Skydiggers Pay Tribute To Moncton's Divorcees On New Album

Toronto's Skydiggers are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the band this year with a series of special projects. They're doing shows across the country, including one coming up in less than two weeks in this province, and releasing a series of albums, four in total, one each season. The first one came out for spring, a triple-disc set that including three live concerts from different phases of the group's career. The one that just came out Tuesday is called #1 Northern. This time the band has chosen to do interpretations of some of their favourite Canadian songs. It pays homage to some of the great Canadian songwriters who have left their mark on this country.

.jpg
Some of the names are the obvious ones: Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Ron Sexsmith. Every Maritimer will know Gene MacLellan and his iconic Snowbird. But another Maritimer stands out, and it's a guy from Moncton, born in Fredericton. Alex Madsen is the chief singer and songwriter of The Divorcees, those ECMA-winning outlaw country guys. Compared to the rest of the names on the list, Madsen is the relative newcomer.

The Divorcees and Skydiggers have some history together, as guitar player Josh Finlayson produced some demos for them a couple of years back. He was particularly taken with the song Precious Time, which ended up on the band's last album, Four Chapters. In fact, Finlayson liked it so much, he made sure his partner in Skydiggers heard it too. Andy Maize of the band takes up the story: "Josh has been playing that song to me for a couple of years. I loved the Buddy Holly feel of it. I'm a big Buddy Holly fan, and love the sentiment of it. There's just not enough time to spend with our loved ones and finding that time is the precious time. So the fact that it evoked Buddy Holly, and it's a great tune, it was a real pleasure, an easy decision and an easy choice for us."

Skydiggers have defined the great Canadian popular songwriting tradition as "one that eschews bells and whistles for melody and substance, craft and connection". They wanted to put together a collection of songs by writers they admire and have travelled many of the same roads that they have. When it comes to placing Alex Madsen alongside the other talents on that list, Maize has no problem with his selection. "I think he's a fine writer, and I think the song is evidence of that. It's well-constructed. When songs are good they seem effortless. The craft that goes into them is so good that you don't even notice it. And I think that Alex definitely falls into that category."

Now it just so happens the Skydiggers are going to be playing in the province right away. It's happening Saturday, July 13, at Officer's Square in Fredericton, something called The Brewer's Bash, a big beer-tasting event, capped off by shows by Skydiggers and Deep Dark Woods. Sold out, I'm afraid, already. Too bad, too, because there's a special guest coming for that show. It's none other than Peter Cash, their long-time friend, and former member of the band for a decade back in the 80's and 90's. He's gone on to do things solo and with The Cash Brothers, but has always stayed close, and is here for this special anniversary show.

more »

Latest East Coast Music Reviews

Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Sep 21, 1:15 PM

Saint John folk duo Tomato/Tomato lead the way in this year's nominations for Music New Brunswick awards. The husband-and-wife team has grabbed six nominations, including those for Album of the Year, Group Recording of the Year and Song of the... more »

 Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Sep 20, 6:05 PM

On stage at Fredericton's Playhouse on Saturday, the members of Hot Toddy had more to share than just music. Bass player Tom Easley had brought along a band tour journal that had been kept in the van from 2001-2003, full... more »

Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Sep 18, 3:58 PM

The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival is well-known for introducing new, exciting acts to the East Coast that wouldn't normally tour in this area.  They might be from Los Angeles or New Orleans, or some of the best Canadian groups... more »

Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Sep 17, 3:58 PM

As the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival celebrates its 25th year, several favourite acts from the past have been invited back, including some that haven't been around for quite awhile. Even though he lives in Montreal, this year's Juno Award-winning... more »

EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
Sep 16, 3:51 PM

How busy is Fredericton during Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival week? It's delaying some Federal government work, that's how busy. A friend of mine, a government employee from another city, e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago to say she... more »

Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Sep 15, 3:06 PM

It was a Harvest show that went down as a classic for the people crowding in the Blues tent in 2011. Levon Helm and his great big 13-piece band rolled into Fredericton for the jazz and blues festival, and stole... more »

View all reviews for September 2015 »

About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob 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).

Share this review