Red Dirt Music

August 26th 2014 10:49 am

You land on the east coast and sensory overload sets in.  The smell of the ocean, the sight of the land, the overwhelming kindness of the people, the sense of pride they share.  With a couple days to spare leading into our performance for the PEI 2014 celebrations we crammed as many touristy desires in as possible.  All-you-can-eat mussels accompanying our first lobster supper resulted in five buckets with the news that “they were out” upon our last.  An 11 o’clock pm trip to the Atlantic Ocean and an accommodation through Air BnB rested us up to run two days of rehearsals with the new line-up (Belle Plaine Band meets The Vultures); I’d love to include that it aided to the actual performance but the evening prior to the show was an all-nighter and an eviction on my end from a local establishment – we won’t go there.

Thank you to the PEI 2014 committee and the patrons of the island (a few ex-Saskatchewanites) for coming out last Friday night.  Belle Plaine kicked off the evening and we closed it down.  With Bryce (guitar) and Steve (drums) scheduled to fly out at 6:15 am the following morning, the second night of staying out led to a knock on my door at 7:30 am and two missed flights.  Air Canada usually receives the shit-end-of-the-stick from me but their Charlottetown employees did everything they could and got our boys on a flight (saving us $2600 in re-booking tickets and fees).

The tour continues; thrown back into the “solo acoustic/duo” mode on my end.  We had the pleasure to play for the Hon. Robert Ghiz (Premier of PEI) and his/our friend Brad (Premier of SK) at a reception on the harbour initiating inter-trade and investment.  Dammit, I like the political stuff – I do – the conversations, the disagreements, the enlightenment.  With the free bar shutting down and the last piece of SK beef tenderloin consumed, a couple more pints were drank and the chance to watch our Riders beat the Lions in the “guarantee a win” game.

Milton Community Hall, last night, and Canoe Cove School, tonight, will act as our fundraising efforts for the small halls on the island.  The cozy crowd came in to our cultural exchange with the night in Miltonvale Park being capped off by further support from our Premier, turning up to catch the show.  Eight shows to go. We play in Canoe Cove tonight, cross the Confederation Bridge tomorrow and attack Nova Scotia on Thursday to play in Charlos Cove at The Seawind Landing Country Inn.  And Beyond.

“This red dirt tastes exactly like our black dirt” – Bryce Lewis

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PEI 2014 Celebrations, East Coast Tour and Via Rail

August 11th 2014 12:19 pm

What a huge honour to announce that myself and The Vultures will be among the few bands representing Saskatchewan for the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference in Charlottetown, PE on August 22, 2014.  That evening will be a double bill with Regina’s Belle Plaine, in which we will continue the split bill throughout PEI on a series of Hall Fundraisers and house concerts/private functions – most notably, the Premier’s Reception in Charlottetown on Sunday, August 24.

Undecided whether to “ferry it” or take the bridge (they both freak this flatland prairie boy out) we will head into Nova Scotia to perform, ending the tour with an Industry Showcase at The Carleton in Halifax, NS on Tuesday, September 2.

Another thank you to Via Rail and their Artists on Board Series allowing Belle and Myself to perform for passengers from Halifax to Saskatoon in exchange for fare across the country – only to get home, pick up the boys, jump in Whitebear and continue pre-release dates leading into the release of the new album; Jasper on September 16.

 21.08.14 – House Concert w/Belle Plaine – Charlottetown, PE

22.08.14 – Prince Edward Island Celebration Zone w/Belle Plaine – Charlottetown, PE

24.08.14 – Premier’s Reception w/Belle Plaine – Charlottetown, PE

25.08.14 – Milton Community Hall Fundraiser w/Belle Plaine – Miltonvale Park, PE

26.08.14 – Canoe Cove School Fundraiser w/Belle Plaine – Canoe Cove, PE

27.08.14 – House Concert w/Belle Plaine – TBA

28.08.14 – Seawind Landing Country Inn w/Belle Plaine – Charlos Cove, NS

29.08.14 – Media Promotion Day – Halifax, NS

31.08.14 – The Split Crow Pub w/Belle Plaine – Truro, NS

01.09.14 – House Concert w/Belle Plaine – TBA

02.09.14 – The Carleton w/Belle Plaine – TBA

03.09.14 – 08.09.14 – Via Rail Artists on Board Series w/Belle Plaine – Halifax, NS – Saskatoon, SKposter_cream_web copy

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Blake Berglund to release fourth album ‘Jasper’ via Oceanman Records

August 5th 2014 8:24 am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – TUESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2014 (REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN) Blake Berglund’s fourth album is set to be released on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 via the artist’s independently operated label, Oceanman Records. Titled Jasper, the 14 song collection acts as a raw representationto his current writing style, extensive back catalogue, and follow-up to his acclaimed release; Coyote. Supported by the newly formed backing group; The Vultures, a cohesive thread binds the works while captured live over a two night stand at The Royal Canadian Legion [The Jasper Legion] in Jasper, Alberta.

“We came to a place as a band where our creative process was dictated by the fact we were on the road full-time. I’d bring the structure of a song to the boys before a show, we’d work up the production of it during soundcheck and perform it that night leading to a very organic evolution in the writing. This new creative approach allows us instantaneous feedback from our audiences.” says Berglund.

To record an album of this nature is an intrinsically complicated decision. However, when it came to deciding where to record, “well that…” Berglund explains “was easy.”

“We needed to consider everything from vibe, turnout, and the type of crowd to include in this project. The town of Jasper has the perfect mix of a relaxed atmosphere and a rowdy reputation while deeply rooted in Cowboy Culture. The efforts made over the past few years by The Legion to acquire top Canadian independent touring acts has molded it’s supporters and formed an intelligent and appreciative group of people. We needed to record this album there.”

The Jasper Legion garnered the attention of CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi, naming it one of the top 5 concert venues in North America alongside the likings of Massey Hall in Toronto, Ontario and The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, California. (Up Magazine, October, 2013)

Berglund will embark in a series of pre-release concerts in which the album will be available before its official release. The first being held on Friday, August 15, 2014 at the Jasper Legion, itself, coinciding with the historic Jasper rodeo. Dates continue with an invite to perform at the PEI 2014 Celebrations in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, throughout the East Coast and back across the Prairies.

“Many songs that have a major influence on my writing we’re recorded with this mentality. Whether it’s Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” or Jennings and Nelson’s “Good Hearted Woman”, the art was in the energy captured. Fill a room, hit record and play on your feet.”

Jasper will be released Tuesday, September 16, 2014 via Oceanman Records. For more information on Berglund’s extensive touring schedule, alternate releases, and other appearances visit www.blakeberglund.com.

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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.

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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

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