I am very excited to hit the road with this very entertaining and talented collection of performers this Fall starting off in Edmonton and finishing up in Salmon Arm for 20 shows in 20 days. i am going to let David P Smith do the talking here:
It’s 1924 and there’s a party going down at the farmhouse, one of the bigger farms, a hub in the district. A banjo player, a couple of guitarists, and an accordion player migrate to the kitchen where they begin exchanging songs. An old mountain ballad, a ribald blues number learned from a street musician, a gospel tune; it goes round and round, each taking a turn, playing along when they can, one of them performs an original tune and more follow, and the party inexorably gravitates from other parts of the house to the kitchen. I imagine a scene like this as the seed of the songwriters in the round, which has become a prevalent format in modern times.
Go to the internet. I did. I was trying to find out about the history of songwriters in the round. The most specific reference I could find is The Bluebird Café in Nashville which has been doing in the round since 1985. But this was happening before, right? Maybe not as a public performance, perhaps more as a sharing between songwriters, a combustive spontaneous interaction, a chance to learn new songs or old songs from peers, to try out that fresh one you’ve been working on, to hear what the others have been fashioning, to exchange ideas, to get advice, to learn that magic chord which was just what that song needed. Now, the format of songwriter in the round has become defined…..and extremely popular. Each performer takes a turn performing one song - it goes round and round. Got it.
So let’s depart from this academic pre-amble and jump into the AB/BC tour. Carter and Amy are a couple of young talented musicians hailing from Calgary. And they’re a couple. I think they’re doing pretty well, I don’t know, I’ve got a painting company to run. They have never met me and clearly, by extension, I have never met them. Still we’re all going to get in a van together and travel thousands of kilometres of highway, play 17 consecutive shows. My ipod broke so I won’t be able to subject them to Shuffle - things should go well. I’ve listened to their recordings on bandcamp ( https://amynelsonmusic.bandcamp.com/releases) I’m a bit of hard-ass, and even though there’s a heart-shaped nugget of C&W deep in my soul, I’d rather listen to Ornette Coleman than to most songwriters. Seriously. That’s not just a cheap metaphor. So I’ll tell you, both these records are compelling well-written and most importantly honest, and I’m looking forward to hearing, maybe learning these songs, to being on stage with these folks.
I’ve known John Guliak for twenty years or so. But the last fifteen or so he was either in Scotland or Edmonton so we’ve seen each other maybe three times in that span. His nickname when he lived in Victoria was The Smoke because he liked to smoke a lot and had - still has - a rich, smoky and compelling baritone voice, the kind that makes another singer jealous. Not naming names, just saying. John had a couple of releases on the happening Vancouver label Mint Records in the early 2000’s, strong records and then he was gone, from our lives anyway, to Scotland, and years and years passed. John’s a smart, articulate, literate guy, well-read and well-listened, his songwriting reflects that and has always been strong. That said I was floored by the writing on Fluke and Flounder, his most recent release. Good thing. We’re about to get in a van for 17 days and play 17 shows and hear each others songs – a lot.
Me? Well I picked up the accordion when I was 30 and heavily influenced by the Holy Modal Rounders and Hank Williams started singing and playing, then writing. I’d been a writer before I could play and while my early material was genre based as time went on I incorporated more unconventional forms and writing into my music. They generally label me “Roots” because I play the accordion, write songs, and they generally don’t know what else to do with me. I don’t know who “They” are but that’s what “They” do. I can still write a hurtin’ whiskey song that’ll have you doing shots and hanging over a toilet into the wee hours – but – I went to Art School and you know what that can do to a person’s mind. I like to stumble into surreality and dance with Dada every now and then.
So now we have 17 days on the road to get to know each other intimately, to get to know each other songs, to perform, to listen, to commune, to create, to connect to audiences. Welcome to the AB/BC Songwriter in the Round Tour.