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Pat Braden  // Posts published by Pat Braden

25 Oct Posted by in Video release | 2 comments

“Hangin’ with the Con Kids” video release

The story behind the song and video;

Back in ’08, I was writing stories for a show I was putting together called, “A Place to Call Home” a collection of songs and stories about growing up in Yellowknife in the 1960s and 70s, the characters, the town, the environment.

Much of my youth was spent biking or trudging through the snow to a friend’s house, maybe a half mile away the Con Mine townsite, a gold mine that had produced many bricks of gold since the early 1940s.  The town of Yellowknife at that time was the newly declared capital city of the NWT which also included the territory now known as Nunavut.  Something like a million square miles of lakes, rocks, bush and ice and not a lot of people.  For the previous 20 plus years, Yellowknife was a mining town with Con camp on the south side of town and Giant Mine on the other and a few others that had closed up by the time my family arrived in ‘64.  Also, the town was expanding from its Old Town beginnings to accommodate the influx of government workers, building houses, apartment buildings and other infrastructure to govern the territory.  So, as kids, there came to be these labels depending on which part of town you were from, you were either an old town, new town, Con or Giant kid and this fed many a sporting rivalry in the community and led to a few bloody noses on the school grounds.

In my many years of living in Yellowknife, I am even today, taken aback by the cultural diversity in this town of 20,000 or so folks.  I recognized that much of this diversity came from the mining camps and the miners who relocated here from around the world to live, work and raise their families.  I went to school with kids from Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, take your pick of countries, ate their foods, heard their native tongue, enjoyed their traditions and their musics.  I also recognized that many of these folks came from places in the world where they were much worse off than they were here.

With all of this in mind, I wanted to write a piece in homage of what these mining camps gave not only to me but also to the community.  So, I wrote a piece called, “Hangin’ with the Con Kids”, a rolling narrative of my carefree youth in a day spent riding my bike and getting into mischief in Con Camp with my Con Kid friends.  The piece was very well received when I performed it at the CD release show at NACC in 2008 and t many shows since. My friend, Besart Hysniu stepped in to master the live recording from the 2008 solo show at the NACC.

Awhile back, my friends Gary Milligan and Terry Woolf, both long time videographers, decided to produce a video of “Con Kids”.  Gary the most enthusiastic as he himself was a true Con Kid.  Every few months, I would get to see a snippet of what they had put together.  Recently, the NWT Mining Heritage Society most graciously stepped in to fund the last of the editing required to finish it up, just in time to be premiered at the Yellowknife International Film Festival in October of 2016.  It was a very proud moment to be in the audience that day watching Con Kids on the big screen.

Have included a couple of photos of Isaac and Dominique who graciously served as our youthful stand-ins;

Isaac and Dominique

Isaac and Dominique with Gary Milligan testing out his multi tasking skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Isaac, Dominique, Aggie Brockman and Gary Milligan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could go into a lot of reminiscing of what those days and this video meant to me but respect that we all have our own respective memories from those youthful years so I leave it to you, the listener to take your own journey as you listen and watch “Hangin’ with the Con Kids”.

 

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15 Oct Posted by in Shows | Comments

With Red Devil Rockin’ Blues band, the Cellar, YK, NT

Way back in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, I met a musician who had just move into the ‘knife from Inuvik by the name of Jim Lawrance.  Older cat, about 15 years my senior, cool, respectful, hit it off good in sidewalk conversation so I called him up for a gig with a singer I was working with at the time.  He had no guitar, neither did I so I borrowed my brother’s Gibson Gospel for him.  We nailed the sound check, he wanted to hang around and play some more and as I was walking out of the hall, he cuts into a Willie Nelson tune that stopped me in my tracks.  Not only nailing Willie’s voice but the guitar parts as well.

Fast forward a few months, I got a call to bring something to the cultural showcase at that year’s Arctic Winter Games, 1988 I believe.  Gave Jim a call as I knew that he lead a band up in Inuvik and called Norman Glowach to play drums as well.  We hit the NACC stage with little or no rehearsal and had such a blast, we formed the Red Devil Rockin’ Blues Band (RDRBB).  RDRBB went on to play the taverns and saloons in town for the next decade or so with our irreverent punk blues sound, dipping into the Bo Diddley, Frank Zappa, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding song books giving patrons permission to revel in an evening of drunken, hedonistic merriment strategically corresponding to the GNWT bi-monthly paydays.

Through those years, I was migrating back and forth between BC and NT and in my stead, the inimitable Ted Mildenberger filled in the bottom end to keep the RDRBB machine moving.

RDRBB, Ted, Norman and Jim

RDRBB, Ted, Norman and Jim (Bill Braden photo)

Jim was a teacher at the local high school through those years and retired around 2000 or so and moved to NB.  In the years since, he returns to YK to visit family and when he is in town, we wrangle a gig or two to get the band back together for one more kick at the can.  This past October, we had another such opportunity so booked ourselves into the Cellar for a Friday night.

RDRBB Cellar poster

RDRBB Cellar poster

With one rehearsal, if one could call it that, most of the time taken by the local reporter interviewing us for the newspaper.  It was an interesting experience as said reporter was younger than the years we had been playing, younger than most of the gear we were playing through so most if not all of our musical references were lost to one so young in the ears. The resulting newspaper article was superb and just what we needed to fill the house that night.

The trio launched into “Spoonful” for the first tune of the night and there was no doubt we were all bringing our “A” game and in the pocket from the first downbeat.  The rest of the night was pure musical bliss and joy, speaking for myownself.  It is a rare opportunity when I am let off my leash so to speak, as a Bassist, to play and interpret as I wish in an ensemble and I indeed relish each moment.

Here’s some shots from that evening and the shot of RDRBB with Ted, courtesy of my Bro, Bill Braden.

RDRBB (Bill Braden Photo)

 

RDRBB (Bill Braden photo)dscf2014

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15 Aug Posted by in Shows | 2 comments

Golden Garden concert, August 2016

It is a very rare occasion that I am asked to play a house concert.  I think I am getting better at it.  The intimacy can be intense but once I am into the set and find my zone, all seems to go swimmingly.

This past summer my daughter invited me to her new home in Golden BC for a week or so at the end of July.  My partner Laurie and I treated ourselves to the most excellent Peter Gabriel – Sting concert, “Rock. Paper, Scissors” show in Calgary then jumped the Greyhound into the Rockies the next morning.

My daughter had been planning for me to play a Garden concert in her backyard for the later part of the week. We rented a sound system the day of, set up the stage on the patio complete with thrift store fabric back panels.  The folks she had invited started to show up at around 7, about the same time as a sun shower rolled through, luckily, lightly and quickly.  The thunderstorms continued to roll around the valley and the outskirts of town but left us alone for the rest of the night.

 

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Pre concert sun shower

welcome

Welcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi fidelity rainbow

 

I put in a solid set after what had been an extended absence from performing.  The garden listeners were engaged and seemed to appreciate what I was putting out.  It must have been one of the most recorded shows I have done in a long time.  My daughter, who recorded the show with 2 go pros and a DSLR camera and recorded onto her Zoom recorder.  She works with Muzza, another photographer for Heather Mountain Lodge and he was all over the place catching shots from different perspectives. These are his photos;

 

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shack altar

Shack altar

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I always enjoy the post show discussions with the audience.  Almost always to complete strangers who will never meet again but both enjoy the moment of interaction.   As it got darker, Josh, another of my daughters co-workers, put in a spirited set of acoustic blues. The fire died down, the mosquitoes came out and we called it a night.

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25 Jun Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments

with Willie MacCalder, June 2016

My Buddy Norman Glowach and I really enjoy playing swing music, blues, Jazz, country, whatever.  This was the music we cut our teeth to in our formative years (early – mid 1970s) and so rarely get a chance to play much living in the time and place we do.  A few years back, we brought pianist extraordinaire Willie MacCalder to Yellowknife for some shows and workshops in the community, the Avens Home for Seniors now a regular stop as well.  Willie carries a formidable repertoire of blues and Jazz piano standards, performed in an understated manner but always the consummate showman.  When the trio gets together, we go deeper and deeper and the music gets better and better each time.

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Willie MacCalder and the Radium Kings at 2016 Beer Barge BAsh

This year we brought Willie up for 10 days, stretched out over 2 weekends and booked each Friday and Saturday night up with gigs. We performed at; the 2016 Beer Barge Bash, The Old Town Wood Yard Pub, The Cellar and at the Top Knight, where we were joined by Keith Shergold and Priscilla’s Revenge.

 

Old Town Woodyard Pub poster

Old Town Woodyard Pub poster

Top Knight poster

Top Knight poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the middle of all of that, we recorded 2 wonderful tracks at Norman’s Spirit Walker studio that really spotlight Willie’s piano and vocal stylings.  Plans are afoot to bring him back to YK again in the spring of 2017 to do more.

 

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15 Feb Posted by in News | Comments

Winds of change, February, 2016

BentTree, Patti Schmidt photo

Patti Schmidt photo

 

I just want to pre-blog/post the following posts of the gigs I have been playing over the last year as an explanation to some of you following me on the interweb as to why I have been laying low over the last while.  The above photo portray my circumstances over the last year quite well.  Ever since I became a Dad, I have recognized that I have to live life like a tree. in an effort to balance the work/life continuum.  Sometimes the winds demand that I bend towards tending my creative/productive soul and other times, it demands that I bend towards tending to the well being of loved ones.  I have to be resilient enough to bend in both directions when times and circumstances demand. If I didn’t bend, I would break and be not much good to myself or anyone else, yes?

The last 15 months or so have been one of those times when I have been called on to be there for my family.  Thus, much of my time, energy and focus has gone towards seeing my kin through some pretty rough times that are ongoing as I write this note.  When it began, I was beating myself up pretty good in that I wasn’t spending as much time, energy and focus on my own music creation/production and came to a place where I accepted there was an element of sacrifice required if I was to pull through myownself.  The way I have described it is, that there is more important work that needed to be done. So, I went quiet for the last while, just taking on sideman gigs as they presented themselves and most of what you will see in the last 5 or so posts from the last year.  These gigs have been really good for me as “work” and as a release, as it always is, of the stress I was carrying.  So, thanks to all who have hired me for these gigs and I look forward to doing much more of my own music as “the winds of changes shift” (Zimmerman)

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10 Aug Posted by in Shows | Comments

New North Collective, May – August, 2015

New North Collective

Over the last few years, I have mentored under and worked with Debbie Peters and her booking / management company Magnum Opus Management (MOM). (www.magnumom.ca) In November 2014, Debbie called to ask if I would be interested in being a part of a pan-Territorial collective/collaborative music project.  The other artists in the project being Yukon artists Diyet and Robert Van Lieshout, Graeme Peters, Bob Hamilton, NWT artists Diga Wolf and myself and Nunavut artist Sylvia Cloutier.  The concept behind this collective being to create a live musical performance that would include all 3 territories to perform on theatre stages and at large events (sporting, festival) bringing a full palate of northern artists to audiences in one performance package.

To that end, we gathered in Whitehorse at the end of May, 2015 to start writing the show and spent 5, 10 – 12 hour days at Bob Hamilton’s Old Crow Recording studio.  At the end of that time, we had 6 songs, pretty much full musical arrangements with some rough lyrics and concept ideas.

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After 5 days, Diga and I returned back to Yellowknife, returning to Whitehorse in late June to finish writing the songs.  Diyet, Graeme, Zeus the cat and myself spent a day fleshing out lyrics for the songs and the next day, we were back at it in the studio for another 5 days to put together 2  45 minute sets for the Adaka Cultural Festival (http://www.adakafestival.ca/) which was happening while we were rehearsing, we performed an evening show on June 30 and nailed the sets.  So cool to be on stage with these fine musicians and to be playing material that we all wrote together a few short days before.

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Our next show was at the Para-Pan Am games, (Panamania) held in Toronto in August, 2015.  Our hotel was across the street from the venue at Nathan Phillips Square and we were treated to a few days of world class entertainment before our show on Monday evening.  I got to see Leela Gilday and her band peform, Tanya Tagaq and Toronto gospel group, 3 Winans Brothers. (http://3winansbrothers.com/) (This group had me in tears!)  We got together to rehearse with our newest member, Sylvia Cloutier at the “Ratspace” rehearsal/studio (http://www.ratspace.com/) on Sunday afternoon before the Monday gig.  Had a chance to talk with the owner/proprietor, Robin, about the Toronto music scene. Very cool to talk with a player who has been in the city for 30 – 40 years and being a part of all of the changes that have happened in that time.

Monday was shaping up to be a busy day, with some of the group doing media interviews and Leela and her band getting ready to play for their mid-day set.  I caught most of her dynamic set, bumped into my good friend Lesley Johnson in the middle of the square and headed back to the hotel to get ready for our own sound check.  I wasn’t really paying attention to weather but apparently at the tail end of Leela’s set, the heavens opened up and there was a tremendous downpour.  We met up in the lobby just before our sound check and there were all these very wet people walking around trying to dry out.  We learned that our sound check was postponed as there was a lightening watch in place in downtown Toronto and both of the Nathan Phillips Square stages were shut down as a result.  So, we waited and waited out the afternoon until 5 pm, our set was scheduled at 7.  We managed to squeeze in a 5 minute sound check, splashing through the saturated backstage area before Graeme had to run to the other stage for his set with “Speed Control”.  Then we waited and waited backstage as there had been another lightening alert and finally, we got on to play our set at about 7:30 to maybe 50 people brave enough to stand in the rain to catch our set.  It was a fine set, Sylvia’s mesmerizing and evocative dance and throat singing took the group to a beautiful place, in spite of the soggy weather.

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20 Jul Posted by in Shows | Comments

with Iva & Jimmy D. Lane @ Folk on the Rocks, July 2015

Folk on the Rocks (FOTR) is the local Yellowknife festival that takes place on the 3rd weekend of July every year.  I would add rain or shine but it seems the weather gods favour this festival and for many consecutive years in a row, there has only been glorious sunshine.  The venue is a sand esker on the outskirts of town, just past the airport on the shore of Long Lake, so named because it is quite long.  Part of the festival is a series of Friday night warm up shows from festival acts in the local bars and in the park at city hall on the shore of Frame Lake, so named after Bill Frame, a local businessman and miner in Yellowknife’s early years.  But I digress.

FOTR has been running since 1980, so, 36 years now and without argument is the highpoint of the summer for local music fans.  I have performed at many, many of these festivals, I cannot say all, nor would I like to as I am already at this point in 2015, considered a musical “elder” by local press.  They sure know how to make a guy feel old!  Some years I am part of an ensemble that gets invited to play, some years I performed solo with Chapman Stick and for most years, I do all of the above as well as play sideman to a visiting artist or group.  Sometimes this happens as a result of a last minute personnel change and other times, I am asked to play with an artist who uses pick up rhythm sections where ever they play.  Such was the case when I was asked to back up a blues guitarist, Jimmy D. Lane for this years’ 2015 festival.

Jimmy D. Lane

When Keith MacNeill, the AD for FOTR contacted me about the gig, he asked if I could suggest any local drummers who might be up to the task. The drummer I suggested was not going to be in town for the festival so they hired drummer Patrick Singh from Whitehorse for the job.  I had met Patrick before but not Jimmy, Jimmy and Patrick had played together before in Whitehorse and we all finally met on Friday evening at the welcome BBQ about 3 hours before we were to hit the stage together, with no rehearsal.  Now this is not uncommon amongst blues men and women, the language and repertoire being familiar to most if not all players in the genre.  I love playing Blues but living in Yellowknife and not really playing Blues consistently 3 or 6 nights a week in the local saloons, my blues chops were pretty rusty.  Jimmy and Patrick were so cool and relaxed about it all, Jimmy was a real gentleman.  We hit the stage at the Top Knight and seriously rocked the joint, Jimmy blowing everyone’s minds with his playing.  Being a sideman in this situation is not new to me, still, I have to pay serious attention to the lead’s cues, so I am paying a lot of attention to what the cat is playing.  Jimmy would take a blues standard and in the solos, would switch guitar styles numerous times.  If I can explain, it was like he was turning the pages of the great blues guitar players anthology and playing in that style for 2 or 3 choruses and then with a quick flick of a switch or knob on his Stratocaster, would move onto another player’s style of playing.  It was almost spooky through the 3 sets I played with him that weekend, I was not the only one taking notice.  All of the other bands would show up at our stage to check him out, like there was some serious blues schoolin’ goin’ on.

It was a real pleasure and honour to play once again with what I consider an “old school” musician in the blues genre and really, most of these cats that are of that age and been playing for so long are real gentleman, very gracious to the musicians they work with and are passionate performers of the blues and consummate entertainers.  There is a professionalism in the craft, a working tradesman of any vocation in Jimmy D. Lane that I have admired and aspired to ever since I first started playing. So nice to get that hit, even if only once a year at FOTR.

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Iva

Also at this year’s festival, I was asked to perform with Kathleen Merritt, aka IVA from Iqaluit, NU.  I will not attempt to describe what Kathleen does, from her bio:

“Canadian Inuit throat-singer Kathleen Ivaluarjuk Merritt, also known as IVA (ee-vah) takes you on a journey through the Arctic with vocal interpretations of the wind, birds, landscape and sea. IVA performs a melodic mix of Inuit throat singing and poetry infused with Celtic-influenced folk music.  Her debut album Ivaluarjuk: Ice, Lines & Sealskin was released in July 2015. It celebrates life and identity; bridging sounds from both her Inuit and Irish roots. The music reaches a wide-range of sounds, crossing multiple genres that come together charmingly to transport audiences to the coasts of Cape Breton and Nunavut. For IVA, its home.”

I had met Kathleen before while she was working with the Alianait Festival ( http://www.alianait.ca/) and at other festivals.  As an artist, she struck me as very worldly in that she carried not only her own culture but also many others with her. Her youthful enthusiasm for music and performing was most refreshing and yet a times, challenging as a side player to tastefully and respectfully support her on stage.

I was also excited to learn that Kathleen was working with Ellen Hamilton and Chris Coleman from Iqaluit.  Ellen and Chris are both incredible songwriters and musicians who I met many years ago with their own group, “Nightsun”.

They arrived in Yellowknife on Friday evening and we had just enough time to squeeze in a rehearsal before my set with Jimmy D. Lane.  We met up in a very warm rehearsal space and pulled the set together very quickly.  Kathleen, Ellen and Chris are all pros in talent and attitude as well as gracious in that they brought with them a couple of Nunavut’s rising stars, Kerri Tattuinee and Agaaqtoq Eetak.  As much as you might think that fusing throat singing with east coast music is new, what these young players and writers were bringing to the table is yet the next generation of fusion of popular north American music re-interpreted from an Inuit perspective and language.  Kind of hard to articulate until you hear it.

We had 2 very sweet sets at the Folk on the Rocks festival.  Really, I just got a taste of the musical possibilities of what more I could contribute to Kathleen’s music if we had more time.  I only hope that we do get a chance to perform together again!

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21 Jun Posted by in Shows | Comments

@ Annual Beer Barge Bash, June 2015, Yellowknife, NT

Every year, on the Saturday closest to June 21, the solstice and longest day of the year up here, the local Mining association throws a party in Old Town, at the Max Ward floatbase on the shore of Back Bay.  Max based Ward Air here in YK for a number of years before the company went on to fly internationally but Max still has a lodge a few miles out of town and every summer, he returns to it and uses the base for a few days.  So, getting back to the party, in days of old, before the highway was built back in ’61, all goods were transported to Yellowknife from the south by cat train across Great Slave Lake or by barge.  Yellowknife was thirsty town back then, still is, and one of the most celebrated of days was when the barge carrying a load of fresh beer landed.  So, the NWT Mining Heritage Society decided to resurrect this day of celebration by bringing in a tractor trailer of draft beer, cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs and hiring a band or two for the event.  To make things even more fun, they have a pool as to what time the barge will land at the dock and also have a prize for the best period costume.  By late afternoon, the crowd gathers in anticipation of seeing the barge slowly make its way up the bay, being pushed by local pilot, Dave Smith and usually with a bagpiper or two on the barge as well.  After the barge lands, well, the swilling of suds begins!

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I have played this gig off and on for a number of years, Drummer, Norman Glowach and myself backing up the very talented Tracy Riley and others for a night of dancing or what passes as dancing on the fist sized chunks of crushed gravel.  You can imagine, after a few large plastic cups of draft beer in the summer heat, the difficulty in navigating your way to the porta potties much less trying to show off your best moves on the dance floor (?)  But it is all part of the evening’s entertainment!

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This year, Tracy got the call for the gig and asked local Fiddling sensation, Andrea Bettger to co-headline along with Tracy’s friend Biz Oliver from either Victoria or Montreal, never got that straight, along with Norman and myself.  It was a magnificent warm, sunny summer day, by the time we took the stage, the sun was just beginning to dip in the western sky.  The stage we play on is the deck of the floatbase and it faces west, out onto Back Bay so the band really gets the best view of all.  As you can see from the pictures, taken somewhere between 9 and 11 PM, the sun is still very prominent and spending a few hours on that deck, the band comes away with a really healthy suntan afterwards.  That night, the band was on fire, ripping up the Motown, soul, reggae, rock and fiddle tunes like never before.  Everyone in the band brought their “A” game that night and it was so cool to have Biz working the piano and B3 behind the tunes.

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Photo credit to Tamara Latimer

Sure hope we get to do this one again!

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15 Apr Posted by in Workshops | Comments

at Banff Spoken Word workshop, April, 2015

Going back to November 2014, a notice from The Banff Centre for the Arts popped up in my email, advertising a Spoken Word Workshop taking place in April, 2015.  This workshop deemed to be a departure from the norm, this time combining music with spoken word which I was very interested in.  I prepared and sent in the application and received word on Christmas eve, no less, that I had been accepted into the program.

The next few months were spent, meeting funding deadlines, securing funding support through the Banff Centre’s list of benefactors and reading the pre-course material. One being a collection of insights and exercises from acclaimed spoken word artists and the other titled, “Digitopia Blues” which really resonated with me.

I really felt like I needed the proverbial kick in the ass as a writer and spoken word artist.  Artists need this from time to time, to feed the creative soul, to be challenged, to be pulled out of your comfort zone and to be inspired by other artists.  One could be living in a remote community or in the middle of a big city and still feel equally as isolated.  I have been working constantly on my musicianship over the years but not so much on my writing chops and I felt this workshop would be just what I needed to revitalize my creative spark.

Before I knew it, there I was, stepping onto the Banff Transporter, listening to Tom Russell’s, “Hot Walker” with references to Beat Poets Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowksi and Allan Ginsberg as the majestic Rocky Mountains rolled on and on through the bus window

The Banff Centre was amazing!  I had heard of the Banff Centre going back to 1981 when I attended Grant MacEwan College, it only took me 30 plus years to finally get there  The accommodations, restaurant, and facilities as a whole were excellent.  Just what was needed in order to be able to create and learn without distractions.  Such an amazing institution to have so close to home.

The program was facilitated by powerhouse spoken word artist, Tanya Evanson along with Robert Priest, Ivy Ivan Beilinski and Montreal based musicians, “Kalmunity”.  From the first gathering, I was surrounded by spoken word artists from 18 – 65 years old, all exceptionally brilliant in their writing, perspective, style and performance.  From that initial gathering, I realized that the focus of the workshop would be based on improvising spoken word with music provided by Kalmunity.  Over the next 10 days, we alternated between workshops, nature walks, performances and one on one sessions with facilitators, culminating with a completely improvised performance with the entire class on the stage, prompted by individual spot lighting, being “played” by Tanya in solo and various combinations of spoken word artists and musicians.

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ANU Banff, Literary Arts, The Banff Centre, 2015

ANU Banff, Literary Arts, The Banff Centre, 2015

ANU Banff, Literary Arts, The Banff Centre, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANU Banff, Literary Arts, The Banff Centre, 2015

Kalmunity, ANU Banff, Literary Arts, The Banff Centre, 2015

This is an excellent program and facility is for artists looking to push their own parameters by providing everything needed to create and explore, free of distraction, in the middle of one of the most aesthetically pleasing environments to be found in western Canada.

BSW group shot

ANU Banff, Literary Arts, The Banff Centre, 2015

 

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15 Mar Posted by in Shows | Comments

with Gordie Tentrees at Snowking Winter Festival

I got a call from my friend Gordie Tentrees asking me to join him and Bob Hamilton for a show at the Snowcastle and for a house concert here in YK in mid March.  I’ve known Gordie for a number of years, having met him through our dear mutual friend, the late great Aylie Sparkes.  Gordie and Aylie met up in the last years of Aylie’s short life and Gordie received all that Aylie could pass onto him in regards to the Blues.  I’ve always admired Gordie as a successful, relentless recording and international touring artist based out of Whitehorse, YT, no small feat as any northern based artist will attest.

The late, great Aylie Sparkes in furs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, Gordie sent me his tracks from his 6th release, “Less is More” and I was truly impressed with his growth as a song writer.  Over the last few years, Gordie has been touring and performing with some of the best, Steve Poltz among others and I think that really expedited Gordie as a songwriter and performer.  Couple that with the engineering / producing / plucking prowess of Bob Hamilton and a stellar band of musicians and you have a top shelf musical package!

Gordie and Bob arrived a couple of days early so we had lots of time to rehearse the tunes at the coast Hotel with a north facing view out onto Yellowknife and Back Bays and the vast expanse of snow, spruce trees, ice and rocks. As soon as I walked into the room, I immediately recognized the Dobro sitting in its case as the guitar Aylie played and passed onto Gordie.  Gordie had it completely rebuilt after Aylie passed and it sounded so good!  I was not the only one to recognize the guitar.  When we arrived for sound check at the Snow Castle, his highness, the Snowking himself, also recognized it right away.

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Bob, Snowking and Byron setting up soundcheck

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The mid-March weather did not disappoint, -25 with a stiff 30 km wind that on the ice feels like it could strip flesh from bone.  Inside the Snowcastle, we were out of the wind but it was still very cold.  I came prepared with gloves with the fingertips cut out, except for the thumbs.  I think about half way through the set, we had almost given up trying to keep the guitars in tune, just trying to get through the set before our fingers froze.  The evening event was a double Bill featuring Yukon artists and we opened up for Ryan McNally, also from Whitehorse.  Bob’s son, Patrick was playing drums for Ryan that night and he and the band delivered a set of jump swing music which kept the hearty Yellowknife audience from freezing up.

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Ryan McNally and his band rockin’ the snow stage

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Patrick Hamilton in the drivers seat

The next evening, we performed a house concert for about a dozen folk at an apartment on the government dock here in Old Town.  It was warm inside and a warm audience as well.  A much more relaxed vibe that night where I learned a lot about stage craft from Gordie.

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The late, great Aylie Sparkes in lights

Here’s one more shot of Aylie

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