The Quest For Real Country Music

Archive for April, 2016

Blake Berglund Announces 7” Vinyl As First Installment of Trilogy

April 18th 2016 10:03 am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 18, 2016 (REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN) – Saskatchewan Twangster, Blake Berglund, is releasing a limited edition, double-single on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Word’s Gettin’ Around/Funny Thing About You Leaving will appear on translucent orange vinyl and act as the first installment to a trilogy of releases throughout 2016 and 2017. As the overall concept unfolds, Word’s Gettin’ Around/Funny Thing About You Leaving will be followed by the anticipated full-length concept album, Realms, and the finally The Architect EP.

I didn’t realize the scope of the project until I was well into the process. The songs had a through-line that demanded a third release to complete the thought. The last couple months have been an intense game of creative catch-up.”

Recorded at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, ON in early 2015 and produced by Aaron Goldstein, the two tracks explore a throw-back sound and push the boundaries of country music’s modern tone. With the apparent mainstream shift in Berglund’s genre, Word’s Gettin’ Around/Funny Thing About You Leaving has a sincerity through its thought-provoking lyricism and polished musicianship.

Berglund’s efforts have found him a co-write on Barber’s new release, The Puck Drops Here and Quinton Blair’s current single “Following Him Around”. His solo-penned track, “I’ve Never”, was recently performed by Calgary-based duo, FOXX Worthee, as part of a three song set to award them the top prize through Country 105’s Rising Star Competition presented by The Ranchman’s and Lammle’s Western Wear.

We’ve been relentlessly independent and will continue to enjoy the grind while we slowly hand responsibilities off to focus more on the creative process and the hustle.”

Berglund’s hustle is defining. Industry buzz of him selling 10,000 albums door-to-door across western Canada shows a sense of heart and ingenuity that doesn’t go unrecognized. Paralleled with a devout artistry, refined writing, and a vision and you have yourself a Contender.

Staying true to the vision, we are abandoning the industry’s model of releasing on Fridays and dropping 300 hard copies on Tuesday, May 10 – my 33rd birthday.”

The double-single hits national radio on Monday, April 25 and tour kick-off and vinyl release will take place at The Exchange in Regina on Saturday, May 7 with special guests The Windows Up Above.

WORD’S GETTIN’ AROUND TOUR 2016 (PART 1)

May 7 Regina, SK The Exchange w/The Vultures & The Windows Up Above

May 9 Moose Jaw, SK Common Café

May 10 Swift Current, SK House Concert

May 11 Medicine Hat, AB Mario’s Pub

May 12 Calgary, AB Wine-Ohs w/Quinton Blair

May 13 Calgary, AB The Palomino Smokehouse (Happy Hour Upstairs)

May 14 Priddis, AB Water’s Edge Pub

May 17 Oyen, AB The Barn Pub & Grill

May 18 Saskatoon, SK House Concert

May 19 Rosthern, SK Good Habits Café

May 20 Birch Hills, SK Mane Event aka The Flute & Fiddle

May 24 Lloydminster, SK The Root: Community Emporium

May 25 Camrose, AB Sacred Arts

May 26 Red Deer, AB Red Boar Smokery

May 27 Usona, AB House Concert

May 28 Sundre, AB Swamp Donkeys Pub

Country Music Abundance – Tex Emery and Roy Nichols’ Telecaster

April 9th 2016 2:12 pm

In the wake of our Merle’s death, we woke Friday morning with an unassailable need to jump in the vehicle and drive to Moose Jaw for the day to see Tex. With an impressive resumé spanning over 60 years in the industry, Tex Emery and I bonded through our mutual friendship with my band mate Steve Leidal. Being introduced backstage at Gateway Music Festival in Bengough, SK, led to using my position with the Saskatchewan Country Music Association to see him recognized with the 2015 Legends and Legacy award in which I was honoured to present. I’d regulate evening phone calls to hear more about his time spent with Chet Atkins, Bob Wills, Gene Autry, Wilf Carter and Hank Snow, escapades with Hee Haw’s Grandpa Jones, and musings about the state of country music. As Tex puts it: “There were only three pedal steel players in Canada, some guy in Vancouver, some guy in Halifax, and me.” I believe him.

Tex will pull you in with his charm to find you quickly developing a fond care for his well-being and a need to have hours fly by in his presence. Bryce, Steve and I through the guitars in the van and headed off for the day. We picked Tex up and went for a coffee where he wooed the waitresses and held hands with the female construction workers on their lunch breaks. Back at the house we listened to his recordings that went as far back at the 50’s to as recent as last year. He booted up computer, where as an 86 year old man is just learning home recording so he can receive files from afar, do his thing, and fire’em back down the line. Forget his back catalogue, Tex is out-composing and recording all of us in the scene, combined. We jammed some Ray Price as he slinked around on his steel in his sun-room addition where he checks in on Bonnie by poking is head in the bedroom window that once gave way to fresh outside air.

Our visit saw it’s end immediately following an hour so of jamming out standard only to get interrupted by Tex pulling out vinyl of Hal “Lone Pine” Breau and priding the mono recordings.

“Listen how simple that is boys. Mark my word, it’ll all come around again. People will go crazy for it. Mark my word.”

Another hour later, Bonnie snapped a few pictures, hugs handed out, and we we headed back to Regina.

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Having spent the the previous night two-stepping to Regina indie-rockers Rah Rah’s alter-ego (truly impressive and raw) country group, The Alley Dawgs (mouthful, I know), I must have totalled five quick hours of sleep. Paired with the 6 strip chicken dinner at Moose Jaw’s Deja Vu, I started to head-bob around Pense, SK. Powering through, I got home and hit the hay, sleeping until supper.

Rested, I woke to find that the band-date continued without me and the boys received a call from our friend Buzz down at Sawchyn Guitars on Dewdney…and not just any call, but an urgent one of excitement.

“You’ll never guess what Bryce and I did this afternoon” said Steve

“You guys went skateboarding and hit up some slurpees”

“Nope – we played Roy Nichols’ guitar.”

“What do you mean you played Roy Nichols’ guitar?”

Roy Nichols wiki reads as follows:

‘Roy Nichols (October 21, 1932 – July 3, 2001) was an American country music guitarist best known as the lead guitarist for Merle Haggard for more than two decades. He was known for his guitar technique, a mix of fingerpicking and pedal steel-like bends, usually played on a Telecaster.’

Gifted by Roy himself to a Regina resident via Kelowna, complete with letter of authentication, free of any obligations, the 1952 Telecaster found its way into the guitar shop of Peter Sawchyn. Up for sale.

Roy Nichols Tele

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En route to Winnipeg we stopped back in at Peter’s this morning to closer share in the Universe unfolding.

I refer to it as synchronicity.

Belle and Bryce covered some Merle.

A Humble Thank You to The Hag

April 6th 2016 1:53 pm

Death is beautiful.

With the numerous passings of musical icons in the past few months, I felt my respects were best paid in silence. Resisting from a passing tweet or Facebook post but truly giving a few minutes to the appreciation for their lifelong dedication to creating art. Coupled with an unexplainable experience closing out 2015 I found myself questioning and hence appreciating our time in this physical realm. Seeing everything through a completely fresh perspective, it moved me into a place of knowing that we come into this world and have a mission of leaving it a better place. Word’s resonate and thoughts manifest.

It seems suiting that I received news on the passing of Merle Haggard this morning while immersed in the administrative duties of finalizing tour dates and committing to a year in the van with the boys. It was only days ago I felt a strange newfound sense of motivation after seeing the reworked poster for Willie’s performance at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, TX. The original bearing Merle’s face alongside Willie’s, it was now promoting Ryan Bingham, Shakey Graves and Jamey Johnson as support for the three night stand. A No. 1 debut with Willie on their Django and Jimmie album, a plethora of click-bait pleas for prayer and finally the soon to be iconic photos taken by Ben Haggard of Sturgill alongside The Hag was the Universe preparing us for the passing of a man that truly accepted his artistic mission.

To communicate how his writing has shaped me in character and self-expression would be extensive. As a band we study his stylings and if ever in a creative bind simply revert to our mantras of ‘what would Merle do?’, ‘how would Roy phrase this?’ and ‘steal something from Redd Volkaert’. We’ve paid for albums and touring vans by playing his songs live for ten years now. Bryce has dissected The Strangers instrumentals and began his own band in the styles of.

With love and white light we wish the soul of Merle a smooth crossing and graciously thank him for all he’s left behind. Prayers to his family and close friends that they find comfort in this time of grieving the physical loss. And finally a heartfelt appreciation for the influence he bestowed on the pathway we are on.

– B

Merle-Haggard