Notes from the Road
by Catherine MacLellan
It’s hard to believe that 2013 is long gone and 2014 is already full-steam ahead. I’m writing this from my hotel room in Calgary, on a rare day off with a ton of work to catch up on. So far it’s been a beautiful tour of the West. Starting in Regina, we’ve been driving around Saskatchewan and Alberta with kind weather to accompany us.
The shows so far have been amazing, with sold out crowds and old friends showing up. Two of our Calgary friends have been stalking us on our last three shows, although I think they have had enough... or at least are not up for the long drive to Slave Lake tomorrow. A few members of my family came out in Edmonton and we managed to line up PEI fiddler Bill MacInnis to join us on a few shows as well.
Our concert in Calgary was with Edmonton folkie Chloe Albert, a sweet soul with great songs. I first met Chloe in Stratford, Ontario where we were sharing a bill and have since met her a few times in PEI at the Dunk. That is where I saw her last and I convinced her to make the drive down to Calgary for this show. She was wonderful as always and sounded great with her husband Matt on vocals and percussion, and the much sought after Tim Leacock on electric guitar.
As I mentioned already, we’ll be heading to Slave Lake next and then on through Grand Prairie, Jasper and eventually Prince George for their ColdSnap Festival. It seems very appropriate to be heading to a winter celebration in Northern B.C., but secretly I hope the weather stays warmer, since I have lost my favourite hat earlier on this trip.
This tour I have been playing all of the new songs that we recorded in December for our upcoming record. Chris, Remi and I headed down to Woodstock, NY to make a record at our friend Danny Blume’s studio. It’s a lovely spot, hidden in the woods and nestled in by a river. It feels like an extension of my Dixon Road home.
Danny’s studio is in his house where he lives with his wife and two kids. Every night, we would take a break from recording to have a family meal all together. We would all take turns cooking beautiful meals and there was always a nice bottle of wine to accompany it.
A special treat during the recording process was having Jay Ungar come into the studio to play on a couple of tunes. He is the composer of Ashokan Farewell, which was on the soundtrack for Ken Burn’s Civil War series and made popular in PEI by Kim Vincent. Jay is a really sweet man and it was great to meet him. One track, called It’s All Changed, we all played together, live in one room. He lent us his real old time sound and his sweet heart. We also were able to get Andy Leftwich, an amazing Nashville fiddler who plays with the Ricky Skaggs band [Kentucky Thunder], to play on a few tracks. It was fun to be able to call up any musician in Nashville we wanted just by calling the local musicians union there.
We only had two weeks to record and mix the 12 song record and every time we thought we were ahead of the game, we would realize that a song needed to be redone or that our approach wasn’t working on something. It amazed us all that we were able to complete the recording and mixing in time. We were even able to take it down the road to another studio for some final magical touches that included transferring it to tape and replacing all the digital reverb with actual old-school plate and spring reverb. I learned a ton and had a great time making the new album and I can’t wait to finish the artwork and share it with you all.