Wed, May 1, 2013.
Now this is party. It's the new album by Riverview's Samantha Robichaud, Fiddlin' Sam, called In the Green Room. It's been a dream project of hers for awhile, and it's all come together over the last few months, and being launched this Saturday. The album, and the launch concert feature some of the East Coast's, and Canada's, top talent, musical friends that Robichaud admires, and wanted to record with. This isn't just an album; it's an all-star team.
I really like the concept here, the way she's put the set together. The overall idea is that she wanted to show what it was like when musicians got together to jam after shows, not on the stage, but in the green room, that place in theatres set aside for the artists to relax. After the crowd's gone home, the gear's packed up, the different musicians on the bill will hang on, play each other some tunes, and maybe jam a little. So that's what we have here; Samantha with a bunch of her friends, them playing their original songs, while she joins in on fiddle, and sometimes on vocals as well.
Now, lucky for us, a lot of really fine musicians happen to like Sam a lot, so the line-up is really impressive. Chris Colepaugh, being from Moncton, plays with her all the time, often as her guitar player for major gigs, so that one was easy, and they do a version of Chris's 200 Miles here. Alex Madsen of The Divorcees is another local pal, and he brings Be Where You Belong to the table. Matt Andersen drops by to sing and play on his Better Man Blues. Thom Swift's here too, breaking the mold a little with his song One Way Track, the bluesy piece calling for some different fiddle. She credits herself as Samantha Hendrix on that one.
How about a two-fiddle battle? There's nobody better for that than Ashley MacIsaac. And the songwriters are top notch too. There's Dave Gunning, with his Here She Comes A Running, one of the numbers where Robichaud sings quite a bit. That goes for the song with Charlie A'Court too. But sometimes it's all about the playing, such as the tune with beloved Quebec folk performer Benoit Bourque, a song she wrote, Reel a Marjo, featuring his accordion and even clogging. And to close things out, there's a tremendous version of the classic Orange Blossom Special, where Robichaud faces off with the string king, J.P. Cormier.
I even like the way this project was financed. It was done using a Pledge Music campaign, where people donate up front to get the album made. Obviously, a big effort was needed to gather in all these folks and record at various times. So she raised the money along the way, but also wanted it to not just be about her. 10 per cent of it all goes straight to her favourite charity, the Make A Wish Foundation. That even extends to the big launch show Saturday, with a portion of sales again going to the charity.
And what a show she has planned. It's at Casino New Brunswick, a grand big room for a big event. Joining her for the evening will be several of the artists who appear on the album, including Thom Swift, Chris Colepaugh, Irish Mythen, Charlie A'Court and Alex Madsen. It will be like the East Coast Music Awards gala up there.
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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).