Is industry killing enthusiasm?
Enthusiasm. It’s the magic ingredient in our daily lives that adds gas to the car of life.
I love music and always have. In fact, I’m driven by new music that I’ve heard and believe in to the point of wanting more people to know about it. I want to connect the dots between somebody who’s doing something wonderful and the people who look forward to having something wonderful added to their lives.
So I write. And I take photos. And I take advantage of venues like Roots Music Canada that have created an audience that responds to a broad category of musical interests. It’s all a good thing, assuming the audience cares enough to respond, as the audience to this site clearly does.
So I’ll tell you this rather pathetic tale about how my hearing something great translated to the aforementioned enthusiasm – and a desire to help promote this great little Canadian band, on the edge of gaining proper attention for what they do….
The band in question is Ladies of the Canyon – a fresh-faced group of too-beautiful women from Montreal who ply their trade somewhere between The Eagles and Dixie Chicks. As a matter of fact, they’re so good-looking, it looks and feels like a gimmick – one that will do well but…well, we’ve all seen – and heard – it before. Talent takes a serious back seat. Not so, these Ladies. They’ve got strong songs and boast a broad range of strong voices, sweet harmonies and each band member is an accomplished player.
The lion’s share of the vocals are by Senja Sargeant who also plays guitar and mandolin. Maia Davies also sings, plays keyboards and guitar. Jasmine Bleile is also a singer and guitar-player while Anna Ruddick sings and plays electric and upright bass.
On the strength of hearing a couple tracks on their website, I went out and bought the new record – and was surprised to see it was produced by Colin Cripps while Kathleen Edwards and Luke Doucet lend a hand. The debut, “Haunted Ladies” was – and is – a lovely surprise. Hence, the enthusiasm. After securing space for a live review in these pages (our editor can read enthusiasm from 20 paces), I went after contacting the band, who I knew had a show on the 25th at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern. A great, low-key place to see and up-and coming act, I thought.
From the band’s contact page, I was directed to Steve Blair at Warner Music Canada, on the Monday before the Thursday night show. Plenty of time to respond, I thought. I was looking to be added to the media list, to let them know they were getting some coverage and to secure permission to take some flash photos (I always get permission to use flash as some artists – and fans – really don’t appreciate the interruption). At the Dakota, flash is essential as the venue is so dark, illuminated only be the miniature Christmas lights behind the stage.
I have yet to hear from Steve Blair. By Wednesday night, I contacted another Warner contact for the same reasons and was told that I would be added to the guest list but that management would want 2-3 shots for the website. Then came word that flash wouldn’t be allowed – so I asked the rep to double-check for permission as, with the Dakota being as dark as it is, there would be no useable photography. I do believe I made some crack about “what exactly I owed management?” which was followed with: “First three songs. No flash, or forget it.”
I decided to do just that… “forget it.”
I felt so badly about the treatment I didn’t even go to the show – but not before trying to contact one of the actual band members to tell them I had, at least, tried. I Googled and Linkedin’ed, etc. but could not turn up the actual players.
Needless to say, you didn’t read a review of Ladies of the Canyon’s Dakota show on Roots Music Canada. But not because we didn’t try.
What makes me sick is the band needs the press – who doesn’t? And, through no fault of their own – or without their knowledge – Warner’s was happy to dismiss the free mileage they could’ve gotten with an appropriate and music-friendly audience. So don’t take it out on them.
Me? The fact that I’d be willing to take a night (I live in the east) to go to the west end on my gas and with my camera gear, without even my parking paid, to promote a promising young band didn’t seem to matter to Warner’s.
So much for my enthusiasm, or anybody else’s who may have read my review, apparently.
Editor’s note: Eric Thom is Roots Music Canada’s senior writer, a superb reviewer and photographer who has turned us on to The Little Stevies, Danny Schmidt, Shelby Lynne, Melody Gardot, The Avetts with Jessica Lea Mayfield, Alison Brown, Diane Birch, Geoffrey “Gurrumul” Yunipingu, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Oysterband, and Thom Swift.