Tue, Oct 21, 2014.
There are some performers who lift you up, some who bum you out, some that rock your soul and others that make you dance. That's just the start of it. Music can lead you to the whole gamut of emotions and actions, and it's different for everyone; there's some magic connection between what the artist makes and how it makes you react, and that's what makes all good music an individual experience, within the broader collective enjoyment.
Or something like that. All I really want to say is that I find the music of Hilary Grist joyful and fun. The B.C. singer-songwriter is coming to New Brunswick this week for shows, and when I reached her by phone in Ottawa on the way, she was happy to accept that whole joy theory, saying it's part of what she hopes her music brings the listener. "I think for me, it's adding more beauty and joy to the world," Grist explains. "I usually get inspired to write somewhere in that in between zone where I'm kinda joyful about something, but it makes me want to cry too; where everything looks a little brighter and hopeful. I want to add to the beautiful mess of life. I've challenged myself to write more joyful music than I used to, to bring that to people. I like to feel peaks and valleys when I'm watching a performer, and I'm trying to bring that to my music."
Grist's latest album is called Come & Go. It's full of energetic, feel-good, quirky pop, Grist a compelling singer and melodic writer. There's a spirit to each song, and Grist says that was very much the goal. "I find over the years I'm putting out more energy and the way I perform live is with more energy," she says. "This album, that was part of the decision, to get what we do live onto the disc."
When she says "we", she means herself and the guy she refers to as her "hus-Band", Mike Southworth. Touring with the spouse can have its pros and cons, but Grist says for them, it's all good. "It really is, because we get to see new places together," she explains. "Neither of us have been to this part of the Maritimes before, we haven't seen New Brunswick or Nova Scotia before. We definitely will play tourist. I'd never been to Ottawa before, and we went to the Parliament buildings, things like that."
The fun vibe extends to the duo's concerts. "We do a lot of crowd interaction, and get people involved," Grist says. "Snaps and claps and singing, stuff like that. Mike and I banter quite a bit, even in the middle of the songs. We have fun playing together, it's hard to not smile. There's a few slow songs, but mostly its peppy, we like to have fun."
Joining in the fun on this tour is the tremendous Vancouver singer-songwriter Christa Couture, making this a show I'm really looking forward to this week. Grist and Couture are at Café Aberdeen in Moncton on Thursday, the Homeport House Concert series in Saint John on Friday, Oct. 24, and in Fredericton Saturday at the Landsdowne House Concert series.
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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).