Over a year ago, before we had even penned a tune, Trent Severn decided to write down what was important to us as a band. These ideas shaped our writing, recording, and all of our decision making.
We believe knowing what is important to you helps to make your decisions clear and your life easier in general. Here’s our manifesto:
• Write songs that touch the hearts and tell the stories of our Canadian friends, neighbours and legends
• Make an album that sounds just like our concert
• Play instruments we can carry
• Show our audience a really great time
• Be kind
• Enjoy a beer at the end of a long day
• Family will always come first
1. SNOWY SOUL
Photo by James Galletto : Stamp Design by Megan Brooks
“Inspired by a conversation in a book store where a man was talking about returning from the Arctic.”
Little bones in the stereo
Been in the arctic for
Thirty years or so
And I got to make it back
To that postal code
Been a lot of sun at midnight
And no comfort zone
Gordie’s like some meadowlark
Yeah I got courage
Beneath gravel and tar
And I got to make it back
To that postal code
When Churchill feels like Memphis
You know you’re a cold rolling stone
Come around and pour me
A glass of clarity baby
I have seen some better days
When did the switch flip
And uphill turn to down
Oh I got to make it back to that postal code
You can see my weathered skin
But not my snowy soul
Hundreds of roads I’ve travelled
Can you hear my heartbeat
Sounds like a courtroom gavel
Up off my knees
I gotta make it back someday
Oh I got to get myself to that postal code
1. Snowy Soul
2. Bluenose On A Dime
3. Like A Donnelly
5. Muskoka Bound
6. Mulroney Times
7. Road Less Travelled
8. Wild One
I just finished reading a 1993 biography on Stan Rogers, called “An Unfinished Conversation” by Chris Gudgeona.
Stan Rogers was part of the soundtrack of my early childhood as my dad played his cassette tapes and strummed his tunes on guitar. It was inspiring to read the stories, and learn about the personality that wrote such iconic songs. I realized that Stan’s lyrics are subconsciously ingrained in me; but only now am I truly listening to, appreciating, and comprehending his music.
After Stan Rogers released Fogarty’s Cove and Between The Breaks, he felt frustrated with, to quote Gudgeona, “the limited scope that a single album afforded him.” Stan’s unfinished master plan was to incorporate the whole country in his music through a series of five albums. In Northwest Passage, Stan developed a unifying theme exploring separation and lines of communication. A fire in an airplane in 1983 took his life and he was unable to finish the last two albums in the series.
The Trent Severn album is currently being manufactured, and we can’t wait to share and perform our own Canadian songs. However, this moment of revelling in the feeling of album completion won’t last long as, like Stan, we know we have yet to lay down many more tracks to connect our provinces and territories. We know we’re standing at the beginning of a road that, with work, will take us to our dream of being a truly Canadian band.
I think we can learn a lot from this guy:
Today I shredded out some harmonies on Muskoka Bound, which I wrote after a good dose of listening to the work of Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. Muskoka Bound is about various people being trapped in their cars on Highway 400, headed north, each with a “bullet in their soul”.
“Hang that sorrow by the evergreen / Heartache and the campfire / Too many big wheels in between.” - Muskoka Bound
Around the same time Hazel Dickens passed away, Chris Pandolfi wrote The Bluegrass Manifesto. It is worth a read, for bluegrass enthusiasts, and music lovers in general. http://chrispandolfi.
The Trent-Severn is a canal system that connects Lake Ontario at Trenton to the Georgian Bay part of Lake Huron at Port Severn. Trent Severn is this band, founded by Emm and Dayna that I’m thrilled be a part of.
This musical channel now spans from our southwestern Ontario roots all the way to where Dayna resides in northern B.C.
“The music that we heard was like livin’ with buried gold” – Emm
This is a line from a track entitled “The Day We Ditched” from our forthcoming album. Hearing it reinstates my belief that the flood gates of the Canadian music scene are about break open; that there is so much great music lingering just under the surface of the radio that’s about to break free.
Mourning the passing of Levon Helm is contrasted in my mind by the excitement I have about the good tunes that keep rolling into my inbox, and for a future that will include rocking out with these fine ladies.
We previewed two tunes at a house concert near Stratford on Saturday, a potentially frightful thing to do considering both Dayna and I were beyond exhausted after a week of rehearsing and recording. “I dont even understand myself anymore,” i announced to the audience, sleepily, during my set.
After an encore,, Dayna and I did two songs as Trent Severn – Mulroney Times and Bluenose On A Dime. Not to downplay my own solo material but playing the Trent Severn songs for the first time was like a rush of adrenalin, and a flood of oxygen to the brain. Partially because they are new songs, but also because this music is in our blood right now, and I imagine will be for a long time. We have both been playing our own heart wrenching solo stuff for a loooong time and there is something exhilarating about playing music and singing harmonies with someone else who you know is just gonna nail it. It’s as though there is a reason both of us have endured almost carbon copy experiences in our own rollercoastery careers. For the first and last time, we performed the songs as a duo. We have yet to locate our Arctic Vixen.
When we finished the songs, I looked at the audience and they had been resurrected out of their collective house concert coma. They were invigorated, and it was the first time I got confirmation that my suspicions about our new band might be right. Maybe, just maybe, we have found a way to be entertainers again. As David Bowie said to me once, “Art isn’t art until it reaches an audience.” And so begins our orienteering!
The joy of starting a new band means you can drop some Royal Canadian coin on some new gear. I suppose Trent Severn might benefit from some vintage gear, but today there didn’t seem to be any gems in the bass guitar graveyard. I’m not a stand-up bass player so my options for a new bass were quickly narrowed down to the Epiphone Zenith and the Kala U-Bass. Being a smaller person (5 foot 1) made the Ukulele Bass in mahogany the clear winner, as it chimes in at 6 pounds with a 20 inch scale. These proportions sound very similar to the weight of a healthy newborn baby, now that I write it!
Live, I will also be rocking the Porchboard Bass (which is a fabulous instrument that emits a kick drum-esque sound) so knowing my feet will be active means a smaller bass will be just what I need. After calling all around Ontario, including the Ontario Folklore Centre, and finding no stock, I trusted my brother’s recommendation, online reviews and the instrument specs and bought one on-line. Let’s hope it arrives in one piece! End of nerdy bass blog.
Ode to Richard Manuel.
Richard Manuel was born in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. His father Ed was a mechanic employed by Chrysler, and his mother was a schoolteacher. He was raised with his three brothers, and the four sang in the church choir. Manuel took piano lessons beginning when he was nine, and enjoyed playing piano and rehearsing with his friends at his home. Some of his childhood influences wereRay Charles, Bobby Bland, Jimmy Reed and Otis Rush. He was given the nickname “The Beak” by his friends because of his prominent nose.
He and three friends started a band when he was fifteen, originally named the Rebels but later changed to The Revols, in deference to Duane Eddy and the Rebels. The group also included Ken Kalmusky, a founding member of Great Speckled Bird, and John Till, a founding member of the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Manuel developed a rhythmic style of piano unique in its usage of inverted chord structures. He was also a naturally talented vocalist, with a soulful rhythm and blues style, and a rich timbre, often compared to that of Ray Charles. These talents were showcased in The Revols.
Manuel first became acquainted with Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks when The Revols opened for them in Port Dover, Ontario. According to Levon Helm, Hawkins remarked to him about Manuel: “See that kid playing piano? He’s got more talent than Van Cliburn.” The two bands once again connected at the Stratford Coliseum in 1961 when The Revols ended a show featuring The Hawks as headliners. After hearing Manuel singing “Georgia on My Mind“, Hawkins hired The Revols’ pianist rather than competing with them.
When you ask people to name the very first all-female rock band ever, THE GOGO’S, THE BANGLES or THE RUNAWAYS might come close to the truth. But the real answer would be FANNY. Formed in the late sixties, led by the two sisters, June and Jean Millington, they sounded like a real rock band. From that moment on, it was cool and accepted for women to play rock music. As there was no competion back in these days, FANNY were quite unique and on their own, so to speak. Reason enough to tell the story of these ladies, that opened the door for many female musicians to come and give all you youngsters a lesson in rock history.
Read more: http://www.metalmaidens.com/fanny.htm
The paths we have taken and have left behind form the trails of our lives and country. Of recent I’ve been singing songs about ravens, the northern lights, cold weather and the ocean. Our Canadian trails.
In August Shannon Butler picked me a fortune cookie from a jar. It was the fortune pictured above. Really? For me? How could that be?
In September I flew once again to my homeland of Ontario. Half of my heart. I sang. So did Emm.
Ink on paper can grow wings. Ideas are dangerous things. Knock knock. I’m there.