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30 Sep Posted by in Shows | Comments

Yellowknife gigs, Sept. 2017

Once every couple of years I get a call from one of the government of the NT, Depts. of ECE or ITI to perform as a cultural ambassador at a function in town or out depending on the event.  This year, they were celebrating Arts Week in late September by hosting a series of artist workshops and displays in various communities in the NT.  The event in Yellowknife was in the form of a “Pop Up Market” in a local mall.  For 5 days, the public could walk through the room, visit with NT artists and craft folks and listen to music over the lunch hours.  Local musicians Darrin Woodbury, William Greenland and myself were contracted provide the entertainment.

It was really such a laid back gig, hanging out with a half dozen painters, carvers, photographers and traditional seamstresses of Dene designs for a couple of hours while visitors came and went through the day.  The gig gave me a chance to take almost my whole book of cover and original songs out for a walk.  Usually, I am asked to play anywhere from 15 to 60 minute sets so this was a lot of fun to play these songs again.

The local paper even came by for a brief photo expose!

Photo © NNSL

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18 Sep Posted by in Shows | Comments

with “Chant Ouest”, Sept. 13-17, 2017

Back in the spring, I got an invitation from the Association franco- culturelle de Yellowknife (http://afcy.info/en/events/chantouest-2017-yellowknife)  to play in a house band for Chant’ Ouest, a competition of Francophone singer/songwriters in western Canada.  The four contestants were; Byrun Boutin-Maloney (SK), Mireille Labbe (YK), Yves Lecuyer, (TNO) and Alpha Toshineza, (MB).

I am embarrassed to say that my French language skills are miniscule.  When I was in elementary school in the 70s, we had a French teacher every year, well, a different French teacher every year and we were always taught the same thing over and over.  It wasn’t until I went to high school that I had a passionate teacher of the French language by the not so French name of Jack MacDuff.  I was inspired to sign up for the elective class from his enthusiasm and also the fact that the only two guys in the class were myself and my buddy Dean.  After high school, I was immersed in the language of Jazz and thus never carried on learning the French language.

So, my first question to the Jessica Payeur, producer of the show, was how much this would be a liability for the show and she reassured me that I should not worry about it.  After some research, I learned Chant’ Ouest has been going for 15 years now, holding the competition galas in various towns and cities in western Canada.  I was also pleased to learn that Winnipeg drummer extraordinaire, Daniel Roy was to be musical director for the show.  I met Daniel many years ago along with Bassist Gilles Fournier when they were up in YK for a show.

Daniel sent me the recordings and charts for the songs each songwriter was bring to the show.  The stylistic range was broad ranging from hip hop to country/folk to epic Quebecois anthem rock to turn of the century ballads.  Daniel, Raphael Freynet, Mary Kelly and I met up one soggy September afternoon at Mary’s place to run through the songs.  I loved Daniel’s enthusiasm and the chance to work with Raphael and Mary.

The next day, we pulled into the NACC to set up.  I walked through the door to see a very familiar face at the helm of the CBC Radio-Canada recording unit although it had been better than 30 years since we had last seen each other.  Dominique Roy and I went to Grant MacEwan College together in the early ’80s and played in a few of the same college big bands.  All we could do was to shake our heads at how the years had flown by so quickly.

Chant’ Ouest 2017 house Band: Mary Kelly, Daniel Roy, Raphael Freynet and me

The next 4 days were a blur of long and intense rehearsals.  House band, artists and tech all worked hard through the week to pull the show together.  I was most impressed by the tech crew who seemed to be everywhere at the same time and immediately on any issue that came up.  By show time Thursday, we put on one hell of show!

Manitoba Francophone Hip Hop artist Alpha Toshineza

 

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03 Aug Posted by in Shows | Comments

Yellowknife gigs, Aug. – Sept. 2017

Every second year or so, I get to perform at the “Old Town Ramble and Ride” festival, held on the August long weekend right here in my neighbourhood. From the poster, you can see there is an eclectic mix of performers, artists and crafts folk featured.

This year, I got to play a solo set on my own, on the south facing stage, at 7 PM on the hottest day of the weekend to a warm , wonderful audience.  Later that night, I joined up with Andrea Bettger and the Soft Rock Minors to play a burning set of Andrea’s original songs.  T’was a fun evening, my fingers were quite tired and sore the next morning.

More “Old Town Ramble and Ride” at:  http://oldtownrambleandri.wixsite.com/oldtownrambleandride

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22 Jun Posted by in Shows | Comments

with Gho Bah, Yellowknife, NT, June 2017

Early in 2017, I got a call from Leela Gilday asking if I would like to be a part of an ensemble and show called “Gho Bah”, Resilience Project.  “Gilday’s vision for the project, named Gho-Bah or Gomba — both of which mean “the first light of dawn,” depending on the dialect spoken in Dene — began with conversations with other musicians and artists about what reconciliation means to them.  The show included a group of handpicked support musicians and featured prominent Dene artists from the NT.”

The rehearsals began in March with a brief weekend writing session which was repeated in April. Each of the featured artists brought their song ideas to the table and collectively, we finished the songs from there.  For me, it was a wonderful opportunity to work and write with artists I had never worked with before but it was also an amazing experience to hear the heartbreaking residential school stories from Paul Andrew and Stephen Kakfwi.

Gho Bah writing session; me, Catherine Lafferty, Leela Gilday, Stephen Kakfwi, Paul Andrew, Amos Scott, Lawrence Nahtene (Casey Koyczan photo)

Come June, we ensconced ourselves into the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre for 5 days to hammer the show together.  A treat for me on this gig was to be able to play Stick guitar.  The Bass end was superbly anchored by Meg Dolovich, deliciously deep drum grooves by Debashis Sinha and guitarist personified, Robert Walsh from Edmonton filled out the rhythm section.  We were also joined by the amazing “Aurora Chorealis” choir for a few songs who lifted everyone’s spirits even higher.

Gho Bah in rehearsal on NACC stage

This show was a Herculean effort on Leela’s part.  She masterfully produced and directed each of us as to the purpose and intent of the show but at the same time, allowed each of us to define our own parts for the songs.  Our first show was at the NACC on June 17 to an appreciative and enthusiastic full house.

Gho Bah on NACC stage, June 17, 2017 (Kevin O’Reilly photo)

Our next show was at Somba K’e park as part of the Aboriginal Day/Canada 150 celebrations.  It was a cool morning when we showed up for sound check at 9 AM with a stiff wind out of the northwest and rain showers.  Fortunately, the weather lifted somewhat before the celebrations and our show began at noon.

Gho Bah at Yellowknife Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2017

Gho Bah at Yellowknife Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2017 (Kevin O’Reilly photo)

 

 

 

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17 Apr Posted by in News | Comments

with Andrea Bettger, recording session, April 11-16, 2017, Yellowknife, NT

On the heels of Andrea’s NACC show, we began recording the songs for release.  Andrea imported top shelf musician/producer Adrian Dolan to come up with his recording gear.  Once more, the gracious Bromley family supplied the studio space in one of their downtown buildings and a recording studio was created.

My Bass station for the recording sessions

For 5 days, we tracked 12 songs, finishing up the last night with overdubs of hand claps, ethereal choirs and howling dogs.  Here we are enjoying libations shortly afterwards at the Old Town Woodyard Pub.  I’m looking forward to Andrea’s CD release in mid 2018.

Well earned libations following recording wrap up; Al Bee, Adrian Dolan, Ben Russo, Andrea Bettger, me

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01 Apr Posted by in Shows | Comments

with New North Collective at Pacific Contact, March 31, 2017,Burnaby BC

The “New North Collective” gathered once again to perform a showcase set for the BC presenters at “Pacific Contact” showcase in Burnaby.  It is always a challenge to put together such a short set that will effectively give the audience of presenters a snapshot of the breadth of your complete show but a good exercise for any artist.  I always enjoy attending these events as I get a chance to meet many of the presenters I have worked with over the years.

Over an afternoon, we built up the showcase set, scrambled to our soundcheck later that afternoon and then performed a stellar set that evening at the Michael J. Fox theatre in Burnaby.

Here’s a post showcase set photo at the Michael J. Fox:

New North Collective; Jan de Vroede, Graeme Peters, Diyet and Robert Van Lieshout, Carmen Braden and me

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08 Mar Posted by in Shows | Comments

with Andrea Bettger at Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, March 7, 2017

 

For the last few years, I have been working with Fiddler/Violinist Andrea Bettger here in Yellowknife.  We have played together in different groups and in various shows.  Over say the last 2 years, Andrea has really stepped out with her performance and writing skills of which I have been fortunate to be a part of.  She has participated in the NACC Mentorship program over those two years and this March, we played the second and final concert to close out her time with the program.

Andrea, Zavallennahh and Ben warming up for interview at CBC YK

Also included in this concert was Al Bee on drums, Ben Russo on guitar, Zavallennahh Young on second fiddle/violin and Katarina Carthew on piano and the MC for the event, his highness, the Snow King.  Through the good graces of the Bromley family, we were given a warm, comfortable space to rehearse and worked to polish the original pieces of music Andrea had written.  I enjoy playing her music because it really forces me to bring my “A” Bass game to the rehearsal or the show.  Her original works are challenging and written in a variety of styles from traditional Metis influenced songs to Jazz/Rock fusion material with some singer/songwriter influences as well.

NACC set up

For the second year in a row, we settled onto the NACC stage and played our hearts out to a warm, hometown crowd.

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02 Mar Posted by in Shows | Comments

at the Snowking Festival, March 1, 2017

I got the call to perform at the opening night of the Snowking Festival, March 1.  It was a Wednesday night and joined by Casey Koyczan, aka Bushman NT I thought it would be a rather quiet evening.  Needless to say, I was watching the weather forecasts to see how cold it was going to be and not to be disappointed, it was easily -40 with the windchill that night.

By the time Bushman had finished his set, I was already seriously chilled.  Bu the time I had my Stick in my hands on the snow stage and tuning up, I realized I was in trouble.  My instrument and my hands were frozen, the strings felt like thin icicles under my already solid finger tips, each note painful to play if I even got there.  From deep down somewhere, I pulled what was needed to fulfill my commitment to the monarchy and made it back home to hug the heater for the next few hours to thaw out.

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15 Feb Posted by in Shows, Video release, Workshops | Comments

with New North Collective, Alberta tour, “Available Light and Film Festival”, Whitehorse YT Jan. – Feb. 2017

The day after Carmen’s Calgary CD release concert, we met up in the lobby of some hotel, piled into 2 mini vans and started out on a 5 day tour to Camrose, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Banff, Alberta.  The Camrose shows were pretty cool. We were commissioned by the Augustana Campus (U of A) to write a song about reconciliation, perform it with the Augustana Campus 18 piece choir and to take part in a reconciliation workshop.  We wrote, “Add Your Voice to the Song”and the choir joined us for our show in Lethbridge as well. Here’s a link to the video:

We certainly put on a few kilometers on the trip back and forth across the sleepy, winter prairie landscape.  At every stop, we played in such beautiful venues with top shelf tech crews.

When we arrived to play our last show in Banff, we were asked to collaborate with a visiting show from Australia called “Black Arm Band”. While we were setting up, they arrived in the theatre and I looked up at one point, to see one of the band members standing right in front of me, with his cel phone facing me, showing a picture of him and I about 4 years earlier in Iqaluit, NU, where we were both playing the Alianait Festival.  My friend Jupuru got to jam out on his didg on one of my tunes and between the two groups, we put together a stunning vocal treatment for one of their traditional pieces.  It is always such a treat to just be at the Banff Centre and a privilege to perform there.

After a week back home, the New North Collective gathered again in Whitehorse, to perform at the Available Light and Film Festival.  This show was the debut of 5 of our songs along with visual projections we collected from each territory.  With contributions from;  Jay Bulckaert, Pablo Saravanja at “aRTleSS Collective”, a collage of landscape photos from the band along with the extraordinary talented overhead projection artists Barbara Hinton and Lia Willims and the animation wizardry of Aidan Kenneth Cartwright,.  The show was performed on the most amazing Yukon Arts Centre stage, with yet again, stellar tech and stage crew.  A great chance to collaborate with these brilliant visual artists from the NT and YT!

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15 Nov Posted by in Shows | Comments

with Carmen Braden, “Ravens” CD release, showscase shows

 

Carmen and me, 2015, (Bill Braden photo)

In the summer of 2016, I played some Bass and Stick tracks for my niece, Carmen Braden who was recording her first CD release.  A couple of months later, Carmen was selected to perform a showcase set for the Jazz Festivals Canada Showcase in Victoria, BC in early November.  When we arrived in town, we met Matthew Atkins, our drummer and hit the rehearsal studio for the evening. With well written charts and practice time put in beforehand, the songs came together very quickly.

Carmen Braden, me, Mathew Atkins rehearsing at Bakers Studios, Victoria, BC (Debbie Peters photo)

Next evening, we set up at the famous Herman’s Jazz Club and performed a 45 minute set that evening along with 3 other groups.

About 6 weeks later, Carmen threw a CD launch concert at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre here in Yellowknife.  Another sweet evening of Carmen’s music interpreted by local musicians for an enthusiastic, to capacity home town crowd.

Carmen Braden, Yellowknife CD release concert (Bill Braden photo)

A couple of months after that, Carmen invited me, along with Mark Adam on drums and Jan de Vroede on guitar to perform for her Calgary CD release at the National Music Centre in the King Eddy.  It was a very sweet, intimate room, excellent tech and all combined for a most pleasant evening of Carmen’s music.

It was a bit of a bitter sweet moment I had when I stepped into the re-vamped King Eddy room, seeing the posters of Calgary Bluesmen that I had the opportunity to work with up in Yellowknife at the Cave Club Jazz and Blues Bar through the 90s.  One of these posters immortalizing my dear friend,the late Back Alley John.

Back Alley John poster in the King Eddy, Calgary, AB

I even got a chance to swing around to the Saturday afternoon Blues jam at the Ironwood where my very good friend, JT is the much revered house sound tech.

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