Reid Jamieson & Carolyn Victoria Mill – Me Daza


True story – I came to discover the captivating musical talents of Reid Jamieson and Carolyn Victoria Mill entirely by happenstance. Several years back, I was nowhere near as deeply immersed in Canadian roots music as I have been in the time since, so it was a completely random search that alerted me to this vastly talented duo.

I’ll get to their new album Me Daza in just a moment, which is the reason I’m even penning this piece at the moment, but it was an aimless search one afternoon in iTunes for Elvis Presley cover songs that brought a project of theirs to my attention. Their original release of The Presley Sessions was immediately head-snapping, as much for the original viewpoint and refreshed take on the songs as it was for the sheer, exhilarating clarity of voice and instrumentation. 

However, as obvious as it was to me that I should have just clicked to download that recording at the time, for some unknown reason I determined that I wanted to learn a bit more about this Reid Jamieson fellow, and  went back to view more of his catalogue, clicking next to listen in on his Songs For A Winter’s Night album. Three songs into previewing that album, I had clicked “purchase”, and I’ve been enjoying that winter recording ever since. Sidebar: I defy you to find a more haunting and beautiful version of Tori Amos’ “Winter”. It still makes me stop what I’m doing to just listen and get lost in the experience of how powerful a well-written song can be in the hands of a master interpreter.  

So in summary, for anyone that knows me, to have a collection of winter songs beat out anything Elvis-related is virtually laughable, but that happened. And here we are now, 2019, and Jamieson and Mill have released their latest, Me Daza, an Irish-born and imbued recording of all-new originals aside from one other track co-written by the late Fergus O’Farrell and Glen Hansard (Swell Season, The Frames). O’Farrell’s vocals are even added in for that track as he was unable to release the song before his passing. 

I’m going to provide a link to the insightful album creation and backstory on their website, far more eloquent and inclusive than I would have the ability to so provide here – which even includes the full lyrics to each song!

What I’m going to do here is simply provide a few observations, and advise you to download it or stream it as is your prerogative, and hope that you come to discover this duo as I did years ago:

Evergreen  – the opening track, a powerhouse vocal workout in such a delicate melody.

Perfect Storm – duet harmonies and intricate fingerpicking drive the story, a bit of Leonard Cohen lurks in the storytelling.

Enough – guitar work and vocals that swirl evocatively back to ’70’s and ’80’s greats like Dan Fogelberg in gentle yet sharply strong upper register vocals, yet then those vocals frequently soar even higher than the heights they reside in for the greater part of the song.    

Circles – among the most modern sounding singer/songwriter workouts of the bunch, almost synth pop without actually crossing over the line.

Don’t Go Down (the co-write from the aforementioned songwriters) – the duo are a perfect fit with the original singer and songwriter’s vocals, which have been preserved digitally alongside this recording. This would have been  a song to see performed live by them all together…

Dominoes – atmospheric, rich in production and sonic snippets. 

Better Man – begins as a Spanish-influenced melody before it explores more western influences – highlights are the husband/wife harmonies that support the lyrics. 

She – a ’70’s vibe again – extra voices though – a chorale group?Quite a delightful addition!

Lullaby For The Lost – lush and beautiful instrumental with haunting voice. 

The notes in the link above tell much more details about the artists, the songs, the recording process – hopefully this collection of notes piques your interest enough to check it out.


Photos courtesy of

Roots Resonator (finally) launched!


Dan St.Yves’ Roots Resonator


I’ve been grappling with trying to get all of my social media/websites links under one umbrella, and I’m still working on that 🙂

However, I’m happier with THIS site than I have been, and my scattergun approach with interviews finally has a new name – Roots Resonator. I launched that the other week with an interview ahead of Ellen Doty‘s appearance at Bragg Creek Performing Arts.

Still have work to do, but I am determined to get this stuff together, so that people don’t have to stumble upon it simply by luck and pluck…

Check out the feature I did on Ellen for my online Calgary Herald space!

Inaugural Wide Cut Weekend Roots Music Festival Off To A Great Start!

Braden Gates
Braden Gates

Had a BLAST at the first-ever Wide Cut Weekend Roots Music Festival last night, kicking off the first of three solid evenings of top-drawer Alberta talent at Wine-Ohs Cellar.

Attendees (they were snapping up tickets in the long line into the club) for the opening night packed the room to capacity, a good sign for performers, fans and the organizers.

Click on the hyper-link above to get to the WWC site for ticket and performer info. It is a dazzling lineup of great performers, let alone Alberta artists.

Sydney Zadravec
Sydney Zadravec

This was the only night of the event that I was able to attend, and I’m happy I did – great performances and a fine atmosphere for this style of music – the other venues are long-standing roots music establishments as well…

Toby Charrington Malloy
Toby Charrington Malloy

Bottom line, if you can still get tickets, get out and discover talent you may not be aware, or get reminded of the level of local artistry that is taking the country by storm, and in many cases, stepping up onto the world stage.

Brooke Wylie
Brooke Wylie

You’ll also have a chance at the venues to buy CDs to support the artists, and some pretty spiffy WCW T-shirts and hats.

You may even go home with one of these fashionable stamps on your hand:

Harry The Hand
Harry The Hand

Support Alberta Talent! Roots Music Rocks!

Dennis Ellsworth and The 24th Street Wailers – Ironwood Stage & Grill

Here’s a few shots from Tuesday night’s show in Calgary at The Ironwood Stage & Grill.

Dennis Ellsworth appearing for his new cd Romantic As It Gets, and The 24th Street Wailers bringing along new music from Where Evil Grows.

Stellar sets from both acts, each of their new CDs are terrific – and you have opportunities to see each of them across the country – so go do that!

Dennis Ellsworth
Dennis Ellsworth

IMG_3201 IMG_3205

The 24th Street Wailers

IMG_3210 IMG_3212 IMG_3213 IMG_3215 IMG_3218 IMG_3220 IMG_3223 IMG_3224 IMG_0146 IMG_0154 IMG_0163

Brock Zeman @ The Ironwood Stage & Grill (in pictures….)

Tuesday night, the gifted Canadian songsmith that is Brock Zeman took to the Ironwood Stage & Grill here in Calgary to debut songs from his fantastic new album, “Pulling Your Sword Out Of The Devil’s Back“.

Along with openers The Northwest Passage, Brock and his colleague/collaborator Blair Hogan captivated the appreciative audience with new music and a few selections that have yet to be captured for posterity.

I’ll be posting a review of that new album here soon, but for now, you can get an idea of the magic that was Brock Zeman live – you had to be there…

Pulling You Sword Out Of the Devil’s Back

Gordon Lightfoot In Pictures


One of Canada’s greatest treasures, shaving off just a few chips from an ice cube atop his massive iceberg of a career last night.

Of all the treasured memories, the most poignant had to be “If You Could Read My Mind”, made infinitely more poignant by his frailty.




The 12-string used to play "Early Morning Rain"
The 12-string used to play “Early Morning Rain”


Buddy Guy @ The Deerfoot Inn



Buddy Guy

Deerfoot Inn & Casino

What a night – a relaxed and playful legend absolutely , winning over the audience as he paid tribute to fellow guitar slingers throughout his own showcase.

Here’s a few pictures…

You had to be there…

Iambic Your Pentameter Tonight!

Much Ado From Nothing: Improvised Shakespeare
Much Ado From Nothing: Improvised Shakespeare

I feel that I can wax philosophically about William Shakespeare with authority, having recently seen Workshop Theatre’s production of “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)”.

I suspect actual scholars might challenge me on that, but they will find me slippery and elusive.

If you tend to prefer your Shakespearean improv information more from the horse’s mouth so to speak, or at least from a reputable representative of say, The Kinkonauts, I offer you a brief Q & A conducted earlier by email with actual Kinkonaut Ryan Sheedy:


1) The last presentation (An Improvised Tarantino) was a blast – and standing room only – are you already finding pre-sales brisk for Shakespeare?
Despite having his little bardy hands influence so much in the world of literature and theatre, the Tarantino garnered a bit more interest prior to the show itself. However, our audience last night was very healthy, and pre-sales have been great!
2) Was there ever any consideration for “An Improvised Willie”???
We’d performed AISP as Much Ado From Nothing last season, and the name stuck, but I see what you did there! Shakespeare is inherently cheeky, so there will no doubt be puns and wordplay galore in the show!
3) For people that may not be familiar with the concept, the night opens with some warm-up improv before the main feature, and then guests can decide to stay (and pay??) to stick around  for MixTape, which I was unable to last time – but features the cream of Calgary’s improv troupes?
Yes! At 10PM after our early ASIP show, there are individual players from Loose Moose, Dirty Laundry, Notorious, The Kinkonauts, and Obviously Improv playing as The Mixtape Improv Party. It’s been a great showcase for the incredible talent that Calgary has in its improv community, and has allowed those separate troupes to come together as a part of that larger community. The show will match up players with people they rarely or never have a chance to play with, and features musical accompaniment to inspire scenes!
4) What’s the costume budget for AISP? IS there a costume budget for AISP? 
Luckily enough our friends at The Shakespeare Company were kind enough to lend us some costumes, but, being thespians ourselves, we usually have a tickle trunk filled with some costuming goodies and tights.
5) If you had to place a bet, which Shakespeare references do you expect to get the most of this weekend – what would be your guess for the most unlikely?
It’s difficult to be too referential to written Shakespeare since not everyone might be ‘in’ on the joke, so the references we’ll get the most out of will probably be to the story made that night! That said, it’s possible someone will drop a ‘To be, or not to be?’ in there somewhere, or some Romeo and Juliet since that and Hamlet are very popular and/or mandated in the Provincial English Language Arts curriculum. Typically the improvised sonnets are quite impressive since they are so challenging!
6) Is it reasonable to expect a few high school English teachers be to in the audience, just to see if younger attendees even know a Shakespeare reference?
Yes. In fact, several English teachers have promised immediate B-grade marks for students if they come to the show, and A’s if they ‘get’ it. In all seriousness, AISP will be a zillion times funnier than reading Shakespeare in class, and we would expect that even younger students would really get a kick out of it.
Tonight also wraps up the current season, so if you want to get in on the fun along with a lass and poor Yorick, “Much Ado From Nothing: Improvised Shakespeare” gets underway at 8:00 PM at the Bird & Stone Theatre, followed by The Mixtape Improv Party in the very same room at 10:00 PM

Micah Barnes’ “New York Stories” (reviewed)


Opening up with the title track of his new album, Micah Barnes foreshadows the intricate sounds that pervade every moment of his lush latest release New York Stories. Unlike a bevy of contemporaries that have chosen to interpret the classic American songbook, Barnes sets about establishing his own foothold in the genre – with considerable authority.

Building on the opener’s atmosphere that frankly sets the bar well over the moon, After The Romance then transports listeners back to an intimate piano bar or nightspot of yesterday, when you still had smoke swirling around the candles on the tables. While times have happily changed enough to see the tobacco smoke gone, it is a testament to the strength of this genre that the timeless music is still so very welcome today.

Starting Tomorrow is the sort of classic that Elvis might have included in his latter ’60’s cover selections, as he moved towards interpreting broader influences outside his own rock and country roots. Harlem Moon showcases Barnes’ vocals, and the shuffling I’m Going Back To My Used To Be is the sort of song that Tony Bennett would have worked up one side and down the other, had he the opportunity to have done so.

I’ve only just mentioned half of the ten tracks, but each one goes forth to validate the prudent decision for Barnes to recreate the era, rather than cover Fly Me To The Moon for the umpteenth time.

Quoting a snippet from a press release, it didn’t take long for listeners and critics alike to embrace this collection. “Following the release of the title track and the first single in April 2014, New York Story reached Number One in Canada and Top 20 on the U.S. iTunes jazz charts, which resulted in Barnes being named the Toronto Indie Music Awards as best Jazz Act of 2014. The full release debuted at Glenn Gould Studio, May 3, 2015.”

The authentic feel is certainly reinforced by the inspiration for the project – while Barnes was romancing his partner (who was working on Broadway at The Palace Theatre) they lived in an  apartment on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, right on the site of the legendary Savoy Ballroom, just a few blocks from the Apollo Theatre. Barnes went a step further by renting an hourly piano studio off Times Square to sketch the songs that would become New York Stories. The results speak for themselves, as the piano players and crooners of the day did back then.

In short, the recording oozes the legendary musical heritage of a New York City that spoke on behalf of an entire country, if not the globe, along with the era that it pays ample tribute to. Whether you’re a fan of modern day jazz artists like Diana Krall or the original signatories to the enduringly popular soundtrack of America, Barnes proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he belongs in the company of any of the greats in his genre.

By the time I’ve Been Awake Too Long comes along, you will wonder which of these songs will be lovingly covered by another artist in the decades to come.

Micah Barnes, New York Stories

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