Year’s End Review with a Promise of the New  

Greetings and salutations from a windy-driftin’ Amherst Island day! Another year come and gone, so many happenings, so many songs. In a world rife with change, I too have some alterations and growth to share. So without further ado, let me get straight to the point. 

Embarking on the proverbial reflections not only spurned by the hype that is “The New Year”, but also by the rural reality that Willy and I are living in, (slow, methodical survival at the mercy of a woodstove and off-grid living), conclusions of lessons learned abound. Humility and gratitude for the many hands(seats, ears, long drives, CD sales…) along the way that have helped it all choogle on. And folks, I have been officially making a better ‘go of it’. Playing steady, and less when required, dressing up more, drinking less. The driving. The driving is at a frequency that promises a career in trucking or bus driving should all this fervor to live, breath and submerge in the arts world come to a screeching halt. 

There have been brilliant blasts of energy on these artistic adventures, and there have been lonely nights as dark and as long as any old eve could be. Festivals with summer sun and lover at my side to truck stops in the rain with Dad on the other end of the phone telling me it’s time to get some sleep. “Ali, are you parked where the attendant can see you?” 

But I am still here. And so are you! 

I played somewhere around 200+ shows in 2016/17. Look Ma, all hands! Hands on the guitar, hands on the wheel, hands in the air, hands on my head. And it rocked, gals and guys! It rocked the casbah! My trusty and now semi-famous blue Buick Allure has seen the most westerly and easterly points of Canada, thrice-and-a-half, with the last journey taking us to to Cape Spear NFL spring ‘17 in a fog as thick as snow. From one end of the Trans Canada to the other I slung songs solo, with various talented supporting artists as well as many bill-sharers. Blue Butte, Taylor Guitar and I flogged the 2016 release “Clean Water” and sold close to 700 physical units, a modest albeit comforting figure to have reached as a ground-up kid-goat just getting over her wobbly new legs. We made fans, we made enemies only once, but that made for a great new song...we had fun. Well, I can’t say as though Blue Butte always had fun, but I would hazard a guess that she’s happy to be opened up on the highways as opposed to her previous life idling through city streets to and from court as a solicitor general’s car. By the way, buying a government-maintained ‘ex-cop car’ was one of the best purchases for a decent price. Low milage and like I said, very well taken care of. 

Highlights of 2017 included, in no particular order: 

Working lambing season on a 900 ewe sheep farm. Co-hosting Canadian Spaces with Chris White on CKCU.   Folk Music Ontario, Witnessing the magic that was and is Shelter Valley Music Festival just after a mini-tour with Max Marshall. Finally performing my way to and from Newfoundland. Performing at Blue Skies Music Festival as a tweener as well as coordinating and co-hosting two workshops, my home and heart-filling festival of many years attendance now, an absolute dream come true. Working with Artist Manager, a friend and supporter turned official, Trish Bolechowsky of RedLeaf. Trish has been beside me every step over this new big growth period helping to make sense of the new chapters as they unfold. 

The culmination of these revelations and experiences: this very week in early January I will be completing some final vocal additions to my third record, an 11 track album to release this spring, “That Place You Know.” There are songs about new roads to cherish and old roads we sleuth for comfort, songs about love both romantic and familial...there is even a song about a bear on a bike. It is a compilation of old and new songs from the last two years, and it is with great joy to announce that it will be travelling across this continent as well as others over the coming two years. I hope to visit as many friends as possible and make new ones along the way so lets stay in touch and make that happen? Artwork and release dates coming soon! 

Not one for multiple official New Years resolutions I do hope, however, to up the frequency of my writings here and get to sharing perhaps some in depth descriptions of the more noteworthy experiences traveling folk life brings. Until then keep your chin up and stay safe. Thanks for reading, and for believing in the power of music. 

As always, Loving This Road 

Xo 

Ali 

+++

January Birthday and Recording Finished Celebratory Shows: 

Saturday, January 20th in Ottawa ON 

Ali McCormick & Friends Jamboree 

Irene’s Pub, Ottawa ON 

$15/tickets at door 

Doors 8:30/ Show 9:00pm 

Opening Acts: Aly Marguerite(Montreal) & Ron Mills(Ottawa) 

Special Guest: Jyzmine Wykes 

This is going to be a rip-roarin’ fun time. I’ll have a trio with me for this one. 

Facebook Event Link Here

 

Sunday, January 21 in Westport ON 

Ali McCormick Birthday Gig 

The Cove Inn, Westport ON 

No Cover 

Show: 12 Noon until 3pm 

Duo Show with Bradley D. Scott 

Facebook Event Link Here

 

Miscellaneous Additional Post Scripts: 

-Last month I released a new live video, “Tackle Box, Saw, Chain and a Knife”, beside me here is Ottawa Valley Guitarist extraordinaire Bradley D. Scott. Brad has agreed to take to the roads with me this year, something I very much look forward to: Video Here

-November saw the launch of this shiny new updated website!

-While “That Place You Know” is being mixed, mastered and sent off for pressing I will be shortly thereafter/during that time attending and showcasing at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, followed by an opening slot at the prestigious Folkus Concert Series in Almonte On., Saturday, February 24th  Folkus Site Here

 

-And just for the fun of it here is a 'Baker's Dozen" List of bands/artists I discovered/ and or covered/ and enjoyed immensely. Note: List greatly, greatly narrowed down. Click the names below to view websites and listen in on what these gems are layin' down!

Bobby Dove

Murder Murder

Cécile Doo-Kingué 

Max Marshal

Chris Maclean

William Prince

Kim Beggs

The Ramblin' Valley Band

Dana Sipos

Outside I'm A Giant

Jennifer Holub

Greenbank

Bradley D. Scott

 

 

Happy New Year! 

Xo

Newfoundland Or Bust

May 3, 2017

To continue on where things were left off on the first blog post… 

…indeed Fredericton proved to be much more of a gem of a city than anticipated. Visiting our great-grand-folks grave markers at the Christ Church Cathedral there was entirely more inspiring than expected. Being a person who questions adherence to any religion in particular yet an admirer of quality architecture, nothing could have prepared me for the smash of nostalgia and appreciation of faith that transpired upon walking up to and entering the church great gramps served in. There was something almost just in the air or on the ground/in the building…a certain awareness that my own flesh and blood had existed in another form at the turn of the 20th century, right there, such a feeling as only to be felt and not easily described. Wow. 
Wandering the church was as amazing as you could imagine…but the highlight would have been meeting grounds-keeper Ken. Not expecting more than a short exchange of words, I asked a man working on the grounds to snap a picture of me sitting next to Dora and John’s markers. Ken and I exchanged pleasant hellos, but in further conversation I discovered that he was baptized by our forefather! Small world, and a new world where longevity is a reality. You see, Ken would have had to have been born before 1938 for this to have happened, which makes him an impressive age. Nor would I have guessed his age, still out there working away. Seems that the ground lighting is often kicked out by wandering drunks on late night destructive missions. Each to their own, though, I digress… 
Fredericton: the show was a blast! My co-billete Michelle Morrison is a beauty to be adored! Set to embark on a season of tree-planting, all of Michelle’s friends came out to the Grimross Brewing Co. for a send-off of sorts, which made for many new meetings for this outta-towner! Orchestrated by Eddie Young of Roots&Sound, the evening was a success–and had a San Franciscan 60’s songwriter vibe, something that seems to follow this gal around… 
After the Grimross show we all(and I mean everyone) tripped on to Wilser’s Room for Bluegrass Night w/ a hot act, the Montgomery Street Band and DANCED OUR BUTTS OFF in some sort of true East Coast-y kinda way. Stomping, howling, smiling, and sloshing our drinks on into the wee hours and then retiring to the band house for even more music(quieter and softer.) So many talented musicians every corner ya turn out here. 
From Fredericton it was on to Moncton, Summerside and Charlottetown for a string of great shows-on PE spent a wonderful overnight with Shelley and Mo(Fluffy Little Cowboys) and was taken for a wonderful beach walk near Thunder Cove on Mo and family’s land. After the PE shows I decided to tag along back to Moncton to surprise my friends The Ramblin’ Valley Band at their show with Jack Marks at Plan b. Wow! Some of you may have seen a couple of social media posts about it but Sunday at Plan b turned out to be a full-on celebrity night, with Josh & Benj of Mayhemingways, Bobby Dove and Jesse Ens, Jack Marks..plus myself and the Ramblin’ Valley Band boys: the result was a shaker for the ages, one I am yet recovering from two days later. (Well worth it for the memories.) The songs! The jams! 

Anyhow, safe and sound in Dartmouth, albeit grey and chilly, I bid you adieu for to sleep longer than usual in attempts of regaining some energy for the next group of shows: Tomorrow(Wed.May.3) at Thirsty Turtle, Thurs.May.4 at Reilly’s Lounge in the Hearthenstone Inn, both in Dartmouth. After that Breton Brewing Co in Sydney on Fri.May.5, topped off with Clancy’s Pub in Stephenville, NL Sat.May.6 

Ever Loving This Road,

Xoxo 

Ali

Who's Got The Parking Lot Blues?

April 24, 2017

Hi folks! It is day two on the first Ali McCormick Atlantic adventure. Leaving Ontario on Sunday proved unnecessary…never the less, it leaves some extra time for exploration as well as a restful sleep in a hotel bed. For those slightly younger-uns reading and aspiring to strike out on the Trans-Canada with song…car sleeping in late April is BRISK so be ye careful in the planning department. I managed to get a somewhat cozy sleep in a Walmart parking lot last night. Now…it might just be me, but parking in backwoods areas seems too scary for to do alone in parts unknown(chalk that off to some harrowing experiences years back when I lived in a van, a single female aged 21)…again, planning is paramount! Do it! And do it better than this flailing hippy. Many of the campgrounds I was intending to occupy are not open until May 1st or beyond. So camper-friendly Walmart it was! Here is a link that quelled my concerns last night in Riviere du Loup: http://www.rvtransit.com/ad-2630-walmart-riviere-du-loup-quebec 

Anyhow, after 8ish hrs of sleep interrupted only by two car starts for added warmth and intermittent listenings to Bruce Springsteen’s auto-biography for road inspiration I found myself not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed but definitely ready to continue on out of Quebec to Edmundstun, New Brunswick for coffee and windshield cleaning. From Ed it was smooth sailing to Fredericton, where part of the blog title was inspired. 

Upon dumping off the highway into Fredericton, turning into a big round-about I saw two characters of lovely rapport in a large white van that could be none other than Josh Fewings and Benj Rowland of Peterborough’s fuzz-rock duo the Mayhemingways! Now. Although entirely practiced in the fine art of “fan-girling”(I was aware they were in the area but had no designs of tracking them down, I was road haggard and lookin’ for to rest)…I was not expecting such a crossing of paths. And you know what? Eff it! Skipping my turn-off on the round-about, I followed the van to confirm suspicion and also simply to wave and blow kisses to two of the small collection of familiar faces I will see on this tour. The detour cost me 1/2 hr and 20ish kms of time, but dag-blast-it, it felt worth it! What a blast! 

Stocked up on food, showered and a load of laundry drying, it is now time to restring the beasties before quiet time. Call home, noodle on guitar, and yes, watch ‘hotel tv’. 

Tomorrow brings open mic, long lost cousin coffee date and visiting a few landmarks connected to my mother’s ancestry. Because I don’t know when I’ll next have time to blog about it, a long winded summation is as follows: 

Apparently my great-great g-pa John Andrew Richardson served in Fredericton at the Christ Church Cathedral from 1907-1938. I will visit the cathedral and also ‘Bishop’s Court’, the house the Richardsons lived in on 806 George Street. There is a monument in John Andrew’s honour that begs a flower drop, and a still-functioning school called ‘Charlotte Street School’ where our gramma attended some years past. 

Enough for now, goodnight and big hugs from Fredericton NB, loving this road, Ali McC xoxo

 

Pre-Tour-Ramble

April 12, 2017

Looking back on the past two weekends tooting around South and Eastern Ontario I am once again humbled and inspired to continue this Troubadorian Lifestyle. Not only were the gigs in unknown lands, they were also RIGHT before a three week tour of the Eastern Provinces. Needless to say venturing out from the comfort of regular farm chores to drive into unknown lands was with some trepidation. I knew there would be some pals along the way, but if and when they would come say ‘hi’ was in the air. 

Well, not only welcomed by gracious colleagues and friends with crash spots, nap couches and warm hugs…I also made new connections! Even sold a cd while setting up in Guelph to a new pal who wasn’t staying for the music. It was what you could call an ‘upswing’ weekend, even though it involved one short car sleep and applying makeup in a rear view mirror as the sun went down, among a few other hiccups and usual show nerves. Now. These upswings can be followed by downswings, and there is often no way of telling just when the ride slopes into said doldrums. It can happen at a show you have been pumped up for for months, or when something happens in the family that you are unable to extend physical hugs for. It can also happen that you feel down simply due to one of my favourite combos, the words of Canadian Balladeer/Hobo Songwriter Scott Cook, when you’re “…broke, and so far from home.” Heck, it can happen on the sunniest and warmest of days! 

With all these ups and downs comes fuel for the creative fire, even if, at the time, it feels like your mind, or your heart, or the very vehicle you drive, is splitting in two. The downs used to REALLY get to me. Now, now they are part of a life built on poetry, lived for the most part on the road. You learn to combat and also accept these ups and downs…you stop drinking like the rock star you thought you were, and eat better meals like the small business owner you have become. You learn to expend energy where it is needed most, on stage, on your personal comfort and in relationships that are important to your success. Sometimes that means blowing town without stickin’ around, while other nights the opposite: you stay for that after party and have those couple of pints. Most paramount it seems: allow yourself the freedom to maintain basic healthy functions: food, sleep, work and play. (And by play I mean whatever it is that you do that isn’t bearing it all on stage, like hiking, stamp collecting or if you’re like me…reading and extra sleep.) 

It’s not perfect, this art game. But would an alternate reality as a farmer or baker be perfect? Would a 9-5er job fulfill the burn to experience as much poetry, melody and human interaction that these ole creative bones ache for? Undecided! I may have to keep at the music here for a bit more to compare the two, having already spent the better part of 10 years prior in the food industry. 

That being said, I will be blogging here during the upcoming tour, it’s a great way to keep record of memories made on the road! You can follow me here, on Facebook, Twitter and basically wherever your heart desires. Be well in the world, happy spring and see you on the open road! 

Xo 

Ali 

East Coast SPRING FLING 2017 

04/20 The Local, Toronto ON 

04/22 The Mansion, Kingston ON w/ Yan-Nick Michaud & The Jimmy TriTone Band 

04/26 Grimross Brewing Co., Fredericton NB w/Michelle Morrison 

04/27 Plan b, Moncton NB w/Josée Mills 

04/28 Open Eats, Summerside PE w/Colette Deveaux 

04/29 Next Door Lounge, Charlottetown PE w/Colette Deveaux 

05/03 Thirsty Turtle, Dartmouth NS 

05/04 Reilly’s Lounge, Dartmouth NS 

05/05 Breton Brewing Co, Sydney NS w/Colette Deveaux 

05/06 Clancy’s Pub, Stephenville NL 

05/08 Swirsky’s, Corner Brook NL 

05/12 Two Whales, Port Rexton NL 

05/13 Citadel House, Lewisporte NL tix: http://secure.ticketpro.ca/?lang=en&server=ww3#achat CIT13ES17 

05/17 L’Escalier, Montreal QC

Merry Catmas & A Happy Mew Year!

December 23, 2016

With the closing of the year upon us I bid you dear random reader the Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of New Years from Stella Ontario where my partner and I will be house and cat sitting until the 2nd week of January. It has been yet another fortunate year on Earth filled with all the joys befit of a wandering songstress; many new friends, exciting new business and travel ideas as well as quite a few life-affirming discoveries of self.  More travels and recording to come in 2017, STILL loving this road, xo AM

 

When your Crash-Spot-Cookie-Crumbles

June 4, 2016

The hospitality of music lovers along the Trans Canada Hwy, friends and strangers alike, again astounds me. Graven and I rocked the first tour date to a small but appreciative audience in Sault Ste Marie. Steve, Bob and the patrons of LopLops truly understand the importance of a travelling musician’s needs. We were initially ecstatic to do a repeat of last year’s stop over in Sault but the crash-spot-cookie crumbled in a less savoury manner when our friend went to the ER mid-show for emergency medical attention after developing an allergic reaction to some cleaning supplies he used earlier in the day! We came off stage to a text explaining that there was some money on the bar to go towards a hotel room for the evening as our host would not be able to put us up. And he apologized!? How Canadian is that!? This is a poignant example of the great lengths some folks go to help the cause of the travelling musician. The venue owner not only chipped in on our room but also called in his discount and together those two road-angels provided us with safe haven. SO grateful, thanks guys! And just at the right time, as well, for it is tonight that the three amigos of the Ali McCormick Clean Water album release tour take turns picking our way carefully to Prairie Wind Music Festival after a show with Collin Clowes at one of Canada’s iconic venues: The Apollo in Thunder Bay.  Sheila and Tina have become famous on the music scene for their quality of character and hospitable nature. True Heroes on this musical journey. 

Time to drift off to the sounds Perth Ontario’s own man of song writing and household utensils, the talented Melwood Cutlery. 

Although LONG and much too beautiful, Love this road. Xo

 

Love This Road

June 2, 2016

We are driving North-West towards our first date on the Clean Water Release Tour. The air is warm and very dry for early June but a cool breeze cuts past massive granite outcrops coming in off of the North Channel, Hwy 17 scenery; a vibrant and glorious moving picture. 
Only the whisper of show nerves pulsing within my chest and the car packed to the hilt with instruments, clothes and road snacks, reminds me this is work. Otherwise we could be in heaven. I guess you could say I love my job!? 
Anyways, aside from the already hilarious road trip jokes and humour so hard to recapture in later explanations, one funny story from the trip so far... after breakfasts and tea with my partner's mother and nephew we set out for today's drive only to realize within the initial few kilometres the little lad must have pressed EVERY button on the dash when he jumped into to inspect out tour buggy. First, as I drove out of St Charles it felt as though the speedometer was out of wack because those Nothern highway hills seemed to be coming at us just a tad too fast. The cause of this being a button that changes the speedometer from kilometres to miles!!! The rear view mirror had clearly been adjusted to a smaller driver...running lights on... Always check your settings, eh? 
It's nap time...Willy at the wheel and Graven rocking one of our favourite Canadian bands 'As The Crow Flies' on the stereo...Love this road. 
At LopLops tonight in Sault Sainte Marie! 
Ali xo