Thu, Jun 13, 2013.
St. Johns' Sherry Ryan is getting ready for an intense couple of weeks on the road as she begins a series of shows tonight in Fredericton. As any Newfoundlander will tell you, touring is extra-tough for those from the Rock. It's expensive, whether you fly or drive, and if it's the latter, it takes forever just to get to the first gig. "First you have to drive 10 hours to the ferry, than it's another six hours on the boat," Ryan sighs. And that just gets you to Sydney. "I was just in Ireland, and was telling people about that isolation. In Europe they know nothing about that distance, they gripe about travelling three hours to get to the other side of their island."
So it's no wonder that Ryan is packing in the shows while she has the chance. As well as Fredericton, she's playing Sackville in this province, and dashing back and forth like mad. "I don't tour that regularly, so I need to make the most of it, five provinces in ten days." She's finally getting to some spots where she hasn't had the chance to perform since the national release of her Sister Of Mine album, last October (see review at bottom).
The Irish trip a couple of weeks ago wasn't technically a working one, more a holiday, her second time in the land where her family came from generations ago. But she did take the opportunity to play. "I did five shows over there," she says, "two at a gathering, in a barn on a farm, not your average gig. It was in the area where my ancestors were from. There were lots of historical events going on. It was very inspirational. I brought back some CD's from players there. I'm interesting in doing some trad music in the next little while. That's where i'm getting a lot of my melodies and ideas from."
It turns out they were interested in her, too. "It's very open there for musicians, they're really interested in songwriters, they don't see a lot of them. They are very welcoming. We played at a pub, and the outdoors are was filled for a trad session, but when they found out there were a couple of songwriters inside, they came in to check us out, because they don't have that many songwriters there."
Don't expect the Irish influence to be too dominate in her music though, at least not right away. These things get soaked up over time by Ryan, and she stores them up, adapting them to her own needs. On her Sister Of Mine album, much of the sound reflected her interest in rural and Americana music. That came from a time when she was working at a nursing home in the Mississippi Delta years ago. "It was the late 90's and it wasn't very long, but it was right around the time I was starting to listen to people like Gillian Welch and Iris Dement. There were songs I wrote back then, an old one I revamped that wasn't ready then, there were old songs and new songs that fit the theme, travelling and such. Sometimes things don't come out in a song until the right moment."
Maybe this is the right moment for you to discover Ryan's music. The Fredericton show tonight (Thursday, June 13) is a house concert, but you can still grab tickets for the 8 PM start at firstname.lastname@example.org. And Ryan is at the Bridge Street Cafe in Sackville on Monday. Playing with her at both shows is viola player Ilia Nicoll, who will also do a few of her own. Meanwhile, here's a link to my review of Sister Of Mine, which first appeared back in September
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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).