Leslie Alexander’s Top 12 musical moments of 2019
January: I’m introduced to the exceptional country-noir stylings of the Shaela Miller band, getting a “Hard Knock Upside My Mind” after opening for them at the Foothills Folk Club in High River, AB. Bringing together elements of classic country and punk rock, Shaela Miller lights a fire in my gut that burns for the rest of the year.
February: On a cold day in hell, I’m missing life as a touring musician. At work, a chorus of valiant patients joins me in belting out the 4 Non-Blondes “What’s Up” at the top of their lungs, reminding me of the healing power of music.
March: My old running mate Angela Harris sends her beautiful, bittersweet new release, “A Woman Like Me,” and asks me to help her pick a single. Every track is a gem, her writing honed by sorrow and strength, her voice as clear and pure as the Chilcotin mountains where she was raised, all of it anchored by production that supports, but never obscures. After all these years, I love her “Still.”
April: Vancouver artist Taylor James hits the bullseye with her versions of three of my tunes, recorded for her earthy, funky 2019 roots-rock release “Backbone” — now at over 100,000 streams and counting. She then proceeds to blow my mind with blistering live takes, taped with her killer band for the Taylor James Show now available on Youtube. Better her than me.
May: Angela kicks my ass to put on some shows in BC, we drag Taylor into the mix, and the Truth to Tell tour is born. Three chicks trading dirt we’ve collected since we last saw each other seven years ago, and re-discovering the music that bonded us in the first place. No word of a lie, it’s good to be back in the saddle.
June: We take the show to the site of my ill-fated wedding at the legendary Brackendale Art Gallery in Squamish, BC, and are joined by my old band, the Wild Rose Hippies, which includes the amazing Eric Reed and my ex-husband, producer and multi-instrumentalist John MacArthur Ellis. Time does heal all wounds.
July: Jay Aymar sends my blog to Heather Kitching at Roots Music Canada, and she gets in touch to ask if she can publish “How I Lost the Muse, Quit the Biz and Found Myself” – and anything else I want to say about the music I love. The skies open.
August: I’m “Over The Moon” with the timeless sound of this husband and wife team at the Longstock Music Festival. With Suzanne Levesque on double bass and Craig Bignell on multiple stringed instruments, backed by Jeff Bradshaw on steel, Cedric Blary on clarinet, and the blue Rocky Mountains, they combine elements of country swing, bluegrass and the sweetness of yore.
September: I hit the Americana Music Fest, where Canadian acts William Prince, the Bros. Landreth and Corb Lund give the Americans a run for their money. Writing “Nashville” with my cohorts Jay Gavin, Kaitlin Deavey, Angela and Taylor before boarding the red-eye home will remain forever etched in my mind as the night I’d finally smoked enough American Spirits.
October: I crack open Emily Triggs’ new release, Middletown, and am more than happy to write my first record review for Roots Music Canada. This “Little Fire” composed of the roots and branches of folk music will “Light You Up.”
November: Stephen Fearing describes my “Unconquerable Past” better than I can and helps me make sense of it on his panoramic new release co-produced with Scott Nolan. His words of wisdom will put you in “Someone Else’s Shoes.”
December: Tom Jackson’s Huron Carole show at the old Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, AB reminds me that Christmas music is actually music – and that by giving, I might wind up helping someone who pays it forward by helping someone I love. Miracles do happen. This year was one of them.
Leslie Alexander is a writer, musician and nurse. Her songs and stories can be found at www.lesliealexander.com