Sun, Nov 13, 2011.
I'm quickly becoming a huge fan of house concerts, and I saw another fine one this past Friday. This time it was two Nova Scotia singer-songwriters, Kim Wempe and Gabrielle Papillon. I'll have more on Wempe in a couple of weeks, as she will be back on the road as part of a unique tour called Whose Song Is It Anyway? So I'll do a preview of that, which leaves me free to talk about Papillon for now.
She's from New Glasgow, by choice. Raised in Winnipeg, her parents moved to that town around the same time she was heading to university, in Montreal. As family gatherings were then held in N.S., she got to know the place, and when it came time to pick a new home as a base for her musical career, that's where she chose. She says it's because she grew to love both the area, and the musical community, which she finds perfectly suited to her kind of music and her choice of musical friends. Cool.
Engaging and chatty in concert (she admits to being a talker), one of the first things you find out is that she is a scholar, with a Masters in history. This isn't meant to intimidate (hard in Ph.D.-plentiful Fredericton), but rather to inform you were she's coming from, and to poke fun at herself. What it told me was that this was someone who had a few experiences in life to draw on, and this proved the case. She has an inquisitive nature, and find lots of different subjects to write about, and yes, even some historical ones.
She's a new kind of folk performer, almost a hybrid, a bit of an indie rock kid as well. She certainly has no trouble with the basic acoustic guitar-voice performance, and on disc, she expands on that, with lots of harmonies and doubled vocals, plus more strings, a bit of percussion and keyboards but usually not a whole lot of any of it. The words stand out for sure, and she has some striking originals. House concerts, for me, are a great way to be introduced to a musician, especially if they do tell you something about the songs, and Papillon is fine by that. We learned that One Small Frame is about her choice to live in the east, and that Dust To Gold is a leftover from her WInnipeg knowledge of farms, although not biographical in any way.
So when I throw on her latest release, The Currency Of Poetry, there are several highlight songs for me already, and I feel somewhat invested. House concerts have a way of doing that, you don't get distracted during the show, and even in a 45-minute set you come away with more knowledge, and hopefully, appreciation. Luckily, I enjoy the new disc, as much as, or even more than the live versions. Like We Go Together gains strength with the harmonies and the drums pushing it forward. That history degree must have come in handy for Outlaws and Criminals, which is a first-person account of a no-account lawbreaker, heading into a final drama that is going to end badly for somebody. There's some seriously talented storytelling going on there, and some Texas guitarslingers would no doubt love to claim this one as their own.
There is no more fulfilling experience in music, I believe, than hearing a performer, enjoying and meeting them (house concert, remember), getting the CD, and listening and liking (or loving it) still. You've gone from no knowledge to a full-fledged fan, probably for life, in a few hours. And that, dear friends, is what has happened to me, with Gabrielle Papillon.
The Mahones have been carrying the torch for Irish punk music since forming in Kingston, Ontario in 1990. Featuring front man Finny McConnell, born in Dublin and raised on both traditional Irish sounds and classic punk, the group has enjoying... more »
His story is so spectacular, it's enough to draw you into his music, he's led that kind of life. There's no room to tell it all here, drop by jontnet.com for more, but a capsulized version goes like this: Born... more »
Ross Neilsen loves going down south to grab the original blues vibe when he makes his albums. The last couple, as well as this one, have been recorded in studios in the U.S. south. His previous solo album, The Shack... more »
Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).