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”.
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.
Today I chatted with Adam Johnson. He is an indie artist out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, who just recently charted as number 1 on the Canadian Indie Country Countdown. Quite an accomplishment as you will read.Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada who just recently charted as number 1 on the Canadian Indie Country Countdown. Quite an accomplishment as you will read.
The song is “Come On Let’s Go” and is available at all the regular streaming sites. Kat Country Radio will also be playing it, so tune in on Live365 or www.thedonpearsestudios.com
Adam’s music roots stemmed from an interesting combination of a CoVid break from playing, and using it to write some tunes. Although he primarily played in rock bands, once the pandemic hit, he turned to songwriting while awaiting the return of live music. After completing a few tunes, he realized that they sounded country, sending him into that direction. It definitely seems to be working for him based on his first ever single reaching number 1.
While having only released the one single, his intent is to generate more buzz through the release of a series of songs, culminating in an EP package at a future time. This is not new to our industry as streaming has effectively changed everything, especially for new artists or non-chart topping superstars.
I asked who is influences are and he broke them into 2 categories. His music is molded somewhat by Dierks Bentley and Kenny Chesney. These influences are apparent in the single. He also enjoys older country artists such Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. All in all, not a bad group of peers to follow.
He is mainly playing in the Saskatoon area at this time, and only recently started playing with a band again. During the lock-downs, he mainly played well spaced acoustic sets. My normal question on whether there was a gig coming up in the Kootenays was, unfortunately, a no.
Adam has some music in his pedigree. His grandmother sang and an uncle who sang and played guitar. His uncle also had an EP recorded. Adam is considering recording one of those tracks for himself.
As an independent artist, I asked him for some tips, based on his experiences, that he would pass on to others. He responded with, put in the work, polish your song writing, and practice on your instrument. Then save some money before you get in to deep. And he’s right. Recording, even a demo is not cheap.
He finished up with some comments on the CoVid impact on his career. He used the time to buy some recording software, which he used to record a demo. He worked hard at it and it paid off with some recording time with a local producer. This resulted in “Come On Let’s Go”. The period in time was weird as he says. No concerts, no gigs, but time to make contacts and to use alternative methods to build an audience. He used TikTok, Instagram etc. to generate interest and is generally happy with the results.
I see the difficulty in generating some interest without being actually live and in front of audiences. The alternatives work out to some degree, but nothing replaces live music. If you get a chance, check him out. In the meantime, grab his single on your favourite streaming service.
Alberta native Corb Lund is featured today (a few days late) as my Halloween choice for Song Of The Day. Corb has been an Alberta favourite for many years. Originally a punk rocker in the 1990’s, he moved to country/folk and has ridden success since. I love the name of his band, The Hurtin’ Albertans. He has 5 Juno nominations with 1 win and 25 Canadian Country Music association nominations with 11 victories. This tune, “Dig Gravedigger Dig”is from his 2012 album “Cabin Fever”. The song shows off his skill as a country singer and generates a pretty good official video. As a commenter says, Canada’s version of Thriller.
The Civil Wars song “Poison and Wine” is today’s selection. I have said many times in the past that, first, country is not my usual cup of tea, and second, it is all about the song. This song strikes a few chords. The lyrics, when taken with their personal history, are hauntingly cryptic. The tune amazing in its subtlety. Put both together and you have one heck of an emotional song. Beautifully crafted and worthy of something I seldom do. That would be listening to it several times in a row. This constitutes high praise from me for a song on a genre I don’t normally praise.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings are a Canadian alt-country group. I enjoy them as the country is more of a country blues sound. The group has been going strong since the early 1990’s and, in addition to the groups many record, has spawned many solo albums by its members, Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson. A great group to follow as there is some exceptional talent here. The song I have for you is a live version of “Got You Covered”, which was released as a single in 2011 and was featured on their album, “Kings and Queens”, also released in 2011.
I am thinking this could be my new favourite song, until the next one. To bad The Civil Wars have broken up, at least they got a Grammy. Call them folk or country or whatever, good is good. The song is “Barton Hollow” and is from the album of the same name, released in 2011.
Presented for your listening pleasure is Rachele Lynae. Rachele is a young, budding star with a great voice. Currently doing the country thing, I can see her moving into some bluesy, R&B/Soul songs without much tweaking. Either way, I see some excellent potential going forward. Check out this song.
He Don’t Know
I tend to judge by live performances. Live music rules. Here is a video I found of Rachele singing an original composition. It appears that she has undergone a name change at some point in the last 2 years. Again, she shows that she can pretty much do country to blues. I’ve said on several occasions that Country is not my favourite genre, so I tend to convert this into R&B or blues to get a feel for what I’m hearing.