rachel elizabeth

Formerly Known as Fern

"A dream that you'll never want to wake up from."

-Razmataz Magazine

Filtering by Tag: singer-songwriter

Pottery and Good Crowds: Singing in the Qu'Appelle Valley

The first time I played in Fort Qu'Appelle was also the first stop on my first week long tour (Spring 2015). I wasn't sure what to expect. Honestly, it could have been a pretty rocky start to my tour, but it ended being one of my favourite stops. The community at the Qu'Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts is so welcoming and attentive. Their dedicated board puts on events (their poster wall is impressive) in a 100 year old, restored school-house that also serves as an art gallery, art studio and dance studio. Super cool. Obviously I wanted to go back, so I was glad it worked to play there again.

Portrait of Brian Baggett and me by his daughter Dominique. Fort Qu'Appelle April 2015. 

Portrait of Brian Baggett and me by his daughter Dominique. Fort Qu'Appelle April 2015. 

Sarah and I left for the Fort early Saturday afternoon (after doing yet another gear tetris in the trunk of her SUV). Unlike last year (it was freezing rain when I left), we left Saskatoon in pretty decent weather, which made for a chill drive down the 11 and into the Qu'Appelle Valley.

Now, I love being on the road for shows. This might change, but right now it combines a lot of my favourite things: snacks, music, car chats, and coffee. It's also a little more enjoyable than driving to a vacation destination because you (I) have just the right amount of nerves to almost not want to get there. Maybe it's just me? Either way, it's a good segue to another thing about travelling to gigs: there is never enough time.

Whatever you think you have time for on tour, you probably don't. Even though I thought we had left in plenty of time, our last leg felt rushed. Enter me STILL feeling like we definitely had enough time to stop in at my friend Amy's Mom and Step-Dad's Pottery studio in FQ. After a quick visit and purchase, we were on our way to the venue. Luckily, it was only about 3 minutes away (yay, small towns). We were only a few minutes behind schedule.

Sarah and I set up pretty efficiently, had a quick soundcheck, then headed to Penny's (our booking contact) for a nice meal, prepared by her Husband, Hal. As nice as it was to sit down for awhile, we were running pretty short on time *again* and rushed to get changed and head back to the Arts Centre for the show. Once we were back at the venue, I gave Sarah a quick tour of the rest of the Centre and watched some familiar faces trickle in and take their seats. 

Despite our busy day and previous evening, Sarah and I were both ON that night, musically speaking. Sarah was up first and played a really strong set, complete with charming stage banter. When it was my turn, I felt like I had a couple magical moments in my set where I felt raw emotion that didn't destroy my focus. Generally those moments derail my songs live, but it helped that this was our second consecutive show. The space and crowd didn't hurt either. The lighting there is ambient, but not too dark. The general atmosphere is casual, but intimate enough to feel like you're connecting with people. All in all it was a really nice show. And like any good small town event (or any event really) there was coffee and dainties to be had during the break. Do I want to eat a brownie after my set? Yes, yes I do.

After some post-show visits it was time to load up and head to Regina for the night. Time flies. Special shout out to Dylan Evans' (of Fancy Diamonds fame) 93 year old Grandmother, Doreen, who is a proud G-ma AND supporter of the arts. If I'm still going to shows at 93 I'll know I did something right.

Thanks, Fort Qu'Appelle! Joan, Penny, Lorna et. al.

Next blog: Regina, ticks, not having enough time for stuff, making it work, gear set up superstars.

Nerves Normal (Breathe Normal): Saskatoon mini tour kick off at Creative Commons

When I officially changed my band name to Rachel Elizabeth, I knew I wanted to play some shows in celebration of it. That was this weekend's mini-tour with Sarah Farthing.

We started off in Saskatoon, playing a very intimate show at Creative Commons YXE. Creative Commons is the workshop and event space connected to Void Gallery's newest iteration on Ave B, owned and operated by Michael Peterson. I've known Michael for about 10 years now (we even played a few shows together back in the day), so it's been pretty cool to see his artistic vision grow into Void Gallery, and now Creative Commons. Michael recently hosted a show for Seattle musician, Rocky Votolato, so when it came time for me to book a Saskatoon date, I thought of Void/CC. Luckily Michael was down to host us, and we were able to be CC's first local show.

Michael and I performing at Prairie Ink in Saskatoon, circa 2012. Check out those music stands!

Michael and I performing at Prairie Ink in Saskatoon, circa 2012. Check out those music stands!

On show night, we played to a cozy crowd. It's always tough when attendance isn't quite what you want it to be, but I have to remind myself that life happens and the people who show up are who you're playing for. They shouldn't get a lacklustre show just because the event didn't sell out. Luckily, these cats were very attentive and seemed to genuinely enjoy Sarah and I. What more can you ask for? 

Aside from a few technical difficulties (my sustain pedal kept sliding around on the floor, such that I could barely reach it), the show went well. Nerves are always a thing, but we both had some good laughs with the audience. I seem to have started a tradition wherein I ask for audience participation to sing Dolly Parton's 'Jolene', but proceed to forget at least one or two lines. Perhaps this comes across as the epitome of unprofessionalism, but I like to think I'm just charming enough to make it work. Usually, I at least get a few chuckles, or everyone is too busy singing along to care. It's a thing.

After the show, I was s.p.e.n.t. I love playing songs for people, but it can be an overwhelming experience for a weirdo, anxious person like myself. Sometimes I reach a point where chatter/noise become stressful and I need to take a step back. This can be a challenge when you also want to stick around and talk to the people who've come out to support you/bought merch/etc. So much of it has to do with my week leading up to a show, how much prep work is needed to be ready the day of, what the vibes of the venue are. This particular week I'd been doing a lot of press/admin related things about my name change/shows (like this Star Phoenix article) and was more tired than I wanted to be. In the end, I pulled through, but it's a delicate balance I'm still trying to figure out. 

S/O to my partner, Ryan, for helping with load in and merch sales, and to my sister Christina and her fiance Jon, for helping work the door. Obviously, huge thanks to Creative Commons and Michael for being open to the event and giving us the space to put it on. Watch out for their upcoming workshops!

It was also a pleasure to play with Sarah, who in addition to being a rad song-writer, knows a thing or two about live sound (and remembered to bring a merch float). Check out her video for 'Ghost' here.

Since this ended up being a long one, I'm going to save the other dates for separate posts. Fort Qu'Appelle's up tomorrow! Until then, please enjoy these photos from Friday night.

Listen to 'The Spendthrift and the Swallow:' www.rachelelizabethmusic.bandcamp.com