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FIN call for entries

The 2019 FIN Atlantic International Film Festival call for entries is officially open. FIN is curre [ ... ]

this town is small news

Calls for Submissions Deadline January 18 this town is small is partnering with The Guild for a se [ ... ]

No Angel

Fluffy Little Cowboys

No Angel—Fluffy Little CowboysFluffy Little Cowboys are preparing to release their re-mixed single, Dance With My Skeletons and are hitting the road in June for their spring Girl Power Tour starting with a triple CD release matinee show at the Trailside Café and Inn in Mount Stewart on May 20.

“The name Fluffy Little Cowboys is more than a little tongue in cheek for this alt-Americana female trio from PEI. They aren’t fluffy, they aren’t cowboys and their sound isn’t little. Think country, roots, folk and blues with spoken word and punk rock mixed in”—Jordan Whitehouse, VisitKingston.ca

The PEI-based band comprised of Shelley Montreuil (vocals, guitar, banjo, sax), Maureen Adams (bass, harmonies, percussion), and Keelin Wedge (fiddle, bass, guitar, harmonies), came together in 2016 and have been exploring their particular sonic soundscape ever since.

With Montreuil as the group’s main songwriter, having a strong blues-jazz influence from her years as a sax player, and Wedge’s well-oiled traditional chops paired with Adams’ djembe-inspired sensibilities (Maureen is the former djembe player for the indie Ottawa band The Lighthousekeepers), the trio is building their brand behind an uncompromising, take-no-prisoners approach to music, live performance, and lyrics.

While it wasn’t their conscious intention to form a girl-group, the potential for positive role modeling is not lost on the Fluffy Cowboys. With Montreuil’s history as a social worker, community developer and advocate, it is no surprise that the Fluffy’s lyrical path takes a somewhat political bent. And with her current foray into the world of co-writing and production, Montreuil has developed strong working relationships with women and gender non-binary performers/songwriters across the globe.

The Fluffy Little Cowboys are taking this girl-power attitude with them on tour in June where they will be combining a rigorous performance schedule with pre-arranged co-writing sessions with songwriters of the female and gender non-binary variety.

Trailside’s CD release show will present the Fluffy Little Cowboys’ No Angel which was produced by PEI wunderkind Nathan Wiley and features Doobie Brothers drummer Ed Toth. The show will also present Keelin Wedge’s newest album, The Traditional Files and Ontario’s Ali McCormick’s soon-to-be released album.

The Fluffy Little Cowboy’s full show schedule can be found on their website at www.fluffylittlecowboys.com and tickets for the Trailside show can be purchased at www.trailside.ca.

Things Change

Dennis Ellsworth

Things Change—Dennis EllsworthIn 2017 Dennis Ellsworth needed to make a new album. And it was an emergency. So, who better to call for assistance than Joel Plaskett, leader of The Emergency, to participate. The result is Ellsworth’s fifth solo LP, Things Change, a convergence of his irresistible power pop songwriting chops with Plaskett and co.’s trademark vintage guitar-driven sound.

In the past, Prince Edward Island native Ellsworth has never hesitated to seek out the right people for specific projects. It’s led him to build an impressive body of work in conjunction with producer David Barbe (Drive-By Truckers, Sugar), along with CanRock heroes such as Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers, Gord Downie), Hugh Christopher Brown, and Tim Bovaconti (Ron Sexsmith). However, teaming up with Plaskett at Joel’s New Scotland Yard studio in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia became a totally immersive experience for Ellsworth that opened up many new creative possibilities.

Joel Plaskett assumed production duties for the new album and enlisted his longtime drummer from the Emergency, Dave Marsh, and Charles Austin of east coast rock legends Superfriendz to participate. Ellsworth came more prepared than he ever had before, having spent a considerable amount of time crafting home demos, which he says allowed him to conceive an overall framework for the album rather than viewing it as 12 individual songs. It also gave Plaskett plenty of opportunities to offer his ideas and build on the hooks Ellsworth had already devised.

After two decades of making music in various incarnations, Ellsworth chalks up what he’s accomplished on Things Change in large part to simply being older and wiser. “For years I wrote dark, smooth, romantic alt-country-ish type songs,” he says. “I don’t know how I ever got there but I stuck with it for a while. I love those records, but I knew it was time I switched things up just to keep myself interested.”

Now he says, “I feel like I’ve entered into this new land of possibility and I’m gonna ride that wave for a bit. I also think my songwriting is getting stronger with every album. I feel like I’ve found a way to get a message across with the perfect balance. It’s still poetic but does a much better job of drawing a listener in with clear messages and some great combinations of words.”

Catch Dennis playing on PEI May 3 at Trailside Café in Mount Stewart at 8 pm and May 18 with Kinley Dowling at Harmony House, Hunter River at 8 pm.

Canada 150

PEI Symphony Orchestra

Canada 150—PEI Symphony OrchestraDuring the April 15 final concert of its 50th anniversary season, the PEI Symphony Orchestra (PEISO) will release its first CD in the orchestra’s 50-year history. Canada 150 is a live recording of a special concert with the same name, which took place on November 19, 2017 at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Under the direction of Maestro Mark Shapiro, the orchestra was joined by Hey Cuzzins Mi’kmaq Drum Group, mezzo-soprano Hannah O’Donnell, and both the Confederation Singers and Youth Chorus. Together they performed the Cantata for Canada 150, a new four-movement symphonic piece that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. The cantata focuses on several overarching Canada 150 themes: inclusion and diversity, environmental conservation, reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and youth in Canada’s future.

What makes the Cantata for Canada 150 unique is that each of the four movements were completed by four different maritime-based composers (Richard Covey, Leo Marchildon, Andrew Staniland and Kevin Morse). The lyrics of each movement were written by four PEI youths who were the winners of an Island-wide poetry contest (Chloe Dockendorff, Madelyn Iwankow, Nicolas Dickieson, and Madison Lockman).

Several other works were performed at the concert event. Those included on the CD are A Hero’s Welcome: Sesquie for Canada’s 150th (a work co-commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the PEI Symphony, composed by Kati Agócs), two choral numbers: Ye Banks and Brae’s performed by Confederation Centre Youth Chorus, and Cape St. Mary’s performed by the Confederation Singers, and a work performed by Hey Cuzzins drum circle entitled Honouring Our Lnui Families.

The project was made possible in part by a grant from the Government of Canada, and the concert was broadcast nationally by Eastlink TV. The audio was captured live and mixed by Don Chapman (DC Productions); Susan Christensen created the CD cover artwork, with graphic design by Ruby Square Graphic Design.

The CD is available at no charge directly from the PEI Symphony. Copies will be given to all concert attendees at the final concert of the orchestra’s 50th anniversary season, which takes place at 2:30 pm on April 15 at the Zion Presbyterian Church. Tickets are available through the Confederation Centre box office or will be available at the door of Zion Church on the day of the performance. Additional concert details may be found on the orchestra’s website: www.peisymphony.com or by calling the PEISO at 902-892-4333.

Rachel Beck

Rachel Beck

Rachel BeckRachel Beck is taking a big leap in her musical career—this time, all on her own. CBC Searchlight finalist success in 2013 sparked a recording and touring journey for Rachel and sister Amy as The Beck Sisters.

 It led to performances at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival, for Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall’s Royal Visit to Canada, singing with Serena Ryder , and opening for Tom Cochrane. Now Rachel Beck has release her self-titled solo debut. The lead single “Reckless Heart” propelled to the #1 spot on the CBC Music Top 20 chart after having the most online votes for 6 weeks straight.

Produced and recorded by Daniel Ledwell at Echo Lake, Beck’s album lures the listener into an ethereal and enveloping soundscape, as the songs take one on a trek across a wide emotional range—from regret and grief to wonder and joy. And with additional percussion work and vocal harmonies by Amy Beck on the album, fans of The Beck Sisters will be treated to hints of that seamless sisterly harmonization. A powerhouse band includes Natalie Williams-Calhoun (cello), Bennett Buell (guitar/bass), and Alan White (percussion).

“…the team kept the emotion and sensitivity of the songs in full focus, which is no doubt what’s hitting home with a country full of listeners discovering Beck’s solo debut.”—Bob Mersereau, Top 100 Canadian

—Bio notes by Todd MacLean

 

Your Masterpiece

Jenni & The Hummingbird

Your Masterpiece—Jenni & The HummingbirdJenni & The Hummingbird has released her debut EP, Your Masterpiece, with reviews by The East, Exclaim! and Nu Music Group. Jenni & The Hummingbird will hold a release show at The Trailside Music Café & Inn in Mount Stewart on May 27 where she will perform Your Masterpiece music with The Atlantic String Machine.

A singer-songwriter from Charlottetown, Jennifer (Jenni) Roberge creates and performs music under the moniker Jenni & The Hummingbird. Her debut music video single release, “Am I Odd?” received immediate reviews by Exclaim!, The East, and Nu Music Group with regard to the video’s exploration into a “whole new world both audibly and visually”—Nu Music Group. The video was directed by local filmmaker and documentarian, Millefiore Clarkes.

Jenni says that her sound is somewhat foreign to our local tastes. Heavily influenced by music from countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland, this sound is a bit dark, but very melodic and harmonic, she explains. She is able, she says, to dig into her East Coast roots and elevate them with new textures.

Your Masterpiece was produced by Adam Gallant, Dennis Ellsworth, and Jennifer Roberge at The Hill Sound Studio. The recording process began in 2016 in Toronto, ON at Afterglow Audio, where Jenni worked with Toronto cellist Beth Silver, and Andrew Dorscht (engineer). In May 2017 Jenni moved back to Charlottetown, where the EP was completed at The Hill Sound Studio with Adam Gallant (engineer). The album features local artists such as Alan Dowling, Chris Martell, Dennis Ellsworth, Kinley Dowling, and Lucas Manuel. The hummingbird artwork for the EP was hand-painted by local artist, Cohen MacDonald

Your Masterpiece was released in February  2018. It is available on iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay, and Deezer, and locally at Back Alley Music.

Baby God

Baby God

Baby God—Baby GodBaby God has released their debut self-titled album digitally.

Baby God is “a charming mess of indierock, alt-country and folk” say band members Andrew Murray and Nathan Gill. You may know Andrew from his time with English Words and Wildcat and Nathan from Two Hours Traffic and the North Lakes. This project finds the two songwriters away from home having left various relationships and bands.

Baby God was recorded under string lights in Nathan’s living room in Toronto. It is an album of the idyllic, idols and idling. The song-first approach and lo-fi production values keeps their album candid and direct, say the duo.

Mixed by the band and mastered by Dan Weston (Daniel Romano. Tribe Called Red), the album also features contributions from Chris Robinson (slide guitar), Nick Doneff (pedal steel) and Noah McDougall (piano).

Tracks on Baby God are Down Then Up, Days Behind, You Are Mine, Only Less, All of the Time, Meanwhile A.Y. Jackson, By Nature, Marigold, What I’m Sayin’, Dark Castle, Hard to Wait, Livin’ Through the Years, How Deep is Down. Check it out at @bbabygodd.

You'll be able to find the album on iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services. Or you can stream/buy it at bbabygodd.bandcamp.com.

Rawlins Cross releases Rock Steady

Rawlins Cross—Rock SteadyRawlins Cross Celtic rock band has rekindled the magic with their six-track EP, Rock Steady, set to be released December 1 through GroundSwell Music.

Rock Steady was co-produced by Jon Landry and Geoff Panting. Rawlins Cross entered the East Coast music scene over 25 years ago with their album A Turn of the Wheel, and, through the years, has recorded eight albums and toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. They have received two JUNO nominations and and many ECMA awards. 

Rawlins Cross was formed in St. John’s, Newfoundland in the late 1980s by songwriting brothers Dave Panting (guitar and mandolin) and Geoff Panting (keyboards and accordion), and Ian McKinnon (highland pipes and tin whistle). After adding a rhythm section of Halifax bassist Brian Bourne and Ontario-based drummer Howie Southwood, Rawlins Cross enlisted PEI singer Joey Kitson.

Since then, Rawlins Cross has been at the vanguard of the fusion of Celtic traditional music with the rhythms of rock, pop and worldbeat music, equally at ease with a soulful Highland Air (MacPherson’s Lament) or a raucous party song (Colleen, Reel ‘n’ Roll, Rock Steady). With total album sales topping 100,000 units, Rawlins Cross has been one of the region’s most successful bands.

In 2008 Rawlins Cross reunited after a several year hiatus and released Anthology, a compilation of its best recorded songs. In Fall 2010, the band released Heart Head Hands (GroundSwell/ Warner Music). This marked the band’s first full album release in 12 years. 

Rock Steady, a collection of new songs along with a string of successful festival performances, has added some spring to the step of this venerable East Coast act.

Safe Spaces

Element and Broadbent II

 Safe Spaces—Element and Broadbent IIElement and Broadbent’s sophomore album Safe Spaces is an ode to Millennials. It is about things they say, and the way they act (whether they know it or not). It isn’t a criticism, but merely an observation of a generation that really has no identity, according to the duo, and is more known for material things and being PC.

The album was recorded in the summer of 2017 in Charlottetown. All lyrics are by Eric Broadbent, except a featured verse by Cape Breton rapper Matt Nokes in the song “Why you tellin’ me.” All beats, mixing, mastering and art are by Element.

The album will soon be available on Spotify, iTunes and most online stores.

Caroling

Kelley Mooney

Caroling—Kelley MooneyKelley Mooney is releasing her first Christmas record, Caroling. The recording features a mix of Kelley’s favorite Christmas songs, a few contemporary ones, and a few originals—particularly, “Christmas in the Country.” This song gives you a complete picture of Christmas at the Mooney house—its food, music and love.

The CD launch will take place on November 4 at 7 pm at Trinity United Church, 220 Richmond Street, Charlottetown. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Kelley will be joined by special guests Richard Wood, Atlantic String Machine, Jon Matthews and others.

Admission to the launch is a donation of food items for the food bank, (or a cash donation), a friend and a smile. Kelley says that although many of us are so very fortunate to have loved ones around us to share a big, beautiful Christmas dinner with, some aren’t so lucky. Rather than paying to get in to this concert, people are encouraged to use that money for a bag of food (or a cash donation) for the Food Bank. A truck will be at the front of the church to receive the donation. 

Island singer-songwriter Kelley Mooney released Tomorrow in 2011. It won the 2012 Music PEI Country Recording of the Year. She followed that recording with Still, a collection of gospel-inspirational songs.

Can You Hear Me

Ashley Condon

Can You Hear Me—Ashley CondonThis fall Ashley Condon launches her new album, Can you Hear Me—at the same time she and her husband launch their PEI-based microbrewery, Copper Bottom Brewing. “Offer people beer, and they’ll come to you!” Ashley jokes. In fact, the brewery is a long-time dream of her husband, Ken. But it fits in with Ashley’s own commitment to rooting her music business close to home.

Can You Hear Me features a series of co-writes with PEI artists and with artists who came to PEI through various creative exchanges. There are harmony vocals from Ashley’s fellow-Eastern Belles, Catherine MacLellan and Meaghan Blanchard, and a sonic palette by producer—and Anne Murray’s nephew—Dale Murray (The Guthries and Cuff the Duke).

The songs too speak in various ways to Ashley’s connection to the PEI music community. The lead off track, “Diamond Sky,” grew indirectly out of a local songwriters’ night Ashley and Catherine MacLellan launched with the goal of building community among PEI artists at home.

“Down Home,” written with British folk artist Maz O’Conner as part of a program that pairs British and Canadian artists, was inspired by O’Conner’s fascination with the Maritime phrase “down home.”

Ashley started writing the sparse, haunting, “In the Darkness” after PEI’s notorious crazy winter three years ago, during which cars became buried in snow and three people died in a house fire. The song evolved over the course of two years, as trees mangled by the weight of the snow gradually returned to their previous erect stance—a metaphor for bouncing back after hard times.

She wrote “Come As You Are” as a tribute to the late Hal Mills, founder of PEI’s The Dunk house concert series and proprietor of the property where it was held.

If Ashley seems especially devoted to building community on her Island home, it could be because that community is her surrogate family. The only child of a fishing family from rural PEI, Ashley had lost both her parents by the time she was 22.

She earned two PEI Music Awards for her debut album. Then her musical idol, David Francey discovered her during PEI Music Week and became her mentor. The three-time JUNO-winning folk artist produced Ashley’s sophomore album, This Great Compromise. Ashley earned a 2013 Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for New/Emerging Artist of the Year. The album was the seventh most-played Canadian album on the Galaxie Folk Roots channel in 2013. And it made the Top 20 on Roots Music Report in the U.S.

 

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Gadfly crew

Urban roots dance January 31
Homburg Theatre Gadfly is an eclectic urban dance crew that is steppin [ ... ]

Debussy Préludes

St. Paul’s Church
January 18 Pianist Sarah Hagen will perform Debussy’s first book of Préludes  [ ... ]

Sequential thinking

Serial arrangements at Confederation Centre Art Gallery Until March 19 The tradition of artists wo [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

A gift of Island poetry: Judy Gaudet

Curated by Deidre Kessler Anticipation Outside my window the world is hovering
on hummingbird wings [ ... ]

Coy—power trio

Talking Bands by Evan James Ceretti Story Sheidow (guitar, vocals), Emilee Sorrey (drums, vocals), [ ... ]

Distinguished alumni

Holland College awards Jan Cowper, Irwin MacKinnon, David Poirier The Holland College Foundation ha [ ... ]