400,000 kms and 12 year old scotch

July 24th 2014 2:13 pm

The most difficult part of being an independent artist is attaining tangible rewards for the day to day grind.  Industry recognition and acheivements comes but can never be a set goal, no body is handing out gold stickers for a solid week of booking a west coast tour and dare you take payment from a gig and figure out how it breaks down into an hourly wage leading up to that performance.  Every once in a while however something that would be almost irrelevant or even seen as negative to the average person comes around – or turns over, if you will – and is held as a massive achievement.

After winning an online auction in 2009 through the Government of Saskatchewan we attained a 2001 GMC Savana diesel with 167,000 km for a beautiful $3000, we pulled into the Jam Space in Regina on Saturday afternoon rolling a perfect 400,000 km.  Of all the awards we’ve been given and milestones met, this one was deserving of a 12 year old bottle of scotch and some IPA’s on ice – we sat in the van, never moved it an inch, and drank.  Here’s to you Whitebear and another 600,000 kms.

400000km

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A tour with Belle Plaine – Part II: Lucky, Dunn, & Bellamy

May 22nd 2014 9:03 pm

As a new supporter and acquaintance of the Bruno Arts Bank Establishment in Bruno, SK, it’s a selfish hope that more towns are blessed with a venue that shares an outlook on the artistic community as The Arts Bank and owner, Jonas Hrebeniuk, do.  Jonas’ hospitality for a week prior to hitting the road allowed us to show up, bunk up, and take over the coffee shop as our rehearsal space – not to mention full access to the Barista Machine (the moving parts and gauges intimidated by attempts to up my mad Latté Art skills).

As any traveling musician will attest, the joys in touring fall on the relationships harvested.  Whether it’s a rekindling of the promoter that you only get to see when in their venue, the invites for home-cooked meals, fellow musicians on shared bills or the appreciative patrons; it’s what keeps us out there.  Our first show in Saskatoon took place at Bon Temps Cafe boasting a turn-out of over two hundred people.  When Belle and I first began loose set list planning we thought it would be interesting to make it a priority to cover songs that were as well written as hits but unknown as B-sides and more importantly, written by our friends.  Our first attempt at this was fulfilled with our good pal Zachary Lucky in attendance and his songs Town to Town & Saskatchewan rendered in our own honky tonk style…let me back up – I should say just Town to Town as the later became a quick casualty to my elementary harmonizing abilities.  Thanks to Jamie Peever for the hook-up and Codie Prevost for the beds that night.

With an airport rendezvous at 9 am the following morning, Mr. Jonas Hrebeniuk jumped in the touring wagon and west we headed.  Good on you Edmonton for keeping the country scene your own up there – over the past few years I’ve been exposed to numerous Edmontonians that carry the pride in the genre as it should be done.  We played a perfectly sized house concert by the river under the organization of Mike Dunn (pick up Mike’s album here) – opening up for Darrek Anderson & The Guaranteed and drinking beer with buddies Jesse Dee (Picture the Ocean) and Clayton Bellamy (The Roadhammers) – all the while being severely poisoned by Oil of Oregano (see Part I) – The damn triple O sauce, as Steve Brockley recently called it.  Really good hanging with everyone in Edmonton and a special thanks to Tad Hargrave for the breakfast invite and solid chats on networking and marketing the next morning – much appreciated.

As I slept, Bryce took on the mountains and safely docked us into Jasper only to have a wonderful home-cooked meal awaiting our return.  Ray and Donna, thank you so much for the eats, and drinks, and…everything else.  They’re the fueling stations, places as such.  The Legion filled right up for our performance – an ongoing thank you to Ken Kuzminski for the time and effort he puts into that place – and Clayton Bellamy for making the trek from Edmonton to check out the second show.  We rose early to take Kitty and Gus for a walk and headed out on our way.

The drive home was long. I slept almost the full way.  The poisoning seemed to subside a little – still sharp headaches, swollen glands, and wild sweats but a lot less pain throughout.  We dropped Belle off and picked The Vultures up – headed east for a performance in Manitoba…again, sleeping the whole way.  Performing and back to sleep.  The self/internet diagnosis of Oil of Oregano poisoning may somewhat have been accurate but involve a professional with a trip to emergency and they’ll be quick to tell you:

“Son, you’ve got Mono”

Slowed down but not taken out – see you out there as soon as possible.

Blake Mike

Bellamy Berglund Hankewich

Blake Mel Walk

A tour with Belle Plaine – Part I: A new suit, the night sweats, and the wrath of the Oregano

May 21st 2014 5:56 pm

To begin in a place regarding somewhat of a public service announcement, it is detrimental one follows the recommended dosage on any health supplement or medicinal product; in this case, Oil of Oregano.  The wild extract has been the center of many band discussions mainly due to it’s rank stench.  Overlooking their opinions on the matter I’d continue to lean on it as a preventative measure leading into healthy rehearsals and tours as I swore by its ability to ward off the common cold – my main paranoia as a vocalist.  Rearing to hit the road with my trusty sidekick – Bryce Lewis and new tour partner, Belle Plaine – three weeks ago I hit the Oil. Hard.  Three to five “drops” was substituted by three to five “pulls” off the bottle…surely that’ll kill what’s to come – and that it did.  Unbeknownst to me, the excessive intake carried toxic results killing off all good and bad bacteria throughout my mouth and digestive tract leading to the poisoning of my filtration system (liver, kidneys). What I hoped would relieve an itchy throat became the culprit to painful sores, raw throat, an aching body, pulsing headaches, bloodshot eyes, greenish yellow skin, and the mysterious night sweats. Ice cold, drenching, night sweats.  Rule number one of the live performance – never admit illness to a listening crowd but Goddammit, I was sick as a fucking dog.

It’s surprising what mental preparation can achieve, especially in the area of harmonies.  The task at hand has always been an area of difficulty but with the patience of Miss Belle Plaine working in and around my complaining and irritability due to my poisoning, goals were achieved one major third at a time.  A solid two week polishing from vocals to musicianship and a couple suit jackets for Bryce and I and we were ready to pull the van out of the driveway and head out with the prettiest touring partner we’ve had in years. No offense J.R.

The woman can sing.  Such a simple statement.  They say the only way to become a better tennis player is to get your ass kicked by the best.  From the oregano to the vocals of Belle Plaine – consider my ass handed to me; half of which was quite the honour.  Belle graces a stage with her aura and holds an audience with her edge – her jazz influences are perfectly balanced by her honky tonk attitude.  Her lyrics bind her chaotic chord progressions and anecdotes tie all songs together.  Gentle finger-picking and a stomping left foot.

Photo by Electric Umbrella Images Inc.

Photo by Liam Richards

 

 

 

 

Tour with Belle Plaine

May 7th 2014 10:47 am

 

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Sask Sampler

March 24th 2014 11:13 am

Thank you for everyone who came out to a packed house at The Bushwakker Saturday night for the Sask Sampler.  It was an honour to share the stage with such an eclectic line-up including The Slim City Pickers, Mario Lepage, Little Criminals and our brothers in The Dead South  – all leading the house being brought down by Sound Society; a classy bunch of cats and ass kicking songwriters.  We would like to express our appreciation to The Gateway Festival, Ness Creek, and The Regina Folk Fest for the invite to perform and wish all three festivals a very successful season.  Be sure to pick up your tickets at the following links

Regina Folk Festival              The Gateway Festival           Ness Creek Music Festival 

 

 

Folk Alliance International 2014 Showcase Appearances

February 11th 2014 12:00 pm

I will be appearing at this year’s Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, MO from February 20 – 23.

The following showcases will be held at The Westin:

Thursday, February 20 – Folk Music Canada Acoustic – Rm #749 – 2:30 pm

Friday, February 21 – SaskMusic Showcase – Governors Suite (Breakout West A) Rm #530 – 12:00 am

Saturday, February 22 – SaskMusic Showcase – Senators Suite (Breakout West B) Rm #532 – 3:00 pm

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Blake Berglund + The Vultures @ The Pickers’ Cup

January 11th 2014 5:22 pm

Thursday’s would consist of mysteriously being late for hockey practice.  I’d get on the ice and make up some story about how chores ran too long, the horses got out, or a meteor impacted one of the JD’s behind the barn when the truth of the matter was far worse than any of those; I had piano lessons.  Regardless of being able to power through arpeggios and minor scale patterns and still not being able to raise the puck of the ground or skate backwards, I loved hockey and despised the piano.  Even though the music took me further and further away from the rink, we’re excited to announce that this February, myself and The Vultures are going to be back on the ice; included on this stellar lineup beside Kathleen Edwards, Royal Canoe, Daniel Romano, Jenny Berkel and Andy Shauf (to name a few) – Get your tickets here

PickersCupPoster

Top 10 of 2013

January 10th 2014 9:03 pm

Thank you to Regina’s Leader Post for including my personal top 10 album list of 2013 in their December issue 

10. The Ballad of Losing You, Zachary Lucky. Lucky’s voice wanders smooth and is complimented perfectly through the production of all 10 songs. Strong tones, stronger writing.

9. Iron Bison EP, Iron Bison. These hard hitting, rock revival purists are only going to define Regina’s rock scene in the years to come. Every song carries, at the very least, one massive riff and more grooves than a “Learn To Router” workshop.

8. The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, Zac Brown Band. With the comments expressed about the dire state of country music this year from everybody from Tom Petty to Zac Brown himself (I’ll reserve my own opinion,) Zac and the team took it upon themselves to throw caution to the wind and do whatever the hell they wanted to do. They knocked it out of the park with an invite to have David Grohl drum and produce a four-song EP.

7. … Like Clockwork, Queens of the Stone Age. The title simply calls it as it is, QOTSA may be the tightest band around. Amid the crazy time signatures and weaving melody lines, every start and stop is punctual and emphatic — with that said, there’s a lot more space I found on this album than their previous releases.

6. Same Trailer, Different Park, Kacey Musgraves. Everyone from Ray Wylie Hubbard to George Strait is congratulating this album. Musgraves’ writing is quirky, witty, and strong. Everything about this release is real.

5. Like a Rose, Ashley Monroe. — Country is going to be saved through an all-female movement. This album touches on everything from drug usage to pregnancy all encompassed with a heavy heavy dose of pedal steel.

4. Let it Lie, The Bros. Landreth. The most sonically pleasing album I’ve heard in a long, long time. Our fellow Winnipeggers mixed their natural grit with a perfect amount of polish through the unparalleled musicianship, production sensibilities, and the sexiest of grooves.

3. The Wild Feathers, The Wild Feathers. I was introduced to this band as Ryan Bingham’s opening act throughout the year. Another band where the concept of a genre is never considered and the writing is totally disciplined for the sake of the song.

2. Old Yellow Moon, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell. Crowell joined Harris’ Hot Band in 1975 and almost 40 years after their first collaboration, the duo proves why they are the best. Crowell’s voice is smooth and writing, as usual, is phenomenal; Harris sells every lyric she sings and displays her vibrance in every song recorded.

1. Southeastern, Jason Isbell. As a massive fan of The Drive-By Truckers, Isbell got a free pass but I had no idea that the writing would be as strong as it was. This album is my No. 1 for that reason alone; from lyrics to melody, I never found anything this year that compared in the slightest.

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The Bros. Landreth/Blake Berglund & The Vultures @ The Artful Dodger in Regina, SK

January 3rd 2014 4:03 pm

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Back To Our Roots; Tour for STARS

September 10th 2013 5:32 pm

I’m an very honoured to announce that I will be included in the Back To Our Roots; Tour for STARS fundraising effort for STARS air ambulance.  Through the organizational skills of Lorri Solomon Matthewson, I will be performing alongside the songstress herself and troubadour Cowboy; Larry Krause.  From October 1st to 7th we will be performing 7 concerts across Saskatchewan with proceeds going towards the efforts of STARS.

Please take the time to navigate around the dedicated website ( www.tourforstars.com ) and if interested in donating to the cause please do so through the “DONATE” buttons on the page or by emailing myself at management@blakeberglund.com.

Hope to see everyone out:

October 1 – Carlyle, SK – Cornerstone Theatre

October 2 – Yorkton, SK – The Legion

October 3 – Saskatoon, SK – The Refinery

October 4 – Nipawin, SK – The Evergreen Centre

October 5 – Regina, SK – Casino Regina Show Lounge

October 6 – Swift Current, SK – The Lyric Theatre

October 7 – Kindersley, SK – Kindersley Elks Hall

STARS