Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Great Island Wonder" Uncorked

There’s a lot of love expressed when Allison Crowe sings and plays. Love for another. Love for humanity. Love of place. Love of peace. Love of freedom. There’s heartbreak and loss, too. Exorcism. Transcendence. "Soulful. Alive. Joyous. Grievous. Real, true, music” – the artist’s raison d’etre.
Great Island Wonder” is the official release of a concert bootleg that’s long circulated in torrent trading circles. Mélanie Bilodeau of Denman Island, on Canada’s Pacific shores, presented this concert to her home community and neighbours on Hornby Island, BC in 2005 – it’s captured resonantly by Audioarchivist John MacMillan: https://allisoncrowe.bandcamp.com/album/great-island-wonder
A sister, companion in ways, to “Live at Wood Hall” recordings of concerts earlier that Spring – this night’s undercurrents surface in song debuts of “I Don’t Know”, “You”, “Skeletons and Spirits” and reflect a different sort of intensity.
This date was soon followed by a cross-Canada tour, embarking birth-place Nanaimo, BC and reaching St. John’s and Corner Brook, Newfoundland, on Canada’s Atlantic coast, where Allison Crowe made her new home. Bi-coastal love established then is grown ever-deeper now. (Another shift – this may be the final concert capture of entirely vocal-piano repertoire. By her next tours of Canada and Europe Crowe was including guitar songs, as well, in her set. In more recent years she’s added fiddle and bodhran.)
Sharing the tape – John MacMillan describes this ‘Live on Denman Island’ doc in these ‘Personal notes’:
“To be honest, this was a fairly ‘dark’ show - there seemed to be demons rearing their ugly heads for this concert. The song selection is pretty, um, deep and somewhat, well, I dunno what to call it. Not to go into all the dreary details, but I was beginning the end of a relationship with a partner who was the catalyst of making this show happen, and I believe Alley was going though a breakup that kind of came to a peak at this show. Like I say, the song selection and audience banter seems to reflect this stuff that was going on behind the scenes. Despite the personal hardships, I think it is a brilliant performance, with some humour thrown in as well. Allison Crowe is a great songwriter, a fantastic musician, and an amazing vocal talent. I hope you enjoy this recording as much as I enjoyed the show.”
(MacMillan’s ‘Technical Notes’ to the recording are found on the Great Island Wonder” album page.)
The album’s front cover, foto by Allison Crowe’s released earlier this year. Here now is the back-side: Straits of Georgia and Part of Vancouver Island (Map) – adapted from “Ocean to Ocean, Sandford Fleming's Expedition Through Canada in 1872” (pub. 1873).

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