Kicking Down the Door with Whitehorse

I recently took in a concert at the London Music Hall with a good friend of mine. The band playing that night was Whitehorse – a Canadian folk-rock, husband-and-wife duo from Hamilton, Ont.

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(Photo courtesy of London Music Hall)

My boyfriend introduced me to Luke and Melissa’s music when we first started dating and I became an instant fan.

I first saw Whitehorse (and my friend was there too!) in July 2013 at Hillside Festival in Guelph where they closed out the main stage. It was my first time attending Hillside Festival and seeing Whitehorse live made it even more exciting and special.9425402706_1647bf19a1_z

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Whitehorse at Hillside Festival 2013. (Photos by Steph Smith/@vagabond__photography)

I saw them again a couple months later in Waterloo at Starlight Social Club’s 10th Anniversary event.10526528374_bd5eaa77ff_z

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Whitehorse at Starlight Social Club 10th Anniversary. (Photos by Steph Smith/@vagabond__photography)

The night at London Music Club was particularly special because I had won a pair of tickets, plus a VIP meet & greet with Luke and Melissa, and I got to share it all with my friend Duncan. Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 1.28.13 PMApart from my boyfriend, I don’t think there’s anyone else who would have enjoyed it more than Duncan – I am so happy he could go with me!23658361_10155743953597464_5787873978799978188_nThe VIP meet & greet was hosted by Big Rock Brewery and included meeting Luke and Melissa a taking a photo with them, an intimate acoustic performance, a Big Rock Brewery x Whitehorse t-shirt and pint glass, as well as a signed copy of their new album Panther in the Dollhouse.24825866_10155790155477464_1645388485_oThe show opener was Begonia, who I really enjoy. I saw her at Hillside Festival this past July so I was excited to see her perform again.

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Begonia at Hillside Festival 2017. (Photo by Steph Smith/@vagabond__photography)

Here are some of my favourite Begonia songs:
Out of My Head – Begonia
Lady in Mind – Begonia
Juniper – Begonia

When it was time for Whitehorse to take the stage, Luke and Melissa made a point of “kicking down the door” of London Music Hall, and they did not disappoint.24879477_10155790129707464_1483591000_o24726236_10155790129467464_506099338_o24740184_10155790129822464_1136196990_o24825959_10155790131582464_2074414780_o24726067_10155790134852464_1568516218_oWhitehorse performed a lot of songs off their new album, with a handful of older favourites, such as ‘Achilles’ Desire’ (The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss), ‘Tame as the Wild Ones’ and ‘Evangelina’ (both off of Leave No Bridge Unburned). It was awesome to hear Panther in the Dollhouse live because it is such unreal album that really tells a story:

“The pair makes a shift on this album from writing autobiographical songs to writing songs they refer to as “anti-fairytales,” written from the point of view of a cast of mostly female characters who grapple with issues of life, death, sex and love, all floating in an atmosphere of cinematic desert-noir.”

According to Whitehorse: “The title came from a dream. The dollhouse is a place of wholesome, conventional life. It is a perfect depiction of grown-up life based on childhood ideals and social conditioning. Enter the panther and suddenly the animal instincts we are all born with are knocking over these perfectly placed people and furniture. For better or worse, there is no ignoring this creature.”

CBC First Play: Whitehorse Panther in the Dollhouse

I LOVE every. single. song. on Panther in the Dollhouse.

Honestly.

My favourite songs of the night were obviously the two older ones I mentioned above, but also Panther in the Dollhouse‘s ‘Nighthawks’, ‘Boys Like You’, ‘Manitoba Death Star’, and ‘Epitaph in Tongues’.

At the end of the set they left the stage only to come back moments later to play a rendition of Neil Young’s ‘Ohio’ – SO GOOD. I loved hearing those bouncy riffs come out of Luke’s signature White Falcon.

It was an amazing night, to say the least. I am still thinking about it!

An Evening with Buffy Sainte-Marie

On the evening of August 7, my boyfriend and I travelled to Stratford for a very special concert, one that I had been looking forward to since the tickets first went on sale last December.

The tickets were a birthday gift from my boyfriend and they were to see a rare, solo performance by Buffy Sainte-Marie at the Avondale United Church. Buffy was performing as part of Stratford Summer Music, and to a sold-out crowd.

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(Photo by Matt Barnes Photography)

This show was the second time that I would see Buffy. I saw her for the first time at Hillside Festival 2016 in Guelph, Ont. where she closed out Sunday night on the main stage.

I’ve been a fan of Buffy for a very long time.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie at Hillside Festival 2016. (Photo by Steph Smith/@vagabond__photography)

The Stratford show was also a part of Buffy’s tour for the promotion of her new album Medicine Songs, which was slated for release on Nov. 10.

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(Photo courtesy of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s website)

Medicine Songs comes on the heels of her 2015 release Power in the Blood and revisits her material from the last 50-plus years of her career with new arrangements and lyrics. The album includes activist songs such as ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying’, ‘Universal Soldier’, ‘Little Wheel, Spin and Spin’, ‘Fallen Angels’, ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’, ‘Carry It On’, and ‘Star Walker’, to name a few.

It also features two new songs: ‘The War Racket’ (as well as an unplugged version), and ‘You Got to Run (Spirit of the Wind)‘ featuring Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq. Buffy also wrote two new sections to the Katherine Lee Bates and Samuel Ward classic ‘America the Beautiful’.

“This is a collection of front line songs about unity and resistance – some brand new and some classics – and I want to put them to work. These are songs I’ve been writing for over fifty years, and what troubles people today are still the same damn issues from 30-40-50 years ago: war, oppression, inequity, violence, rankism of all kinds, the pecking order, bullying, racketeering and systemic greed. Some of these songs come from the other side of that: positivity, common sense, romance, equity and enthusiasm for life.”

“I’ve found that a song can be more effective than a 400-page textbook. It’s immediate and replicable, portable and efficient, easy to understand – and sometimes you can dance to it. Effective songs are shared, person-to-person, by artists and friends, as opposed to news stories that are marketed by the fellas who may own the town, the media, the company store and the mine. I hope you use these songs, share them, and that they inspire change and your own voice.”

“It might seem strange that along with the new ones, I re-recorded and updated some of these songs from the past using current technologies and new instrumentations – giving a new life to them from today’s perspective. The thing is, some of these songs were too controversial for radio play when they first came out, so nobody ever heard them, and now is my chance to offer them to new generations of like-minded people dealing with these same concerns. It’s like the play is the same but the actors are new.”

“I really want this collection of songs to be like medicine, to be of some help or encouragement, to maybe do some good. Songs can motivate you and advance your own ideas, encourage and support collaborations and be part of making change globally and at home. They do that for me and I hope this album can be positive and provide thoughts and remedies that rock your world and inspire new ideas of your own.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie on her album Medicine Songs

At her Stratford show, she played so many of my favourites: ‘Cripple Creek’ (with her mouth bow!), ‘It’s My Way’, ‘Little Wheel Spin and Spin’, ‘Cod’ine’, ‘I’m Gonna Be a Country Girl Again’, ‘Sunday Blue’, ‘We Are Circling’, ‘Not the Lovin’ Kind’, ‘Cho Cho Fire’, ‘Farm in the Middle of Nowhere’, and ‘Generation’, to name a few.

She also played ‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’, ‘Darling Don’t Cry’, ‘Universal Soldier’, and ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying’ – songs that give me goosebumps and nearly bring me to tears every time I hear them.

In addition, she performed ‘The War Racket’ (she played it at Hillside as well!). She also performed a spoken word rendition of her song ‘Carry It On’ – similar to her 2016 JUNO Awards performance.

Buffy sounded amazing and sang with so much emotion. She really gave it her all and commanded the stage.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie at Hillside Festival 2016. (Photo by Steph Smith/@vagabond__photography)

At the end of the show, she was gracious enough to do a meet & greet, photos and autographs.

I got the chance to meet her and tell her how much I loved the show and her work. A dream come true!20638039_10155466299257464_4409231807838583900_n20727841_10155470119492464_1390729207449900192_nA very magical, wonderful and special evening – to say the least! One that I will remember forever.