Updated: Nov 27
When Heather Kitching from Roots Music Canada asked me for a "Top Ten" list of music and events I discovered in 2019, a cascade of images and sounds crossed my mind - not the least of which was the opportunity she gave me herself to express them for the world at large on her website. It was hard to narrow them down to just a few, so I sent a dozen, and many are missing from the list below because they weren't distinctly Canadian - for example, Bruce Springsteen's panoramic release "Western Sky" and the discovery of Willie Nelson's son Lucas. Many had to be edited out for sheer space - like seeing my friend, pedal steel master Jeff Bradshaw, playing the CCMA's "Legends" show after bellyaching about the lack of a true legend on the bill (they got their legend after all). In the end, by reviewing the year that has just passed, I found the most important "musical moments" featured the ever-changing relationship I have with my own art - and with those who inspire me.
JANUARY I was 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, she lit a fire in my gut that burned for the rest of the year.
FEBRUARY On a cold day in hell, I was missing life as a touring musician. At work, a chorus of valiant patients joined 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. They try all the time in this institution.
MARCH My old running mate Angela Harris sent her gorgeous new release “A Woman Like Me” and asked 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 . . ." check out this video and you will too.
APRIL Taylor James sent over her versions of three of my tunes, recorded for her 2019 roots-rock release “Backbone,” now at over 100,000 streams and counting. She then proceeded to blow my mind with razor-sharp live takes, taped with her killer band for the “Taylor James Show” now available on Youtube. Check out her version of my tune "Slow Down" - about six minutes into this episode featuring Karen Lee Batten. Better her than me!
MAY Angela kicked my ass to put on some shows in BC, we drag Taylor into the mix, and the “Truth Be Told” tour is born. Day job be damned - for two weeks at least - while we three chicks traded the tales we’ve collected since we last saw each other seven years ago, and re-discovered the music that bonded us in the first place. Hitting my favourite haunts in Ashcroft, Brackendale and Vancouver, I was humbled to find I haven't been forgotten by old friends and fans. No word of a lie: it was good to be back in the saddle.
JUNE We took the show to the site of my ill-fated wedding at the legendary Thor Froslev's legendary Brackendale Art Gallery in Squamish, BC, and were joined by my old band the Wild Rose Hippies . . . including the amazing Eric Reed, and my ex-husband John MacArthur Ellis. I found that time has not diminished how much I love singing "Four Walls" . . . and it does heal all wounds.
JULY Jay Aymar sent my blog to Heather Kitching at Roots Music, and she got in touch to ask if she could publish “How I Lost the Muse, Quit the Biz and Found Myself” - and anything else I want to say about the music I love. Check out the link to see what else I came up with this year . . . https://www.rootsmusic.ca/author/lalexander/
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. https://overthemoonband.com/over-the-moon
SEPTEMBER I hit the Americana Music Fest, where Canadian acts William Prince, the Bros. Landreth and Corb Lund gave the Americans a run for their money. Writing “Nashville” with my cohorts Jay Gavin, Kaitlin Deavey, Angela and Taylor before boarding the plane home will remain forever etched in my mind as the night I’d finally smoked enough American Spirits.
OCTOBER I cracked open Emily Triggs’ new release “Middletown,” and was more than happy to write my first record review for Roots Music. This “Little Fire” composed of the roots and branches of folk music will “Light You Up.” https://emilytriggs.bandcamp.com/track/light-you-up
NOVEMBER Stephen Fearing described my “Unconquerable Past” better than I could on his new release, and helped me make sense of it on his gorgeous new release co-produced with Scott Nolan. His words of wisdom will put you in “Someone Else’s Shoes.” http://stephenfearing.ca/music/the-unconquerable-past-2019/
DECEMBER Tom Jackson and his Huron Carole show at the old Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, Alberta reminded 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. https://www.rootsmusic.ca/2019/12/05/how-tom-jacksons-huron-carole-transformed-this-holiday-hater/?fbclid=IwAR2uXqQ3DqbjfdwoFKfQPeB7k_ICw1WaKIMrnYqPUB7ea8uUj3JBQ4VkkqM