Handmade in Canada…things are looking good…..plus a link to some great music

LMYR 1I may have mentioned my new project in passing on this blog before. The project is called Handmade in Canada. The concept is to profile Canadian artists, artisans, musicians, writers and growers (and food producers).

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Being an artist and maker myself (and knowing many other creative people), the most difficult part of our craft is promoting what we create, showing people what we do, and letting people know where and how to purchase our creations. Most of us want to be tucked away in our studios working away rather than marketing ourselves. After a lot of thought I made the decision to create a site to do just that, and the site/blog is www.handmade-canada.com . In the last few weeks interest has been growing. We are seeing some great things made by Canadian makers and hearing some great music. We are also meeting some really cool people. This is turning out to be a fabulous project with great potential.

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As I have a ton of readers on this blog, I will also on occasion be linking through profiles from the Handmade in Canada site. It won’t turn the blog into an on going infomercial, I wouldn’t want to rob readers of updates on my seedlings or the ongoing war with the insurance industry (near the end now…report for scope of repairs was 14 PAGES long….I’ll share more in another post). I want to give each of these creative people as much exposure as possible ( and show all the readers some pretty cool stuff too!).

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If you follow www.islandhomeblog.wordpress.com I will also be sharing west coast creators on that blog, especially since home studios are so much of the island culture.


Today I am going to share a link for Liam MacKenzie and Young Rust. Check out their bio by clicking HERE, and definitely listen to their music……it is really, really good.

Hopefully by sharing links, blog readers will find some new music that they love, a book they want to read, some art to admire,  handmade items to cherish, or even locally produced food.

The site www.handmade-canada.com is also a WordPress blog, so feel free to follow along and discover some talent that has been home grown here in Canada.


Blue Rodeo Concert – Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

I thought it might be nice to switch it up and do a blog post that didn’t involve snow (that will be tomorrow!), the latest dye pot experiment or an update on one of my “slower-than-molasses-in-January” fibre art projects. I thought it would be fun to share a few pics of the Blue Rodeo / Devin Cuddy Band concert from Thursday (January 9, 2014), held at The Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta. I’m not going to do a proper “review”, just an informal chat about our evening out.

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The Devin Cuddy Band

After feeding the kids chocolate cupcakes coated with heaps of very sweet icing we dropped the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and headed to The Centrium (good plan eh!!). The crowd at the Centrium was quite an eclectic mix and gradually filled the seats as start time for the concert approached. The Devin Cuddy Band was first up. Bluesy with great piano work, he put on a fabulous show, so fabulous that we came home and downloaded the album immediately. The Devin Cuddy Band is not an ounce like Blue Rodeo but more like gutsy blues with a vintage tinge. You could completely imagine the band with Devin Cuddy on a grand piano and adding an upright bass to the act; that would make the band look as cool as they sound. I love it when we find a new band to follow and this is definitely one to watch.

The Devin Cuddy Band took the stage for about a half hour , and then after a quick intermission we were on to the main act, Blue Rodeo.

(please click on the images to view the gallery…….sorry about the iPhone pics!)

We have seen Blue Rodeo before so we were expecting a pretty good show. The band’s classic hits are a staple on our playlist for our frequent long drives out to the coast. Almost habitually Blue Rodeo is what we listen to from the Great Bear Snowshed¬† to Langley (BC, Canada); after driving 14…15…16 hours straight (weather depending) their classic songs get us through that last brutal hour and a half in the early hours of the morning. (Okay truthfully I am the only one listening at this stage while everyone else is asleep, but hey, it is quiet without interruptions!)

The band opened with “New Morning Sun”, which is a fabulous song from their new album “In Our Nature” then continued to play pieces from their new album for the first half of the concert. We really like the new album, have listened to it tons and think it is very strong. I loved the story-teller role Greg Keelor took on in between songs, I think it worked well, and his description of the writing of “Paradise” nailed the whole escape to the cabin experience. To quote my husband “The song sure means something now.” (Can you tell we are cabin people?!) The sound was great, as were the lighting and graphics. I think some of the crowd struggled with the new material because they only wanted to hear “the greatest hits”, but they really should give the new material a listen as it is a really strong album. Of course this is Red Deer, can’t expect too much……enough said.

My husband and I had a chat about Blue Rodeo’s choice to play the new album through for the first half of the concert. We felt it was an interesting choice and perhaps not what the bulk of the crowd expected. My husband indicated that it shows how proud the band is of their new album and how they must feel it is really good material. My take on it is that choosing to play through the new material right from the start shows that they were performing the concert to be true artists and not just to play old songs and collect a paycheck. There is definitely merit in that.

The second half opened with “Diamond Mine” and the crowd woke up getting the type of song that they had come to hear. Some of the crowd took to their feet, others were singing along and the applause was significantly louder than during the first half. At this point I may have accidentally completely wrecked the rest of the concert for my husband. I had been watching the crowd and noticed a group of three women to our right dancing. A certain image came directly to mind, and in my normal “say it as you see it” way, mentioned to dearest hubby “Look, they dance like Weebles!”. Truly they did. No kidding, put on a Blue Rodeo song, take a Weeble and give it a little rock and maybe add in a flashlight for ambience and you have a pretty good visual for what was going on. Nothing wrong with it, they were having fun. However this was imagery my husband was not going to get out of his head for the rest of the concert. Of course once you open the “people-watching flood gates” there is no going back……….

The concert continued with hit after hit being played brilliantly. The last time we saw Blue Rodeo it was a quieter, more laid back concert where we came home saying it was very good but perhaps suited a smaller more intimate venue. Thursday’s show was nothing like that. A bigger sound and a ton energy filled the stage. The show held the venue even if it was a hockey barn. This was a band that wanted to clearly be there and give their fans the very best they could. Blue Rodeo invited the Devin Cuddy Band on stage near the end to join them in “Lost Together”. If the sound wasn’t big enough before, with 11 musicians on stage together the sound was huge, and they were clearly enjoying themselves. Last song of the night, around 11 pm, was “What Am I Doing Here” showcasing Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor and some pretty nifty harmonica (you can never have too much harmonica….okay in my opinion every song should definitely have harmonica!). One has to wonder if they are relaying their thoughts having come from the +8C temperatures of the coast and about to tour across the frigid prairies and further. Are they wondering what the heck they are doing touring Canada in the middle of winter? Hope they have good snow tires, that’s all I can say.