Our first visit and stop in Quebec landed us in Vaudreuil-Dorion, where not only did Martine Dugal await us as our gracious Couchsurfing host, but she also happened to be an accomplished artist and willing participant for our blog interview.
Martine lives in a cute little apartment within the hustle and bustle of a busy street above a fancy restaurant. It seems to suit her as she is a woman always on the go between her job, art work, singing, bicycling, boxing and family get togethers. The first thing we noticed about Martine was her friendly, welcoming nature, sense of humour and easy laugh. She is one of those people that defines an effervescent personality!
After enjoying a wonderful meal and engaging conversation with Martine, she introduced us to her various artistic outlets. What we found out is that her foray into new artistic mediums has had an almost “heroic” approach to it. Mild fear mixed with a bit of trepidation that is overcome by excitement and a passion to pursue, improve and achieve in that art form, leaving fear in the dust!
Martine’s open spirit blends well with her openness to try various art mediums, whether from her own inclinations, or at the prompting of others. For instance, Martine had first started oil painting at the suggestion that each family member make a hand made Christmas gift for another member; her sister being the lucky recipient of hers. Her brother-in-law, having been just layed off from his job, proposed that he and Martine take tattoo art lessons and open up their own business. He subsequently found other work but Martine carried on with the plan of becoming a tattoo artist. Her paintings by air brushing, such as you see of Tom Waits and the eastern influenced statue figure in her video interview, was also a suggestion from someone, and as you can see Martine has taken her creative flair to this new medium quite nicely. Martine has also been singing since she was very young, but it was her appreciative listeners that encouraged her to cultivate her singing talents.
Although we did not discuss Martine’s love for singing in her interview, it would be incomplete not to give you a taste of her remarkable voice. Click on the links below to hear some samples of Martine’s awesome singing of various cover tunes on YouTube:
Enjoy some time with Martine in her video interview below and please feel free to leave a comment!
Above: Recently completed stunning Wolf and Hummingbird urn box.
James Michels is a Cree/Metis artist that pulls himself between his longstanding passion and experience as an accomplished musician, and his newer passion for creating and perfecting his Bent Cedar Box works of art. It was through his six years of journeying on the road playing music with his band within the pacific northwest that he came across the expert carvers and bentwood box makers that he would observe for hours on end and learn the skills and art form.
I had never heard of a bentwood box before until I stumbled upon James’ website. After looking at the magnificent boxes and panels, the uniqueness and beauty were evident, but there were many unanswered questions such as “where did they originate?”, “what are they used for?”, “are they still used today?”.
What exactly is a bentwood box? The best explanation is an excerpt from James’ site:
“Bentwood boxes are one of the most outstanding items manufactured by Native people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, including parts of southern Alaska, western British Columbia and southern Washington. Made by kerfing and steam bending a single plank to form four sides, the containers with a height greater than their width are called boxes, while those with a length greater than their height are referred to as chests. Historically, boxes came in various sizes from small (measured in inches) to massive (large enough to provide seating). Some undecorated, others carved or painted or both. The highly decorated ones were symbols of wealth. Fishermen used boxes shaped to fit into their canoes to carry tackle and supplies. Some were used for cooking (filled with water and hot stones) while others were used for storage of food, clothing, tools, or supplies.”
As an addition to the uses for bentwood boxes, James said that he has been getting requests for urn boxes, one of which he was just finishing up when we visited with him. One of the urns that James was asked to create was from a family that lost their little boy. The song below that James wrote and performed is a dedication to that young boy.
Click on the player below to hear “I Will Be The Moon” by James Michels.
I Will Be The Moon
Join us below with James in his workshop as he demonstrates the fine wood craftmanship of making bentwood boxes:
Heading west from Kaslo along a picturesque, winding road, we arrived at New Denver and then continued on northwest until we came to the charming town of Nakusp, British Columbia. Our 2:00pm destination on this day was The Small Gallery, home to visual artist Gillian Redwood’s art creations as well as her working studio. We were also there to meet with her partner Caelen Starblanket La Rocque, an instrumental acoustic guitarist with an enduring history of music spanning 50 years and even going back to the early 1970′s as guitarist for the famed pop music group The Platters.
As we stepped into the gallery, Gillian and Caelen greeted us warmly and showed us around; the small space appearing larger with Gillian’s expressive paintings welcoming us in. Something that I noticed about Gillian’s art work is that the longer I stared at it the more I saw within it, the figures blending with the landscape, one not overpowering the other, the human form an equal participant with nature. Such as it was intended. This perfect setting for our interview was further enriched by Caelen playing Mr. Bojangles for us on his guitar; this duo was certainly a treat for the eyes and ears!
Please click on the images below for a closer look at Gillian’s creations!
Gillian is also the creator of Your Creative Spirit, a workshop held at the Halcyon Hot Springs Village and Spa; a collaboration of Halcyon’s healing hot springs and nourishing food, Gillian’s mentorship to bring out peoples creativity, and Caelen’s soothing strums of his guitar as he provides the background ambiance music.
As we finished up with some photographs Caelen invited us to park our van in their driveway to use their internet. We gratefully accepted and then Corinne upped the bid to asking if we could use their bathroom as well, and eventually arriving at the finale of us using their driveway to spend the night in our van . An expression on Gillian’s face later gave way to realizing that they were having friends over for dinner, but her grace prevailed and she did not let on, knowing we would think ourselves an imposition. Upon our arrival we were also invited to join them for dinner, and when Jane and Keith showed up their warm reception made us feel like old friends. Keith is also an artist, a potter, and we agreed to meet up in the spring to view his work. We ended the evening watching a movie on fresco painting. Gillian’s and Caelen’s hospitality were sincerely appreciated.
Please join us in Gillian and Caelen’s interview and we invite you to leave a comment below!
My mom and her husband Keith moved in next door to Karen and her family about five years ago. Until Gary and I did her interview for our blog, I had never met her or her family. She was singing in her backyard one summer and my ears caught the sound of this beautiful voice softly floating over the fence my family and her family share. I caught myself lingering on the front step as the melodic sound and the words of her song captured my attention; that was my first introduction to Karen although she never knew it.
When we met face to face and we talked awhile, I could tell Karen was a sweet and kind person. When she talked about her music and the experiences that were cultivated from it, she had this look in her eyes; it was a glint and a sparkle, the kind we often only see in children’s eyes.
Gary and I had the opportunity to see Karen and her band, which includes her husband Darwin on drums, at the Word on the Street festival in Lethbridge, Alberta. She’s a performer through and through; there is no doubt that how she makes people feel when she sings to them is very important to her. It was a pleasure to get to know the person behind the voice.
We welcome you to watch her interview and listen to the audio file of her song entitled Dance from her CD of the same title.
Listen to Karen’s song Dance with the player below:
Daryll Duus got his first electric guitar from his grandmother when he was 13 years old. It was red. Mostly self-taught, after only a couple of lessons Daryll “took it from there” and never looked back.
Now, after 20 years of playing professionally, Daryll and his Duus Blues Band entertain the appreciative audiences with a mix of his own bluesy songs and those of other artists.
Shy at first on stage, as Daryll’s skill level in his playing increased so did the confidence in his voice, soon belting out the lyrics and becoming the consummate entertainer, sometimes playing slide guitar with a beer bottle while standing on a patron’s table. Great fun!
Daryll’s music is also finding its way into film. The up and coming comedy web series Rust has credited Daryll’s song Skullectro to the opening and closing soundtrack to the barefoot running comedy series.
Enjoy our interview with Daryll and his performance of one of his “lovey dovey” songs If I Had A Dream
Gary and I went to visit King in his recording studio in downtown Lethbridge. When we arrived outside the building King gave us directions on where to find it. “Go through the metal door and dead bolt it behind you, go across the carpet, up the stairs, through another metal door and enter the first door on your left.” This maze of doors, hallways and stairs left me wondering what we were getting ourselves into. Although my imagination can be quite active at times, we found King in this wonderful oasis he calls home to Papa King Productions.
King gave us a tour of his studio “where it all happens;” with his music anyway. King has been helping musicians over the years record their music in a setting that was made with the purity of thought for musical and non musical types to feel comfortable the minute they set their first foot through the door. I was so comfortable I felt like I was ready to record something and I can’t even sing.
Gary and I talked with King for about an hour. He talked about his family and it was obvious to me that they have been a strong driving force to keep King so passionate for so long. At 63, he explained to us that he wants to “retire into the Blues.” Although most people would denote Blues music to be down and sorrowful, with his unique voice and musical style he prefers to sing the “happy, uplifting type of Blues.” King is 5 songs away from finishing his first CD. After all the years helping others do the same he says “it’s time.” Most people would start to wind down and “retire”and for King that just inspires him to play more and sing more. He’s happy to keep the music going.
Take a look at our video interview with King and listen to the music file of one of his songs titled ‘Sugar Tree’
Listen to King’s track ‘Sugar Tree’ with the player below:
Jon and his partner Andrea Thompson live just outside of Bergen, Alberta on Thompson Small Farm. It’s a tranquil place they call home. Most of their farm animals have names. There is Raven, the matriarch of the Clydesdale clan, Doncaster and Petunia who are more than just pigs, Mary Poppins their sweet and tender dispositioned Jersey cow and there are even a few chickens and turkeys who have garnered a name. If you have never been to a mixed farm before, at first it appears a bit chaotic; chickens hanging out with the pigs, cats sleeping in the chicken coop and yaks, chickens, and ducks sauntering among the horses. These animals and their people really know how to live in a harmonious community. Jon and Andrea’s compassion and love for their farm and the animals they share it with is testament to the wonderful people they are.
Jon’s interests and experiences run deep. He has an interest in and is actively engaged with both domestic and wild animals, our environment, concerns around our current food system, and of course, music. We first heard Jon sing and play his Simon and Patrick, 12 string, Canadian made guitar at a small saloon in Bearberry, Alberta. The saloon is a summertime stop over for many motorcycle mavericks out for a Sunday afternoon cruise and talented musicians playing for an appreciative audience. Sunday is “Open Mike” and when Jon got up to play, this soft spoken and unassuming man transformed himself, delivering passion and potency through his music and his songs. I listened intensely as Jon’s words danced to the strum of his guitar.
Later, I had questions. I found out from Andrea that when Jon was younger he won a national song writing competition and got an artist development deal with a subsidiary of Warner Chappell. The principals of which took him to Nashville to record a few of his songs that he felt weren’t his best work and his overall conclusion of the experience was it wasn’t the life he had in mind. Jon has since wrote enough songs he feels are worthy of 2 or 3 full length CD’s and anticipates in the near future to do just that. His songs reflect what he considers to be a uniquely Canadian sound that came about in the 70′s and he hopes through his own song writing and music to keep some of that alive.
We hope you enjoy Jon’s interview and one of his original songs he performed for us. Thanks Jon, it was a pleasure!