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Posts Tagged ‘Big Sky Gliders’

Most of my attention over the last couple of months was directed at completing the recording of our second CD – In the Clouds by the Big Sky Gliders. There is nothing like a deadline to focus your attention and when the fellow who records us announced he was moving to the coast, it was all hands on deck to finish all the recording and mixing. It all seems a little anti-climatic now, but we had a couple of weeks of long sessions to complete everything. But it is done – over a year from to start to finish and around 100 hours of actual studio time to get the finished product.

The new recording by the Big Sky Gliders

The new recording by the Big Sky Gliders

We don’t have the physical copies yet as I am still working to complete the artwork, but you can listen to the new recording at www.bigskygliders.bandcamp.com.

Have a listen and we hope you enjoy the fruits of our labours.

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More Music

The Big Sky Gliders (of which I comprise one-third) made our sixth appearance at Flower Fest this past weekend. They bill themselves as a ‘micro-festival’ and it is held on an acreage near Lake Wabaman, west of Edmonton. And for the third time we were rained on and had to play inside the cabin on the site.

A wet start

A wet start

It was a bit chaotic as we had to move all the equipment inside from the main stage. And I did something I haven’t done in quite a long time – I broke a string on my RainSong guitar. What was annoying was I wasn’t even playing – I was just putting it on the stand and the G string let go at the nut. This taught me a valuable lesson – carry a replacement set of strings. Luckily Don had a set so after a quick repair, we were ready to go.

Don mocking me as I change my guitar string

Don mocking me as I change my guitar string

All in all, it wasn’t our strongest set but we have a good response and Breezy (the organizer) let us do an extra song, so it was a good time all round.

Helping Don on "Something I Miss" - one of Don's tunes

Helping Don on “Something I Miss” – one of Don’s tunes

I think next year we will opt for an afternoon slot – hopefully before the thunderstorms move in!

The Big Sky Gliders at Flower Fest 2013

The Big Sky Gliders at Flower Fest 2013

 

 

 

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I have taken the Myers-Briggs personality test a number of times over my career. It is either a testament to the test or my personality that I have scored the same each time I have taken the test. For those unfamiliar with the test, you are scored on four different dimensions – Extroversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling and Judgment/Perception. Your score takes the form of a four letter designation that indicates where you scored highest on each dimensions. For me, I have consistently scored as a INFP (the N stands for Intuition).

So, as an introvert (and a strong one), it is interesting that both in my career and my private life I have been involved in activities that require me to be out in front of people. I was an environmental education specialist for 12 years and much of that time I was teaching or leading groups ranging from kindergarten students to seniors. My musical career of course means I am out in front of an audience. I think every non-musician has mentioned to me at least once they don’t know how I can get out there and sing and play. And there are days when I wonder as well.

A number of years ago I got to discussing the topic of extroverts and introverts with one of our senior managers. He told me that he was a strong introvert. I was a little surprised as he led national initiatives on environmental issues and at times spoke to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. I asked how he managed to survive in that role as an introvert and he told me that he could do it – but just leave him alone afterwards.

I saw an example of this in my own behaviour last Saturday. We were playing in a small lounge called the Velvet Olive in Red Deer, Alberta. It is just under a two hour drive from Edmonton. We met up around 6 in the evening to make sure we had time to look over the stage, set up and do a sound check. It was a bit of a challenge with the stage being smaller than we are used to, but we made some quick decisions and set up the best we could. At 8:30 we started playing. We went for about an hour, took a break and then played until 11. It was a good gig – lots of positive feedback and we did a good job. We finished on an uptempo song and then started to tear down.

There was a young couple at the bar and they started up a conversation with me as I started to pack up. Now, I wasn’t rude, but I realized that I really didn’t want to talk to anyone at that moment so I made some small talk and then excused myself to continue tearing down. It really was the introvert in me coming out. I was drained and with the prospect of a two-hour drive ahead, I just wanted quiet. There seems something to this personality stuff … my coping mechanism kicked in after putting myself out there on stage.

Singing on stage at the Velvet Olive in Red Deer, Alberta

A two hour drive home in the dark helped to restore equilibrium. It is good to recognize these traits in one’s self. So don’t expect a lot of chatter after a gig.

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It was our turn to play at the Heart of the City Festival today. One small problem – it rained, big time. Our set was scheduled for 12:15, but when we arrived the organizers said we couldn’t use the ‘electric’ stage because water and electricity don’t mix well together. The idea of the festival is to have two stages going – one playing while the other is setting up. With one stage unavailable, this made the process a little more difficult. At one point we were contemplating doing the entire set with only acoustic instruments – which would have been interesting because I have never played four out of the seven songs with anything but my bass. And between us, we had two guitars, a bouzouki and banjo. Losing the keyboards and bass would have been a challenge.

Rain

Rain

Luckily they solved the issues and we able to use our full stage setup. The sheer volume of rain meant no one really wanted to sit outside to watch, so we turned everything around and played to the back of the stage which was covered.

The crowd seems to be enjoying themselves!

The crowd seems to be enjoying themselves!

So we launched into the set and after all the drama, it turned out pretty well. No major screw-ups and lots of fun. The sound guy did a good job, especially given the circumstances he was working under. We even made the 6 o’clock news as a camera from a local station filmed part of the set.

The Big Sky Gliders at the Heart of the City Festival 2013

The Big Sky Gliders at the Heart of the City Festival 2013

Many thanks to my daughter Kathryn for taking wonderful photos. Thanks to the friends who braved the weather to watch us play as well as my second son Ian and Jim’s wife Wanda. It means a lot to have the support. And a big thank you to the organizers of the Festival for their hard work in making it all possible.

A little rain can't stop us!

A little rain can’t stop us!

 

 

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We play all the big ones!

Last weekend, we – as in the Big Sky Gliders – had the opportunity to play at the Springboard Hoedown. This festival takes place annually (this is their 11th!) in the Pinevalley Community Hall, north and east of Athabasca, Alberta.

Sign

Not hard to find … if you knew where to look!

It is about a two hour drive north of Edmonton to get there. We arrived around supper and the surprise was our start time – we were going to close down the place – going on at 11:00. We were treated to supper and then settled in to watch the evening’s entertainment. I think we were impressed. The acts ranged from a great solo singer-songwriter from Fort McMurray – Ken Flaherty – to an 11 piece jazz group called the Swing Cats Orchestra. We got on to the stage just about right on time.

The Big Sky Gliders on stage at the Springboard Hoedown

The Big Sky Gliders on stage at the Springboard Hoedown

And we had a great time. I don’t think we were “on” musically as we can be, but we had fun and the audience seemed to have a good time. The first thing we were asked when we finished was, “do you want to come back next year” – to which we replied that we would love to.

Preforming "Ernest and Lucy" - the song with the trickiest lyrics of all.

Preforming “Ernest and Lucy” – our song with the trickiest lyrics of all.

So finishing at midnight, it was time to pack up and head home. Living in the city, you forget about darkness sometimes. The moon had already set and it was DARK – and I loved it. The stars were out, the frogs and crickets were singing away and I enjoyed just taking some time to take in the surroundings. Luckily, there is a Husky service station in Athabasca that is open 24/7, so we fuelled up with coffee and drove home. Made it back around 2:30 after an uneventful drive. We didn’t get paid and didn’t sell any CDs but that didn’t really matter at the end. We met a lot of nice people who were there to make music and have fun – not much else to ask for in my opinion.

Loading up in the dark after the gig

Loading up in the dark after the gig

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As mentioned in the previous post, Busy Times, we – as in the Big Sky Gliders – have been out and about in the last couple of months.

Jim’s son captured a couple of our tunes at the Carrot Cafe in Edmonton and posted them on to YouTube. So, we present for your viewing pleasure …

Johnson Brown – one of Jim’s songs

and, Where Randy Rolled a Tractor – another one of Jim’s.

Enjoy!

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It has been a while since I have posted anything here. It has been busy times indeed. And most of the efforts have been in the making music area.

We. as in the Big Sky Gliders, have had a number of gigs in the past six weeks. Practice has kept us occupied as we prepared for the performances.

The first was for Don’s thesis adviser at the University of Alberta who was retiring. Don had given his prof a copy of our CD at Christmas and he liked it so much, he asked if we would play at his retirement party at the Faculty Club at the university. Not only did we play for almost two hours, we were paid for our troubles. And to make it even better, our buddy Kyle was able to join us on stage. Kyle is a fiddler and mandolin player extraordinaire who guested on two tracks on our first CD. He really does an extra dimension to our songs.

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The Big Sky Gliders at the University of Alberta Faculty Club – l-r, Don, Jim, Brian and Kyle

It was a lot of fun. We received some great feedback, sold a few CDs and generally had a good time. We are getting to the point where the songs are second nature and I think it shows in our playing. We are becoming confident on stage. The long hours of practice are paying off.

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Belting out Ernest and Lucy with Kyle’s help

We have helped out our friends at the Heart of the City Festival as well. We played two open stages at the Pacific Cafe as fundraisers for the festival in January and February. The festival organizers also asked if we would like to contribute a couple of songs to the festival’s 10th anniversary CD project. This meant going into the University of Alberta student radio station, CJSR, and recording two of our original songs. The Heart of the City Festival is the first weekend in June and the CD is scheduled for release in time for this year’s show. And we plan to participate again – this will mark our 5th year playing for the inner city folks.

The next gig was on March 15 when we were able to do two sets at the Carrot Cafe. We have played open stages at the Carrot for a number of years but this time the whole evening was ours. We did two sets of original material (with the exception of one cover song) and played for almost two hours.

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Live at the Carrot Cafe – Jim, myself and Don

The Carrot isn’t very large but we had an enthusiastic audience of family and friends. The small stage made for some interesting positioning, but everyone responded really well and again there was lots of positive feedback.

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Jim, Don and the bass player

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Serious music

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The Big Sky Gliders playing at the Mercer Collective craft fair

So, after working the night shift at the Carrot, we headed to the Mercer Collective on Saturday morning to play at their craft fair in downtown Edmonton. This was an entirely different show from the Carrot. We were not the main attraction but we provided entertainment for the folks attending. For us, we were busking. We left Don’s mandolin case open in front of us and didn’t do badly at all. It was a nice relaxed gig, especially when we knew we weren’t the centre of attention – and that was alright with us.

It wasn’t the most glamourous of locales – we were sitting beside the power panel in the basement of the building, but it was fun.

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Don

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Jim (his shirt says “Paddle Faster – I Hear Banjos”

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Busking at the Mercer

I think the nicest compliment was when one of the vendors at the craft fair came over and bought one of our CDs … she liked our music that much. Very satisfying.

Some of our success is attributable to the great songs that Don and Jim have penned. They seem to fit a niche in between country, folk and several other genres. And using different instruments, both on stage and in the studio, allows us to vary our sound. It’s different and great fun.

And today we were asked to play next Saturday in Giovanni Caboto Park – outside! It is supposed to warm up (some) by next weekend, so hopefully we will be able to feel our fingers! We will post details on our Facebook page as they become available.

Busy times indeed!

P.S. and a special thanks to Wanda, Jim’s wife, for the great photos.

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