A Chat With Maddisun


I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Cranbrook, British Columbia artist, Maddisun. She is a hard-working independent artist with a future in this business.

Having said that, we began our chat with a question about her beginnings in the musical world. Growing up, she played with her father, and her aunts were country singers. Her parents enrolled her at the Royal Conservatory where she competed grade 7 on piano when she was 18. She also learned to produce music at Mount Baker Secondary in Cranbrook.


Her music is inspired by travel and has also been influenced by those journeys. At one point she was traveling and living in Ireland and Europe and, CoVid willing, she will be doing so again this spring. Upon her return from those travels, she wrote a bunch of songs.


Maddisun describes her music as inspiring feelgood soul style. She considers it to be genre bending, with a mix of soul, pop and folk prevalent in what I’ve listened to. The phrase East Kootenay sound was mentioned, a good description.


Her likes in music are varied, ranging from Blondie to surf rock and folk. While living in Europe she also developed a love for soul and electronic music. These have also been incorporated into her sound.


Besides her musical evolution in Ireland, she has also found the ideal studio. Sincerity Sound Studios is in Winlaw, British Columbia and is off the grid, no internet. Her album, Self Reflections was recorded there, produced by Barry Jones. The location offers minimal distraction and full concentration on the task in progress.


As an independent artist, she has worked hard to market herself, as well as establishing her brand. During the CoVid lockdowns, she has live streamed on a regular basis and taken advantage of every possible live performance she can find.


I asked what she would give out as advice to other artists. The response was, refine your brand. Get involved in your logo, your colors, your message. Apply for funding through whatever programs are available. Market yourself to the locally and beyond. Maddisun is a 1-person dynamo when it comes to this. Her website sticks to her brand. There is an online shop with Maddisun merchandise, links to all her social media and streaming sites, and the website is very professional.

In that vein, she has applied for a grant from the Creative B.C. to cover the recording of a new album. The songs are ready to go but cannot be released until the grant is approved or denied.In the meantime, she is touring the area with her band and/or solo. She is also working on some collaborations. She mentioned another artist, Tenise Marie, with who she has developed a friendship with. Together they released “Something True” in 2021. This tune is “almost” country in it’s vibe but holds true to her genre bending sound. The harmonies are excellent. Matt Kelly from City and Colour played pedal steel on the tune.


I thoroughly enjoyed our chat and look forward to her new album when released. She has given me a different perspective on independent music and the work involved in getting out there to be heard.


Please support your local independent artists. Here is a link to her online shop.
Maddisun Music

A Chat with Sarah Smith


Photo by Cheryl Mazak

Today, we chat with singer, songwriter, player, Sarah Smith. Her online bio speaks to her openness at a very deeply personal level. This comes through in her songs, especially on her latest album, “Unveiling”.


We started talking about her beginnings. Sarah’s parents were involved in their church. Her mother sang solo in the choir and her father was also a country guitarist. In her childhood, she performed in the choir and sang solo. As a teen she received a guitar as a Christmas gift. This was life changing for Sarah as she now had a vessel to pour emotions into. It opened her up to song writing and a wider spectrum of music.


I asked if she had ever mentored or taught music in the past. Sarah has taught in the past, mainly during her mohawk days. She also attends a yearly music camp with kids in Ontario as a vocal coach. She loves this as the kids move from shyness at the beginning of the camp to belting out the songs as they get comfortable with themselves.


Her first band before going solo was The Joys. Originally named Popjoy, they released an EP (as Popjoy) and 4 albums and a single as The Joys. They are all available at the regular sites, I found them on Apple Music. The band itself was around for 10 years and started as a pop punk cover band, including mohawk hair. When the name changed, they started playing rock.


After The Joys, Sarah began her career as a solo artist. To date she has released 5 studio albums and many stand-alone singles and videos. She describes her musical genre as singer-songwriter rock. A very good description. Her influences and favourite bands include Melissa Etheridge, Bryan Adams, The Cars, Weezer, Sheryl Crow, Pink, Michael Jackson, The Killers and Brandi Carlile.


Sarah has also shared the stage with notably, Carole Pope, Sass Jordan, Biff Naked, Emm Gryner, Joel Plaskett and many others. She recently was one of the acts on the Melissa Etheridge Cruise in early September of 2021. She was on board with 20 fans and loved the interaction she had on a personal level with these people. It was quite an opportunity.


I asked if she had any tours planned for the near future. She will be spending the near future practicing her craft, writing, and finding happiness.


We then talked about any collaborations that are on the horizon. She has reached out to Adam Dobres about trying to work together on some songs. Sarah also reached out to Deni Gauthier about writing some music. She also works with fans to convert poems into songs and is currently working on 6 of those.


We then talked about regrets, or anything she would like to do over. Her number 1 is relationships, Sarah does not want to regret not creating or maintaining relationships.We then chatted about what kind of advice she would give to other artists starting out. Sarah was very profound in her response. If you have a block, look into your demons. She did that 5 years ago and the results have been astounding.


She is also working on a song for a friend as a legacy. She recently heard that her friend was passing and decided to write her a song.


Another friend of hers lost her mother. Her father wanted to join her mother and Sarah wrote a song for her friend about how she had dealt with it. Her friend and family were coming to stay with Sarah and listen to the song.


This is the emotional side of Sarah that shows up in every piece of music she creates. Her album “Unveiling” was written during a marriage break up and was recorded off the floor. The songs were written in pain. The result is a great album. The album is available to buy at her site, which I encourage you to do, or available at all the regular places.


Kat Power Hits Radio is featuring this album all week as Sarah Smith is the feature artist of the week.

Mazatlán At Last


Mazatlán Sunset

Hi all.  The blog and magazine will have a temporary address in Mazatlán, Mexico for the next couple of months, or more.  Now that we are here, it is impossible to predict when we will be back in Canada, although it is tentatively February 22.

As incorrigible travelers, Lori and I have been champing at the bit to get back on a plane and go anywhere.  We booked 10 days in November and blasted off here, just prior to finding out that Lori was able to work there without an issue.  We then booked January 4th to February 20th on WestJet, found accommodations, and hunkered down in Calgary for Christmas.  Almost immediately, WestJet scared the crap out of us.  We received an email with a flight change.  We opened it with both eyes squeezed shut.  After squinting with one eye, we saw that it was all good.  Our February 20th flight was cancelled, and we could re-book for February 22nd with no charge etc.  That worked for us, 2 extra days!!!.

Then Omicron!  On our November trip, it was just appearing and when we arrived back in Canada on December 1. I, of course, was randomly chosen for a mandatory PCR test.  The first few days were in isolation as I awaited the results of my second test in 3 days.  Predictably, they came back negative.  Now we waited in total suspense as our leaders tested the political waters on yet another lock-down.  Sensing impending travel issues, we re-booked our flight from January 4 to January 1, then watched the various apps for flight cancellations. 

Once again, we received an email, this time as we were at an airport hotel on New Year’s Eve.  Again, squinting paid off as it was only a notification that our flight was delayed by 2 hours.  Another sigh of relief. 

The next morning, we arrived at the airport, only to be confronted by check-in lineups about a mile long.  Puzzled, we asked an agent what was going on and let him know we had checked in online.   He said we did not need to line up with the rest and to get our baggage tags from any open kiosk, then proceed to the self baggage check in.  It turns out that there were issues with vaccination records being uploaded in the online check-in process.  We had noticed that when we were doing it the previous day but played with it until it worked.   Breezed through this as the machines were basically empty, the baggage lineup was also empty and there was no one in the security line.  Basically, we were now getting a 2 hour breakfast window. 

Next hurdle was getting on a plane.  We got to our gate just in time for a flight notice on the PA system.  After gulping, all they did was repeat what we already knew, our 9:45 departure was delayed until 11:45.  Considering it was 10:25, the notice seemed unnecessary.

The flight started boarding on time, then went for de-icing prior to take off and then we were in the air.  Loads of weight off our shoulders.

On landing, we had the most successful entry into Mazatlán that we have ever had.  Off the plane in 5 minutes, entry document completed and submitted to passport control in another 5, a luggage wait of less than 5 minutes, no line up at the taxi counter and a taxi right there with it’s trunk open.  We cleared the airport in record time for Mazatlán.  A good sign for the next couple of months.

As for our first few days, it is a pleasure to be here.  The weather is obviously fine.  The true upside is the vibe.  Restaurants and bars are open, people wear their masks as in Canada, temperatures are taken at most venues, but people are upbeat and having no issues with the protocols. 

We have settled into our routines, and will function as we did in Canada, just warmer.  I will be posting as much as possible, including multiple reviews on what to do, see and listen to in Mazatlán. 

The Maple List – Number 164 – Sylvia Tyson


Born in 1940, Sylvia Tyson (Fricker) is an important part of Canadian music history. Best known as part of the folk due Ian and Sylvia, she continues to perform with the folk group Quartette and has since 1993.

During the Canadian Content days of radio, she and her ex-husband Ian Tyson, were staples on Canadian radio. They likely would have been even without the content rules. The were a very good folk duo from 1959 to 1974, when they split up.

In addition to the duo, they also fronted another Canadian institution, the band Great Speckled Bird. Sylvia is a true Canadian icon. She was inducted into the Order Of Canada in 1994, has 7 Juno nominations (Canada’s Grammys) as a solo artist and was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003. Additionally, she was included in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame as part of the Ian and Sylvia duo in 1992.

I have included 2 videos, Four Strong Winds, (you may think of this as a Neil Young song, it’s not) recorded during a reunion concert in 1986. This has been noted as one of the most influential Canadian songs of all time. The second is a solo by Sylvia, “You Were On My Mind”.

Chicken Thighs in Sun Dried Tomato Sauce


Today’s adventure in Saturday night suppers is Chicken Thighs in Sun Dried Tomato Sauce. As a bonus we prepped a side dish, Roasted Asparagus in Lemon Vinaigrette. Both are reasonably simple recipes, however, we made a few changes due to a poor shopper, me. We used 18% cream instead of heavy cream, and dried basil instead of fresh basil leaves for the chicken. The asparagus did not have lemon zest because someone forgot to buy lemons and we did not have parsley either. Still, both turned out fine, and after the second bottle of wine, we didn’t care very much.

Today’s adventure in Saturday night suppers is Chicken Thighs in Sun Dried Tomato Sauce. As a bonus we prepped a side dish, Roasted Asparagus in Lemon Vinaigrette. Both are reasonably simple recipes, however, we made a few changes due to a poor shopper, me. We used 18% cream instead of heavy cream, and dried basil instead of fresh basil leaves for the chicken. The asparagus did not have lemon zest because someone forgot to buy lemons and we did not have parsley either. Still, both turned out fine, and after the second bottle of wine, we didn’t care very much.

Chicken Thighs in Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

These chicken thighs are quick and easy dinner. Eat them as is, or serve over pasta or rice.

Course Main Course

Cuisine American

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 25 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Servings 4

Calories 566kcal

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb. chicken thighs skinless and boneless

Salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup chicken broth/stock sodium free

1 cup cup heavy cream

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes chopped

1/2 cup parmesan grated

1 cup basil leaves

Instructions

1. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towel

2. Preheat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add olive oil and then add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides.About 6-8 minutes total. Remove onto a plate.

3. Chop your sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes.

4. Add white wine and simmer for 2 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.

5. Now add chicken stock heavy cream, Dijon mustard, salt, Italian Seasoning, onion and garlic powders. Bring the mixture to a low simmering point and then add Parmesan cheese. Use a whisk or a wooden spoon and mix it in until you have a smooth mixture.

6. Add basil leaves and cook until wilted.

7. Return chicken to skillet and allow it to warm up for an additional 5 minutes.

8. Serve chicken with sauce on top.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette

Prep Time 10 mins

Total Time 22 mins

Cook Time 12 mins

Servings 4

Calories 91 kcal

INGREDIENTS

1 pound (450 g) asparagus

2 tablespoons (30 g) very finely chopped shallot

1 tablespoon (15 ml) red wine vinegar

Freshly grated zest from one lemon

1 tablespoon (25 ml) fresh lemon juice

½ – ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 green onion root end and one inch green top trimmed

2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley

Flaky sea salt optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 450 (225C) degrees.

2. Trim off the tough ends from the asparagus and place on a small rimmed baking sheet.

3. Whisk together shallot, vinegar, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and season with additional salt, if needed.

4. Pour 2 tablespoon of the vinaigrette over the asparagus and season to taste with black pepper. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon water.

5. Slice the green onion into thin rings. Combine the green onion, parsley and remaining lemon zest in a small bowl.

6. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast10 – 12 minutes, until the asparagus is beginning to brown at the tips.

7. Transfer asparagus to a serving plate. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and sprinkle with the parsley mixture. Finish the dish with a pinch of flaky sea salt, if you like.

We served with a bed of white Basmati rice and paired with Chilean wine, one of our favourites, Coyam. It is a blend of a variety of organic grapes. A very good wine, in the $20.00 range and is great with food and and as a glass when the doctor orders it.

Canada’s All Time Top Songs – #97


We have now got to 97 on the list, “Crying Over You” by Platinum Blonde. The band formed in the early 80’s and had a string of hits on Canadian airwaves. They had minimal success in the USA, so my readers from anywhere but Canada will find them to be a new band. The song featured here was their one and only number 1 in Canada. It was taken from their 1985 album “Alien Shores”. The album spawned (see what I did there) 4 singles and is likely the pinnacle of their success. It included their only charted single in the USA, “Somebody, Somewhere” which reached 82 on the Billboard Top 100 and 23 in Canada.

The band is still touring and had released an album of new material in 2012.

Without further adieu, the number 97 Canadian hit of all time, “Crying Over You”.

A Chat with Dan Washburn


I sat down (kind of, we were both sitting, just in different provinces) with the very talented singer, songwriter and player Dan Washburn. Dan released a new single on October 25th titled “I’d Rather”. You will love it.

Put simply, Dan is a pro. He’s been doing this for a while. Dan started playing guitar at 7 years old, wrote his first song at 10 and became a regular on bass for his first band at 13. Since then he has credits on over 200 albums and has shared the stage with artists such as George Fox, Colleen Peterson, Emmy-Lou Harris (love her) Waylon Jennings, Toby Keith and many others. An outstanding career to date.

We spoke at length on a multitude of subjects. One theme that threaded its way through most subjects was his love for independent artists and the struggles in getting heard. One comment stood out, I’ll paraphrase. As in everything, the independents artist pool contains poor, mediocre, good and top level talents. Program directors will playlist a mediocre tune from an established artist (read on a label) and won’t give the same consideration to a great song from a top level independent.

I have to agree, as I’ve seen this in covering many independent artists. A song is amazing from someone on Twitter or Instagram etc., I’ll download it from a streaming site, and the only time I’ll ever hear it is if comes up randomly or I purposely queue it up. I 100% agree with him on this one. This is completely unfair and stifles talent, not to mention it cheats you and me from hearing some outstanding records.

On that topic, we went into who he listens to and who would he recommend I listen to (I’m a recent Country Music listener). His list was, as expected, varied and full of talented performers. I have just begun to go through their catalogues and he is bang on. The first name that I checked in on is an outstanding talent. Her name is Suzi Kory, and you can find her on YouTube. You will hear more from me on her and all the others as well. Thanks Dan for that.

I asked if there were any tours upcoming. Unfortunately nothing close, unless you live close to Ireland. He is heading out on tour there shortly.

As a recent country listener, I asked what his favorite songs of his that I should listen to. Based on “I’d Rather” and “Simple Things”, I wanted to dig deeper into his repertoire, and who better to ask than the artist himself. I’ll pass them on, all are available to listen to on Dan’s YouTube channel. First “I’ll Have To Drink About That” is a tongue in cheek tune on relationships. Well written and added to my collection.

Next up is “We Were Almost Love”. A very different song than I’ll Have To Drink. It showcases a softer tone. Very strong in the lyrical sense and well sung. Another great tune.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend you grab his tunes off your streaming site.

Canada’s All Time Top Songs – #98


At 98 is a signature song from former Sweeney Todd singer, Nick Gilder. The track is Hot Child In The City.

Sweeney Todd had a big hit in 1976 with Roxy Roller. After that success, Nick left the band, going solo and signing a record deal in the USA. That deal spawned the featured song which hit number 1 in both Canada and the USA. Unfortunately, he never realized much further success, never again hitting the top 40. He did have success as a songwriter as well, penning hits for diverse artist as Pat Benatar and Bette Midler.

Canada’s All Time Top Songs – #99


At 99 we present “We Run” by Strange Advance. A Vancouver new wave band, they formed in 1982, and were almost immediately nominated for a Juno (Canada’s Grammy) as most promising band. “We Run” was taken from their album, “2WO” and released as a single in 1985. It reached number 28 on the RPM pop chart. The band never made any inroads outside of Canada and essentially went dormant after releasing their 3rd album in 1988. . Fun fact, they were mostly a session band and apparently had never played live as a group prior to 1985.

A Chat With Tim Steinruck


I recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with The Mighty One’s front man, Tim Steinruck, and a great chat it was.

We started our conversation with a reference to a recent live interview on Kat Power Hits Radio, available at www.thedonpearsestudios.com . In that interview, I noted that I had been intrigued with his musical beginnings in Northern British Columbia. In adding to that I asked whether he had been self taught or did he have a music teacher.

He mentioned that he was totally self taught, except for some piano lessons. He elaborated, saying he basically cheated through his lessons as he was more comfortable learning by ear without wanting to learn the technical side of music. He’d bring his assignments home and have his father play it on the piano. He said he’d watch the keys he played and learned it that way. He always failed the technical exams but passed the performance side of the courses with flying colours.

Moving on, we started talking about how he moved into the world of music. His first band was formed in Fort St. John, B.C.. The band’s name was Black Gold, named after the oil & gas industry that is a major industry in the area. This happened when he was in grade 8. They played songs like The Cars tune “Just What I Needed”. The first song he learned to play on guitar was by Prism, “Take Me To The Captain”.

I then asked a question about something I’d noticed about the band’s name, TheMightyOne. Why no spaces? After a bit of a laugh, he answered with, the name was recently changed to The Mighty One because it was basically unsearchable on Google without the spaces. Good point Tim.

My next question is one I always ask. Who is your favourite musician? This is one I ask for myself (and the reader) as who better to ask that question of than another musician. It can lead you into something you’ve never been into before. He answered with his most influential being Van Halen, citing that he first heard them in school, in his classroom on one of those multiple headphone thingies that were in schools in the past. Eddie blew him away. His favourite musician, Dave Grohl, no argument there. He also mentioned Mammoth WVH, a band formed by Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang. I’ll be checking them out shortly. One thing I did not know was that it was named after his father’s first band.

We carried on and I found out that the best thing about what he does is that he is living a life of purpose. He went on to emphasize the importance of creating a legacy. Everybody has a skill and asked what the legacy is I wanted to leave behind. Very profound, I stopped for a minute as my brain digested what he was saying. I tried relating what he was saying to what we have accomplished, and it left me with some things to think on. I’m sure we need a follow-up just on this point alone.

We then got into what’s coming up for him and the band. It looks like he will be quite busy over the next while. He is participating in the Rise Up tour on Vancouver Island later this month. There will also be a spring tour in the USA and Mexico.

He is touring Norway with Viking Queen.This will be filmed by Norwegian TV and will become a documentary.Interesting story, he hooked up with them through a radio station in New Zealand. The power of the digital world and the opportunities for collaboration it presents are incredible. The Mighty One has also recorded a Christmas song in partnership with Viking Queen. The video of “Christmas In The North” is available to view below.

And to finish up, we talked about The Mighty One’s latest release, “Torch Of Rock And Roll”. A great album, one that has become an earbud mainstay for me. The title track is great and is an autobiographical tune of Tim’s life in music. The video for this is also available below.

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