Feature

Songwriters’ Speakeasy Pt.4

Roots Music Canada is proud to present Songwriters’ Speakeasy in The Moose Lounge (Room 524, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Ottawa, Oct 15 and 16) at the OCFF conference. It is hosted by RMC’s Andy Frank and David Newland, and they are responsible for selecting this year’s remarkable lineup of songwriters. The purpose of these profiles is to spotlight the invited performers, musicians who rank among the very best on the Canadian scene today. (Please note you must have a conference pass to attend).

performing on Saturday, October 16 at 1:05am (technically early Sunday morning)

Jon Brooks

Mesmerizing strings of words, profoundly poetic and affirmative, Jon Brooks’ songs are calls to action, pleas for compassion, memorials for lost men, voices for the ones who fall through the cracks. Jon has been recognized with several awards for his writing, including an OCFF Songs from the Heart Award and a Mac Beattie Porcupine Award. He was the 2009 Canadian Regional Winner in the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, a winner in the New Folk Competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival, and he has been nominated for two Canadian Folk Music Awards. There is a purity to his simple statements of truth, love, freedom, forgiveness, and joy, told in a world-weary voice that’s edgy and raw, while somehow remaining soft and reassuring. Also a proficient guitarist, Jon explores the many sound-making capabilities of the instrument, often playing percussively in open tunings that ring out under his poignant lyrics. Video: “Mercy”

performing on Saturday, October 16 at 1:30am (technically early Sunday morning)

Lynne Hanson

Ottawa’s Lynne Hanson just released her third CD, Once The Sun Goes Down, a much-anticipated collection of her very personal country-and-bluegrass-flavoured tunes. A finalist in the New Folk Competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival and a Canadian Folk Music Award nominee, Lynne has been playing festivals, concert series, and house concerts nationally and internationally, including opening slots for folk mainstays Lynn Miles and Dar Williams. She pours her heart out to her audience, revealing the truths and anecdotes behind her songs, and whether they come from a strong or difficult place, she does so with a magnetic smile and a sparkle in her eye. Your ear will be instantly drawn to Lynne’s haunting, smooth vocals and her down-home, earnest songs will keep you listening. Video: “Seeking Juliet”

performing on Saturday, October 16 at 1:55am (technically early Sunday morning)

Shawna Caspi

Shawna Caspi notices subtleties in people – the upward sweep in a glance, the sway of a hip, the corners of a crooked smile – and brings them to light in her songs. Each one is a snapshot, a sliver of everyday observation, a shared moment between two people. They are stories told with unpredictable structures, wrought with wordplay and slightly skewed rhyme schemes. A Canadian Regional Finalist in the 2010 Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, Shawna fills a room with her powerful voice that moves from smooth, tender tones to wailing blues notes. With impeccable guitar technique and a penchant for exploring alternate tunings, she develops dense, multi-layered accompaniment with an added percussive touch. Every live show reveals another secret about the origin of a lyric, a character’s past, or an insight into her own substance. Video: “Die Laughing”

performing on Saturday, October 16 at 2:20am (technically early Sunday morning)

Ariana Gillis & David Gillis

A blast of energy and fearless confidence, Ariana Gillis sings and strums and stomps and leaves ripples behind her wherever she goes. With an impressive vocal range and a firm grasp on the craft of songwriting, Ariana is unstoppable. In 2009, she won the Canadian Folk Music Award for Young Performer of the Year and she has received multiple Niagara Music Awards. There is an intense, driving force behind her folk/pop sound, and a deeper story behind every song.

Often found accompanying Ariana, David Gillis is an award-winning guitarist, master musician, and sought-after producer who proves the musical genes are prevalent in this family. He was just nominated for a 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Producer of the Year for Ariana’s debut album, To Make it Make Sense. Video: “Simon Brooke”

Ed Note: Huge thanks to Shawna Caspi for the delightful bios in this unique series of profiles. It is quite an art to describe music and its practitioners, and she has shown a remarkable flair for this kind of writing. On this Thanksgiving Day weekend, Roots Music Canada is grateful for all of its fantastic volunteer contributors.

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