Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Out From St. Leonard's

Gary O’Driscoll, in both of his songs which Allison Crowe’s recorded, exemplifies how, in the best way possible, our artists, in this case, musicians, can be our true historians – telling the reality of flesh and blood. Far away from the bureaucratese of politicians and government appointees, and the sometimes less-than-pointed renderings of journalists, the songwriter seeks to express from an individual heart the community experience.

With “Out from St. Leonard’s” – on Allison’s “Newfoundland Vinyl II”, (following her recording of O’Driscoll’s “Men Who Die for a Living” on NV I), the award-winning songwriter and music producer, born in Bay Bulls on Newfoundland's southern shore and raised in his Mom's hometown of St Lawrence, NL, delivers another topical song that, in a Canadian context, is counterpart to the 1960s work of such American songsmiths as Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan.

From the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, provincial and federal governments in this country engaged in a social engineering experiment impacting generations of Newfoundlanders. Lyrically, “Out from St. Leonard’s” tells of this campaign of “resettlement” or “centralization”, (ramped up with "The Resettlement Act, 1965"), that propelled people to abandon their homes outside urban “growth poles”.

The musical recording is set to visual excerpts of historical records and references a document central to this program, the 157-page “Report on Resettlement in Newfoundland” dutifully submitted in 1960 by Robert Wells, Provincial Economist (1958 – 1960), now stored in the archives of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), St. John’s, NL and cited to this day.

Out from St. Leonard’s” is on the just-released album “Newfoundland Vinyl II”: http://music.allisoncrowe.com/album/newfoundland-vinyl-ii Lead vocals, all instruments, engineering and production by Allison Crowe. Backing vocals by Adam Brake.

As the album title suggests, it's a song collection inspired by, and arising from, Allison Crowe's involvement with the hit stage show, "Newfoundland Vinyl" - presented at Canada's Gros Morne Theatre Festival, and produced by TNL.

The album celebrates this creative bond between Crowe, an internationally-loved touring and recording artist, and Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, a professional theatre company founded on Newfoundland's west coast in 1979.

For these past three Summers TNL's engaged Crowe as Musical Director of "Newfoundland Vinyl" - a perennial favourite at the annual GMTF.

TNL AD Jeff Pitcher's conception of a revival of vinyl era, and more, songs of Newfoundland and Labrador put wind in the sails of Allison Crowe's curatorial mission.

"It's here!" says pioneering music blog Muruch, "Allison Crowe just released Newfoundland Vinyl II and it's the perfect follow-up to her traditional folk masterpiece, Newfoundland Vinyl".

Of her immersions as Musical Director with TNL, and the melodic bounty that's landed, Allison Crowe notes: "There is so much wonderful music - you could piece together multiple anthologies and still only scratch the surface of such an extensive and rich collection. Each of these songs is its own story, of land and sea, of people, and each story in-and-of-itself could be an entire show. I'm truly grateful that you are here to hear the story these songs have to offer." She gives special thanks to "the incredibly talented and versatile" casts and crews of TNL's productions for their inspiration.

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