Here we are in the middle of mixing – about two tracks a day it seems and about half way done.

Yesterday we mixed Hopeless Situation – the title of which doesn’t disguise its bittersweet story, but musically other stories are being told. I love the decidedly cheerful glow it’s developed through recording, very different than what I might have imagined when I wrote it a year ago for Brief Encounters 16.

Here is the excerpt where the beginnings of Hopeless Situation had their debut – I look forward to showing you what it’s grown in to!

Christa Couture and Heather Doerksen | Brief Encounters 16 

The time is nigh! In three weeks we head into the studio to start recording The Living Record.

I’ve been rolling out details of the recording on Facebook  – so far that Niko Friesen will be joining me again on drums (he played on both Fell Out of Oz and The Wedding Singer and The Undertaker) and Rob Becker will be playing bass, electric and upright for those wondering. Also that after starting with a list of 20 songs, and recording demos of 14, Steve (that would be Steve Dawson who’s producing the album) and I narrowed it down to 12 that we’ll take into the studio.

Phewf.

Steve and I have started hashing out some ideas – here he is at his studio kindly tuning my guitar for me:

(Confession: I find changing the tuning on my guitar like playing Jack in the Box – a tense game of anticipation! It’s not often a string breaks, but the times it does it always manages to startle the bejeezus out of me).

Meanwhile, I’m practicing more often then I usually do (I can be terrible at such things) and because it was a cold winter day, lit a candle to warm my music room up a bit:

Isn’t it amazing how much heat can come off one little flame?

Upon lighting the candle, seated at my piano, intending to practice one of the 3 (of the 12) songs that are piano based, I instead began to sing something new. Always one to jump on distraction and procrastination, I followed that tune to its conclusion and then put it to tape – er iPhone – to share.

So here I am with that passing moment, that candlelit song – Come Here Little Shadow:

Lyrics:

Come here fire
Here candle light
Help me to stave off the cold
I’ve been singing for hours now
Trying for these songs to take hold
The good part I guess is that playing makes sense of these fears

Come here secret
Comer here little shadow
It’s time to pack up and go
I’ve been waiting
They’ll all be waiting
For us to put on a show
Ready, get set, practice makes perfect
And the best part still is that we get to make sense of our fears.

Well we try to.

 

Now back to work…

I’m more inclined to say batten down the hatches than Merry Christmas at this time of year, and I used to say I would never record a Christmas song ever – but this may one day be the only exception, being the first on the seasonal subject I can relate to.

It’s a love song really, for family, and that kind of love can make this time of year so special, or so lonely.

If you’re feeling the former, I hope time slows and you can soak up every sparkling moment. If you’re in the latter group, I’m working on a time machine and will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I’ll be humming this tune. Here’s to the holidays.

In honour of the season, I present to you, just in time for the last few holiday bashes, How to Have a Hootenanny.

WARNING: Contains folk music humour.

You may recall from my video diary Hootenanny for One (for those who don’t, watch it below), that one of my favourite albums during my time at the ISLAND Hill House artist residency was HOOTE NANNY! pictured here:

The back of which included instructions on “how to enjoy this classic past time” that I, in my folk-nerdiness, was rather amused by.

I transcribed it and have saved these instructions through the autumn months – but with the advent of Solstice and the holiday season in full swing, the time has come to share them with you. Enjoy.

The name of the game is “hootenanny.” It’s as old as your grandmother – and twice as much fun. In fact, folks have been playing “hootenanny” in one form or another ever since the Welshe started whooping it up at their first annual eisteddfod. And that, my friends, was back in the Twelfth Century.

For those of you who have never enjoyed this classic pastime, there’s no better time than the present. The rules of the game will be easily grasped by anyone who has already mastered the ins and outs of Monopoly. They go something like this:

PRE-GAME STRATEGY:

1. Pick your place. Suggested “hootenanny” sites are backyards or front parlors. Study hall or Carnegie Hall. A coffee house or somebody else’s house (not your own, for reasons which will soon be apparent).

2. Pick your players. Actually, any number can play. We have found, however, that “hootenanny” is most successful played (as what game isn’t?) by an even number of representatives from both sexes.

3. Pick your songs. At this juncture, we must note tht the game may be played in either two variations.

A. The Classic (or Short) Game of Hootenanny. In this version, all songs must br genuine “folk songs”: i.e., proved to have been written before 1879 by an authentic Union Pacific tie-layer, and duly registered with the Library of Congress.

B. The Whole Hog (or Anything Goes) Hootenanny. This version, as the name implies, allow the introduction of all “folk songs” – meaning anything from Gallagher and Sheen to Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were, after all, “just folks”.

HOW TO KEEP SCORE

Give 5 points to anyone who remembers all 112 verses of John Henry (there’s one in every crowd).

Give 8 points for each song in a foreign language with the following exceptions:

Swahili, Tagalog and Bosnian: 12 points each

Upper Baluchistani: 52 points and your choice of the prettiest girl in the room.

Deduct 50 points from anyone found singing in tune.

ORDER OF PLAY

Player “A” opens the game by belting out the first song that comes into his head. He continues until interrupted by Player “B”, who now belts out the first song that comes into his head until interrupted by Player “C”. The game continues in this manner until all players are arrested by exhaustion and/or the cop on the beat for maintaining a public nuisance.

OBJECT OF THE GAME: having fun.

So now, ladies and gentlemen, you know al there is to know about the ancient and honorable game of “hootenanny.”

Notes by ANNIE HOOTEN.

Watch Hill House Diary #07: Hootenanny for One

It’s official: I’m making a new album called The Living Record.

Since I made my last album, the concept of “pre-sales” as funding has reached a whole new level of awesomeness, for all concerned, as “crowd-funding” has taken off with the likes of Kickstarter, FundBreak and IndieGoGo.

Thus, it is also official: I’ve launched a campaign to support the making of The Living Record. (more…)

(as sent to Christa Couture mailing list May 10 2010)

Comrades! It’s been a long time and I’ve missed you too. Let’s catch up. First off:

I need your help! With your vote I could perform at Lilith Fair in Vancouver!

…12 years ago I was a teenager in the audience at Lilith Fair Vancouver. I loved it. I hadn’t even started to play guitar yet then and was far from sharing my music with the public. I was so inspired by seeing many of my favorite artists live. Being part of it now would be AMAZING but I need your help! The Fair is choosing ONE local artist from each city they stop in via a voting process online. At first I found the process kind of confusing so I will detail the steps here. Let me know if they don’t make sense. You are, as ever, the best.

  1. Login with your Facebook account or create a new login at OurStage – http://www.ourstage.com
  2. Go to my artist page  and click “make this my favourite artist” on the right. This will help my song come up sooner in the voting/listening.
  3. At the top, click on “Judge” tab, then on the right “Lilith Fair Channels” then select “Lilith Local Talent Search: Vancouver”
  4. Four artists come up for you to rate – listen to at least 15 seconds of each song (there’s some crap, and then there’s some gems you just might love)
  5. Drag the photos to the right in your order of preference and click “Lock in Vote”. You’ll get another four artists.
  6. You may go through a few rounds of voting on other artists before you get to a batch of four with me and my song “I Will” in it, so please keep voting until you do!
  7. Once you DO see me, place me at #1 and then “Lock in Vote”
  8. Know that your support means a lot to me. Thank you!

You can do this once a day if you want, but once in total is appreciated too. Please do so by May 24th when the top 20 will go onto the next round!

In other news… where have I been for the past year? I had a baby! Last May. And so it’s been a year of laying low musically – save for the many lullabies. Here on YouTube is a video of me performing at 8 months pregnant last spring, just before going into hiding with my wee new family. Now that spring has unfolded again, I’m starting to bring this YOU + ME part of my life back into focus. I have missed you guys and sharing my music with your ears in person.

I’m glad to be back at it and though I sometimes forget to send out these newsletters – Twitter gets the bulk of my attention (okay I’m maybe addicted), there’s the less often but occasional Facebook updates, and of course my sorely out of date blog -Â but I aim to send this newsletter out as often as there are performances/recordings/causes – the meatiest news – to share with you. I’ve a general rule of no more than one per month, but hopefully there will be enough going on that it’s not another year before we speak!

Until next time,
bisous
Christa

One Foot Tapping Records is pleased to announce the online release of Christa Couture’s new music video!

“‘Nothing’s Changed’ is a song about failing my personal growth homework” says Couture of the second single from her album “The Wedding Singer and The Undertaker”. When meeting with Vancouver director and animator Belinda Fung, who created the music video for the song, Couture gave her just that bit of insight and handed over all creative control. “I love working with visual artists, animators, filmmakers. Giving a song of mine to someone and allowing them to take whatever direction they are inspired to is, in turn, very inspiring to me”.

What Fung created is a layered and charming, yet bittersweet animated story that is set in a retro video game world. Starting at “Game Over”, the character runs the game in reverse, retracing her steps, losing experience and repairing the broken heart that led to her demise – ultimately finding herself back at the beginning.

Watch the video at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m-nkAxquus

“The Wedding Singer and The Undertaker”
– won best folk album at the 2008 Aboriginal Music Awards
– hit the top 10 on CBC Radio 3 in August 2008
…and you can get the cd at CDBaby, or download it from iTunes and Zunior!

tap tap.