Bring Back the Bees Faerie Camp

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Canadian Celtic musician Oona McOuat is very active in giving back something to the community. Whither  it is about saving whales or bees, she continues to make something happen. Teaching is part of her passion. According to her website: Oona teaches children these sacred values at her unique Faerie Camps and her singing & harp lessons: Honour the wild and her creatures; protect the elements that provide Life for all beings, and honour the Spirit of all these things. A lesson we all need to embrace at this crucial juncture in civilization. Last time, I featured One World One Heart Beating project. I think it is one of the best videos I have seen this year! This time I am posting  a video about Bring Back the Bees Faerie Camp. Oona has interesting workshops and you can check them out in her official website:

http://www.oonamcouat.com/

 

 

16 girls spend a week exploring their love for Faeries & learning about disappearing honey and bumble bees.

Music: BE MY LITTLE BABY BUMBLE BEE
(Henry I. Marshall / Stanley Murphy)
Performed by Doris Day

Music: BE MY LITTLE BABY BUMBLE BEE
(Henry I. Marshall / Stanley Murphy)

The Wild Ones
(Oona McOuat)

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One World, One Heart Beating by Oona McOuat

Inspiring video from Oona McOuat

For years, Canadian artist Oona McOuat has been involved with amazing projects. To quote from her website bio:

From 1991 to 2005, she wintered on the Big Island of Hawaii, swimming and singing with wild dolphins and whales and exploring sound to new depths.  She developed a music program based on singing and playing from the inside out, and became an inspiring and dedicated teacher, expanding her work to include story, the mythic realms and environmental awareness and stewardship.

She is one of those artists who gave me a break when I was starting this website. I still love listening to Honey and Holy Water. There is that timeless appeal embedded in the album. I subscribed to her newsletter so I get updates once in a while. Oona is such an intriguing artists and her kindness shines through her songs. A video called  One World One heart Beating came out early this year. Here is what the video is about:

  An anthem to global unity sung and played – and with a video created – entirely by children. Purchase this song at OneWorldOneHeartBeating.com and help War Child help kids impacted by war.

Pictures about the video can be found in her website gallery : http://www.oonamcouat.com/photos.html

Quietude and Kindness

Calm in quietude is not real calm. When you can be calm in the midst of activity, this is the true state of nature. Happiness in comfort is not real happiness. When you can be happy in the midst of hardship, then you see the true potential of the mind.

Zen master: Huanchu Daoren

 

Today I want to address our capacity to stand still despite the chaos around us. There are people who would just give in to negative emotions out of paranoia due to miscommunication. I am guilty of this. It happens from time to time especially when emotions are subjected to wear and tear. Stress from work is enough to drive one to suspect that a plot to destroy his or her being is out there.

It is funny that people we tend to dislike at first end up to be our strongest allies. But life is uncertain. We know this from the time we leave home for school. And it never ends. I remember watching that movie called “Nightmare Before Christmas”. It somehow stroked a chord in me. I have a soft spot for underdogs and those who turn bad because  the society hurt them.

Sometimes there’s too much emotion, so many things to do but with so little time. And everyone has that precious soul inside worth dying for.  All the things happening now, catastrophes, war and even the personal wars we have can wear and tear the soul turning us into brittle roses that are left in the midday, to wither and be blown by the wind.

So let us show a little kindness, a little sweetness. For life is infinitely precious.

***

 

Check this video by Oona McOuat. She is traveling to Zimbabwe with her band:

Want to help Spread the Love? Oona & Dream Deep need your support in creating global unity as they launch Kids Across the Continents in Zimbabwe this spring. Donate via PayPal to oonasong@yahoo.com

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Get to know the band Shelta.This was taken last Saint Patrick’s Day in France. Thanks to Jimmy for posting this on his facebook page. Now I discovered something new. I recently got acquainted with this talented young man with an inexhaustible kindness. It’s really great knowing him. He and other new friends came to me just in time after  I started having this falling out with a friend I had for years. It somehow temporarily disabled my ability to trust and to be a good judge of human character. When a friendship ends it makes you think about your own life and question your own ability to keep friendship. Have I done wrong? But perhaps everyone is  always given redemption . Thanks to Jimmy and the rest for the friendship.

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Former Old Blind Dog singer Jim Malcolm is having a house concert If you are a fan of his an his band’s music, I am sure you are going to be curious:

Jim Malcolm House Concert

 

Time

24 March · 20:00 – 23:00


Location

Kathy and Cary Brown

1624 Heather Hill Crescent

Flossmoor, IL


Created by:

Kathy Brown


More info

Tickets are $20 donation(all of which goes directly to Jim)
Complimentary Drinks and Refreshments
Call or email kathleenblazebrown@sbcglobal.net for reservations

Come hear the latest from Jim’s new cd ‘Sparkling Flash’ as well as some old favourites in an intimate setting.

 

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My friend Rachel McCormack- a very talented acoustic artist from Dublin sent me this invite. Yes show a little love and kindness around to our Japanese brothers an sisters:

Time

25 March · 18:30 – 23:00


Location

Whelans

25 Wexford Street

Dublin, Ireland


Created by:

The BaRLey MOB, Conor Byrne


More info

The Barley Mob in association with OxJam Ireland present the 1st of several fundraising gigs for the recent disaster in Japan featuring the finalists from the “TodayFm Unsigned” competition..The Barley mob, Sanzkrit, G-Miley and The Problematic…Doors 6:30…Adm:7euro…First band onstage @ 7..
Admission €7.00 for a good cause.

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Thanksgiving Blessings, Music and Great Artists..

Oona McOuat topped the Canadian Folk Charts.


Congratulations to my pal Oona McOuat for topping the Canadian folk charts with her new album Honey and Holy Water. You might remember way back when I posted an Interview with her and she’s really down to earth, fun to talk and so much witty. Honey and Holy water is available for purchase in several outlets including her official site http://www.oonamcouat.com/

http://www.reverbnation.com/oonamcouat

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Capercaillie on tour.

Capercaillie fans will be delighted to know that the band have schedules up to next year. If you remember I wrote once here about the news I got in which it states that Capercaillie is disbanding. But that news proved to be wrong. The band is in top form and Karen Matheson is still bright as ever!

  • 18 December: Paisley Abbey, Paisley. Doors 7.30pm. Tickets available from Marks & Spencer, High Street, Paisley; Ticket Scotland, 239 Argyle Street, Glasgow. Tel 0870 222.116; http://www.ticket-scotland.co.uk; WRVS Renfrewshire Information Centre & Community Cafe, Paisley Centre, 20 Causeyside Street; and Paisley Abbey
  • 6 Feb 2011: Feile an Earraigh, Belfast.
  • 10 Feb 2011: Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal. Box Office: 01539 725133 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              01539 725133      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
  • 11 Feb 2011: Perth Concert Hall, Perth. Box Office: 01738 621 031 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              01738 621 031      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
  • 12 Feb 2011: Warwick Arts Cantre, University of Warwick, Coventry. Box Office: 024 7652 4524 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              024 7652 4524      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
  • 13 Feb 2011: Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester. Box Office: 01243 781312 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              01243 781312

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Celtic Thunder extend their thanksgivings!

Yes guys, and here they are:

Oona McOuat: Thoughts from Burgoyne Bay

The Celtic enchantress have things to tell us: A new album in the making, Beltane and other goodies!

CMF:I like the new profile pic in FB. Where was this taken?

The photo was taken just down the road from here at Burgoyne Bay on Salt Spring Island.
So what’s upcoming musically? Updates? Gigs?

Musically….I am beginning to write material for a new album. No immediate plans to record but my goal is to carve out space this fall and winter for the muse to move through me. I am open to being surprised by what appears stylistically and content-wise as I compose, and I hope to create music that has a universal appeal – songs which address the deep inner feelings, needs, desires, joys and sorrow we all share.

On a fun note I am directing a “Glee” choir which incorporates singing, dancing and musical accompaniment all done by 11-18 year olds and I am loving the process of working with these kids! I am also teaching music to a profoundly deaf child which is amazing as we explore the vibration within the sound together.

I made some touring contacts in bellisima, sun-kissed Italy while I was there last month. I would love to return to Europe next summer with a couple of band members.

I have just begun discussion with a small record label that is supporting me in moving to the next level with my career. I need an assistant – badly – to help with getting licensing and radio play in place and I also really really want to produce some beautiful videos of my songs.
How did you spend your Beltane?

Beltane – that was May 1st, right? I went to a gathering at Duck Creek Farm on Salt Spring. They had erected a Maypole and I played my harp and sang as people danced around it. It was fun!
What are you listening to?

I just pulled some old CDs off the shelf – Beth Nielson Chapman – one of my favorite songwriters of all times – Deeper Still. Joanna Newsom, who has awesome harp arrangements but odd to me vocals – Yys – and the late, great Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Facing Future – a gorgeous album from Hawaii.

Who’s Who:Emer Kenny,The Mud Girls and Oona’s Teachings.

The Mud Girls ,have  been making a stir  these days as one of a kind group of women builders. They have built houses from cob, as well as other natural material such as strawbale, driftwood, adobe, cordwood and recycled materials like glass, car tires, glass bottles and more. I discovered  them through Oona McOuat’s website….

Speaking of Oona McOuat, this Canadian chanteuse has not only been making music but is involved in a lot of projects. Earth Keepers Faerie Camp and Ocean Wisdom Mermaid Camp (among others) draw a lot of crowd. Learn more by visiting http://www.oonamcouat.com/teaching.html

emer kenny

Emer Kenny

Who is Emer Kenny? Well myth says she is a fairy who stepped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting and is now recording music in Dublin….

The truth?

Emer Kenny is actually the wistful, ethereal voice behind three acclaimed recordings, Emer Kenny(1997), Fades into Day (2001) and Parting Glass(2004). A graduate of  the College of  Music in Dublin and Trinity College of Music London, she started her hand in writing music for theaters. Her media appearances attracted the attention of Mercury records that led to her debut self-titled album in 1997. Musicians such as Fionuala Sherry of Secret Garden and the Chieftains percussionist Peadar Mercer guested in this album. From then on, two more remarkable albums followed. So I am sure you would be interested to know. Happy haunting for those Emer Kenny albums.

In Defense of Folk, New Age and World Music

In music , improvement does not necessarily mean changing of sound. When you improve, you are simply polishing your style or progressing in the style you have already cultivated. What applies to restless disposable Pop music does not mostly apply to our musical culture. We adhere to tradition for its own sake. Tradition is all we have or else we will loose our credibility.

That is why it is funny when critics start to say something bad about artists who don’t change their sound. It also goes to show that whoever these critics are, they have a serious case of ADHD-always looking for a different sound or the shock value which has nothing to do with the technical aspect of music. Now I do have that kind of affliction, only that it is mild and CERTAINLY not with music which I write about!

These critics have no respect for the craft. And we know based on their reviews that they haven’t listened to the complete albums themselves (track by track and liner notes) to understand the intention of the artist behind. These critics are not here to preserve civilization or improve it. They want to ruin it-hastily, as an errant child would. And they get paid to do it.

But for us serious bloggers (who aren’t paid to write but write because we love to do it), we keep our jobs so we can do the things we love to do including blogging about music that really matters.

Now not to divert from the nature of this discussion, we might take into other forms or styles through time (as what Alan Stivell or Donal Lunny does), but it is through the instruments used, the guest players, and the definitive sound that this brand of music really shines with.

Oftentimes new artists bring something fresh to what is already there but we know that straying away from the bonds of what the music is defined(even teetering on top 40 radio fame) can sometimes compromise its integrity. And I don’t know about you but for me , that standard to which a music is defined as Celtic should not narrowly be based on its acoustic form-therefore ignoring the richness that electronic artists bring to the fold. After all, it not just music and style. It’s  about sound and perception too. So everything has to be considered as long as it brings forth the spirit.

And now for the news….

If you want to hear the future of traditional music, then you better not miss Flaithrí Neff’s musical projects. From country Cork, Flaithrí was joined by Eoghan that form the Neff Bros, bringing together passionate and innovative playing of traditional tunes. In the early days, they were in a family band called ‘Teaghlach’, composed of researcher, composer and musician Flaithrí Neff (flaithrineff.com) and Eoghan . The duo is joined by parents Muireann (Marion) and Éibhear.

His latest project is Partholón. According to his site: recounts the gripping story of a mythological Sicilian prince in the ancient Irish text, LEBOR GABÁLA ÉRENN (The Book of Invasions). The 9-minute piece was performed with The Cork Youth Orchestra under the direction of Tomás McCarthy, Cork City Hall, April 25th, 2009 www.myspace.com/neffbros .

Cited by Nanci Giffith as the sweetest voice of Ireland , Frances Black (Twice Winner of the “Best Irish Female” IRMA Award”) continues to charm audiences all over Ireland with her live performances and well-crafted recordings. Recently her own RISE foundation has achieved more accolades. Check out http://frances-black.net/news/news.htm for your source of the latest Frances black news and concerts. Her latest double CD album The Essential Frances Black can be purchased here Contact: Manager Brian Allen, E-mail:brianallen@ireland.com, Publicist Andrea Smith E-mail:francesblackpr@eircom.net.

Breton tradition is alive and well because of Dom Duff. I recently featured a link to his new single here (please use the search engine on the upper right to refer to old articles as well as names of artists you are looking for). Dom (voice, guitars, mandolin, bodhran) along with band members Nicola Hayes : violin, Dom Bott : electric & acoustic bass and David Seite : percussion; continue to bring innovation and grit to Breton tradition with their crafted recordings and live performances  For an in depth look at his band and music , please refer to   www.myspace.com/domduff and WWW.DOMDUFF.COM and the Interview I did for him.

One String Loose is a band from Caldicot Wales composed of five members: Scott McKeon on fiddle and banjo, Jack Stewart – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bodhran, Joe Brady – whistle, low whistle, flute, Baz Barwick – bass and Owen Emmanuel – drums. The band has been building reputation with their dynamic renditions of traditional and original materials. I myself was swept away upon hearing one of their songs for the first time. According to their site: One String Loose have always recognised that their style of music is deeply rooted in dance, and have sought to contemporise it with grooving rhythmic patterns from the bass and drums, intricate accompaniment from the guitar and foot stomping melodies from the fiddle and whistle. As a consequence, a gig that doesn’t get at least a substantial part of their audience up and shaking has now become a rarity. Sounds really awesome eh? They have cemented themselves as the who’s who in the music scene which according to the site: The past few years have been exceptional for One String Loose. The band reached the finals of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, followed with a polished performance at the highly prestigious Glastonbury Festival on the Avalon Stage. Breath taking performances in Poland and France further cemented their popularity in Europe and plenty of gigs up and down the UK helped the band to progress to where they are now. More recently the band released their second studio album “KUMQUAT” which has been received superbly both by critics and fans. With that in mind, never go off your radar. You can catch them as they tour UK this July(the last happened this June 19): http://events.myspace.com/Event/3964511/The-Big-Session-Festival . More on   www.myspace.com/onestringloose and http://www.onestringloose.com

If you haven’t got your copy of Honey and Holy Water by Oona McOuat yet, then don’t miss this jewel of an album. I have been listening to it back and forth for more than a month and I never get tired of it because it has been beautifully conceived and artfully crafted. Oona has the gift of mesmerizing melodies, a visionaries’ depth and a perchance for eclectic arrangements that truly mark this album’s strength. I have a lot of personal favorites including This is A Prayer and Sleepy Maggie but I am sure you will find your own. Listen to her and I am sure this I the kind of album that will get worn out after a lot of plays. Listen to  www.myspace.com/oonamcouat,  visit and buy the CD at www.oonamcouat.com. The Oona McOuat band: Oona: Harp and voice, Corbin Keep: cello, electric guitar and back up vocals. Richard Lee: sax, flute, clarinet, pennywhistle, recorder, guitar & back-up vocals and Chris Bertin: didgeridoo & percussion. I tell ya, the instruments speak for themselves!

The new video by Barleyjuice ‘Weekend Irish’ is now available for general viewing on  on YouTube. The band’s latest album Bonny Prince Charles is now out.  Original link is : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUxhIAJYwWo I have been enjoying this video!

Vote Oona McOuat for Lilith Fair

Photo by Kmax

 

Celtic Music Fan is forever supportive of those who appeared in his Interviews. Oona McOuat will definitely add a new vibe to Lilith Fair and let us vote for her by doing the following : 

1. Click here: 

http://www.ourstage.com/tracks/SYMOAHXMLWVV-green-mountain 

2.  Add Oona as a favorite.  You can add a quirky, cute or conundrum coated comment on this page if you’d like. (Click on comment) 

3. Click on the JUDGE tab in the menu above 

4. Click on LILITH FAIR CHANNELS (2nd green title in the right hand column) 

5. Click on LILITH LOCAL TALENT SEARCH VANCOUVER – 12th down on the right 

6. She should come up in the 1st or 2nd round of artists 

Oona McOuat’s Thirst-Quenching New Album: Honey and Holy Water (Interview)

Photos by Kmax

Oona McOuat (pronounced oo-na mick-kew-it) is a naturalist singer/composer. Her music evokes the Earth Mother‘s embrace, laced with bohemian sultriness and Islander spirit. Her’s is a fresh approach to a genre that has remained stable and vibrant through the years. I am one of the lucky people who is able to listen to the whole tracks off her new album Honey and Holy Water. I have  been listening to the songs in small speakers and head phones before expanding to large living room speakers. There are nuances one can usually miss upon a single  listen. There are those passages that make you say ” hey I never realize that before”! Repeated listening can have its rewards.

Honey and Holy Water exudes the atmosphere which I refer to as maritime folk music. And popularly, this one is called Eco-Celt. A kind of genre that raises awareness for ecological conditions like  the disappearing trees, bees,  dying whales and “the world  in chaos because we could no longer go back to Woodstock and be with the Earth Children” as one of her song talks about.

She has eclectic taste, which explains the ensemble created in this recording. Cellist Corbin Keep has carved a name for himself as the wild cellist. Other wonderful performers are: Cellist Jami Sieber, Richard Lee on woodwinds,Chris Bertin on percussion, with fiddlers Zav Rokeby-Thomas and Michael Fox and singers James Mujuru and Desmond Sutherland. Producer Daryl Chonka also added bass, guitar,piano,didgeridoo and other beats.

Track by track detail:

1.Mystery : From the first few chords up to her breathy slightly smoky vocals, the songs holds the listener with its poignant melody. In the chorus Oona sings

“Oh Mystery
in you and me,
Like sky and sea
Like Earth and tree.
Oh waterfall
of flowing love,
Pass through our hearts
and show us we are one with all,
with all.

The perky flute flaps all over the song above the sonorous low purring of the cello creating a contrast .

2.Africa: Zimbabwean singer James Mujuru recorded his vocals and based his improvised lyrics poetry and folklore. The African chant and drums accompany her silky vocals.

3. Crystal Maiden of the Lake: Here’s a song with an intro that catches you right away. The cello is plucked in a way to sound like a huge hammer dulcimer. The vocals are layered to create the effect of church choir. Perfect movie soundtrack with strings going in and out like silken sheets. In the second stanza Oona sings:

“Although I long to soar on the nighttime’s velvet wings
and travel to the places where my soul softly sings,
I’m bound to stand upon this shore a teardrop in my eye
to protect the land from human hands for whose misdeeds I cry.” Wow!

4.Ancient Mother: She invokes all the earth mother figures in different mythologies from Egyptian to Celtic.

“Hecate, Demeter, Isis, Astarte,
Diana, Pele, Cerredwin, Kali,
Yemaya, Ishtar, Gaia”…….

5.Drowsy Maggie:A fun track. Traditional Celtic meets trans-continental electro. The irresistible beat makes you  want to throw your inhibitions away dancing. Just when you think Oona’s music stays in the same line, it’s then when she tosses her hair and stops taking life too seriously. Just pure fun, goodness and that naughty leprechaun dancing on your table.

6.Green Mountain: After several haunting tracks , this one is a fresh folk-pop tune that glides into your car seat seamlessly. The fiddles provide the unmistakable Irish feel. A great song to listen to while driving long distance.

7.Woodstock: Fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell wrote and performed this song in 1969 . I remember watching a documentary about Woodstock a couple of years ago. I am reminded how the spirit of the 60s were different from now. Gone are the dreamers.

” came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road,
And I asked him, where are you going?
This he told me.
Said I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm
gonna join in a rock ‘n’ roll band,
Got to get back to the land
and get my soul free.”

The Afro-Celt feel of the song makes it Oona’s own.

8.This is a Prayer: The smoky atmosphere of this song makes my eyes cloudy. And I mean it. The melody simply rips your heart out of your chest. The lyrics talk of lost innocence, a paean to life’s painful passage when we lost that childhood  and discover that life hard..but then there is hope somewhere, as indicated by the uplifting sound of the sax. This is the kind of music that Oona should develop more. It is a cool combination that I have never heard from any artist out there.

“There’s a power greater than words
dormant somewhere inside.
Masked behind this gentleness
There’s a rage.” And I say amen to that!

9.Honey and Holy Water: The title track summarizes the whole feel of the album. The mouth harp is also an effective introduction in this hypnotic track that builds up in improvisation. This one also displays her range as a vocalist. Though lyrics aren’t present here. Just her humming along exotic instruments.

10.The Wild Ones:”I’m the wild one that runs with the wind
Thought I could rest here with you my friend

But here they come, here they come.” Here she sings in a higher register. Her vocals emulates Judy Collins and  Mary Hopkins. ( One thing to mention – the whale and dolphin sounds in The Wild Ones were not synthesized – they were made by Jami on her cello and by Chris on his drums-Oona).. The tempo is lively and in the end part you can hear sounds of city streets and vehicles honking.

11.Where the Emptiness is Full: This piano based song closes this wonderful album. Again a departure from her usual themes. But then again I realize that no songs ever sound the same. She does manage to keep a holistic approach that makes this album coherent without tracks going in their own way and making their own tea party(which alas mostly happens with other musicians).

She has created a solid base of musicians and a matured  crafted songwriting that can stand the test of time. Honey and Holy Water challenges true music enthusiasts to take a listen and be delighted by the bounty of mother earth.

Here’s our Q&A with the artist herself:

CMF: How did you start out as a musician and what made you choose this kind of musical path?

"I’ve been singing since I could open my mouth and make sound".

“I’ve been singing since I could open my mouth and make sound”.

I’ve been singing since I could open my mouth and make sound.  (See attached photo!).  My mother sensed my innate musicality and love of song and enrolled me in piano lessons.  While growing up I also studied dance, music theory, theatre, painting and voice, and wrote stories and songs and poems.  When I graduated from high school I had to make a decision- become a classical pianist or explore a world of ideas.  I chose the latter and became a journalist.  It took 10 years for me to return to a path of creative self-expression.  I was introduced to the Celtic harp by a beloved First Nations elder and began to reconnect with my muse.

Are your songs biographical and what inspires you to write the lyrics and melody?

Feelings, hunches, deep inner swirls of sensation, colour and image, set in an inner world beyond, or perhaps beside, physical place and time inspire my lyrics and melodies.  Sometimes the words flow from my own experience; sometimes they seem to flow from a collective unconscious that is larger than my own memory or life.

What’s the song writing process?

photo by Melissa Schelling

photo by Melissa Schelling

When I am in tune and able to make space I can feel a song coming on.   I simply need to sit and the words and melody pour out, generally without effort.  I have experimented with other forms of song writing – creating the lyrics first, finding a rift with my hands and then letting the lyrics follow where it takes me, but I think my truest songs are the ones that require the least effort, editing and reworking.  I seldom sit down and think – “I want to write a song about….”  I simply make room for the song that wants to be created.  I have studied song writing and know this is not necessarily the most professional way to practice the craft but it might be the purest.  I am soon going to experiment with another way of composing.  I want to take a small handheld recording device off into a natural setting and sit and let a song come to me there, away from my instrument.

You have other existing projects with Cellist Corbin Keep. What created this tandem?

I applied to perform at a festival Corbin was curating10 years ago.  The gig did not work out but our connection was instantaneous.  I invited him to join me on the other gigs I had set up in his area and he agreed.  The funny thing is I did this based on our email conversation.  This was before he had a website, and I presumed he was a she.  I imagined her long flowing hair and cello complimenting me and my harp beautifully.  I almost fainted when we arranged our first phone meeting and I heard his very clearly male voice on the other end.  But I was right about the way we would complement each other.  Corbin’s skilled rhythmic playing and his rock and roll influences are quite different from my soaring style with the harp.  Our differences add colour and contrast to our music, blending with our commonalities – our classical training, similar world views and our ease together – to make a great musical match: one with depth, grace and a touch of the unexpected.

What’s the recording session like with your band Dream Deep? Give us a glimpse of the jam that created this sweet album.

Where the Emptiness is full was recorded live – piano, voice, no click track – very straightforward.  Honey and Holy Water, the title track, was recorded as a live studio improv.  I gave Jami Sieber a verbal image of what I wanted the piece to represent, she began with a cello lick, I sang live over top, she added another cello lick and our conversation began. We created a 20 minute improvisation in the studio that eventually had to be edited down to 5 minutes or so.  Before the editing began, two digds – played by Daryl Chonka and Chris Bertin – did their own studio improv on top of our tracks.  I added a bit of harp at the very end.  The rest of the songs were recorded in a completely opposite manner.  I laid down the harp tracks to a creative click track created by Daryl.  Then we laid the vocals on top.  To record the vocals he brought his equipment here to my little cottage and I sung all the songs in my own home.  We then decided what  we wanted where, and invited Chris, James Mujuru, (who is now living back in Zimbabwe), 6 year old Desmond, Corbin, Jaime and Zavellenah Rokeby Thomas to each come into the studio for a session to layer in their parts.  We did not tell them what we wanted them to play or sing specifically but gave them images to illustrate with sound.  Richard Lee recorded all his woodwind and vocal parts in a studio in Hawaii and Mike Fox recorded his violin tracks for This is a Prayer in his bathroom in Brazil.  I think the reason remote recording worked so well with them is that we have played together live for several years so they were able to seamlessly drop into the songs.  Daryl then added finishing touches – always thinking that less is more – and we began mixing and remixing and remixing until we were both satisfied with the songs and the album.

You travel a lot and Mystery was inspired while you were in Hawaii. What are other places that you’ve been to?

Europe, the Southwest, the North, the Maritimes, all across Canada, the Eastern United States, the West coast, Mexico and Central America.  Generally, I am more concerned about our relationship to the natural world than to specific geographical locations.  That being said, sometimes a song will arise from a specific place and express itself through me in ways that stretch and illuminate me musically as well as personally.  I think this is the best of what travel offers us – as we journey to a foreign place and experience new things, we may come to know and appreciate the familiar in fresh and meaningful ways.

Before your foray into music, you were into theater . You also served as a war correspondent and a wild dolphin swimmer. Do you think being a journalist inspired you to write some of the most moving songs in this album? Because reading through the lyrics you tend to deal with the human condition . Something that I really care about too.

I am glad we have that in common!  I think I became a journalist because I cared about the human condition but I did not remain one because I realized that for me, the best way to make a difference was to write and perform songs and stories that could touch people in ways that facts and figures and analysis could not.

It is interesting also to note that you are from the west coast since a lot of Celtic music is concentrated on the east coast. What can you say about this?

I hope and believe my music is not bound to a specific geography.  I do perform some traditional music and have studied Celtic harp, Gaelic and traditional Celtic lore in Scotland and Ireland, but I think my gift is to synthesize what has been with what is.  I definitely have one foot rooted in the mists of Avalon and yet I am interested in creating music that responds to the current set of challenges facing humankind and our planet.  How do we live in balance with a natural world which sustains us while we are destroying it?   How do we connect more deeply with each other and ourselves when those of us who have money do not seem to have any time and those who do not have money or their fair share of the resources are forced to focus on surviving rather than thriving?

Canada is an eclectic-friendly nation and a lot of my favorite musicians came from your country. Have you met some of the notable musicians in the genre and what it’s like?

Canada has traditionally had a strong history of nurturing and supporting the arts which has allowed musicians and artists to flourish.   Until now, the Canadian voice has been strong in folk, pop and contemporary Celtic music – ie: Loreena McKennitt, Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, etc – partly because there were mechanisms in place that supported touring and recording.   This is not the case here in British Columbia now where government funding to the arts has been drastically cut.

I have played at the same festival as Bruce Cockburn and the Rankin Family.  I’ve received career guidance from Sarah McLachlan’s producer Pierre Marchand.  I have shared a stage with Ferron – a great Canadian singer songwriter.  I recently shared a stage with folk music legend Valdy who lives down the road.  My album was mastered at Randy Bachman (of the Guess Who’s ) recording studio.  I have enjoyed meeting all these “greats” and learning from their skills and I believe that those who were successful in the music business of the 70’s, 80’s and even the 90’s may be less able to support or mentor emerging artists now than other indie artists who are walking the same path. We do not have a team of publicists or managers or record label personnel to take care of all the details for us.  We must focus on the business aspects of our careers while maintaining an authentic relationship to our craft and our fans.  So although I love absorbing the creative gifts of these successes, I believe indie artist are in the midst of living and building a new paradigm.

What’s it like to work with producer Daryl Chonka in this album?

I had literally traveled half way across the world in search of the right person to create this album with and, as it turned out, I found my producer within walking distance of my own front door. The album was recorded in a tiny studio in the beautiful valley where Daryl and I live.  Last winter when we were snowed in for a month, Daryl and I hiked over the mountain between our homes and met halfway so he could give me a copy of his latest mix. Daryl plays several instruments on the CD – bass, piano, guitar, beats. He subtly helped shape the sound of the recording without adding anything that felt out of sync with the project.

Tell us things we don’t know yet about you.


Ah – I’m a Scorpio and we like to remain a bit mysterious but…I have family visiting this Easter weekend and last night we played a game which I will share with you. We each made a list of 26 words that felt true to us, each word beginning with a different letter of the alphabet.  Here’s my list:

Attics, Bach, cetaceans, dancing, effervescence, flow, giggling, hugs, ideas, journeys, kookies, lambs, miracles, nettles, oceans, pumpkins, questions, results, stories, truth, unicorns, vastness, whales’ song, xylophones, yoga, zip.

Interesting list words. It’s hard to top those 🙂

Album front

Album front

Album back

Album back

http://www.oonamcouat.com/
http://www.myspace.com/oonamcouat
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/oonamcouat
http://www.reverbnation.comww.reverbnation.com/oonamcouat

What’s New in Music !

So many updates, so little time. I am writing this in breakneck speed while I m trying to uncover a new band from Russia as well as a gifted siren who sent me an email. I shall post them in this site soon . But first thing’s first. The wind has taken us to the Scottish skies . There are new releases waiting foe our ears to swallow-hahahaha I like this imagery.

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Celtic Metal from the Russian Federation:Fferyllt

I didn’t know what to say. This band blew the rooftops with their explosive brand of music-A union of Celtic and Metal music. There is nothing more refreshing than to have someone shake down the house once in a while. What can I say? They look better than most metal bands though…and sound much ,much better. Take a look at this edited video I found in YouTube:

Official band site:http://www.fferyllt.net/

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Siren of Songs from British Columbia:Oona McOuat

I have heard of Oona McOuat long before I got a mail from her but I didnt know how to get in touch. Like all wonderful musicians I listen to, she lives in British Columbia. Her music is a combination of soft tunes drenched in soulful saxophones, traditional instruments and lounge sophistication that makes just lose yourself to the music after a hard day’s work. Her music is evocative and her voice is part ethereal and part earthly rooted both in folk and jazz. I love her refreshing approach to this kind of genre because she really brings something new to it. Like bringing a new set of recipes on a get together party . I hear a bit of Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and Loreena McKennitt in her . But of course the music is uniquely Oona McOuat.

You can listen to her songs here:

http://www.myspace.com/oonamcouat

Her new album Honey and Holy Water is now available. You can learn more at her official website: http://www.oonamcouat.com/

I will be posting more updates about her soon.