Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bird on a Wire

Allison Crowe sings to be free. Herewith, Leonard Cohen's "Bird on the Wire".

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Naked Honesty: Crimson Coast’s Holly Bright Revealing and Revelling

This year, 2012, has seen much excitement and beauty emerge from choreographer Jorden Morris’ creation of Leonard Cohen-inspired ballet for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (the first company anywhere to present Cohen’s works as dance/theatre – with 1970s Brian Macdonald choreographed “The Shining People of Leonard Cohen”). Following the success of his “Dance Me to the End of Love” - pas de deux, a sensational highlight of the 2011 Genie Awards telecast – featuring dancers Sophia Lee and Jaime Vargas – Morris’ contemporary dance, “The Doorway - Scenes from Leonard Cohen", enjoyed its world premiere this Spring. Pierre Meunier, reviewer for La Liberté, says of this newest RWB Cohen ballet: "Chacune des cinq scènes est un petit bijou." (English translation: "Each of the five scenes is a small jewel.")

Among those most delighted with news of these works by Morris and company is Holly Bright, Artistic and General Director of Crimson Coast Dance Society, based in Allison Crowe’s birthplace of Nanaimo, BC, Canada. “How wonderful that this collaboration has arisen! RWB are amazing and well-loved across the country as is Allison! I hope I get the opportunity to see it!,” Bright exclaimed upon Allison Crowe teaming up with the RWB to perform “Hallelujah” in “The Doorway”.

Since settling in Nanaimo in 1992, Holly Bright, choreographer and dancer, has dynamically pursued her mission to advance modern dance and dance literacy in the Harbour City and communities throughout the region. She and Allison’s creative paths crossed when the musician, (now nesting in Corner Brook, NL), was living year-round on BC’s rock – with one particularly brilliant spark emanating from a multi-disciplinary show at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre – presented by the non-profit mental health organization “Open Minds Open Windows”.

“I heard Allison sing Hallelujah at Open Minds Open Windows event we both performed in,” Holly Bright recounts. “I knew I had to dance to her version of this song and my deepest desire was to do it live. It was the perfect ending to a mixed concert around themes of life and death in a cancer society fundraising dance concert produced by Crimson Coast Dance Society.”

In my experience most interpretations of this song give it a down-and-out quality. Don't get me wrong, these are exquisite and captivating renditions, absolutely hitting one important point of view for this song. What compelled me about Allison's version was how I related viscerally to the hope contained within her phrasing. It is a shout that comes from deep within her. It seems to me a cry born out of the experience of being broken, of the effect of pride, of loss, of the experience of deep love, spiritual and relational and of life's call, promise, to heal and grow.”

She composed her interpretation like an anthem, with swelling voice, in such a way as to express the pure passion of the experience of learning about love the hard way. Every sentence in that song slays me, anyway, with an impact for which there are no words. Every line breaks my heart, then proceeds to heal it. Then the ending pauses and builds are like love-making, making everything alright somehow.”

The text is sheer poetry, we all know that, and Leonard Cohen is brilliant. "Love is not a victory march, it is a cold and it's a broken hallelujah." My God, I cannot even say those words without my heart sinking while growing at the same time. And isn't that what we long for out of the experience of brokenness… the possibility of hope… of learning and growing... of feeling the weight of what went wrong and the healing promise that life brings.”

The challenge of creating movement for that dance that was not predictable yet that would weave metaphor into a song that was already dripping with it was delicious. Allison's YES to my request for the privilege of performing to her singing Hallelujah was a highlight of my career. And the experience itself, on stage, her voice rising to shake the rafters where the angels hang, had me feeling naked "before the lord of song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah".


Holly Bright in ‘Costing Not Less Than Everything’, photo by Willow Friday (nee Chandler)

Coda: The dancer’s elemental expression pulses outward in the public pool. That reflection of this performance, one dance piece in Bright’s “This Body of Knowledge” program, is recorded by a trio of reviews published in March and April 2004:

“Holly Bright's piece introduced the fifth artist of the evening. Allison Crowe sang a soaring rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. She caressed and scraped the lyrics turning Cohen's song into an anthem. Bright matched this knockout performance with a solo that was sinuous, lush and beautifully phrased. The extension of her expressive arms embraced space and the emotional content of the song majestically.” ~ Russell Kilde (choreographer, theatre director, critic)

“Nanaimo's own Holly Bright and Allison Crowe provided a stunning finale to the evening. Crowe sang Leonard Cohen¹s "Hallelujah" with a depth and power that made the song soar. Bright¹s duet with the music was filled with strength, vulnerability and intense beauty. Alternating between moments of expansion and quiet intensity, the music and the movement were woven together expertly. The result was a clear revelation of the pathos and the brilliance of human experience.” ~ Keri Wehlander (author, lyricist+)

“In the final number, Allison Crowe at the piano joined Crimson Coast's Holly Bright for a radiant, rousing, celebratory rendition of Leonard Cohen's lovely "Hallelujah," with Holly's graceful, expansive movements providing the visual corollary for Allison's full, vibrant voice, completing the circle, merging body and spirit, body and mind.” ~ Shirley Goldberg (Film Studies instructor, writer, cinephile/critic)

In the dance, life - to quote Leonard Cohen anew – “God is alive, magic is afoot”.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Delay - Musical Decade Shines Still Brighter

"Once you’ve heard one Allison Crowe song, You’ve heard one Allison Crowe song," says Allan Showalter, the erudite mystery-man behind the enriching and entertaining Leonard Cohen-centric blog, 1 Heck of a Guy.

With the good doctor's observation in mind - here's another one from Allison:

This, a diamond mined 10+ years ago - and the musical equivalent to kimberlite pipes are richer than ever. The fuller origin story can be found on the YouTube page hosting "Delay".

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Midnight Memories Ever-Fresh

When Allison Crowe and her then-trio, Dave Baird on bass and Kevin Clevette on drums, were starting to roll internationally – film director and Hollywood+ steadi-cam veteran Alex Postowoi offered to shoot a band video. The song chosen for Allison’s first, and only, “story” video was “Midnight”. Tami Mancey and Josh Dahling were the lead actors. Full credits and this charming video itself can be found @ Allison Crowe and the Midnight Video

    Alex Postowoi - film-maker behind Allison's DVD + vids
To add to the aural fun, at White Rock, BC’s Turtle studios Allison’s trio was joined on mandolin by Robert Ford, of Canuck Celtic rock legends, The Stoaters, as well as Hammond wizard Darryl Havers (Ferron, Alan Doyle, Brickhouse, Raffi+). With some additional support from “One-take Eddie” Johnson, percussion, and Larry “Turtle” Anschell handling guitar and production – Midnight “The Single” was born. This (2002) was no longer the heyday of “music television”, but, it still was a place many bands and fans looked to connect. Canada’s counterpart to MTV passed on playing “Midnight” – deeming it “too country”.

With Allison about to join Karen Sparkes and Gerri Lynn Mackey, personable hosts of CFCB 570AM Radio, home to new and classic country music, for an on-air chat, the memory brings forth a chuckle :)

Grab a sarsaparilla and kick back - here’s “Midnight”, as performed by Allison Crowe and friends, sounding as fresh and invigorating as the day they all came together.

Seems some browsers and operating systems respond differently to things and, so, should you have any problem watching the "Midnight" video directly on the site of film-maker, Alex Postowoi, we've made this page on Allison Crowe's home-site which may provide additional viewing options.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Double Dip of Leonard Cohen Ballet News

Marvellous and mysterious blogger DrHGuy, miner of many Leonard Cohen-faceted diamonds, today presents a post de deux on Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the recent engagement of musician Allison Crowe - performing Cohen's "Hallelujah" with the RWB:  +

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Musical Map of Canada

Rob Carnell, genial host of CFRC Radio show, "Salt Water Music", is featured in "Sea and Be Scene". With his show celebrating five years on-air, it's fitting and welcome to see Rob recognized for his genuine support of east-coast Canada's musicians. Hailing from Placentia, Newfoundland, and based in Kingston, Ontario, for years now, Rob regularly, and kindly, chats with Allison Crowe and plays her music for his audience - coast-to-coast.

Congrats, and thanks, Rob :)

 click on map above to read small print
With sounds from sea-to-shining-sea today's theme - here's an Indie band map of Canada drawn by the Canucks at Radio station 100.5 The Peak. The Vancouver-based rock music broadcaster pegs indie artists across the land, and, you'll find Allison Crowe, with roots on the Pacific coast, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, has talent and personality that covers the nation. She's planted the flag of freedom on the east coast "rock" - and we'll soon have word of the fun show, "Newfoundland Vinyl" in the works from Corner Brook to Cow Head.

Cheers to merch-meister Reena for this cartographic discovery.

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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Freedom Fighters Rock Relay for Life 2012

Allison Crowe and team-mates, Lil Alexander, Louise Brake, Linda Bursey, Debbie Callahan, Mary Cashin, Sharon Fifield, Janine Gillis, Veronica Hunt, Judy Scott, and Captain Joanne Fiander, the "Freedom Fighters", came together for the 2012 Relay for Life in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

It's a celebration - walking, running, dancing, and more. This year the team raised $1,754.00 in contributions to the fight against cancer. Thanks to everyone who donated - and, in Allison's support, cheers to Jeff, Fiona & Jack, to Cathie, and to Dad, Mom, Lea, Jane, Ross for your care and generosity :)

Here's some images of the day's colour, including a sign even bigger than the cookie Allison baked for the occasion...

(btw, the recipe for this cookie - which can be made gluten-free - comes from Chocolate-Covered Katie's Liebster Award-winning healthy dessert blog:  NB this is no Kenner Easy-Bake Oven-top pictured here with the cookie more-than-covering one grill. It's a regulation size CB mod-con, so's you knows.)

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