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

And

Honed its blade!!!

Its weight

Its length

Its handle

Which soaks in my sweat

And

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

My DNA

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
For
He is always alone
And a rabbit named Tag
For
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
To
The Irish Sea
To
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!!!
For
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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Riverview


Between Belbedere and Clyed
The last days of his youth
Were coming to an end
He was born into a world of hard labor
The plow, the axe, and the crosscut saw
Were the tools by which
His family carved out a living
They migrated wherever
The next income could be made
From
The North Florida farmlands of Hilliard
To the snake-infested waterways
Of the Okefenokee Swamp
Cutting timber and growing crops
Were their way of life
Yet
Life was also lived
On the mean streets of North Jacksonville
Riverview
Was where you went
When all other options were gone
His father grew up on these
Same streets delivering turpentine
From the forest surrounding the city
At the age of 14 in 1906
He would gear up mules
And make the journey alone
On a wagon
His overalls stained with sticky pinesap
With tobacco
With sweat
With dirt! 
Now his son
Was following his father’s footsteps
Yet
Work was not all that thrived in Riverview!
On the north side
When the sun went down
With his hair slicked back
And
His blue eyes sparkling in the streetlights
This young man
Would slip into the night
With his brothers and friends   
Going from honky tonks to juke joints
Anywhere a good time could be had!
Because
When you were a child of The Great Depression
And
Had seen times so hard
Your parents boiled the seed
For planting that year’s crop
To feed your brothers and sister
To feed you!
Any happiness even if through recklessness
Was excepted
But 
His way of living
On the edge of existences   
Was drifting away
Drifting toward a domestic life
Of a father
Of my father
And
On a Sunday afternoon in 1952
One last ride was taken
He and his Harley 74
With its
Suicide shift jutting upwards
Its 1200 CC motor winding out
The wind stinging his face
As he blasted through
Florida’s highway heat waves, and humidity
He hit the Main Street Bridge
On the north side of the city
At 100mph
Crossing over
From one life to another
From Harleys to house mortgages
From ‘42 Ford coupes
To station wagons
He would raise his kids
With only stories of the life he left behind
But the promise
That our lives
Would be better than the one he had lived!
The sun set on his wild ways
But rose every day for us
In the figure of our father!
Now
His 82-year-old hands wrinkled and scared
Point here and there in the horizon
Telling me stories
About the places and people
That once were alive!
Yet he can’t find any trace
Of the world that surrounded his childhood
But the world he created for us will live on
For generations to come
All made by a man who was born into nothing
But was able to give us everything