Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Neighbors Dog

Friends of ours at Plan9 films in Saskatoon have created an outstanding television series called The Neighbors Dog. The series takes viewers into 13 different house concerts with incredible musicians including John Mann, Nathan, Little Miss Higgins, Tom Wilson, and more. I usually don't like watching music on television, but I have to admit that the art direction is beautiful, the sound is great, and the folks at Plan9 have found a way to give viewers a whole new way of experiencing music performances. I love it.

On June 20, Plan9Films came to The Hayloft to host their launch party. We had delicious food by Cafe Secreta, wine, and watched some excerpts from The Neighbors Dog. And to honor the occasion, we even had a short house concert featuring The New Meanies. We literally blew the roof off the Hayloft (as the police will attest) and it was well worth it.

I'm telling everyone I know to visit the website of The Neighbors Dog, and catch an episode! The first 2 episodes will air at 10:00pm CST July 8, 2009 on SCN. (SCN is available on cable in Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well as Bell TV satellite service, on channel 266, and on Star Choice Channel 352).

Here are some pics from the launch party!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Performing at the Hayloft with CBC Canada Live

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In a moment of self-indulgence, I booked myself a show at my own venue, The Hayloft, where I usually host a series of house concerts for friends of mine traveling through Saskatoon. So the show felt a bit like I was throwing my own surprise party.

Then I got a call from Bonnie Austring-Winter saying CBC wanted to record the show for Canada Live. This was the perfect excuse to assemble a whole band for the occasion and pull out all the stops! Hal Schrenk (percussion) and Soren Nissen (double bass) joined Sam (flute/mandolin) and I for the show. I haven't played with a band for awhile, and to tell you the truth, I wasn't really that excited about working with a band (for another upcoming show) until I thought of working with these guys. True enough, they were really great. Seemed like magic.

Out of the blue, I received an email from Saskatoon's fiddle sensation (as I like to call him) Karrnnel. Call it serendipity. I asked Karrnnel to open the show and join our merry little band.

The show sold out fast, and we had scores of people waiting for tickets. So at the last minute, we added another show on Friday. Tamila Chapman-McLean of took some pictures at the Hayloft and The Star Phoenix ran a great story on the upcoming shows. Local artist Jillian Cyca hung her work for the occasion.

photo by

The place was totally packed. I hung out in the green room as my merry band of helpers (thanks to Curtis Olson, Jayne Horachek, Marty Olson, Lynn Nellis, Peter Olson and more not to mention the CBC) busted around, broke out more chairs, and squeezed in our beautiful audience. The show was so much fun. Playing with the band was magic! And I'll be sure to let you know when CBC makes it all available. It'll be heard on SoundXchange, Canada Live and Concerts on Demand.

The CBC's massive mobile studio parked next to our house earns suspicious looks from the neighbors:

Soundcheck at the Hayloft:

My awesome brother-in-law Marty Olson takes tickets at the door:

Karrnnel starts the night off:

Soren Nissen on bass:

Sam makes a surprising entrance, emerging from The Hayloft for his kazoo solo:

I'm feeling tremendously grateful right now this house concert venue of ours, the people beautiful that come to fill it, the musicians that I get to play with, support of the CBC, and from my community. Thanks everyone!

Be sure to come to the next house concert: Patrick Brealey on July 22 and LAL on Aug 5.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 4 with The Stilletto Chick

On June 4, Betty-Ann Heggie (aka The Stilletto Chick) delivered an inspiring talk on "Womentorship" to a diverse group of women at the Hayloft. Andrew Peller sponsored the wine, and we had tasty appetizers provided by party-thrower extraordinaire, Jayne Horachek. And the ticket proceeds went to the International Women of Saskatoon.

Betty-Ann has reinvented herself more times than Madonna – from beer rep to bellydancer to corporate executive, and now to Stilletto Chick. A member of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame, Betty-Ann is now using her experiences to mentor and inspire women in the working world. Check out her blog!

During the event, we were privileged to have artwork by Jillian Cyca. Here's a detail shot of one of her works, but please visit her website and see it for yourself.

May 12 Richard Carnegie, Matt Epp, Ann Vriend


RICHARD CARNEGIE, Conversations with my double bass
The performances of double bassist/spoken word artist Richard Carnegie are the one night stand between a poetry slam and the classical avante garde that have turned into an unlikely but loving relationship. Richard has recently been spending less time with Bach and a little more time exploring the small but rich repertoire of music for solo double bass with simultaneous narration. Performing May 12th at "The Hayloft", Richard will premiere his new composition "Requiem for Radio and Radio Dramas" as well as performing audience favourites "B.B. Wolf" and "Failing".

Elle magazine claims “Ann Vriend sings with the heart-stopping intensity of Aretha Franklin, plays piano with the ease of Norah Jones and writes songs as powerful in their simplicity as those of Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen.” Performing with Ann is Matt Epp:"Not unlike Ryan Adams, Epp has this weighty pitch that travels right to the core, and can either make your heart feel incredibly heavy or lift you right to your feet. If you like music, you'll like this."- Jared Story (UPTOWN magazine review A+)


FOR THIS SHOW, WE FEATURED VISUAL ART BY MATT PROCTOR. When I introduced his work to the audience, there was an audible gasp of appreciation! For more information about Matt and the Sherbrook Community Centre (where Matt lives), visit their website.