Joel Plaskett Emergency / Joel & Bill Plaskett
Many Canadian music fans know Joel Plaskett. Multiple JUNO Award winning songwriter. Multiple times on the Polaris Music Prize Short List. Sold out clubs and concert halls from one side of the country to the other. But in 2017 he’ll be sharing the spotlight with his earliest musical influence his father, Bill.
Solidarity, to be released on the Pheromone label in February is the first fulllength musical collaboration between father and son and will be followed by a crosscountry tour in the spring.
The album is a powerful collection of original and traditional songs, reflecting the duo’s individual journeys and personal politics.
From the introspective opening track, Dragonfly, a song about a paranormal experience that Joel had, to On Down the River, Bill’s closing track about leaving his home in England, the album is grounded in folk music but informed by rock and roll history.
Here’s Joel’s take on the title track: “As a starting point, I wanted to write a simple, folk song chorus that Dad and I could sing in harmony. The word solidarity came to mind as representing togetherness, strength and shared values. I wrote the song to celebrate unity, wherever you can find it, in an increasingly fractured world.”
Joel’s reference to a “folk song chorus” speaks to his father’s musical history. Born in 1945 in London, England, Bill spent the early 1960s playing tenor banjo (learned from his father) in a traditional jazz band and skiffle group and later graduated to playing electric bass in a highschool rock and roll band called Section 62.
In 1966, Bill traveled through the United States on a 99 days for $99 Greyhound bus pass. He immigrated to Vancouver, Canada in 1967 before moving to Nova Scotia where Joel was born in 1975. Through much of the 1980s the family lived in historic Lunenburg, a town transitioning from a fishing village to a tourist economy, where Bill played in an old time band called Starb’ard Side and helped found the beloved Lunenburg Folk Festival. Moving to Halifax in 1987, Bill immersed himself in the local folk music scene and watched with pride as his son picked up the guitar and eventually built a full time music career through the 90s with his first band, Thrush Hermit and more recently with his band, The Emergency.
“I’ve been impressed with the scope of the music Joel continues to make,” Bill says. “I’ve joined him on the road before, and it’s enjoyable traveling across the country and spending time together. On stage, I just play and pick up on the energy in the room that Joel is able to bring out of the audience with his charisma and stage presence. The upcoming tour to support this new record is exciting as it will be more ambitious and collaborative than anything we’ve done in the past.” The 11 songs on Solidarity are varied and personal, yet expressive of interconnecting themes.
Folkbased political songs like “We Have Fed You All for a Thousand Years,” and “Jim Jones” sit side by side with contemplative love songs (“No Sight Compares” and “New California”), a touch of rockabilly country blues (“Help Me Somebody Depression Blues”) and more fully arranged folk rock songs of contemporary social commentary (“Blank Cheque” and “The Next Blue Sky”).
Solidarity is a surprising and unique album, full of strong guitar playing and thoughtful, accessible songs. An excellent addition to the Plaskett catalogue and hopefully the first of many for the Plasketts.
A charismatic charmer and a smasher of pianos. A madman and an earnest poet. A strummer of delicate chords and a lover of bent and broken melodies. Ben Caplan is not any one thing. As he releases his second album, he’s already gained a following in more than a dozen countries from Australia to Europe and across North America. It’s no surprise. Caplan is simply unforgettable; with his huge beard and unruly mane, he is as visually striking as he is aurally compelling. His rough and textured tones cut through crowded halls; an enormous voice, roaring louder than raucous crowds. The microphone looks almost superfluous. But looks are deceiving; once he has your attention, Caplan can croon smoother than a glass of single malt whisky, pouring beauty into a harsh world.
Inspired in part by Eastern European and Jewish folk traditions, Ben Caplan mixes older musical sensibilities with his own soul, straight from his hairy heart. Lyrically, you’ve not heard the like before. Often edgy and dark, Caplan holds a mirror up to show us our nasty bits, singing about the ugliness and showing us that this darkness is the root of the sublime. His latest album release, Birds with Broken Wings, explodes with sounds both ancient and modern, with more than 30 musicians and even more instruments, combining acoustic sounds from around the world. It was listed on CBC Radio’s 50 Best Canadian Albums of 2015, reached #1 on Earshot’s National Folk/Roots/Blues chart, and was accepted into the Baker & Taylor NPR Discover Songs library. It’s all smoothly blended by the hottest international production team around. It’s uncharted territory, and Caplan’s leading the way.
A native of Prince Edward Island, Rose Cousins lives in Halifax Nova Scotia. She deeply values being part of multiple music communities, and is constantly fueled by collaboration. Cousins’ 2012 album We Have Made A Spark celebrated her Boston community and featured a cast of musicians Cousins had known and played music with for a decade. It won a JUNO Award, 3 East Coast Music Awards, a Canadian Folk Music Award, was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, and made picks/best of lists in USA Today, NPR Music and Oprah Magazine. Her music has found its way into several TV shows including Grey’s Anatomy.
Moe Clark: multidisciplinary Métis artist, looping pedal mistress, spoken word poet, educator, artistic producer, public speaker, activist…
Multidisciplinary Métis artist Moe Clark is a nomadic songbird with wings woven from circle singing and spoken word. Mistress of the looping pedal, she creates sonic landscapes of layered voice that invite audiences into a trance-like space. Her poetic songs soar through these landscapes, with tonal and lyrical resonance. In music collaborations, Moe’s intuitive and sensual approach to vocal improvisation pulls from soul, gospel, folk and spoken word genres. She’s trained with the likes of Rhiannon (Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra), Pura Fé (Ulali) and David Smukler (Linklater approach).
As performer, Moe’s work spans international borders and creative disciplines. Following the success of her debut album “Circle of She: Story & Song” (2008) she toured national and international stages. Her second album “Within” (September 2014) builds off this success to bring elaborated musicality. Highlight feature performances include Maelström ReÉvolution Poétique Fiéstival in Belgium (2013 & 2009), IDEA World Congress: Art for Social Change in Brazil (2010), Aboriginal Music Week (2012), Makusham APTN Series (2011) and she will perform as “Poet of Honour” for the 2014 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Her 2009 videopoem “Intersecting Circles” is now part of the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre.
Called ‘One to Watch’ by The Grid TO and one of the ‘Top 10 Canadian Musicians You Need to Know’ by CBC Music, Iskwé’s cross-cultural aesthetic is as striking as her tripped-out blend of soul. The name Iskwé (pronounced iss-kway) means ‘woman’ in her native language. Iskwé’s debut album weaves together her Irish and Cree/Dene roots with hip hop breakbeats, left-field R&B, and traces of piano pop (Think Esthero meets Alicia Keys). The album incorporates an amalgam of sonic techniques that embrace mood and atmosphere while echoing traditional pop codes. Vintage record crackles and downtempo undercurrents on “So Over You” bring to mind the trip hop ambiance of Portishead, seguing into the hip-swaying beats of “Recycle,” featuring a cameo from M1 of Dead Prez, and shaped around Iskwé’s smooth-as-butter vocals. The pop/soul diva tries her hand at electronica on “Wandering,” a cut that swirls into club-banging territory with its massive dubstep drops. “One Better” is a call-to-action break-up anthem sung with the pain of past experience, while the equally empowering closing track “Slack Jaw, which features crawling electro-fused basslines and scorching guitars courtesy of Donna Grantis (current guitarist for Prince), Iskwé can’t hide her apathy to try and fit into the current pop landscape with lines, such as “I ain’t got no energy to make it as a pop/rock star. Even though I’ve been dreaming that I’d go far.” “Slack Jaw” was also recently listed as #1 on the National Aboriginal Music Countdown, and was voted regional finalist of CBC Music’s Searchlight competition. The Winnipeg-bred, Toronto-based singer-songwriter, who has also had stints in LA and NYC, has performed alongside Motown greats The Funk Brothers and electronic DJ crew A Tribe Called Red. Singing about her struggle to fit into/break away from Western archetypes, Iskwé’s connection to her roots and traditions is an important part of her artistic vision. With her debut effort, Iskwé carves out her own musical identity, bridging her modern and cultural influences while challenging the current mold.
Western Canadian Music Award Winners, Sweet Alibi, have been captivating audiences across Canada. The Winnipeg-based folk/pop band infuse their signature harmonies with influences of everything from folk to country to soul, without a hint of shame. Sweet Alibi’s Jess Rae Ayre, Amber Quesnel, and Michelle Anderson share personal experiences that are genuinely felt in song. Tom Power of CBC Radio 2 describes the band: “If Mumford and Sons and the Supremes had a love child you would name it Sweet Alibi”. Audiences have been raving nationwide for their performances at Winnipeg Folk Fest, Juno Fest, Canada Day in Ottawa, International jazz festivals, and many concert series. Currently you can find the band touring their new material from their CFMA/WCMA nominated release We’ve Got To (produced by Rusty Matyas of Imaginary Cities).
Keep your ears to the ground for Sweet Alibi’s third album ” Walking In The Dark “ to be released. Walking In the Dark is a collection of songs written by Jess, Amber, and Michelle over the last few years, captured flawlessly by Juno Winning Producer Murray Pulver (The Bros. Landreth, Crash Test Dummies).
Walking in the Dark is a melodically rewarding exploration of relationships, heartache, loss of loved ones and the search for balance when living life on the road. Sweet Alibi’s powerhouse vocal harmonies and memorable songs have never been stronger.
Some people spend their whole lives searching for the path that might bring them home. But it’s often not just a single path that leads them there: one route can lead to another, which might lead to a long and winding road that drops you on the shore of a massive sea that you’ve no choice but to set sail on. The most important part of the voyage, regardless of which paths you take, is to know your true destination. And veteran troubadour Matt Epp knows his destination.
Matt’s existence has been in constant flux since he was a teenager, living everywhere from the desolate Prairies to the bustle of big cities, and hitchhiking all over Canada in between. This wealth of experience has turned him into one of the country’s best live acts and most valuable artistic exports, a rare performer with the ability to take you into his world and make you feel like, in an instant, a true friend. His knack for transforming theatres into living rooms is almost un-paralleled, and has translated to major touring success overseas. Matt is a genuine global ambassador, but resides in an empire of his own making: Amoria, a spiritual space built on the message to love and serve one another. His band, the Amorian Assembly, provides the sonic muscle to deliver that message across countries, whole continents, and most importantly, hearts.
But after eight records of world-class songwriting, constant national and international touring, a loving and dedicated fan base, and building himself into a well-oiled music machine, Matt knew it was time to explore a new path. And that path bas been providing the inspiration for his most electrifying and heart-wrenching music to date.
With Ready In Time, produced by award-winning producer Rusty Matyas (The Sheepdogs, Imaginary Cities), Matt Epp continues working through the artistic rejuvenation he began with Luma. The record packs big sounds and ideas into its relatively short length, like the orchestral pop of “Let Her Know”, a McCartney-esque thrill ride, and the pensive, 80s-inspired big city groove of “Cash & Blood”. Epp’s incomparable gift for storytelling shines clear through the heavy, fuzzed-out overdrive of the title track and the nostalgic Americana of quiet goodbye anthem “Hard To Say”, a memoir his grandfather’s immigration to Canada. Ready In Time reaches its shimmering pinnacle with the piano-driven “North Star”, an uplifting, masterful ode to following your own path to your true home. Epp explores his latest personal journey using both concise and broad brush strokes, painting his most fully-realized work to date: A piece of art not only incredibly personal and singular, but also one that any human being can feel a part of themselves in. As with all of Epp’s albums, Ready In Time challenges the listener to see their world, their community, their loves with open eyes, and to do right by them.
Patrick Jacobson is a Whitehorse-based indie-rock songwriter. Originally hailing from Vancouver, he earned his reputation as the front man for The Capitals by writing endearing, dulcet anthems with crackerjack choruses. He also co-wrote songs with The Top Drawers and The Luna Riot. Now he’s is returning to his roots with a guitar in his hands to sing for anybody who still enjoys a good melody.
Fresh off his 200 date world tour of Europe, Australia, Canada, UK & Ireland with feature performances at Celtic Connections (Glasgow, Scotland) and National Folk Festival (Canberra, Australia), Gordie Tentrees with Jaxon Haldane perform with 9 instruments (banjo, dobro, cigar box guitars, musical saw, acoustic guitar, porch board bass, harmonica, & mandolin), brotherly harmonies and masterful storytelling. His new record “Less is More” was the 2016 Top 20 International Canadian Album (#12), and for the second year in a row the TOP 20 (#18) International Canadian Artist for radio play on the International Folk/Roots charts.
Straight out of -40 degrees in Canada’s Yukon, Graeme Peters, brother Jody Peters, and Ian March formed the power trio Speed Control. The three members all come from a jazz and classical background but have turned to their true passion – rock n’ roll.
Highlights include BreakOut West 2016, Folk on the Rocks, Panamania 2015 in Toronto, National Arts Centre’s Northern Scene, the Nite Owl and Palomino in Calgary, the Railway Club in Vancouver, and Canadian Music Week in Toronto. Speed Control were finalists for Best New Group on CBC Radio’s inaugural Searchlight competition for their song, “Tent City”. 2016 and 2017 sees Speed Control hitting the US for several tours.
In addition to shows of their original music, they have a passion for music education and have played concerts in 300 schools playing to upwards of 150,000 students. They’ve written and recorded 31 rawk anthems with students and teachers in the past two years.
Along with playings festivals, theatres, and clubs, Speed Control’s signature rawk camp is in high demand, working with kids from 8 to 85 of all skill levels. Speed Control also delivers workshops and performance coaching to young bands. They are youth engagement specialists.
On the road for six to seven months per year, they are known as the hardest working band in the north. They have released three recordings: The ADD Sides, FAB, and the most recent a self-titled album recorded with Bob Hamilton producing.
A masterful songwriter collects life’s experiences and artfully turns them into songs that capture the imagination of a listener. Declan O’Donovan is that songwriter, that contemporary troubadour who utilizes a broad palate of voice and piano to tell intriguing stories through the music he creates.
At home in the rural environs of Whitehorse, Yukon and equally at home in the urban centers of Montreal and Toronto, this broad sense of place comes into play in the songs Declan has written for his newest release, Broken Sky. “Overall, the sound of the album strikes a balance between the rural and roots, and the urban and contemporary influences that contributed to the sound and the songwriting,” says O’Donovan.
Produced by Jean Massicotte (Patrick Watson, Lhasa, Adam Cohen), Broken Sky, was recorded at Studio Masterkut in Montreal. “Jean gave my songs a landscape to live in and explore. He brought with him a sound and an approach that gave every note warmth and direction, and he gracefully coaxed out performances from everyone involved that at once made the songs both grounded and unrestrained.” Featured among the many outstanding musicians on Broken Sky are Brad Barr of The Barr Brothers on electric and acoustic guitars, as well as Joe Grass of the Patrick Watson band on pedal steel, electric and nylon-string guitars.
Declan is touring nationally and internationally in support of Broken Sky. In 2017, he is booked to play in Germany in March and May; in Japan in July; and will be in Canada during the summer of 2017. He will appear at Canadian Music Week (Toronto), the Atlin Arts & Music Festival and will tour BC in July.
O’Donovan’s self-titled debut album was released in August 2012 and featured “Cheap Souvenir”. In 2014 he received a Maple Blues nomination for Best New Artist Of The Year, and wrote and performed the score for the short film, Enough To Get By, from his brother Kieran O’Donovan of Fata Morgana Films, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival ’14.
Major Funk and the Employment
Major Funk and the Employment is a hard working group of dedicated musicians whose collective ambition is to deliver high quality danceables to the people. Founded in Whitehorse in 2014 by bassist Etienne Girard, the band mixes a strong and steadfast rhythm section with a colourful collection of guitars, horns, keyboards, and passionate vocals. Major Funk’s big and unique sound has gotten crowds grooving at some of the Yukon’s biggest events, including the famous Dawson City Music Festival, creating a vibrant and rambunctious party atmosphere at every step along the way. What’s Up Yukon has characterized Major Funk as “quirky but really smooth”. In early 2016 the band recorded a live album and video entitled “Hot Off The Floor” to capture their live energy and showcase their eclectic style and musicianship. Gig by gig, Major Funk and the Employment continue to bring their tight, bass-driven tunes to enthusiastic audiences far and wide.
Together, Major Funk and the Employment take pride in making people dance, with their infectious and inimitable sound to create incendiary performances.
Calla Kinglit is a musician, songwriter and poet who draws inspiration from the awe of wilderness and exploring the human experience. She is currently recording her debut album comprised of songs written while living as a researcher in the Congo Basin in the Central African country of Cameroon, exploring the vast and redemptive beauty of her home base in Canada’s Yukon wilderness, manoeuvring through landslides in the Himalayas, and contemplating the spiritual journey of one small being.
Calla’s music is characterized by haunting melodies combined with deep wilderness based lyrics. She is a multi instrumentalist, primarily writing on a warm hollow body electric guitar. “God River Waltz” and “Dreamer’s Sea”, Calla’s first singles, were released in 2016 and have since been played on CBC Radio 2 and are on rotation on CBC North.
Calla made her entrance into the music scene with recognition from Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2015; receiving second prize in their Canada-wide Artist Music Mentorship Program, and performing at Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival at Yonge and Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. Earlier that year, she held her own as a compelling solo opening act for a sold out performance by Juno Award Winner, Dan Mangan at the Yukon Arts Centre, and was awarded the Bell Media Prize providing her with the opportunity to travel to Toronto for direct mentorship from Canada’s Music Incubator.
As she moves through the experiences of working in music, Calla Kinglit continues to source her inspiration from the wild spaces around her, bringing a grounded serenity to her music and work.
Born, raised, and still hooked on living in the Yukon, Claire Ness makes a living in many areas of show biz – singer/songwriter, clown, vaudevillian, cabaret performer, actor, circus teacher, producer and director.
Claire first discovered her passion for performing in such Yukon theatre productions as The Wizard of Oz, Hair, Guys and Dolls, Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Cabaret. Then she moved to Toronto for Humber College’s Comedy Writing and Performance program.
After graduating from Humber, Claire worked as a clown, acrobat and stiltwalker with Zero Gravity Circus and was a regular performer and creator for the Lunacy Cabaret in Toronto. It was there at the Centre of Gravity that she became a teacher of circus arts, as head coach for the after-school and summer circus camp programs.
Fortunately, her thirst for circus could not be quenched so, Claire moved on to Montréal to get certified as a circus trainer at L’École Nationale de Cirque, graduating with a major in clown arts.
Claire had no interest in sticking around the big city and felt her new skills would be most useful back in her hometown, so she moved back to Whitehorse and started a circus school of her own. It grew quickly in popularity, due partly to Claire’s approach to empowering kids and encouraging creativity.
After a few years of performing her music and comedy in the Yukon and releasing two music albums – “Hopeless Romantic” (April 2013) and “Jackfish Girl LIVE!” (September 2014), Claire hit the road again.
Claire is the Founder and Artistic Director of Yukon Circus Society.
Ukes of Hazard
Ukes of Hazard began back in 2013 after Paris hitchhiked to Whitehorse Yukon when she was 18 years old.
Within the first year of being Whitehorse bound, she found the talent who’d join her on her musical journey with Ukes of Hazard.
This Hazardous group can be described as Swingin Pop-Rock band with essences of jazz & funk, You can expect heavy sea shanties about love, heartache & being creepy. In the year 2014 Ukes of Hazard released their first demo album followed by their first full length album ‘Mine to Creep’.
After performing at Frostbite 2015 & Rendezvous Winter Festival since 2014. Ukes of Hazard has recently been accepted into Folk on the Rocks 2017 & Atlin Music Festival 2017. Not only have they embarked on their first tour to BC as of this year but they also our proud winners of 1st place prize at Whitehorses BYTE 2017 Battle of the Bands.
Ukes of Hazard now consists of Lady Pirate leader Paris Vagabond Gypsy on electric ukulele, Aiden Tentrees on bass, Zacharie Pelland on guitar, Cain Rogan on saxophone and Patrick Docherty on drums.