John Borra with Sam Ferrara and Mike Boguski perform John’s “Off My Feet” from his album Blue Wine, and “Sleep” by Art Bergmann. Recorded for Canadian Music Week 2021’s Virtual Showcase series.
I’m proud to be representing these great artists at Canadian Music Week 2017. If you’ll be in Toronto for the conference, please try to check them out. Look forward to seeing you!
T. Thomason – April 19 @ Cherry Cola’s (10 p.m.)
T. Thomason’s latest EP sweet baby is a declaration of independence for an artist you may have heard before, but never like this. After putting out sweet baby independently in 2016, the EP will get a formal release through Rae Spoon’s Coax Records on May 12, 2017.
Having made a bright and infectious pop-rock statement on the 2014 album Columbus Field, Thomason has graduated to a higher level of lyrical incisiveness and hard-hitting sonic experimentation on sweet baby. In basic terms, it’s about leaving teenage angst behind and fully embracing who you really are.
The Nova Scotia native’s list of past achievements includes several East Coast Music Award nominations, as well as sharing stages with Joel Plaskett, Hey Ocean!, Collective Soul and The Trews. Now, T. Thomason has begun a new chapter, one that’s challenging the image of Canadian rock as well.
The five songs on sweet baby grew out of a period of self-discovery that found Thomason feeling around in the dark, getting caught between rocks and hard places, and making friends there.
Recorded at Toronto’s Coalition Music, sweet baby was produced, engineered and mixed by Dave Henriques, with a core group that included guitarist Stewart Cameron and drummer Blake Manning (both of The Heartbroken and the Matthew Good Band), keyboardist Jeremy Dutcher, bassist Kyle Teixeira, and special guest Kenny Boothby of Toronto’s Little Kid.
Abigail Lapell – April 19 @ The Paddock (8 p.m.) / April 20 @ The Vault (7 p.m.)
Abigail Lapell is a folk noir songwriter based in Toronto. A fluid lyricist and multi-instrumentalist, Lapell draws freely from indie, folk-roots and punk rock traditions, carried by the sound of her wintry voice, harmonica, piano and finger style guitar. On her subtly bold sophomore album, Hide Nor Hair, Lapell explores themes of love and loss through a lens of geography and travel, transporting the listener to places urban and wild, local and far-flung—evoking the transience of time, night and day and the changing seasons—so that her songs belong in the here and now as much as they would in the anywhere, anytime.
Lapell’s spirit is consummately DIY. A veteran of Montreal’s indie-folk scene, she’s shared stages with tUne-yArdS, First Aid Kit, Rae Spoon, The Lowest of the Low, Greg MacPherson and Andy Shauf. She’s toured across North America and Europe, appearing at festivals like North By Northeast, Pop Montreal, Sappy Fest and In the Dead of Winter—and, impressively, has completed two tours entirely by bicycle and two tours by canoe, as well as a cross-Canada tour by train. Her acclaimed, Earshot!-charting 2011 debut Great Survivor was recorded in a bedroom by Heather Kirby (of Ohbijou) and hand-assembled from letterpress covers by Trip Print Press.
For Hide Nor Hair, Lapell chose a different tack, working with mood wizard Chris Stringer (Timber Timbre, Snowblink) at Union Sound in Toronto. Along with Lapell and Stringer, the album features drummer (and whistle soloist) Benjamin Hermann; Rachael Cardiello on viola; Joe Ernewein on bass; longtime collaborator Jessica Moore on backup vocals, and Mike Eckert on pedal steel. Lapell is the recipient of the 2016 Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award for the song Jordan, which appears on the new record. Hide Nor Hair is due out January 20, 2017 on COAX Records.
Luke Nicholson – April 20 @ The Vault (7 p.m.)
Luke Nicholson’s new album Shape and Sound displays once again the melodic gifts and poignant storytelling that has led him to be regarded as one of Canada’s true songwriting craftsmen.
The album’s two-year journey following his previous release Frantic City not only inspired the Toronto-based Nicholson to find his true artistic identity, it also encouraged him to firmly take the reins of his creative process. Nicholson worked closely with Marty Skrzypczyk, and between them they played every instrument while co-producing all the tracks from the beds up. Mixing was handled by Howie Beck, with Joao Carvalho applying his usual excellent mastering skills.
Lead off single “All Your Dresses” gets straight to the heart of everything Shape and Sound represents, paying tribute to two of the most important relationships in Nicholson’s life. Using clothes as a metaphor, the song illustrates special moments shared between a husband and wife, and also the ideals his father instilled in him to be a good man and father, captured through the simple image of a tie. “I look at this track as my artistic fingerprint,” Nicholson says. “Instead of outsourcing parts or players, it truly is one voice speaking. From the beginning, making this album made music exciting for me again.”
Tara Beier – April 22 @ Grace O’Malley’s (8 p.m.)
On her new six-song EP, California 1970, Tara Beier firmly establishes herself as a powerful new voice within the alt-folk scene. Drawing from the full range of her influences, from traditional folk and blues to classic rock and psychedelia, Beier bridges past and future sounds while offering a lyrical perspective both personal and universal.
Based jointly in Toronto and Los Angeles, Beier produced California 1970 herself at legendary L.A. studio The Village Recorder, joined by guitarist Adam Zimmon (Iggy Pop, Shakira), drummer Tripp Beam (Moby), bassist Eliot Lorango (Sea Wolf), and keyboardist Sasha Smith (Ariana Grande, Linda Perry). Additional sessions were held at former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum’s studio.
Not surprisingly, the songs on California 1970 reflect, on the whole, her recent time living in L.A., using the city as a conduit for some deeply personal themes. Opening track “Fool’s Paradise” sets the bar high with its taut, slow-burning message of seeking the truth, before exploding by the end into a soaring, string-led chorus. For these traits and others, the song was chosen for the EP’s first video shot at Zorthian Ranch, one of L.A.’s most cherished artist-friendly locations.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Beier is also an award-winning filmmaker. Her most recent project is Covered, which saw her taking on the role of Buffy Sainte-Marie and spending a year immersed in the life and music of the Canadian folk icon.
Now with California 1970, Beier is proving that she herself is a singer/songwriter whose time has come.