“Gigs don’t get more prestigious” – Joel Plaskett on performing with the NAC Orchestra

Joel Plaskett photo 2014 copy

Sun goes down upon the bay
Looking for somewhere to play
I came here to bring the noise
To the island girls and the harbour boys

– Joel Plaskett, Harbour Boys

Joel Plaskett is a clear-voiced singer-songwriter whose music pulses with tight rhythm and guitar. His songs are alternately packed with hard-driving rock (Lightning Bolt from the album Scrappy Happiness) and searing emotion (the gorgeous Face of the Earth from Ashtray Rock). His lyrics can be poetic, funny and often both: the chorus of an early hit, also from Ashtray Rock, tells of “fashionable people doing questionable things.”

Plaskett built his career in the bars and clubs of Halifax more than 20 years ago, and today is highly respected on the Canadian indie scene. He’s won dozens of awards, including a JUNO and multiple East Coast Music Awards.

When the National Arts Centre asked him to do a show with the NAC Orchestra on April 12 as part of the NAC Presents series, he immediately said yes.

“I’m thrilled to be playing with the orchestra at the NAC in the nation’s capital,” he said. “Gigs don’t get more prestigious. Pressure’s on!”

Joking aside, gigs like this take more people to make them work, he said.

“It’s not about jamming or directing a few musicians to an end result. It’s obviously bigger and requires a lot more people be successful. The songwriter, the performer, the arranger, the conductor, all the musicians and people behind the scenes. It requires a lot of preparation, and everyone involved has to stay on script.”

He said his music changes in many ways when he’s playing with an orchestra, starting with the dynamics.

“Distortion, big drum beats and loud volume aren’t part of the equation, so some of the rockier numbers needed to be deconstructed. Parts that had previously been really loud might change into a quiet part, to give the arrangement room to develop. Other times the orchestral arrangements fit nicely over the basic rock arrangement.”


“Carnivore” featuring Rachel Sermanni

Mo’s album is released on Star House Collective in Ireland. The video is made by Ambiguous Fiddle Media and features Rachel Sermanni on backing vocals.

Joel Plaskett breaking new ground

Make no mistake, Joel Plaskett is a rocker at heart.

But from his early days with seminal alt-rockers Thrush Hermit, to his current incarnation of the Emergency — with a few folkie forays in between — the Nova Scotia indie darling has always been looking to break new ground.

And so he brings his latest, and most daring adventure to the hallowed halls of the NAC, where he’ll be trading in his jeans and plaid shirt for something a little more formal, with the famed NAC Orchestra providing the symphonic backdrop to his tunes.

It’s not completely foreign territory to Plaskett, who performed several concerts in a successful Pops series hosted by Symphony Nova Scotia back in 2006, with a reprise last fall.

“But I’ve never done anything with an orchestra outside of Nova Scotia, so it’s definitely a thrill to be bringing it to Ottawa,” said Plaskett from his Scotland Yard studio.

“I’m excited about it. I did a version of the show in September with the Nova Scotia Symphony, so some of the charts are the same (as the Symphony Nova Scotia show), and the conductor, Martin MacDonald is the same.

“I find the shows pretty nerve-wracking, to be honest, because you really have to stay on script. I don’t read music — I mean, I know my own tunes — but normally I would perform the songs either solo or with a band where you can play loose, you can take your time with things, where with an orchestra, you have to be disciplined.

“And there’s not a lot of rehearsal, because there’s so many people involved and you’re just doing it for one night. But it’s so thrilling when it’s actually happening. It’s such a different experience, and when you get to the point where you can just relax, it’s pretty fun as a singer just to have all that sound behind you.”

Joel Plaskett w/ the NAC Orchestra
With guests Mo Kenney, Erin Costelo, Bill Plaskett
NAC Southam Hall
Saturday, April 12, 8 p.m.


Indie Rocker Joel Plaskett Appearing at Meaford Hall Wednesday

Canada has produced some of the world’s most enduring songwriters and Joel Plaskett is hailed as one of the best. With countless awards to his credit, thousands of tour dates, and numerous recording and producing projects under his belt, Plaskett remains one of the most innovative and prolific artists on the scene today.

He will play an intimate solo show at the Meaford Hall Opera House on Wednesday, April 9 at 8 pm. A quickly dwindling number of tickets are available for $35 online at meafordhall.ca or through the Box Office at 519.538.0463.


Mo Kenney wins her first ECMA

A big congratulations goes out to Mo Kenney for winning her first East Coast Music Award this weekend. Mo won Pop Recording of the Year for her debut, self-titled album. East Coast Music Week took place in Charlottetown, PEI from April 2-6 and featured dozens of live performances, an industry conference, and gala awards show.

Regina Folk Festival Announces 2014 Lineup

Now that it’s officially spring, it’s time to start looking ahead to the many outdoor folk festivals that will be coming our way during 2014′s sunny months. This includes the Regina Folk Festival, which just confirmed the lineup that it will bring to the Saskatchewan city’s Victoria Park from August 8 to 10.

The initial lineup announcement features a generous selection of artists including Sam Roberts Band, Indigo Girls, Joel Plaskett, Serena Ryder, Los Lobos, Matt Andersen, Elliott Brood, Royal Canoe, Jon and Roy, Saidah Baba Talibah, Geoff Berner, Mo Kenney, Clinton St. John, Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens, the Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, Klô Pelgag, Blitz the Ambassador, Mexican Institute of Sound and more.

A limited number of early bird weekend passes are on sale now. They cost $106.68 including service fees and taxes (student or senior passes are a total of $95.90). This is the 45th instalment of the festival.

by http://exclaim.ca/News/regina_folk_festival_announces_2014_lineup_with_sam_roberts_band_indigo_girls_joel_plaskett_serena_ryder

ECMA Nomination for Producer, Joel Plaskett

The East Coast Music Association announced the 2014 ECMA award nominees this morning in Charlottetown, PEI and we’re thrilled Joel Plaskett is nominated for Producer of the Year.

Joel has been producing his own award-winning records since 1999. He applied his producer skills to one of his favourite young band’s debut recording, Two Hours Traffic, and went on to produce another two records for the group, including their Polaris Music Prize short-listed Little Jabs. Since then, Joel has spent more and more time producing other artists, including David Myles’ award-winning album Turn Time Off, Sarah Slean’s Land off her critically-acclaimed Land & Sea release, newcomer Mo Kenney’s debut self-titled record, and most recently, an EP with Old Man Luedecke titled I Never Sang Before I Met You.

Mo Kenney receives four 2014 ECMA award nominations

Mo Kenney is nominated for an outstanding four ECMA awards, which were announced today in Charlottetown, PEI. The nominations are for Solo Recording, Pop Recording of the Year, Songwriter of the Year – “Sucker”, and Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the Year. Thank you to the East Coast Music Association and congratulations to all the nominees!

Old Man Luedecke “I never sang before I met you”

Listen live on CBC Music.

Old Man Luedecke released a very special EP today. Here is his (very kind) message:

“I never sang before I met you” is a new short collection of songs recorded and produced by Joel Plaskett at his New Scotland Yard in Dartmouth NS. With an increasingly busy tour schedule and a crazy busy home life (three kids under the age of three) I wanted to revamp my approach to making songs and records. In the past I’ve recorded in sprints of four songs a day to make a record in four days. Pretty special. Pretty stressful. Pretty damn quick. I’m now trying to form a habit of getting into the studio more often than just for album making marathons to see what kind of magic can be captured with more time spent there. This collaboration with Joel Plaskett has yielded a gem that seems worth releasing as an EP on the eve of a cross country tour. Then I can play the new songs live.

Working on a tune a day (luxury!) with Joel and the broadened pallet, sensibility and attention to detail he brings as a producer was as thrilling as it was inspiring. When I wrote Baby, We’d be Rich I knew it needed a JJ Cale rock and roll approach outside of my usual banjo setting. I have admired his wondrous drum machine for several years since it started popping up on his records. I him in mind to produce the track soon after it was written. I think the ease that it comes across with is worth the price of admission alone and is a testament to his production values.

Sorry if I let you down (a line from the which the title is drawn) is a lovely marriage of a typical OML kinda song and Joel’s killer instincts. It flourishes mournful and solo for a minute until the Pettyesque 12 strings come in and lift the weighty burden. It is an uplifting song about professional angst. Hopefully it’s the only one I ever need write.

Time alone is the biggest sound from the project and is a really exciting treatment of a groovy kind of love song. Drive me to the beach you summer thing.

I’m really grateful Joel Plaskett took the project on in the limited “free time” we had and I’m thrilled with the results. To quote Al Tuck, one of our mutual friends and heroes, “Here’s hoping the sucker goes gold” Please Enjoy

Dave Gunning scores Hockey Night in Canada Song Quest

He shot, and he scored.

A little more than two weeks ago, songwriter Dave Gunning notched the winning goal in Hockey Night in Canada Song Quest. Co-written with David Francey, Gunning’s hockey tune, “A Game Goin’ On,” got the most votes from Canadian hockey fans coast to coast to coast.

This past week, as part of the Song Quest grand prize, Gunning went to Dartmouth, N.S., to re-record his winning song with veteran producer and rocker Joel Plaskett. Watch the video below to see what happened at Plaskett’s New Scotland Yard production studio.

View the video here.