June 25, 2010
photo from Wolfe Island Music Fest, 8 Aug. 2009
The wonderful Sarah Harmer, who should be no stranger to long time B(oot)log readers, released her first album in 5 years this past Tuesday. You might say, “hey! what took you so long?” but those questions will evaporate upon your first listen of Oh Little Fire. While I had heard two of the songs which appear on the record in 2008, the rest were a surprise.
On this album Harmer goes pack to her radio-friendly pop of “You Were Here” and “All of Our Names” – the rootsyness of “I’m A Mountain” appearing only on one track – and proves once again that she is a masterful songsmith. I tend to feel that the production on YWH & OoON was a little too glossy at times (I tend to prefer to listen to Harmer live for this reason) and I am happy to hear that, with only one or two exceptions, the extremely crisp production does not detract from the earthiness of the songs. Harmer is accompanied by some serious talent (how serious is this talent, you ask? Neko Case joins in on “Silverado” which, as you might expect, sounds amazing ) and the sound of the new record is finely honed without feeling overwrought.
Harmer’s strong, lilting voice shines throughout the record. Dealing with relationships and rooted in a strong sense of place, thoughtful lyrics that are variously playful and introspective, are directly conveyed. The upbeat, pop moments are filled with catchy hooks and memorable refrains. In the quieter songs, you are drawn in by the richness of Harmer’s voice and, this time out, the lyrical content isn’t as disheartened as was often heard in past recordings. There is a hopefulness and even outright joy to be found in this album.
This is a rich, full record and the wait for it has paid off.
Harmer is touring the new record in the US, England, Ireland, Scotland, & Canada, hitting up some of the bigger festivals. No local date yet but I have a feeling there will be a homecoming show before too long. If she is playing in your neighbourhood, I highly recommend seeing her live. I have seen Harmer play probably a dozen times and can say without any reservations that you will be in for a treat. Full dates at her site/space.
6/25 Pittsburgh, PA – WYEP Summer Music Festival (Schenley Plaza)
6/26 Philadelphia, Pa – World Cafe Live
6/27 Alexandria, VA – The Birchmere
7/1 London, UK – Trafalgar Square Canada Day Show
7/2 London, UK – The Borderline
7/4 Belfast – Auntie Annie’s
7/5 Dublin, Ireland – Academy 2
7/6 Glasgow, UK – King Tut’s
7/10 Newburyport, MA – Waterfront Park
7/11 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
7/13 Ottawa, ON – Ottawa Bluesfest
7/14 Chicago, IL – Schubas
7/15 Detroit, MI – The Magic Bag
7/17 Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Folk Festival
7/24 Guelph, ON – Hillside Festival
7/31 Montreal, PQ – Osheaga Music Fest
8/6 Regina, SK – Regina Folk Festival
8/10 Banff, AB – Eric Harvie Theatre, Banff Centre
8/18 Woody Point, NL – Writers at Woody Point (Gros Morne National Park)
8/21 Owen Sound, ON – Summerfolk
8/22 Huntsville, ON – Algonquin Theatre
8/23 Parry Sound, ON – Stockey Centre
10/8 Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
Exactly, two years ago Sarah Harmer and friends performed a benefit for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. I was in attendance to learn about the potential impact of the wind turbines on Wolfe Island (now built) and hear some great music, including the freshly written “One Match”. The first track was taken from the radio stream of Living at the Barricades (click for the full podcast) broadcast on CFRC on 2 July 2008. The rest were from the after-broadcast show which I recorded.
Sarah Harmer, Living at the Barricades: Alternative Wind Energy Show, Grad Club, Kingston, 25 June 2008
Buy “Oh Little Fire” on CD & LP, as well as oldies but goodies here (note: itunes is selling the album with 3 bonus tracks. These tracks can be purchased individually so the completists out there will want to grab them no matter what format you choose).
June 3, 2010
The 5th annual Skeleton Park Music Festival is almost here. It is family friendly, it is super fun, and it is totally free. And, like previous years, there are a heap of amazing bands playing. Including Ohbijou, The Inbreds, & Henri Faberge & the Adorables, plus a whole lot of great local bands (Gertrudes, PS I Love You, etc. etc.). The schedule is pasted below but before I get to that I need to mention that there will be a free SPMF warmup show TOMORROW NIGHT (June 4th):
A Skeleton Park Music Festival Warm-Up…
Friday June 4, 8pm
@ Whine Cellar (in The Mansion, 506 Princess St)
FREE! All Ages!
The Famines are an awesome noisy bag of wonderfulness from Edmonton and you should definitely check them out (get a sample here on their fancy music player) .
Here’s the full weekend lineup.
Wednesday June 16
@ Chalmers United (212 Barrie St)
7:30pm Rueben deGroot
8:30pm The Gertrudes
Thursday June 17
@ The Artel (205 Sydenham St)
Lookit! Music! – Featuring Art Exhibition by Trevor Waurechen
8:00pm The Swamp Ward Orchestra
9:00pm Lake of Stew
Friday June 18
@ The Mansion (506 Princess St)
Lake Ontario Waterkeepers Presents:
8pm Dave Bidini
9pm Unconscious Encore
10pm CR Avery
Saturday All Day in the Park
Saturday June 19
in McBurney Park
Live Music, Children’s Activities, Local Artisans, Park & Neighbourhood History
7:00pm Audio Park
6:30pm The Wilderness of Manitoba
5:30pm PS I Love You
5:00pm Madam Raz
4:30pm Nagata Shachu
3:30pm The Inbreds
2:30 pm Luther Wright
1:30pm Oh Susanna
12:30pm Cherry Chapstick
12:00pm Park & Neighbourhood History
11am Ken Whiteley
10:30 am Spook & Squash
Saturday June 19th
@ The Mansion
10pm After Party w/ Henry Faberge & The Adorables + Local DJs