Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Lilly Hiatt

Like Loretta Lynn and Neil Young, Lilly Hiatt sings from the heart. Her lyrics and style are reminiscent of the greats I grew up listening to in The Seventies. Yet she also has that rocking edge that rolls along in rhythmic chords much like the bands I loved in The Nineties. Lilly is someone special, someone whose spirit soars high when she picks up her guitar and sings. Truly an original.

From the first time I heard her, I was enthralled with her music. The more I heard the more I wanted to hear. As time went by I would find myself singing her songs as I went through my day. So, after work one afternoon I messaged her and asked if she would do an interview. I put my phone down and collapsed onto the couch. I started to drink some coffee and watch TV. A short time passed and my phone buzzed. It was Lilly. She agreed to do the interview. 

This Is Lilly Hiatt  

How old were you when you started singing and playing guitar?

I have sang for as long as I can remember! And 12 for the guitar.

With your father also being a singer/songwriter, music had to be a large part of your childhood. When writing songs today do you reflect back on the songwriters and storytellers you first heard in your youth?

I certainly do.  I remember Prince being a soundtrack early on.  Purple Rain.  That stuck with me, as did Neil Young's Harvest Moon.  Liz Phair's Whipsmart, that's what my mom jammed when she was letting loose. They all crept in and influenced me amongst the many things I discovered on my own,  I think also just seeing the shows with all kinds of musicians.  Ya know my dad toured with Hootie and the Blowfish, he toured with BB King, Jackson Brown...they all became a part of my musical journey.  My brother was obsessed with Slayer and hip hop, my sister loved Weezer and the Spice Girls.  Everyone was bringing something to the table.

You have a wide range and very unique style of music you write. Who have been your biggest influences over the years?

Why thank you.  Well, I could write a book on it, but I won't.  At least not now.  It's hard to reduce it to just a few folks, but big writer influences I'd say would be Liz Phair, Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill, Neil Young, Eddie Vedder, Prince, Conor Oberst, Lucinda Williams and my dad of course. But, different eras have occurred and I am an avid fan of a lot of music.

You’ve covered “Guy Clark” with Aaron Lee Tasjan and “The Beatles” with Margo Price. If it were possible and you could cover any song with the original artist singing along with you, what would it be?

See, I am already stressed I left John Lennon out of that last question haha! Well, I want to sing "Daughter" with Eddie Vedder. I plan on it. I also badly want Cardi B to sample a song of mine, and I would happily sing that with her. 

On your third and latest album “Trinity Lane” you worked with Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst from the band “Shovels and Rope.” How did that come about?

I knew them both, and liked them very much as people.  When Michael was suggested to me as a possible producer, I was intrigued and began a musical conversation with him.  We vibed quickly and I knew he would push boundaries with me without pushing my buttons.  I like working with people that are willing to go to the edge and beyond, and he is! Yet with such a chill and respectful attitude.  Great listener. We had a blast if ya can't tell! 

What have you been working on lately and what would you like for the reader to check out?

I am writing up a storm planning to make another record.  Excited to be in a creative haze at the moment.  Next up tour wise is a fun run with Margo Price that goes through New Year's Eve. Should be a fun way to ring in 2019!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Colleen Rennison

Colleen Rennison is a singer, songwriter, and actress. She’s worked in films with Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Minnie Driver, Tom Arnold, Rachael Leigh Cook, Kathleen Turner, Mila Kunis, and many more. None of this I knew when I first heard her voice. A voice that is simply stunning.
I stumbled across Colleen on YouTube. Her band “No Sinner” was under recommendations. My first thought was, what a cool name. I found out later it’s her last name “Rennison” spelled backwards. I clicked the video and the music began. Within the first few notes I could hear those Delta Blues, muddy and smeared with life dripping from the guitarist’s amplifier. Then came Colleen’s voice soulful, strong, and raw with emotion.
I sat watching song after song, blown away at the sound of an old soul singing in this almost forgotten style. I say almost, because in our overstimulated world flooded with perfectly polished music, real talent is hard to find. So when you run across someone of Colleen’s caliber you instantly take notice.
The next morning waiting to clock in for work I looked her up on the web. I followed her and within a few hours she followed me back. A few weeks passed and I decided to reach out and see if she would do an interview. The next day she wrote back and agreed.
So this is Colleen Rennison.

Have you always been drawn to the blues as a musician?

I think so, I’ve always been drawn to anything with soul and pain... I’d say the blues has a lot of that.
When writing lyrics do you pull from journal entries or is writing songs a more spontaneous action for you?

I definitely go back into old journals if I manage to keep my hands on them. Sometimes it’s painful but it’s worth it. When you’re in the throes of a feeling you might not be in the position to sit down and write a song about it, but to jot down something is key, even if it doesn’t seem significant at the time it can be very valuable in the future when you have time to reflect and write.

Which artists inspired you when you were starting out, and still inspires you today?

I listened to a lot of Etta James, Aretha, Martha Reeves, Nina Simone... still do. My musical tastes have expanded slightly but never really changed.

I noticed you ride a motorcycle. What kind do you have, and how long have you been riding?

I’ve been riding for about 3 years now, taught myself after a bad breakup and I moved to Saskatoon. Haven’t looked back since.
While riding your bike and enjoying the open road do lyrics or lines for songs come to you?

I started riding to clear my head, but turns out it just spins in circles like your wheels. When I’ve got nothing but my thoughts sometimes they’ll start to sound like a song and end up writing themselves into one.

What have you been working on lately in music or film that you would like the reader to check out?

I just came back to Vancouver from Austin for The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) where a film I was in called “Kingsway” showed. It’s a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family where I play Lori, a pregnant singer who rides a motorcycle (the only real stretch was on my T-shirt for that one). I wrote a few songs that made it into the film, and I’m hoping to flesh them out into an EP soon. Also, Colin James just released his new album and I’ve got some backup vocals on it. You should check it out! It’s a great album!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Behind The Axe

My father

Gave me my first axe

When I was 8 years of age

39 years later

It’s my go to tool

I’ve honed my skills behind the axe


Honed its blade!!!

Its weight

Its length

Its handle

Which soaks in my sweat


Sometimes my blood

Becomes a part of me

And me of it!!!

A symphony of

Cutting, slicing, and chopping

Me, the conductor

It, the instrument

The Axe and Cutting Mattock

Have been in my hands

My father’s hands

His father’s hands

His father’s, father’s hands

So on and so forth

All the way back to Ireland, Scotland, and Wales

Back to Scandinavia and The Vikings

The axe is deeply rooted in my blood


Everything that is me

When it comes to working outdoors

One day

When I’m old

And my hands too feeble

Too crippled

To hold my axe

I’ll look back on the lands I’ve shaped

The dirt I’ve churned

The trees I’ve fallen

And remember

My days

Behind the axe

Monday, May 28, 2018

Open Letter to Brandon Graham

Time slips by or maybe
I’m slipping as time goes by me?
Not every day is a drag
But it seems the ones
That involve passing by the TV
When the news is on
Can really bring me down
I’d much rather walk outside
Stroll down the path with my friends of the woods
Like a raccoon named Sugar
She’s so large
So big
I believe from
Eating out of the ice cream store’s dumpster
Down the street from my home
She waddles from the weeds and peers at me with
Dark curious eyes
Then slowly makes her way back into the brush
There’s also a deer I’ve named Brownie
Her husband Buck Owens and their child Jane Fawn-Da
Also come to say hello
A turkey named Loner
He is always alone
And a rabbit named Tag
It runs to me then back away
Then back to me then away it runs
They all seem to be so much more entertaining
Than anything on the tube…
And Brandon
I still wonder how your writing is going from time to time?
I wonder about all of my friends
Who practice the craft of words
Along with my own thoughts of what next to write?
Lizzy Worth is still doing her thing above us
In that far away land called Canada
I’m sure she still scribbles words
Her cat Plumb
Most likely meowing in circles around her
As she pulls words from the air like magic
And arranges them on paper
Illian Rain is up there too
Her cat’s named Leroy
I’m sure he meows
I’m just not sure how much it affects her writing
Whatever the case
Illian and Lizzy are such strong voices
From the land of Canada
And Brandon
I still talk to Lizzie Woodham from across the sea
Emailing words through wires way over there
She’s patient with me and my questions
About her writing
About the places and things that make up Europe
From Scottish Snow Flakes
The Irish Sea
The smells and sounds of the streets of Soho
But most of all she listens to me and my wandering mind
What a friend I have in her!!!
And Brandon
Mallory Smart is still out there somewhere
The windy city I believe
Or maybe the city of wind?
She loves coffee, you know?
She writes and publishes
Publishes and writes
Words swirl around her mind
Like a cyclone
At least that’s what I believe they do!
When I met Mallory
Another person that loves “The Beats”
It gave me hope for the future
And Brandon
I still think of your encounter with Burroughs
It still makes me smile
And Brandon
I still wonder if we, us, and our friends in writing
Will ever have a name associated with our work?
With our lives?
Like “The Beats” or “The Lost Generation”
I’ve pondered this question for years?
So, I will now take it upon myself to name us
“The Holding Generation”
There! I’ve coined it!!!
I feel we are holding onto hope
Holding onto anything
That tomorrow will be better than today
That moms and dads will be able to hold
Their children after a day at school
That the kids will carry books
Instead of bulletproof jackets
Holding onto the thought
That maybe just maybe
People will stop killing each other
Holding onto the idea that society
Will somehow someway get their act together…
But most of all
Holding on
While we continue to write and create art
That’s all I can do anymore