Every month or so, Gordy the Moose goes through the submissions that have arrived in the Roots Music Canada virtual mailbox and shares his most interesting finds here in this column.
Rhys Fraser – Fifty Dollar Cowboy Hat EP (Release date: Feb. 15, 2019)
Either Rhys Fraser is your classic diamond-in-the-rough awkward genius just waiting to be discovered, or he’s a master of expectation management and that enigmatic self-effacing thing the hipsters are into these days. His submission to Roots Music Canada contained no social media coordinates and a one-line bio that read, “Just an anxious fella with an acoustic guitar and an iPhone.” In the field that asks if there’s anything we should know about the artist, he wrote, “Severely anxious, doesn’t play live :/”
Well that’s unfortunate, because it turns out Rhys here has some real songwriting talent.
“I got a $50 cowboy hat,” he sings on the title track, “and a $100 car, about 60 cents of whisky, ’bout 10 grand in guitars. Got $15 of cigarettes and 10 for gas if I get that far. I got 30 bucks of good old Jack, and I’ve got 80 for the bar.” (Disclaimer, the Moose can’t be certain he heard all the lyrics correctly)
Anyway, Rhys has a cool, fractured vocal style, and his phrasing makes me think he writes in almost a stream-of-consciousness fashion – lyrics and melody at the same time – and it works! These are super rough demos, but they grabbed the Moose’s attention faster than anything I’d listened to up to this point.
If Rhys isn’t going to play live any time soon, I sure hope he at least gets into a studio with a half decent producer to polish these off a bit and record whatever other cool ideas he’s got knocking around in his brain. And hey, Rhys, keep sending ’em to Roots Music Canada, ok? Also, just a word of inspiration buddy: severe performance anxiety can be overcome. The Moose has been there.
Annie Sumi – “Time is a Dream” video (Release date: March 10, 2019)
The delightful Annie Sumi is teeing up her massive upcoming tour by releasing this video for the closer to her sophomore album, In the Unknown. And this “Time is a Dream” clip by Ben Bruhmuller is, well, dreamy! The Moose is tripping out on the kaleidoscope-inspired production values and ghostly imagery, and he adores the horns in this song. So beautiful. Annie’s credentials as a rising star are well-established, both here on Roots Music Canada and elsewhere, so the Moose won’t wax on about how great she is. If you didn’t already know, you only need to watch this video to find out. And if you like it, you can see Annie live at ALL THESE PLACES!
March 15 – Hughs Room Live, Toronto, ON (James Taylor Tribute)
March 16 – The Healing Loft, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
March 17 – Algoma House, Thunder Bay, ON
March 18 – Cafe on Prince, Portage la Prairie MB
March 19 – Creative City Centre, Regina, SK
March 20 – KOI, Calgary, AB
March 22 – St. Basil’s Cultural Centre, Edmonton AB
March 23 – Cafe Verve, Medicine Hat, AB
March 24 – Liberty Memorial Hall, Liberty, SK
March 25 – Lakehouse, Wasagaming, MB
March 28 = Ship and Plough, Gimli, MB
March 29 – Bob’s Burgers, Kenora, ON
March 30 – The Legion, Sioux Lookout, ON
March 31 – The Red Rock Inn, Red Rock, ON
April 2 – The Public Library, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
April 2 – La Fromagerie, Sudbury, ON
April 6 – Cafe Creperie, Elora, ON
April 26 – Guelph Civic Museum, Guelph, ON
April 27 – Acoustic Harvest, Toronto, ON
May 11 – St. Mark’s United Church, Whitby, ON
Veranda – Woodland Waltz (Release date: Feb. 24, 2019)
Old school bluegrass and country meet smokin’ Montreal sophistication and cinematic production values in this new project by two established entertainers. Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Léandre Joly-Pelletier has worked with Quebec country and bluegrass artists such as Sara Dufour, Laurence Jalbert, and NotreDame-de-Grass over the last decade. Catherine-Audrey Lachapelle is the actress who plays Virginie Francoeur on the Radio-Canada TV show District 31. It turns out she’s also a lovely singer, Léandre is a rock solid writer, and the two of ’em throw down some mighty fine harmonies. Four hooves up! Oh and hey! These guys have dates too:
March 29 – Mile End Guitar Coop, Montreal, QC (EP launch)
May 3 – Festival Grande Tribu, Mascouche, QC
May 31 – CRAPO, St-Jean-de-Matha, QC
Aug. 10 – Cloggeroo Island Folk Festival, Gerogetown, PEI
Jabbour – Saint Bernard (Release date: May 12, 2019)
What happens when you take Quebecois chansonnier Guillaume Jabbour and team him up with Durham County Poets bassist Carl Rufh, east coast collaborator Bill Collier and Bill Gossage (brother of the highly esteemed Celtic and jazz musician Dave Gossage)? Honestly, the Moose has no idea what to call this but there sure is a lot going on here, and these guys sound like they’re having a bundle of fun playing it. The players in Jabbour all bonded over Cajun music, but the sound is much bigger than that. “You’re Gone” has a definite western swing feel to it. “St. Dorothy’s Garden” is unmistakably Irish. “La job” is kinda Cajun sounding. And the band’s cover of Jean-Pierre Ferland’s “Les journalistes” has a touch of country-noir guitar going on that the Moose is kinda diggin’. I don’t know which Saint Bernard these guys named their album after, but the Moose wants to go.