Spotlight on Kate Blechinger

Big news here at Bent River Records! We are adding another artist to the roster! Kate Blechinger is an inventive and charismatic vocalist, composer, and arranger. Originally hailing from Regina, Saskatchewan, Kate takes direct influence from the vast prairie landscapes of her youth to create expansive, evocative compositions and arrangements for listeners to enjoy. She now resides in Edmonton, and is an alumna of the Bachelor of Music program. She will be releasing an album under the Bent River Records label at the end of November. We did a small interview with Kate to see what lies ahead on the new record. Check it out below:

What is your album called?

My album is called Under a Dancing Sky.

What do you want listeners to know about the album?

Under a Dancing Sky is my debut album.  It is inspired largely by my biggest musical inspiration, Joni Mitchell, and the connection we share as female musicians hailing from the Canadian prairies.  To me, Joni has always been a strong example of a musician that follows her own creative path, often pushing boundaries and defying genre classifications along the way; I tried to emulate her spunky, experimental attitude in this process.  When picking songs to arrange from Joni’s catalogue, I tried to pull from the many phases of her career and to choose compositions related to the theme of journeying through many different spaces and contexts. In my own compositions, I focused on using the music as a vehicle to express my own journey, and paint the landscapes that served as a backdrop for my growth as a person and artist.

Where and when is the release?

The release is on Thursday November 29th at the Yardbird Suite here in Edmonton.  I am grateful to have my release show be part of the YEG Thursday showcase series at the Suite!  Tickets are available at the door only, and are $20 for non-members, and $16 for members.

For more information, visit: www.yardbirdsuite.com/tuesday-jam-sessions

What can we expect?

On this album, listeners can expect an interesting hybrid of my two favourite musical genres, folk and jazz.  Symbolically, I grew up listening to folk music, and in more recent years, I have transitioned into writing more jazz influenced music.  So, this album combines acoustic instrumentation and folk lyricism with jazz harmony and improvisation to express where I have come from and where I am going.

The result is an eclectic and evocative mix of original compositions and my unique arrangements of Joni Mitchell’s songs, featuring some of Edmonton’s finest musicians!

Why did you choose to release a track early, and what is the track called? 

This track is called “Night in the City”, and it is a Joni Mitchell composition from her 1968 debut album, Song to a Seagull.  Today, on Joni Mitchell’s 75th Birthday, I am honoured to share my take on one of her earliest recorded tunes.  According to Joni’s website, “Night in the City” was inspired by an area in Toronto called Yorkville Avenue, where one could walk down the street and hear the full gamut of music, both good and bad, mixing into musical puddles in one’s ears.  I felt very inspired to arrange this tune in a lively, jostling way, to give listeners a real sense of what that avenue must have been like in the 1960s.  I hope everyone enjoys my take on “Night in the City”.

Check it out on Soundcloud:
www.soundcloud.com/kateblechingermusic/night-in-the-city/s-KmGsC

Jazz Night with Music Conference Alberta

Some of the artists on the label will be collaborating with some of MacEwan’s music students and outside musicians to perform at Music Conference Alberta this weekend! As a part of the Alberta Emerging Musicians Festival, Mallory Chipman, Chandelle Rimmer and Tom Van Seters will be performing with the MacEwan University Big Band (directed by Ray Baril), the MacEwan University Jazz Combo (directed by Kent Sangster), and will feature a special guest trumpeter Terell Stafford. Chandelle and Tom will also be performing a few tunes from their latest release, Stillness Falls.

This is going to be an exciting performance as it will showcase our local MacEwan community including staff and students, as well as showcase international performers to the Alberta Music community who is in town for the conference.

The performance is on Saturday, October 27th at 7:00pm in the Betty Andrews Recital Hall in Allard Hall at MacEwan University.

Click here to grab some tickets (non-delegate tickets available), and have a peak at some more information about the musicians in both The Big Band and Jazz Combo, as well as more information on the visiting trumpet player Terell Stafford.

Celebrating Tommy Banks – Oct 21, 2018 (Calgary, AB)

One of our artists is going to be a part of a very exciting tribute to Edmonton’s own, Tommy Banks. There is a celebration for Mr. Banks, the renowned pianist, conductor, arranger, composer, television personality and senator, who contributed widely to the Edmonton music community. Our own Mallory Chipman is going to be performing in Calgary, Alberta (tonight!) on Sunday, October 21, 2018, at River Park Church.

For more details on the event click here!

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello…

Hello friends! We would like to let you know that we have some changes happening here at Bent River Records, and we wanted to take some time to say a fond farewell and a warm hello (all at the same time). We are taking on a new practicum student who will be handling our distribution and artist presence. What this really means is she will be walking around MacEwan campus ensuring that our artists (and their records) will be available at places like the MacEwan Bookstore. Make sure to say hello to her when you see her carrying armloads of albums from our artists!

Photo credit: Kylee Thompson Photography (Hire this woman! She is amazing!)

“I am thrilled to become a part of the Bent River Records team and can’t wait to apply my 12 years of music industry experience to work at this amazing label! This is really going to be a new chapter for me in the music industry and I am happy to share it with the BRR team.”

— Odessa Ashbey, Distribution and placement

Odessa Ashbey has been working within the Edmonton metal community as an artist manager for Edmonton death metal/murder metal band Tales Of The Tomb, live music promoter, and arts manager. She has previously been a mentor at BreakOut West and has been working with Asher Media Relations (AMR) as a publicist for the past 5 years. Some of her past publicity clients include Wormwitch, Protosequence, Death Toll Rising, and other western Canadian metal acts. Her new role at Bent River Records includes distribution and placement of artists.

Photo credit: Batul Gulamhusein

Feel free to add her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

With a new hello comes a very fond farewell and endless gratitude for our own label artist and A&R Representative, Mallory Chipman. Fear not! She is still going to be an artist on our roster, but will be departing to work on some exciting projects, and we want to wish her the best!

Check out her most recent release ‘Rags and Feathers: A Tribute To Leonard Cohen’ here.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates from the BRR team right here on our blog!

Back to School with Bent River Records!

Welcome back, friends and fans! We know it’s been a minute since you’ve heard from us on our blog, but we’re back more inspired than ever after an action-packed couple of months! Our artists spent this summer recording new music for your ears and touring music festivals throughout Canada and Europe, spreading the Bent River name across the globe. Even though summer is drawing to a close, Bent River Records is cooking up some really hot projects this year to keep you warm through the winter.

Bent River Records Recording Competition winner, Nature Of, is releasing their forthcoming album in 2019 after an incredible year working with BRR’s own Paul Johnston and Montreal-based Marcus Paquin; Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet is launching a new record; and trumpeter/organist extraordinaire, Kevin Dean, will be teaming up with Bent River Records for a brand new record…and, without giving too much away, let’s just say that there will be vinyl involved 😉

As always Bent River Records will be hosting our annual Artist Spotlight to celebrate the new albums on the label this year, so save the date for Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 and stay tuned for details about the show!

2018 Artist Spotlight

On April 17th, we gathered in the Triffo Theatre to celebrate the 2017/2018 successes of Bent River Records!

The evening consisted of a reception with food, beverages, a table to purchase Bent River Records merchandise, and a photobooth station! There were three wonderful performances by Chandelle Rimmer and Tom Van Seters (Stillness Falls), Josh Rager (Jondo), and Mallory Chipman (Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen), who all performed tunes from their latest releases on Bent River Records.

The winners of last year’s competition – Nature Of – joined the emcees on stage, and endearingly discussed working with Paul Johnston and Marcus Paquin (and hilariously compared their relationship to two parents). Marcus sent his well wishes via video message from Montréal, and then our team here at Bent River Records held an after-party in the atrium. We could not have pulled this night off without the support of everyone who was involved – and we want to share our sincerest thank-you’s! We are all looking forward to the next year, and we can’t wait for you to see what is to come!

Spotlight Artist: Mallory Chipman

Our April 17th Spotlight is just a few days away! Our final artist that is performing this Tuesday is Mallory Chipman. We talked with her about her release Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen. Take a peek and catch Mallory at our Spotlight in the Triffo tomorrow!

Are you excited for the Spotlight, and what are you looking forward to most?

Of course I’m excited! Last year’s Artist Spotlight was one of the highlights of my year, and I can’t wait for what is to come this time around – especially in the new building! I’m really looking forward to performing in the beautiful state of the art Triffo Theatre alongside my incredibly talented labelmates, Chandelle Rimmer & Tom Van Seters and Joshua Rager. There’s nothing quite as special as being in great company.

Do you have a favourite tune on your record, if so – why is it your favourite?

Funnily enough, my own composition “Tune for the Troubadour” turned out to be my favourite song on my album, Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen. I only find it funny because this record is a tribute album to one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Leonard Cohen. While I don’t believe that any of my original tunes could rival his in any way compositionally, “Tune for the Troubadour” acts as my love letter to the work and legacy of Cohen himself, thus I believe its truly emblematic of the entire record as a whole.

What is your process as an artist when writing and/or performing your music?

Gosh, that’s a hard question. Every composition comes to me differently – sometimes it’s melody first, sometimes the lyrics flow as poetry years before I’ve added anything musical to them, and sometimes I find myself jamming at the piano playing with different progressions, and then the harmony establishes itself as the initial piece. The common thread between these different processes is that they never occur when I plan to sit down and write a tune. Inspiration for composition always comes when I’m doing something else; walking my dogs, having a shower, getting groceries, you name it!

Is there any artist or album that you drew inspiration from while making this record?

Well, in the case of this specific record, the answer to this question is quite obvious. Rags and Feathers is a tribute album to Canadian icon, Leonard Cohen. Throughout the process of making this album, Leonard’s thoughtful lyricism and the fearless attitude that seems to permeate his music inspired me and pushed me to write and perform with a musical confidence I had never explored before.

What is your favourite Netflix show to binge watch?

The Mindy Project, hands down! I’m quite certain that Morgan Tookers is my alter ego.

Spotlight Artist: Joshua Rager

Joshua Rager is a Montreal-based jazz musician. His album Jondo was released this year with Bent River Records, and he is another artist that is performing at the 2018 Bent River Records Artist Spotlight! Here is our interview with Joshua so you can get to know him a little more!

Are you excited for the Spotlight, and what are you looking forward to most?

Yes!! What an unbelievable opportunity I’m being given by Bent River Records to perform my music with a hand picked group of some of Edmonton’s finest musicians. I can’t wait to hear these great players perform my music and it will be interesting to hear their unique interpretation of it. Of course it’s also a great chance for my music to gain exposure to an audience in western Canada. There is a lot of energy coming out of Grant MacEwan these days and it’s a pleasure to get invited to the hub of all this great music.

Do you have a favourite tune on your record, if so – why is it your favourite? 

I must say that I do not have a favourite tune on the record. When you write and arrange music, your pieces become almost like little children, each with their own personalities and quirks and as parents we learn to celebrate them all and accept their shortcomings, their strengths and weaknesses. There is some really great playing from the musicians particularly the great saxophonists Donny Kennedy and Frank Lozano. Also our drummer Rich Irwin brings a great energy and feel to the music.

What is your process as an artist when writing and/or performing your music? 

I usually work with ideas that have been on my mind for a while. They might not even be very concrete, like a melody or a chord progression. Sometimes original music is born from a feeling that needs to get explored. Usually for me I get a sense of the vibe of the piece first. Like: This is going to be a fast jazz swing tune with lots of energy, or this is going to be a moody or yearning kind of melody. I like exploring “light” and “dark” sounds especially when thinking about harmony. The other thing I can say is that from my experience the best music happens quite quickly. I have to get it out in a short period of time before I can think about it too much. Once my thinking brain becomes engaged the process can get bogged down to an endless series of unanswerable questions.

Is there any artist or album that you drew inspiration from while making this record?

Probably the music I have studied the most recently has been Herbie Hancock and Walt Weiskopf. There is a Herbie Hancock record called The Prisoner which, as a university student, I transcribed and studied. Walt Weiskopf has a wonderful record called Sight to Sound which really opened my eyes to the possibilities of form in small group writing. Walt seems interested in deconstructing the chorus structure in jazz while still basing form on repetitive structured development. Essentially he’s a master at writing chorused based tunes which he obscured by arranging them in a through composed fashion. You often see this more in larger ensemble writing so I think it’s particularly interesting the way he writes like this for smaller groups.

What is your favourite Netflix show to binge watch?

Me, I don’t watch too much tv. Over the holidays I caught a few episodes of Fargo which had, I think, a really fresh take on traditional narrative storytelling. It seemed very smart to me what they were doing. Otherwise I catch a Spongebob or two with my kid after homework time.

Spotlight Artist: Chandelle Rimmer and Tom Van Seters

With the Bent River Records Artist Spotlight coming up, we sat down with Tom Van Seters and Chandelle Rimmer and asked them a few questions regarding the Spotlight and their upcoming record Stillness Falls.

Are you excited for the Spotlight, and what are you looking forward to most?

Tom: Really excited! Looking forward to performing this music live for the first time.

Chandelle: Ditto, Tom stole my answer. But yes, excited to share our work. I am very proud of this project.

Do you have a favourite tune on your record, if so – why is it your favourite?

T: For me it’s “Cowboy Jazz”. The arrangement came together gradually over a long period of time. Originally there were no lyrics but when Paul heard it, he insisted Chandelle write some words. I think the end result really captures the spirit of a cowboy on the prairies.

C: I like “Cowboy Jazz” too but I think “Vacant” is one of my favorites. We had a clear vision with this one from the beginning; a simple pop melody and chord progression that we would convert to a contemporary jazz vibe. For me, this song melds my roots as a pop singer and my love for jazz. Plus, while the lyrics are a bit sad, I think that they will resonant with a lot of people.

What is your process as an artist when writing and/or performing your music?

T: As collaborators, I don’t think we have one process we always turn to, but we always try to stay true to our gut-instincts about how the music should sound.

C: I agree with Tom, but it was an exciting process to write as a team – I think we really pushed each other musically and creatively. Most importantly though, as collaborators we were very open-minded, supportive and communicated effectively through the whole process.

Is there any artist or album that you drew inspiration from while making this record?

T: When I hear Chandelle sing, it sure makes me think of Joni Mitchell sometimes.

C: Gee Tom, thanks! I found myself looking to Joni Mitchell quite a bit, her singing and lyric writing is nothing short of amazing! We had some ideas but really, we were trying to carve out our own identity as a team in this project. There weren’t a lot of models out there.

What is your favourite Netflix show to binge watch?

T: Most recently, my wife and I have been watching detective shows from the UK such as Shetland, Broadchurch, and The Fall. Yes, we’re very boring people.

C: I really like British period dramas. My latest however have been Shameless, Suits (who doesn’t like a good looking suit!), and This is Us, but I had to stop that one for a while as I was crying too much.

Be sure to see Chandelle Rimmer and Tom Van Seters’ performance at the 2018 Bent River Records Artist Spotlight on April 17th. Reserve your free tickets here: https://tickets.macewan.ca/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent21.html

You’re Invited!

Well everyone, the time has come again… You’re cordially invited to our 2018 Bent River Artist Spotlight! It will be an evening full of wonderful music brought to you by three of the artists on the Bent River Records Label. Montreal-based Joshua Rager will be performing music from his latest release, JondoMallory Chipman will once again grace the stage by performing tunes from Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohenand Tom Van Seters and Chandelle Rimmer will captivate the audience with music from their first release together (and the latest Bent River Records release) Stillness Falls.

The event will take place in the Triffo Theatre on Tuesday, April 17th. There will be a reception and cash bar at 6:00pm, and the live performances will begin at 7:00pm. Make sure that you go online to the MacEwan Box Office and reserve your free ticket. We also will have a booth set up where you can purchase BRR merchandise, and the albums on the BRR Label.

Reserve your free tickets for the Spotlight on April 17th here:

https://tickets.macewan.ca/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent21.html