Also in this edition: Fading Like The Sun by Slim, Hint by The Bombadils,a Christmas tune by Sarah Frank(fiddle)/ Gwen Bergman(Celtic harp) and The cover artwork of The Court of Equity.
“Most definitely artists get writers block. I have a lot of it.
I think sometimes to overcome that obstacle you may have to try different techniques.
Sometimes you just need to go see another artist play that you enjoy or that is better than you and you can become inspired again.”
Waking up one day and realizing you have nothing to write. You keep squeezing what’s left of your creativity but for some reason it isn’t there.
I have been having this on and off conversation with Canadian singer songwriter Tristan Legg. We sort of started this thread and fill it out when we are not doing anything on the side. This thread is weeks old but we keep at it and it is finally ready to be read by everyone. It is surprising when you just hang out and ask really random stuff without the pressure of a deadline.
Tristan answered as honestly as he can. And this interview article my friends is really an interesting thing to read. It is about what makes a song amazing and how you keep being inspired. Tristan addressed these questions which other artists can also learn from. The first part is a brief bio he wrote. Then I decided to ask more questions. Enjoy!
A Brief bio:
I’ll give my best shot at this but no promises and since you think Canadians are great I’ll try not to mess up that rep either, hahahaa.
I grew up in small town in Nova Scotia called Middle Musquodoboit on a mixed farm where i got a real understanding what hard work is and what is meant to do something you love and not doing something for the money.
My Parents are from England, so I grew up listening to a lot of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly and my dad. He played guitar and sang in a band for 13 years in England and always had a great ear for music and singing.
My parents have had a huge impact on my life for they are the ones who got me to join the High School music program, pushed me to do well in a good way, paid for private lessons, drove me to many shows, band rehearsals and never said I should look at doing something else for a career.
I’ll tell you one story that has stuck with me. My mum and dad sat me down and ask if I really wanted to do music after high school, I said “yes of course” then dad said “I’ve done this for many years and you’re gonna have really bad nights but your also gonna have some great ones too, and you probably be just as poor as you would be at farming, you may or may not make it but if it’s what you love then we will support you”
…To which I responded “Hey if I’m gonna be just as poor in music as I could be farming doing something I love then I’ll take the chance, plus getting paid to play music and drink on the job sounded better than early mornings feeding stock and busting my hump”
I studied trumpet in high school and did two years at ST FX University in Antigonish studying jazz music and playing jazz.
After leaving St FX, I moved to Halifax to try to figure out my life as most students do. I eventually started playing open mics and busking while holding down a full-time job. After some time I meet a few fellow musicians and we started a group which consisted of guitar, fiddle and stand up bass. We played a lot of bars and private gigs but eventually parted ways. This is where things got real fun as I started hiring different musicians to play with me to cover the gigs I had. In doing so I got to play with the best musicians in Halifax from Darren McMullen, Roger Stone , John Ferguson, Anthony Rissesco, Fluer Mainview, Dave MacIssac, Rosie Mackenzie and many others.
In doing this, it gave me a great name among musicians and it made me step up my game since I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of these guys.
Since then I have expanded the amount of venues I play and the amount of show in a year. I now have Bruce Timmins (guitar) and Shane Timmins (bass) in my group which is a God sent since these two know how to play and are stand up guys to be around.
I’m now in the process of trying to get more original material together and the courage to play it!! Hahaha. I still have a part-time job three days a week and the greatest boss who is very understanding about the whole music thing and has made a lot of this possible with the work scheduling.
Some days I get frustrated with the music/bar scene and have those “bad nights” my dad warned me about but when I calm down and put it into perspective, I’m a very lucky 27-year-old. I work a part-time job that is fun and works with what I love, my bills are paid.
I have the support of family, girlfriend and friends, I make most of my living doing what I love, which is playing music and not many people get that chance in life, so I’m grateful. Plus when you have that one great night of playing music, when everything feels surreal, perfect and you connect/feel more to the music then anything else in your life, that’s what makes it worth all those bad nights and keeps you striving to get back to that feeling every time you play.
As for my music taste, I love a lot of music and genres from blues, rock, country, folk to Celtic and Jazz.
I don’t have a favorite artist as I believe everyone I listen to brings something different and unique to the table.
But some artist that do listen to or have made an impression on me are the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Matt Andersen, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Roger Stone, Chris Thile, Miles Davis, My Father (Ambrose Legg) Blue Rodeo, Christy Moore, Nirvana, Dispatch, Bill Evans, Flogging Molly, Jimmy Hendrix and Stan Rogers.
I do enjoy good instrumental players but I really enjoy great singers that can sing a song with passion and depth in such a way that you think they bleed talent and soul.
I’m looking at doing my debut CD this winter if everything’s aligns right for me.
Also this October, I won an open mic competition for a $1000 and will be donating this money to my former High School to their music program to send students to jazz camps in the summer which I attended when I was in high school.
Will you be doing a couple of Irish/Scottish ballads in your album when it finally comes out?
I hope to do a real mix of songs/genres on the album but I’m still choosing at this point.
What can you remember about memorable jams with other musicians you have collaborated on live shows in the past?
I’ve had a few great musical moments.
One that sounds out is a concert we put on at St. Andrews church in Halifax and it featured my self and John Bogardus on fiddle, Dave Bradshaw on guitar and Darren McMullen on mandolin.
The concert went amazing but at the end we played this huge slew on tunes at a break neck speed, it was great it just kept getting faster & faster, building in tension, pushing the limits, and the you could sense the crowd feeding off every note and the energy was huge, when we finished the place just erupted into cheers and applause.
Other time I was playing a pub gig with two friends and we decided to end the night with a set of tunes on the fly, which turned into much of the same thing as the story b4 expect there was dancing and cheering as we played.
When we finished I was so hyped up I put earphones on, listen to this one song by Dolores Keane called “Ballyroan” (a favorite) packed up my gear and left without saying a word. I was on such a musical height that I didn’t want to say a word or talk with anybody. I just wanted to enjoy that moment of perfect peace and music.
The last musical experience was quite recent was when I played a gig with a buddy that was in a jam for a guitar player for a Nov 11 gig at the old folks home.
He asked early in the week if I knew a song called “Green Fields of France” which was one of my personal favorites but I never played it in public and it’s one of the few songs I remember my father playing when I was young. It’s a very sad song full of raw emotion about war and the tragedies that goes with it.
I started playing this song and a total hush fell over the room and about half way through the song I could see some of the seniors who probably served in the war or were a child back then either smile, have a tear in their eye or were full on crying.
Some left, others stayed but I could feel the emotion in the room and in that the moment I almost couldn’t get through the song because I started to get teary- eyed myself but I managed to hold on and finish the song and had several young people say great job but I had one older lady come up whom I knew and requested that I don’t play any more sad songs.
I wasn’t offended at all by this request as I knew it had caused some people to feel uncomfortable but to me that whole moment was magical because it showed just how much a song could affect a persons emotions and bring back either happy, sad or horrible memory’s even within my self and that to me is the true power or music.
To repeat a quote that I read that would sum this up nicely “Where words fail, music speaks.”
What makes a song amazing? I know people will say it is a combination of music and lyrics but being a singer/songwriter yourself, what is it about a song that takes your breath away?
It is true what people say, that it is a combination of the song and lyrics that catches a person attention or makes a song amazing but that’s not all of it.
You could have five different people play the same song separately in one room to an audience, but only one person’s version will be the one that people remember or steals the show so to speak.
Some of this is due to practice, key of song relative to person’s voice, style, but I think the most important reason is the presentation of the song. I find the more you study a song (lyrics, melody, playing a story line in your head to the lyrics/song) the more connected you are to it, the more you can put your body and soul into a song and commit your self.
If you were to go on you tube and search a song cover and listen to 10 different people I bet only 2 or 3 will really resonate with you and that I think the above reason is why.
There has been many songs in the music industry that people have written that was never made a hit until other artist performed it and then it is a hit. It’s all about presentation of the song.
It’s like if you go to two different restaurants and order meat, potato’s and vegetables, both taste exactly the same, now some restaurants will just throw it altogether on a plate and serve it to you. But the better ones will arrange the three ingredients into a nice presentation so instantly you are wowed by look of the plate and fact that it tastes great as well is a bonus, which one are you gonna remember more?
Also lyrics and the melody are very important to me they are like the spices that go into a great dinner, that make the difference between an ok meal and a great meal.
A good melody is important because that is what people will hum even if they don’t know the lyrics but lyrics are just as important as they are what can make a true connection to people as they may relate to what the song writer is saying or make those lyrics relate to their situation.
The are folk and traditional musicians making a crossover to mainstream audience. Do you see yourself making the same venture in the future?
I not really sure if I will be making that transfer myself to be honest.
Musicians can make a choice of what they play but if they really love playing a style or type of music and that’s what they decide to do, then the musician really doesn’t make the choice of crossing over to mainstream.
It’s more like if the audience likes/loves what the musician(s) is doing then they will make that musician/style mainstream just by popularity alone, and popularity means more gigs to follow, more money and eventually some body with more power or sway will make them main stream.
Thanks! There comes a time in an artist’s life when creative block happens. It could be boredom or anything. How do you continue being passionate with what you do. Any advice?
Most definitely artists get writers block. I have a lot of it.
I think sometimes to overcome that obstacle you may have to try different techniques.
Sometimes you just need to go see another artist play that you enjoy or that is better than you and you can become inspired again.
You can also listen to records of old and new materials, either of your own stuff recorded but not finished ideas or that of other artists songs and you may find a line, lick or chord progression that catches you or a spin-off ideas and then build something from that.
Other times it’s best to just walk away from writing, playing singing and just give your mind a rest and sometimes you may find it will work its way on its own, and your come back refreshed and ready to go back at it.
Some people treat it like a job, get up in the morning and start at 9am and don’t come out till 5pm and just work at a song/ idea/ anything until they have something even if it’s not great but you just force yourself to work through it.
A change in environment I find is a great one, going to the cabin for a weekend, friends, family’s place and just being somewhere else can spur ideas and get you to write because I find you can become to comfortable in your regular environment and complacent and maybe unmotivated.
Also, I find it hard to write sometimes because I try to hold myself to writing songs that are great because I play great cover songs that have sold millions but in reality, you have to maybe write 10 songs and you may find one out of those 10 that is decent and I’m sure the popular artists have much of the same issue but we don’t get to see that part because we only see the finished product, which to us seems well polished, put together and prefect with little or no effort.
Please visit: http://www.tristanlegg.com
Fading Like The Sun
A few months ago I reviewed Gallows Tree Tales. It’s an amazing album that’s steeped with Celtic rock tunes. Yesterday, Slim updated his site and posted this amazing tune. There are two versions of this song. One is a fast one and what you will hear is the piano version. A guitarist by training, he managed to play the piano in this track…and as always his beautiful voice is the warm blood of the song.
So what’s this song’s all about?
According to Slim: ” It’s about these guys who tried to climb the north face of Mount Eiger in Switzerland in 1936 and failed! Amazing story though. And it’s also a song about friendship.”
I hope you enjoy this tune as much as I do and I am listening to it right now while writing this article.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
by Sarah Frank(fiddle) and Gwen Bergman(Celtic harp)
What is this issue without at least one Christmas tune? And what wonderful tune this is!
Here is Sarah Frank of The Bombadils with her friend Gwen. I love the way their voices blend and that harp is exquisite.
The Bombadils – Hint
These Canadian musicians make music that’s both magical and challenging. They draw their influencess from classical, jazz, Celtic and folk.
Original tune written by bass player, Evan Stewart. Filmed and recorded by Denis Martin.
Order our CD online:
The Bombadils are:
Sarah Frank – fiddle, vocals
Luke Fraser – guitar, mandolin, vocals
Anh Phung – flute, Irish whistles, vocals
Evan Stewart – bass
Visit their website:
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Book them at:
The Court of Equity Album Cover Artwork
Scottish band The Court of Equity are releasing an album and this is how the album cover looks like. The band’s music is inspired by the compositions of Robert Burns. They will also include original tunes. My big thanks to Douglas McQueen Hunter for sending me the album cover in advanced so I can post it here.
Drawing on more than twenty years of experience in the Scottish music industry, ‘The Court of Equity’ incorporate descriptions, tales and original musical arrangements to the songs and music of Robert Burns.
The band perform many of their own compositions and many of Burns’s best loved songs as well as pieces less well known: The Deils Awa’ Wi’ the Exciseman, Tibbie Fowler, Rattlin’ Roarin’ Willie, My Luve is like a Red, Red Rose, Will ye go to the Indies my Mary, My Bonnie Mary, McPherson’s Farewell, etc …