Connection

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How do you describe a feeling or experience? Okay, well obviously with words. But words just don’t cut it sometimes. This might be why corporations have made up slogans like “Generation Image” because we now rely so heavily on visual time capsules to immortalize each and every moment for us to relive over and over again.

With this blog, my attempt to find the words to place what I experience at live music shows is done to help solidly imprint them into the most precious vault there is, my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love photos, and, big surprise, I keep an avid journal, but I see these things as the necessary tools for keeping my visual memory in top form, because second to the experience itself, nothing beats closing your eyes and remembering it.

People often ask what prompted me to start writing about the shows I attend at Serenity Performing Arts Centre. To be honest, it just sort of happened. I write about a lot of things that I observe, experience or feel, and the shows just started to become a part of that narrative. But unlike the majority of my writing that I do strictly for my own therapeutic purposes, I started to see that there may be value in sharing my reflections on what was happening at Serenity, primarily to raise awareness about the uniqueness of the venue and also to showcase the caliber of artists performing there.

As for my opinions about the music, I have said it before and I will say it again, I consistently approach each show with the intention to enjoy myself and respect and appreciate what is being shared and communicated by the artist in that moment. I have my favourites of course, but I tend to keep that fairly close to my chest. And there is no question that my familiarity with a band can add to their appeal. The more I see them perform, listen to their albums, and in my lucky case, get to know them off the stage, the more personal their performance becomes.  But isn’t that what every artist wants to achieve? To find a way for their music to become personal to an audience? Because this is what builds a career after all.

I was speaking to Greg Drummond after his show last week about the plans for releasing his new album, the marketing approach he is taking and how he is branding the new sound.  I “talk shop” with many of the artists and find this side of their careers interesting, and there is no doubt those who are in this industry for the long haul are now required to have savvy business skills. But I also told Greg that I don’t want to think of him or anyone else as a product. I want to get lost in his show because I have made a conscious decision about liking him and his music. As much as artists need to take control of their careers, we as listeners need to take control much the same. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we just buying what they are selling?” or are we making a choice based on what we are connecting to on a real level with their music and persona. I think it is important to become more educated about artists and what they stand for, what they represent, and what they are choosing to spend their time writing about, and ask yourself “Do I relate to that?” It’s one thing to like a beat you hear on the radio, it’s another to spend your hard earned money to travel to their shows, buy their albums and merchandise, promote them to your friends and family and spend the spare time you don’t have writing about their music. That’s the difference. That’s what true connection is all about. It doesn’t matter how small of a fan base they start out with, every band starts out with a few fans, it’s nurturing the connection they have with those few that can turn a spark into a fire. How large that fire becomes is dependent on so many variables, including relentless hard work, that elusive hit song, and let’s not forget, a little bit of luck.

I hope these pieces help even a few people feel closer to the artists they have chosen to connect to and whose music has made a significant impression on their lives. We should never underestimate what music can do, from expanding our hearts to influencing our innermost selves. It truly is a beautiful gift.

adamsons fall 2014 005Photo courtesy of Greenscapes Photography (That’s my son by the way, he is 4 years old. To say he has a passion for music is the understatement of the year.  Since infancy he has connected with music in a way that has given him a foundation of self that I am still striving to find as an adult.  Talk about a gift.).

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Greg Drummond: A New Year, A New Album

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There is something to be said for being patient. There is also something to be said for perfect timing. Sometimes you need to wait for things to line up just right.  Recently completing his second studio album, Greg Drummond has just launched an Indiegogo campaign to assist with the marketing and distribution of his new album “Drive,” a fitting name for it has taken just that to get him where he is today.  With one of his new songs entitled “Our Time Is Now,” you can bet Greg Drummond and his band have their sights set on making a lasting mark.

Since leaving a high paying corporate sales job years ago to pursue a career in music, Greg Drummond hasn’t looked back since.  That isn’t to say there haven’t been bumps in the road, but with confidence in his songwriting ability, and a tenacity to build a band for the long haul, Greg Drummond has been patient with the process in order to ensure he was following what he felt was right. As a result, he has surrounded himself with musicians whose extensive knowledge base and ability to perform an eclectic array of instruments has added to the creative composition of each song and helped to develop the versatility of his sound.

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It was no coincidence that Greg Drummond was booked to play Serenity’s first show of 2015.  It was a decision venue owner Shirley de Vooght consciously made to start the new year off with a bang by showcasing a high calibre artist that has come to mean a great deal to her and all of us here at the venue.

In the week leading up to the show, I sent out a tweet naming Greg our “favourite leading man.” In a nutshell, he is a tall, dark and handsome songwriter whose voice feels like home. He can charm the socks off an audience within moments, and has natural talent bursting at the seams. When speaking to band member Michael Lothian after the show, he shared the story of his friendship with Drummond, one that predates the band by quite a few years. Lothian made a point to say that people have always been drawn to Greg, “He has a magnetism, a strong sense of what he wants, and an intense drive to achieve it.”  Michael followed this by saying, “I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite.”

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Michael Lothian is the understated genius of the band, whose variety of instrumental talents (trumpet, keys, accordion, etc.) have greatly contributed to the accomplishments of Greg Drummond’s music. A self-proclaimed nerd, Lothian’s kind nature and quirky character are effortlessly endearing. He’s a keeper.

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Mike Meroniuk is the hip, young axe player whose jaw-dropping riffs define his unabashed star power. No question, some of his guitar and mandolin solos take the songs to an entirely different level; insane madness is what comes to mind (translation: get ready to go crazy over how damn good he is).

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For this particular show, drummer Alanna Pearce and bassist Marcus Abramzik were unable to make it. Alanna has been here many times. We adore her and want to be her all at the same time. The petite blonde belle’s presence is always a welcomed treat on and off the stage. Marcus, however, remains elusive to our venue. He is the newest member of the band and Drummond can’t say enough about him, including how his experience and talent has raised everyone’s game.   Nothing like hype to live up to, but we are sure he will meet our expectations and then some. Although we missed having the band here in its entirety, it was fun to see the music take on a different energy as a trio and it worked in a house concert format, but we can’t wait for them to turn it up a notch when the full band hits the outdoor stage on the acreage once again for Harvest Fest 2015.

Although they were missing two of their band members, this show turned into one of the most memorable nights to date. When this band is here, the light-heartedness they bring makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside.  I treasured the feeling of falling in love with the new songs while finding comfort in the ones I already know by heart.  Over and above the sold out crowd and their tailored performance, it was the moments spent afterwards, sharing stories and good vibes with one another that made the night what it was.  Not to reveal too much of our Serenity secrets, but the show’s after party consisted of sitting around the kitchen table passing out multiple bottles of champagne for people to take a swig from after saying something they loved and appreciated about someone else in the room.  What can I say, this is how we get our kicks out here in the sticks.

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At the end of the day, Greg Drummond is positioning himself as an artist that is gaining a mounting number of tireless and generous fans who will continue to promote and support his music for as long as he chooses to create it, and you can’t put a price on that.

To encourage you to donate towards the Indiegogo campaign, here are a few of my choice tracks on the new album “Drive.” After getting the chance to listen to it from front to back following their live show, the June 2015 release is a rather taunting date.

Against the Sun: Their live performance of this song stood out instantly. The lyrics and melody tug down deep; my kind of song; Drive: Choosing this as the album’s title track was a smart choice. It sets the tone for the whole album. The chorus is a winner, I dig it a whole lot; The Jasper: This last minute addition was a brilliant one. Instrumentals are some of the most underrated songs by recording artists. This song takes you on a ride from start to finish. Get ready to day dream; Worse For Wear: I know many listeners may not pay attention to song order on albums with the way music is being streamed nowadays, but I savor the nostalgia of listening to an album from beginning to end. This track is how to end an album, it builds until the last note. Satisfaction achieved.                              Honourable mention – Lily: Although they played it live, I didn’t fully pay attention to the lyrics until I listened to the recording. My daughter’s name is Lily, and I can already predict this song is going to become a cherished family favourite.

To be quite honest, depending on the day and my mood at the time, I could have listed any one of the songs on the album.  It is that good.  Get excited.

Greg Drummond performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on January 17, 2015.

To learn about the plans for the release of Greg Drummond’s new album “Drive,” and to take advantage of some exclusive perks, visit and support the band on their Indiegogo page at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/greg-drummond-drive-campaign#home

For links to music downloads, social media feeds and more, visit http://www.gregdrummond.com

Photos courtesy of Creative Copper Images, Steve Mechem and Jessica Gunn.

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Windmills and JP Maurice: A reason to celebrate my birthday

Over the past week I’ve spent some time writing about experiences from my recent holidays spent visiting family and friends in the Kelowna area, which included taking in some live music.

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On my last night in town, Kelowna based artist Windmills was opening for Vancouver’s JP Maurice at Fernando’s Pub. I had been dying to see Windmills perform live for the past year (it was honestly one of my 2014 New Year’s resolutions), and I have become a growing and curious fan surrounding the mystique of JP Maurice, including his producing and collaborative work with other artists.

At the last minute I rounded up a group of old friends to celebrate my birthday, something I never do because it is on Christmas Day. It ended up being this randomly interconnected mix of people from my past who came together; somehow an excuse to drink with people you have rarely seen in the past 10 years always seems like a great idea.

The problem with staging a reunion of friends at a show you actually want to see is it makes it rather challenging to focus on the show at all. This is a fact I realized too late. The other fact was that Fernando’s is relatively small, albeit a fantastic ambiance with great food, drinks, and friendly staff, but like any popular hot spot, it was crowded and noisy, certain patrons become obnoxious after a certain hour, and unless you are standing in the five feet of space in front of the stage, you are basically attempting to listen to the music in the middle of a raging house party.

I did convince a friend or two to join me up near the stage and also went up on my own for a few songs, but by the end of the night I was reminded how difficult it is to focus on a live performance in a crowded bar. I also considered if I ever truly want to focus on a show in this type of environment, I probably shouldn’t invite friends who I want to talk to all night (note to self: start working on my self confidence to go see a show at a bar by myself).

What I have been reflecting on the most is how artists are performing night after night in venues just like this one, and although it was difficult to hear the music over all of the socializing, they still performed the hell out of their sets. I love listening to stories from bands who gauge a song by how busy the bartender is, or how much louder the talking gets, or by how many people have looked towards the stage at all. Clearly I have become ridiculously spoiled over the last year and a half to see music performed live at my local venue, Serenity Performing Arts Centre. It has basically ruined going out to see music anywhere else.

Although there is still something to be said about hearing live music being played in the background of a social event, I have become too aware of how hard they are working and the dedication it has taken them to be able to do what they are doing. To sit and carry on a conversation while someone is sharing their life’s work has come to feel increasingly terrible.

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For what it’s worth, I have made another resolution to see Windmills play in 2015. He was lovely by the way. His stage persona is the perfect blend of self deprecation and sweet charm. There were a few unfortunate technical sound difficulties during his set, but ironically the surrounding atmosphere helped in this particular instance.  I easily picked up on the pockets of his fan base in the room. As a local artist, he clearly has a strong following and for good reason. The guy has indie star written all over him. From his effortless style to his songs that sink into your bones, I have no doubt seeing him perform in a listening room type venue would be fairly mind blowing. His full length album “Keep Moving” continues to reveal new layers and sparks a deeper interest with each subsequent play; it is one of my go-to albums for when I feel the need to question every choice I have ever made in my life and dwell on the things I have become professional at suppressing. With the release of his single “Face To A Name” this past year, anticipation has been building for the new music to come from this self-described experimental one-man band whose kaleidoscope of electro-sounds have mood enhancing powers.

The real surprise of the night was JP Maurice. I’m not sure what I expected from this charismatic voice who has his hands in a multitude of projects and seems to pop up everywhere within the music circles I follow. His relative high profile has contributed to the intrigue surrounding him and how he is choosing to market his current music among the jigsaw puzzle of his expanding career. I immediately took notice of how his distinct sound translated live. His performance of his recent single “Poison Heart” completely took me off guard, so much so that I literally stopped a conversation mid sentence to give it my full attention (hence my earlier ramblings about the challenges of the evening).

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What may have impressed me the most about his show was that there was both a crisp polish to it and a malleability that could bend and twist with the audience. This is typically hard to achieve, but JP Maurice isn’t typical. When you think of the independent music scene in BC, his music would not be considered “trendy” in terms of sound right now, and he doesn’t fit what many would classify as pop either. His melodies and hooks are bold and remind me of some of my favourite 80’s era bands.  With his commanding stage presence, he gives an air of mature confidence beyond his years. Wearing a sharp black jacket and black jeans, amid a packed bar of twenty-somethings, he was the man of the hour. Interestingly, his recent music videos have been heavy on the sex appeal which can be misread as a smoke screen for lackluster talent.  But it only takes a few minutes in a room with his voice and a guitar to see what all the fuss has been about in recent years, including emerging from the shadows of his highly publicized record deal with David Foster to become one of Music BC’s most multidimensional artists since his first appearance as a Peak Performance Project finalist in 2011.

Along with his original material, what came later in his set was ridiculously awesome for anyone who experienced any of their adolescence in the mid 90’s…he performed a cover of Blackstreet ft. Dr. Dre’s “No Diggity” that was insane. I am still pinching myself about it actually happening. As the night went on, Windmills and JP collaborated to perform some crazy pop mash-ups that were a whole lot of fun, but covers after all are just that. At the end of a night it’s the artist’s own music that I’m hoping will stand out and it did. I am left with a sense of wonderment about this phoenix of sorts who causes quite the stir wherever he appears. I have a feeling the surprises are going to keep coming.

Windmills and JP Maurice performed at Fernando’s Pub in Kelowna BC on December 27, 2014.

http://www.windmillskeepmoving.bandcamp.com

http://www.jpthemaurice.com

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Windborn: “Calm in Chaos” album release

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This past weekend at Serenity saw a sold out crowd for Windborn’s recent album release, “Calm in Chaos.” A true labour of love in the making, and over two years since he penned the songs following immense heartbreak and life altering change, the album has arrived in a form much different than the original concept.

After touring relentlessly to and from each corner of this beautiful province and beyond, the songs emerged and evolved in new ways in response to how they sounded and were received live.

The concept of the album was this: he wrote a letter. This letter encapsulated the feelings and changes he was going through. He then sectioned the letter into song titles, and the blueprint for the album was born.

In the end, Windborn has achieved what many attempt, a sincere representation of his live show.

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After seeing Windborn perform for the fifth time in the last year, I can say that not only does his live performance get better with each show (as one would only hope), but the healthy amount of curious cynicism I held after hearing how he planned to record the album on his own was shattered upon first listen to it in my truck stereo on the way home from the show.

Jeff Pike, aka Windborn, is truly one of a kind. The uniqueness in his style of music is uncanny. As is commonly said by many who have been introduced to his music over the years, it is almost unbelievable that one person can create the sound that he does. The physical coordination it entails alone is constantly impressive.

Armed with an acoustic guitar, kick drum set, looping pedals, and a variety of percussion additions, Windborn is an amalgamation of genres, styles and sounds that equates to beautifully crafted music that gets under your skin unlike anything else.

It helps that the artist himself is ridiculously easy to be around who has this lets-hang-out-everyday-and-have-a-good-time kind of vibe. Not only that, but his generous spirit and commitment to the establishment of Serenity as a recognized and respected live music venue in BC has been directly observed and appreciated by many.

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Windborn is an artist who can’t tell you what chords he is playing, if any, but who literally inhabits a constant state of experimentation in creating sounds that become his music. In addition, he remains meticulously conscious of what audiences respond to and can alter his sound on a dime to fit the feel of a room. His album release show at Serenity also happened to be venue owner Shirley deVooght’s birthday, coincidentally along with many others who have become longtime Windborn fans and supporters. The night was one big celebration, including a song or two where he threw out shakers and tambourines (and maybe a disposable kazoo or two) to the crowd, much to his regret later. You just cannot anticipate the power of a passionate fan and a kazoo (yes, I am talking about you Lisa). This is not even touching on the corny pointy birthday hats and full-on paper-bagged bottles being passed around in front of the stage throughout the night. No question, it was a party, and Windborn gave a performance worth celebrating.

Along with playing every song off the new album to the Serenity living room packed to the rafters, Windborn included a few glimpses into fresh material from his writing sessions on the road, which prove that there is an unending supply of art yet to be born from the heart and soul of this special artist. Throughout his 2+ hours show, we were promised that everything we had come to love about his live performance would be waiting for us on the album…and it was.

I know online downloads continue to be the mainstream way of acquiring music, but if you can get a hold of a physical copy of Calm in Chaos, it is well worth it.  The album cover is a custom designed envelope with a Windborn seal and includes lyric sheets for each song, quite the labour intensive presentation for an independent artist.  The writing, music, producing, recording, mastering, and design has all been done independently, as in all by himself.

It is difficult to imagine how the album will sound to anyone who has not experienced a Windborn show live, but from the perspective of someone who was able to play it within hours of seeing the songs performed a few feet in front of me, I can say without a doubt that the album allows me to experience his live show again and again in my own home. For a fan, there is no better gift than that.

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Album highlights: Of Calm: a truly beautiful exposition of the heart that gives me chills each time I hear it; Heaven: this simple, yet profound lyrical commentary on the existence of the afterlife draws you in and holds you close; Swim For the Lighthouse: a track that lives up to its song title and takes you on an undeniable journey of reflection, joy, hope and forging ahead, which in many ways sums up much of what Windborn represents. Honourable mention goes to track 5, the hidden creatively titled Third Intermission, (which continues his trend to include an instrumental track for the third album in a row), it is the perfect jam to get lost in, a foolproof measure I lean on more often than not.

Windborn performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on November 28, 2014.

Aside from a few private shows in December, Windborn will be back touring in January before his month long hiatus to enter the world of fatherhood. We wish him and his beautiful love all the happiness in the world as they begin this new chapter in life, and we look forward to the music that will surely be inspired by what lies ahead.

Stay up to date on his touring schedule, stream the new music, and read his latest blog posts at http://www.windborn.ca

Photos courtesy of Steve Mechem.

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The “What” and the “Why” behind the words…

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A few artists have joked with me over the last year and a half about my writing style. They laugh about the moment they initially read my post and feel great about themselves because of all the things I have written about them, but when they talk to fellow artists who I have covered in the past, they come to a conclusion that I write nice things about everyone and somehow feel like what I wrote about them is no longer as special. I have never understood this. For one, I don’t proclaim to be a music critic, so no one should expect to read anything negatively critical regarding someone’s music, but in the same breath, I don’t intend to write pieces that are “nice” either. My intention is to write true reflections of what I feel and experience. This is achieved in how I approach each show before they start. If I was attending a concert in order to critique each aspect of a performance, my writing would sound a lot different. But before I even step foot in the venue, I have already decided that I am going to enjoy myself, that I am going to take something meaningful from the artist, and that I am going to spend my time focusing on their creative energy. Although there is a common thread of support and encouragement, my pieces are focused on showcasing their unique characteristics and what they have shared of themselves through their music and conversation.

The purpose of starting my site was to highlight independent artists and a unique small town venue in the heart of BC where audiences can experience live music in an up close and personal setting; Serenity Performing Arts Centre. I truly believe the physical and spiritual environment that has been cultivated at Serenity is instrumental in allowing me to approach each show in the way that I do. There is a comforting sense of belonging and acceptance that is constantly present which provides a safe place to get lost in. To lose oneself in music is a glorious thing. I don’t mean letting loose as much as I mean letting go of any loads you are carrying in terms of stress and expectation, and allowing yourself to sink into an abyss where you can examine, reflect, dream and desire. This is getting lost in music. This is where inspiration is born. This is what I write about.

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~ Heather

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Matt Epp

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Matt Epp came to us on a Western Canada house concert tour with his beloved wife and newborn daughter. Although born and raised in Crystal City, Manitoba, his experience touring the globe as a singer-songwriter has altered his identity as a Canadian, but not in the way you may think. He has a perspective and world view that does not necessarily identify with his birthplace, or anywhere for that matter in the sense of having one true home. There is a place he is from, and family to return to, but he shares a way of life that creates a sense of home wherever he is at any given time, in any given corner of the world. He is the living, breathing idiom of “Home is where the heart is.”

Having said all of this, the music is fantastic, not that anyone needs me to tell them that, just take your pick at the reams of articles, reviews, interviews, accolades, collaborations, 8 albums and countless tours that patch together the career to date of Matt Epp.

However, it doesn’t take long to discover that his music “career” is not at the forefront of his life. His most recent immersion into fatherhood has most definitely altered his focus and created a heightened emotional sense as parenthood tends to do, but his relationship to his music and why he does what he does is much more profound, which I will touch on later.

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His show at Serenity was beautiful for many reasons. The audience was a dead heat split between regulars and newcomers. It is always interesting to see how house concert audiences are going to mesh, and what type of energy is going to be created between the artist and the crowd. On this night, for much of the first set you could hear a pin drop. Not so much in an awkward sense, but more in that everyone was incredibly invested in what Matt was sharing, and were feeding off his calm spirit. After the mid-break when the crowd had a chance to mingle and get to know him over homemade cheesecake and wine, things started to loosen up and there was an apparent shift heading into the show’s second half.

Matt began to show more of his fun loving side, his smile became a bit wider, and his laughter contagious. Inviting us all to become his back up singers for his song “Met Someone” sparked something and had the crowd showing enduring commitment until the last note. A great storyteller, his lead in to “Where Does It Go?” shared his encounter with a dancing grasshopper that coaxed out the song’s melody as he watched the setting sun on some steps in Spain. It is a great story. His planned ending to the show was emotionally wrought, as he performed the poetic “There Shall Be Peace” off his recently released album “Luma” (appropriately named after his child). After mounting applause, the crowd was left quiet and still until one voice kindly requested, “One more song?” There was an immediate resonating agreement from the room and his response was quite the treat. Matt playfully shared his unrecorded tune “Valentine” (you can find the video on YouTube) that had the crowd in stitches as we giggled along to his account of a childhood sweetheart turned heartbreak song of redemption. Pure bliss.

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So yes, the music, the performance, all superb, as would be expected from a Juno award winning songwriter (okay, so maybe he didn’t technically win for “When You Know”, Serena Ryder did, but he co-wrote and recorded it so we arguably see it that way). But as is with most shows here in the Serenity house, it was the time shared afterwards around the kitchen table and washing the dishes by hand in the middle of the night that provided a deeper glimpse into the heart and soul of an artist whose message was clear as day.

For although Matt Epp may not fully embrace a physical place of belonging, he has created one of the spirit, a place he carries with him and invites others to join wherever he may travel. This “place” is Amoria, a state of intention to love and serve others. This metaphysical state was embodied by every interaction he extended to those attending his show. For those of us who stayed to listen to his philosophical and spiritual foundations into the night, there was a soulful sharing of his passions, fears, and love for his family, his fellow human beings, and above all else, God.

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As someone who has skirted my way in and out of faith and spiritual beliefs, the short time spent with this one man left quite the impression. As my reflections deepened, the brief connection shared with him as a person revealed a deeper inner peace and reverence for the love that God provides. There is not the space to expand on this here, yet it holds profound relevance to the essence of Matt Epp.

Matt Epp is an artist whose music and presence has the ability to be a catalyst for a transforming experience. Heartfelt gratitude is due for having him share his artistic journey with us. It is critical that he, and other artists, are acknowledged for the goodness their life’s work brings to the world. The value music provides to those who receive it is immeasurable, whether we fully comprehend its worth or not. Here’s to the continual healing that music can provide for the human spirit, and to those who dedicate their lives to create it.

Matt Epp performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on November 21, 2014.

He concludes his Western Canada house concert tour on December 6, 2014 in Vancouver, BC.

Matt and his family will be heading to Europe for a spring tour that begins in Germany starting April 2015.

To stay up to date on his touring schedule, links to album downloads, social media feeds and more, visit his website at http://www.mattepp.com

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Sam Weber

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This past Saturday night I experienced the live solo performance of singer-songwriter Sam Weber. An experience it was indeed.

Sam Weber’s music has been on my playlist for the last year. I caught wind of his sound through some of his friends and fellow artists who have played up this way and name him among their top recommendations.

Upon the re-release of his debut album “Shadows In The Road,” word came through that he was booked to play our local venue as part of his fall tour and my anticipation has been building ever since. I was intrigued to say the least at what his live performance would reveal, but I was also a bit nervous. His sound has this honest quality to it that I was immediately drawn to, but his artistic brand is often marketed in a way that suggests a certain intensity. I was completely prepared to face a somewhat guarded, brooding individual, but any inclinations of him being at all withdrawn immediately dissolved as he greeted me with a friendly boyish smile and a sincere warmth of heart in the quaint home setting of Serenity Performing Arts Centre. This is why live music is so important; to feel the energy of an artist in the flesh is something you cannot recreate on an album, in a video, photo shoot or written article. You can see, hear and feel glimpses, but there is nothing comparable to the real thing.

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The evening’s torrential rain and dense fog influenced the relatively small crowd at our remote venue tucked away down an unlit dirt road. However, everyone in the audience was genuinely interested in the music that Sam had come to share. Within the first few seconds of his opening song, there was no question we were in for something incredibly special.

Not that this came as much of a surprise. His mounting accolades include a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, a feature in Guitar Player magazine, an honourable mention in the 2013 International Songwriting Competition, and being signed to Cordova Bay Records…just to name a few. Sam Weber has also been producing a steady stream of up and coming independent artists who are turning to him for his impeccable ear to help them develop their own sound and unique quality, a feat he has been able to achieve for himself.

After the show I told Sam I had never seen someone perform their music in such a kinesthetic way. It was captivating. To see an artist be so completely in his music where the expressions on his face and every movement in his body communicated nuances in each song was mesmerizing to behold. It was emotional and moving and at times jarring. There was no disconnect between him and his music. It was one of the realest performances I have ever seen; real as in there wasn’t any performance at all, just pure communication and connection. Amid his intricately crafted songs, Sam shared his light-hearted spirit with the audience, showcasing his sweet personality through brief anecdotes and stories that created a perfect balance of energy on stage.

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Born in the early 90’s, Sam is part of the latter Generation Y who bring a perspective our world has yet to experience; the first young adults of our time who have spent their entire existence immersed in the information highway, with answers to anything at the click of a button, and whose youth is synonymous with a rapid acceleration of technological devices that connect them (or disconnect them depending on how you look at it) with others in a myriad of ways. Having spent time with a growing number of artists from this demographic, I can tell you despite what mass media tragically chooses to highlight, the future is promising. Not only does Sam represent a growing number of socially conscious young minds, but he is also someone who is able to rationalize and dissect the difference between what is real and what is not when it comes to the smoke and mirrors of the music industry. At 22 years old, he is savvy, bright, intuitive, endearing, and genuine. As part of this first wave era his perspective is highly evolved when it comes to his approach to making music. Sam simply relates that because there is the ability to easily edit anything and everything at their fingertips, many in his generation are starting to reject the very technology they have been raised to epitomize. How’s that for perfect irony among today’s youth. A philosophy of integrity, honesty and exercising a meaningful artistic voice is reflective in every aspect of Sam’s work, including his songwriting, musicianship and performance style.

Citing his major musical influences as Joni Mitchell and Bruce Springsteen, it is highly apparent that he has a strong commitment to creating authenticity in his music that he can represent on stage.

Putting his own stamp on boldly chosen covers including Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me” and a rare rendition of esteemed Canadian producer Daniel Lanois’ “The Maker,” he made clear statements about his songwriting taste and the range of styles he can comfortably navigate.

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Sharing that he is constantly writing and has high volumes of songs ready to share with audiences, he admits promoting an album on tour can be challenging when he is eager to perform new material over songs written and recorded in months and years past. Although the average record company may prefer artists stick close to their album’s content, no audience anywhere is going to mind hearing the variety of crafted tunes he is capable of performing on any given night.

Inducing feelings of passion, self-reflection, resolve and the pursuit of happiness, Sam Weber’s essence filled the Serenity living room and provided something for everyone to stew over. From a widowed emergency response worker putting her feet up for the first time in weeks, to a husband and wife who are full time working parents sharing tender affection throughout the show, the moments he created were immeasurable in their importance.

When it comes right down to it, Sam Weber is a deeply inspired songwriter and musician whose music resonates with the mind, body and soul. To steal a quote from fellow west coast artist Rolla Olak, “Dude has the muse somethin’ fierce.” Enough said.

https://soundcloud.com/webermusic/sets/shadows-in-the-road

Album highlights: “Right-Hearted,” his show opener that captures his life on the road and heartfelt sentiments; “August,” the album’s first single with an intro hook that sticks in your head for days and a stunningly beautiful tone from start to finish; and “Burn Out,” a song that sounds like a simple introspection upon first listen, yet after subsequent plays reveals a more complicated commentary on the mutual struggles of the human condition. To add one more for good measure, his live performance of “Don’t Hurt” brought me to tears, so naturally it’s my new favourite track.

Sam Weber performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on November 8, 2014.

He will be touring throughout BC until early December. Check out his homepage http://www.samweber.me for show dates, links to album downloads, social media feeds and more.

Joining him on tour is the enchanting songstress Kirsten Ludwig. We had the pleasure of enjoying her company, however we were not one of the shows where she was slated to perform. If you plan to be at one where she is, count yourself lucky. http://www.kirstenludwigmusic.com

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