Romi Mayes Rides Away

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by Broose Tulloch

After more than a decade in the roots scene, Romi Mayes is retiring, “sort of.”  Through a series of social media posts, Mayes announced that she was tired of the grind and wanted a change, a big one. Some soul searching later, a plan was hatched; to move from music performance into management and from cold Winnipeg to warm Vancouver Island. Stylus spoke with the roots rocker about the big shakeup. Continue reading “Romi Mayes Rides Away”

Hillbilly Highway – Prairie Roots Revue rolls into Winnipeg

Deep Dark Woods @ Harvest Moon 2011

by Sheldon Birnie

On Monday, December 12, four prairie songwriters will descend on the Park Theatre to pick some tunes for all of y’all. The Prairie Roots Revue is cruising the Highway from Saskatoon to Winnipeg, then back across Saskatchewan, hitting smaller towns like Dauphin, Gravelbourg, and Swift Current along side larger centers like the ‘Peg. Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Prairie Roots Revue rolls into Winnipeg”

Ron Hawkins – Straightjacket Love

Ron Hawkins is one prolific mofo. Since 1991, the man has pumped out well over a dozen albums, EPs and singles as a member of seminal Canadian alt-rockers Lowest of the Low, at the helm of his own band the Rusty Nails and as a solo artist. Straightjacket Love is his latest effort, and it follows in the vein of 2009’s 10 Kinds of Lonely.
Fans of Hawkins will find Ron returning to themes of alcoholism, star-crossed love and down-and-out struggle and strife. At best – on cuts like “The Sickness” and “Waitin’ on Something that’s Already Here” – Hawkins finds new ways to explore these themes with, for the most part, stripped down arrangements and rootsy twang. At worst, a few moments – “Kill the Lights,” to pick on one track – come close to kicking the last out of the same can he’s been kicking at since Shakespeare My Butt…
I’ve been a fan of Hawkins’ writing and music for over a decade now, which is half as long as he’s been releasing the stuff. I absolutely love Lowest of the Low’s first 2 LPs, though I’ve never really warmed up to much of Hawkins work with the Rusty Nails or the latter day Low output. However, I’ve had Straightjacket Love on repeat for weeks now, and while a few tracks on the album are forgettable, the bulk of the disc is solid gold. (Independent, www.ronhawkins.com) Sheldon Birnie

Elliott Brood – Days Into Years

“We grew up right here / Door frames marked with ice and years / Our lives in crooked frames / And kitchen table coffee stains,” sings three piece Toronto act Elliott Brood on the opening track “Lindsay” of their new LP Days into Years, easing you into the rural charm that fills the disc. Days Into Years, released in September by Paper Bag Records, is full of toe-tappin’ twang rock with throaty vocals and the occasional banjo or harmonica. At the forefront of my mind while listening to DIY, I imagine burly cowboys with thick facial hair, impenitent cowboy boots and wide brimmed hats. I’m not going to actually look up their picture, for fear of that my imagination will be dashed by scrawny city-boys in boring collared polos. Regardless of their “authentic cowboy” status, the lyrics are convincing enough for me. The final four or so tracks on the album are full of fond nostalgia, starting with the porch-front strummed “West End Sky” and (continuing on the ‘up-in-the-air’ track-title wave) “Northern Air.” The final cut, “Their Will,” is a wave goodbye with saddles blazing as the boys finish the ten-track set with a final kick to the wind. I would say that you should go check out Elliot Brood on October 29 at the WECC, but by the time this gets printed they’ll be well on the way to their next tour stop. Hopefully you were there. (Paper Bag Records, paperbagrecords.com) Victoria King

TERRA LIGHTFOOT – Terra Lightfoot

A sleeping wolf, a feisty wolf – what album art could better depict the nature of Terra Lightfoot’s eponymous debut? Released this September on Hamilton based indie label Sonic Unyon, Lightfoot proffers an album that creeps from cool mellow alt-country tracks and minimalist folk ballads to brazen country and rock. With an unexpected nimbleness, Lightfoot hooks the listener changing the pace and direction of her songs, most notably on “Lucid Dreams” – a song about revisiting a past relationship through sleep that begins with cello and guitar and culminates in an intensely emotional rock jam. Known for her work in the roots-country group The Dinner Belles, Lightfoot’s subtle math-rock influence is a nice touch, making these songs distinct from most of the other indie-folk femmes bopping around today. Dale Morningstar (Gordon Downie, Godspeed You! Black Emperor) produces the 25 year-old’s lush first album. Sorrowful generally, with a bit of whimsy – this old sleepy wolf, this little playful one – sounds like a cross between The Cowboy Junkies and Julie Doiron (with a pinch of Don Caballero). If you missed Terra at the Lo Pub last week, make sure you don’t repeat the mistake next time she passes through town. (Sonic Unyon, sonicunyon.com) Cole Snyder