Joel Plaskett debuts at Arden Theatre
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 06:00 am
East Coast singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett has a knack for creating manic experiments.
Take his new album, Scrappy Happiness, recorded in his home studio, The Scotland Yard, and released in March.
Plaskett and his band The Emergency (Dave Marsh and Chris Pennell) decided to fend off the winter blues recording, mixing, mastering and releasing one single every week for 10 consecutive weeks.
“I wanted to see what would happen under pressure. I like ambitious recordings. Some artists take years to create masterpieces and that’s great. Then there’s the 60s where records were recorded and released so quickly. The Beatles and the whole British invasion turned things over quickly,” Plaskett explains.
“In this era of technology and accelerated communication, why are we sitting on recordings for years? I wanted to break the model and move on.”
Plaskett, along with singer/songwriter/musician Peter Elkas, will be at the Arden Theatre on Sept. 22 as part of a two-week region-specific tour across Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
While the Dartmouth resident is a bit of a musical sculptor, tweaking and shaping his songs, he ultimately believes a tune’s strength lies in a songwriter’s ability to communicate.
The speed he worked at producing Scrappy Happiness never deterred him from creating good songs. In fact, deadline stresses actually improved the final product.
“There are plenty of great records filled with mistakes. It’s not so much about performance as it is about feeling and intention.”
Most of the album’s 10 tracks are centred on themes of challenging memories and finding happiness.
“We often think we’ve found happiness but there’s rough edges around it. Much as we like to find happiness, there are things that catch you by surprise. Things people desire are often complicated. Another theme is the passage of time and how quickly time flies when trying to find happiness.”
At the Arden concert, Plaskett, who has a long-standing personal and professional relationship with Elkas, are committing to an acoustic showcase.
“An acoustic concert is always more intimate. It gives me a chance to tell stories and it keeps me on my toes.”
Opening for Plaskett is Mo Kenney, 22, an emerging Nova Scotia singer-songwriter who has created a buzz delivering a poppy folk sound.
Plaskett produced and also wrote two songs on Kenney’s self-titled debut album scheduled for release on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Kenney was one of those music-mad kids who saved lunch money to buy records on the weekend. She first met the nationally acclaimed Canadian rocker as a 17-year-old recording a demo record at Shambala School’s makeshift studio.
Plaskett listened to the song Eden, and praised her. For several years Kenney heard nothing. Then out of the blue Plaskett’s manager Sherri Jones dropped an invitation to attend Gordie Sampson’s Songwriting Camp.
“I had nothing going at the time. Joel remembered my name. So I must have made a good impression,” Kenney says.
Not only did Kenny refine a tunesmith’s technique at camp, she also created numerous networking friendships with other artists such as Cape Breton’s Carleton Stone and Dylan Guthro, Bruce Guthro’s son.
However, Plaskett is very generous in praise of her talent.
“When I heard Eden it floored me. It’s dreamy, sad, no, maybe melancholy. It’s short – about two minutes, but it’s got a lot of impact and emotion for a flighty guitar song.
From Kenney’s album, she has already released Déjà vu to commercial radio.
“It’s upbeat. There’s a lot more production. It’s a positive breakup song,” she says describing the catchy lyrics and melody.
Slinging a handmade Hensel parlour guitar over her shoulder and squeezing luggage into Plaskett’s eight-passenger Mercedes van, Kenney is eager to hit the road.
“It’s the longest tour I’ve been on and I can’t wait to see the prairies and the mountains.”
This double bill starts at 7:30 p.m.