I am so grateful to have been asked by Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, two years in a row, to put together songs and musically direct for a show called 'Newfoundland Vinyl'. As part of the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, I get to work with extremely talented and fun people each Summer in a gorgeous setting - Cow Head, NL. From the vast and encyclopaedic sea of beautiful music to come from, and out of, Newfoundland and Labrador, here is a collection of some of the songs from this year's show. ~ Allison Crowe
As Musical Director for Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador’s production of “Newfoundland Vinyl: The Flip Side” at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, Allison Crowe's active now curating and arranging songs for this Summer’s cast.
It’s a rich and varied collection harvested from the island region’s popular music and oral traditions – and from which she’s culled a selection for her vinyl LP. The album’s 10 tracks traverse parlour songs to country tunes and folk favourites, songs of land and sea that share the strength and the struggles, the heart-breaks and the humour of people.
As well as being a premiere songwriter, musician and performer of original material, Crowe's recognized as one of the great modern interpreters of song - via her internationally-acclaimed and much-loved versions of songs by Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, and plenty more greats - Allison Crowe's singular performances deliver familiar and much-loved songs afresh and with renewed joy.
Crowe's just returned to her home in Corner Brook, NL, after attending the World Premiere in New York City of "Man of Steel", the Zack Snyder-directed Superman epic in which she has a cameo - as a musician performing "Ring of Fire", a song made famous by Johnny Cash. MoS is currently the #1 box office draw on planet Earth. (Had things not gone so wrong on Krypton, it'd surely be a smashing success there as well.) Next she rolls on to Cow Head, in Gros Morne National Park.
Here, now, is Allison Crowe’s take on these songs that, over 200 years, come from, and out of, Newfoundland and Labrador – with ageless melodies and meaning:
BLACK VELVET BAND – lively traditional song recorded on both sides of the Atlantic, including a version by the legendary 'His Nibs' Harry Hibbs
EASY – penned by Terry Skinner and made a classic radio hit by country star Eddie Eastman
MEN WHO DIE FOR A LIVING – Gary O’Driscoll, award-winning songwriter and producer from Bay Bulls and NL's southern shore, wrote this potent elegy “for the miners here and gone”
CLIFFS OF BACCALIEU – Jack Withers sea-faring song has previously been sailed by such distinct voices as Anita Best, Louise Morrissey and Stan Rogers
SKIPPER BILLY'S WAKE – songwriter Ellis Coles’ jaunty mix of moonshine, Screech and more was well popularized by Dick Nolan
SONNY'S DREAM – Newfoundland’s “Man of 1000 Songs”, Ron Hynes, created this anthem of the heart and home
TINY RED LIGHT – a traditional Newfoundland song revitalized in the vinyl era by The Dorymen (popular east-coast combo founded by John Drake and Tom Rose - a pair of lads out of Fortune Bay communities Belleoram and Bay du Nord)
THE MOBILE GOAT SONG – composed by St. John’s Tom Cahill, frequent collaborator with “Newfoundland’s First Lady of Song”, Joan Morrissey, who released this fun romp on her 1973 LP “Home Brew”
SEVEN OLD LADIES – a bawdy song which musically plumbs a 1700s nursery rhyme, ("Johnny's So Long at the Fair") – and a tune also recorded by the great Joan Morrissey
SWEET FORGET ME NOT- first published in 1877, this tender tune by Bobby Newcomb was the first single, and a vinyl hit on the mainland as well, for Cape Shore’s Eddie Coffey.
REVIEWS - Allison Crowe’s “Newfoundland Vinyl” LP:
"Allison Crowe Creates a Remarkable Recording with Newfoundland Vinyl" says East Coast Kitchen Party. “It seems simple, but it really is a classic treatment of the classic songs that are performed by Crowe. She has renewed with stylish vigor traditional songs that deserve new life and interpretations,” continues ECKP. “This record was made for sitting back in the big chair while relishing a favourite drink. Maybe Screech. It will probably bring a tear to the eye of a few. It’s that good.” ~ September 6, 2013 - see full review @ www.eastcoastkitchenparty.net/Music_Newfoundland_Vinyl.php
"It plays like a lovely, vintage collection of traditional Irish and Canadian folk ballads, lively sea chanteys and drinking songs, parlour songs and country tunes with surprising retro, girl-pop harmonies woven throughout. The album is full of dazzling melody and such a unique charm... It has the timeless beauty of a classic folk album." ~ Muruch / No Depression blog www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/allison-crowe-newfoundland-vinyl-rubenesque-records-2013
”CD OF THE WEEK: Allison Crowe is bi-coastal and her latest record on her own Rubenesque label isn’t a CD. She is from Nanaimo and her manager still lives on Vancouver Island, so, the island ties are there even if she now lives most of the time in Corner Brook, Nfld. Crowe’s ninth record is weirdly typical of her in that it defies convention, stick-handles around the pop idiom, shows imagination and daring, and opts for vinyl. Her Newfoundland Vinyl balances traditional folk and more contemporary sounds that serves as well as a soundtrack to a Newfoundland festival. A marvellous singer, Crowe plays down vocal gymnastics in favour of restraint, which translates as respect. The arrangements are minimal — often no more than guitar enhanced by background vocals — with a little humour thrown in to lighten the load. ~ Tom Harrison, The Province (Canada), "Garage" - August 6 2013 @ blogs.theprovince.com/2013/08/01/tom-harrisons-garage-for-aug-6
"There is something about this album that makes the songs become the soundtrack of your life. The grace and subtlety in the instrumental and vocal arrangements make this a one-of-a-kind must-have album for 2013." ~ The Celtic Music Fan celticmusicfan.com/2013/07/22/newfoundland-vinyl-by-allison-crowe
released 25 June 2013
Songs performed, arranged, engineered and produced by Allison Crowe - home in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
With thanks to: Adam and Linkers and Johnny + all of our families and extended families and friends; my friends in Nanaimo; all the lovely people of Cow Head, NL; the entire company at GMTF and everyone involved with TNL; cast and crew of Newfoundland Vinyl and NV: The Flip Side; Adrian Payne (pictured); Dr. Tipple, Dennis and the folks at Humber Valley Veterinary; Dr. Venditti, Dr. Chou, Dr. Bailey, Sonia, and team at the Atlantic Veterinary College in PEI; + the great people I met during our Charlottetown stay; Martin House; & Brent and his pup Zephyr for being so awesome.
Images: Northern Lights over Gros Morne, & Adrian Payne @ mussel boil by Allison Crowe (thanks Johnny Cann for showing me how). Chart of ye land of New Found Land with ye particular harbours at large: John Thornton, Hydrographer, 1700 - Library and Archives Canada. Opera-Lyrics Smooth font by maltedMedia. Ginga font by Billy Argel. Layout: Kevin Luke + Contour Grafix. Vinyl Production: Caroline Ohrt et ses collègues de RIP-V. Audio Assembly: Carl Rowatti + Trutone Mastering Labs. Personable Manager: Adrian du Plessis
Rubenesque Records Ltd. - Made in Canada
Visit GEST Songs Of Newfoundland And Labrador - an invaluable online resource rich with lyrics and music: www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld