Wed, Dec 18, 2013.
Well, here it is, the time when we all take great joy in our annual traditions. It might be your family tree-trimming party, or everybody watching that favourite movie, like White Christmas with Bing and Danny Kaye, I did that on the weekend. Or maybe it's your drive back to your home town, the anticipation of seeing family and friends once again. I have an annual Christmas tradition for this column, something I've done for several years now, which some of you might recognize. I like to call it my Christmas Rant. Yup, I have a pulpit, and I'm going to use it.
My rant goes like this: Buy local. It's not a new concept, but it applies to music, too. When you're out there spending a small fortune on presents, stop and think for a moment about where your money goes. Everybody likes music, some kind of music, and you can find all kinds here in the Maritimes. And spending your dollars on a local artist goes a lot longer to supporting our local economy than ordering, say, the latest Beyonce release. There, you're supporting a mega-corporation, and a multi-millionaire. Buy a local disc, and you'll actually put a few dollars into the hands of a working musician. That musician will then turn around and make another CD, hiring local players and paying a local studio and producer, plus they'll be out in the clubs keeping them in business and you happy. They'll hire a local graphics firm to do their album art, and pay a local photographer to take the band pictures. See your dollars at work in your own community? Of course, this works for almost anything. Your Aunt Betty wants a new tea pot? Hmm, should you buy one from a mall from the Far East, or from that craft store, from an artisan from Albert County? If everybody bought one locally-made gift at Christmas time, the difference to the economy would be felt, I can assure you. And of course, the government gets its tax cut too. And then you get that newly-paved road. Gee, the power of buying one local CD.
Buying a Christmas CD for somebody? Stop, don't buy that Duck Dynasty album, really, it's only funny once. Buy Matt Andersen's or Mike Biggar's, they are both wonderful discs, and are the kind you'll play for years. You're going to be wandering around the stores over the next few days, stop at that local music store, there are still some around. Or maybe your town has a cafe that sells local artists. Stop and look at that display at the cash register. Ten, fifteen bucks, there's the office swap party gift, a stocking stuffer or your nephew's present.
Want another suggestion? I just got this one, and I'm sold. It's from Saint John's Adam Washburn, who has been building a following for the past couple of years in the city and beyond. Also working out of Halifax, he's gigging up to Quebec and Ontario, and building his own song catalogue too. Plus, he's helped out Saint John favourites The Playdates in concert, playing guitar for them.
A solo performer, Washburn had the hope of hearing his songs fleshed out by a full band, and that finally happened with the release of his first collection, a five track EP, called Beautiful Things. And if he wanted to hear a good band behind him, he couldn't have made a better choice. Washburn enlisted Nova Scotia's Dale Murray as producer, one of my favourite studio guys, best known for producing his wife, Christina Martin's albums. Those two joined the studio band, along with Dale's brother Brian on drums, and Saint John's Chuck Teed on bass. And the results is five pop-rock gems, really upbeat, pleasing pop songs with lots of guitar and great vocals, both by Washburn and all the backing bunch. I think anybody with an ear for Tom Petty to Sloan will like these tracks, with some great melodies and lyrics.
The EP was available digitally earlier this year, and now its available as a physical piece, so check your local store. Or you can pick it up at Adam's next gig, which is at the Somerset Pub in Saint John, Saturday December 28. And buy local!
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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).