a must get!
Thanks folks! I hope you had a great 2017, and if you think I missed any great albums, please comment below!
Love, and best wishes for the new year
Hey friends! So it's getting to the end of 2017! 2016 was a bit of a dumpster fire for me personally, so this year has been a welcome change. I'll have a year end wrap up + my personal top albums of 2017, but in the meantime, I asked my friends on Facebook for their recommendations, and they didn't disappoint! I hope you enjoy the playlist I made from them!
Hey friends! It's the holiday season, and if you're looking for the perfect gift for you or your vinyl loving friend, then look no further! For a limited time you can get both 2014's "William" & 2017's "TOPAZ" together for the super low price of $30! I'm practically giving them away. All you have to do is follow the link below, and get yourself some vinyl goodness.
If you live in Canada, order this week and I'll get out to you before the holidays. If you live outside Canada, I'll try my best, but can't make any promises. But I'll try my best.
We have a lost an important Canadian voice today. In tribute, this is a repost of something a wrote a year ago for Anne Theriault's compilation of essays on the man himself, Gord Downie, and the songs that have inspired us. You can read all the essays here: For Gord: 27 Short Essays About The Tragically Hip, Plus One Poem
I've posted my essay on the song 38 Years Old in full below, followed by a cover of Gord's tune "Trick Rider"
I don't remember a time when the Tragically Hip weren't in my life. Their first LP (1989's Up To Here) was released at the beginning of my early musical exploration. When I was asked to sing in my first high school band, we learned 5 or 6 tunes, including "New Orleans Is Sinking" and "Blow At High Dough". They were the soundtrack to bush parties, high school basketball games, long car drives, proms, they were everywhere.
And I hated them.
Let's talk about a song, though. Actually let's talk about songwriting. Even in the days when I hated the Hip the most, I always had this nagging inner voice telling me that I might be making a horrible mistake in harbouring such a negative (and unpopular) opinion about the band. Eventually that voice became too loud to ignore, and at that point I began to pay attention to what these tunes were actually about:
They were telling their Canadian audience that there was no shame in telling Canadian stories, and they're right. There isn't.
Jeez, Gord. I'm sorry I didn't see this earlier.
In 1989, when Kim Mitchell was vapidly lamenting his "Rock And Roll Duty", and long-forgotten chanteuse Candi was reminding us that "Love Makes No Promises", The Tragically Hip were singing about The Millhaven prison break ("38 Years Old"). That particular story is just as interesting as anything from San Quentin or Folsom, but what made Downie's telling of it extraordinary was the choice he made in focusing on the emotional and the familiar instead of the sensational. And, with all due respect to Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, that's what holds this song above your average prison song. Downie creates an empathy for the song's protagonist, Mike, that I've never felt for Cash's chain gang murderer. But at the same time, Downie manages to avoid the weepy sentimentality of a "Moma Tried"; When Mike's mother cries that "the horror has finally ceased," the scene is played in such a matter-of-fact way that it feels real. It feels like it could be my family.
"38 Years Old" is just one example of Gord's genius for combining Canadiana with brilliant storytelling. Since that first LP, The Tragically Hip have told the stories of Bobcaygeon, The Isle Aux Morts, Sault Sainte Marie, Niagara Falls, Toronto, a lake in Quebec, Algonquin Park, The Prairies, the 100th Meridian, a cemetery in Kingston, hockey, bears, CBC, Canada — just to name a few. Put it this way: if it's a Canadian event, place or feeling, the Hip have probably sung about it. And all of this has paved the way for other Canadian singer-songwriters to explore their own relationship with this country and its history.
Jeez, Gord. I'm sorry I didn't see these things earlier.