Royal City Rag

February 14, 2013

in Press

LiveLocalTannis Slimmon – Guelph’s Tannis Slimmon releases her latest album, In and Out of Harmony on Saturday February 16 2013 at 8.00 p.m. at the Guelph Little Theatre.
Jan Hall, Royal City Rag – Live Local

Produced by long-time partner Lewis Melville, the album features 13 new songs that explore a variety of personal yet universal themes. Featuring an array of talent from the Canadian folk-roots scene alongside Juno-winning kora player Mansa Sissoko and ngoni master Abdoulaye Kone the album is the perfect follow-up to 2007′s award-winning Lucky Blue. Among the musicians adding their chops to this release you can namecheck Martin Tielli and Dave Clark (from the Rheostatics), Harry Manx, David Francey, Ray Bonneville and Treasa Levasseur among others.

Stylistically the album builds on the experience of Tannis’ visits to Mali and Cuba while, like forebears Lucky Blue and Oak Lake, maintaining that distinct Tannis Slimmon folk-roots feel. Tannis’ warm clear vocals float over a rich musical background that accentuates the contribution of her long-time musical compadre Lewis Melville.

Global meets African, Folk meets Gospel. A folk-roots tour de force with Malian and Cuban overtones. You’ll not be disappointed!

Tannis Slimmon and Lewis Melville – on Royal City Rag on Saturday February 9 2013.

Tannis Slimmon – In and Out of Harmony CD Release
Guelph Little Theatre, 176 Morris St, Guelph
Saturday February 16 2013 at 8.00 p.m.(Doors at 7.00 p.m.)
With special guests including Lewis Melville, Jude Vadala, Rosemary Phelan, Dave Clark and Michael Herring.
Tickets $19 available online or at the door

Album Review

February 13, 2013

in Press

Record2Tannis Slimmon In and Out of Harmony (independent)
The Record

It doesn’t seem like five years since Tannis Slimmon released her last album, but that’s because the light of Guelph’s folk scene always seems to be around — and by that I don’t mean she’s overexposed, but whenever I fondly recall a Hillside afternoon or many of my favourite musical moments in this town over the last 20 years, Tannis Slimmon is always there: her impeccable voice part of the eternal soundtrack of this city.

And though she has appeared on more than 80 albums, you can count on less than one hand the ones that bear her own name. The woman takes her time. And like her approach to harmony, she doesn’t make an appearance until exactly the right moment. Which is why In and Out of Harmony is an impeccable distillation of Slimmon’s many talents: not just as a vocalist, but as a songwriter, an arranger and a curious musical soul.

Created, as always, with her longtime collaborator in life and song, Lewis Melville, there is plenty here to separate Slimmon from, say, the Justin Rutledges of this country. Though her voice is like a warm blanket, her lyrics earnest and her songwriting rooted in traditional Canadian folk, very little else in her music is predictable. Whether its her seamless integration of African instruments — she and Melville have acted as a bridge to Canada for several musicians from Mali — or the way she layers harmonies like early, eerie Joni Mitchell, or the way Melville always places an odd instrumental juxtaposition or something slightly off-kilter in the mix, Slimmon’s music is always working on several different levels simultaneously. She gets plenty of ace help here from the likes of former Rheostatics Martin Tielli and Dave Clark, as well as Western Canadian guitar hero Bill Bourne.

Lyrically, Slimmon is writing in a way that only a songwriter on the other side of 50 can, confronting issues of mortality, stock-taking, redemption and acceptance. Slimmon’s music has always had a healing effect even in happier times; it’s no surprise that she delves into our darkest fears and comes back with empathy and an eternal optimism.

Being both deadly serious and taking pleasure in life’s simplest joys are not mutually exclusive, and set to a soundtrack like this, anything seems possible.

Help Tannis Slimmon launch her fantastic new album this Saturday, February 16 at Guelph Little Theatre, with a band featuring Lewis Melville, Dave Clark, Jude Vadala, Rosemary Phelan and more.

Album Release Announcement

February 13, 2013

in Press

Record1Musical community brings Guelph artist’s album to life
Robert Reid, The Record

GUELPH — A new Tannis Slimmon album is always a communal event.

The beloved Guelph-based singer-songwriter, who has been performing for more than three decades, invited a large community of musical friends to contribute to her third solo album, In and Out of Harmony.

She will introduce her latest release at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Guelph Little Theatre, before travelling to the London Music Club on March 2 and to Toronto’s Hugh’s Room on March 13. She will tour Alberta throughout April.

Produced by Slimmon’s musical collaborator and her husband, Lewis Melville, the album features an impressive group of guest musicians, including violinist Anne Lindsay; singer-songwriters David Francey and Katherine Wheatley; blues artists Harry Manx, Ray Bonneville and Treasa Levasseur; ex-Bird Sister Jude Vadala (Slimmon was also a member of the trio); vocalist Rebecca Campbell; and ex-Rheostatics Dave Clark and Martin Tielli, among a host of others. Slimmon’s mother, Ina, and sister, Wendy, add harmony vocals.

Some of the guest musicians on the album will be joining Slimmon in concert, including Vadala and Clark, Rosemary Phelan, Michael Herring and Rebecca Hennessy, in addition to Shannon Kingsbury and Scott Merritt.

The baker’s dozen of songs constituting In and Out of Harmony examine a variety of social and political issues, from environmental degradation and clinical depression to aging and mortality, but Slimmon never succumbs to negativism or despair.

She remains celebratory and life-affirming despite the challenges, reflecting a moral, as well as an artistic, stance.

“Everybody’s got a voice and every voice is gold,” she declares on Do What You Do.

Like Slimmon’s previous solo albums Lucky Blue and Oak LakeIn and Out of Harmony features warm vocals, glorious harmonies and instrumentation spanning the roots spectrum.

Velvet Rope

February 11, 2013

in Press

The Velvet Rope

Tannis Slimmon is releasing In and Out of Harmony this week at Guelph’s Little Theatre.

VR Guelph had an opportunity to catch up with the singer/songwriter and talk to her about her incredible career, collaborations, and coming to the Royal City to release the album.

Tell me about being a part of the Royal City Music Scene.
Guelph is a great music town and the reason why I stayed on after I finished what was supposed to be a one year exchange from the University of Manitoba. I joined my first band when I was here at University back in the 80′s and soon after, met the other two members of The Bird Sisters when our respective bands played at the first Hillside Festival. I helped organize Hillside for several years until The Bird Sisters got too busy touring in Canada and the US.  We released three albums over the eleven years we were together. I’ve played in and recorded with a number of other great Guelph bands like Big Smoke, Benji and Crows Feet, and sung harmonies on lots of other people’s albums as well as live. Over the years, I’ve sung with a number of choirs in this area and beyond from Choral Stimulation to the Guelph Chamber Choir. I organized Women in the Groove concerts for a few years which showcased women’s music, dance and spoken word. I’ve presented concerts for musician friends passing through and needing a gig and a bed. I’ve played numerous benefit concerts in the community over the years, often collaborating with other Guelph musicians.
You have performed with a multitude of talented artists. Anyone on your radar to collaborate with?
I’m excited about the upcoming live performances of songs from my new album. Each show is a collaboration with several of the 24 musicians who performed on the album. My work with fellow musicians Katherine Wheatley and Jude Vadala, and projects with choir like Guelph’s Ondine Chorus and Toronto’s Essentia Vocal Ensemble are all creative adventures. David Francey and I have talked about the possibility of doing something together and I work with my partner Lewis Melville on a daily basis. Collaboration is a normal part of my musical life. I’m currently working on some ideas based on growing up in rural Manitoba that are inspired by the paintings of William Kurelek.
Your releasing your new album at Guelph Little Theatre. Tell me about this album.
There’s so much to tell. I see it as an intricately woven tapestry of my musical influences, including Malian melodies and instrumentation, a touch of jazz, gospel, salvation army street band, folk and country. Underneath the musical exterior it is an exploration of politics, social issues, life changes, emotional mysteries, and events in the day to day life that pertain to my age and experience.  My passion is singing, and particularly singing harmonies and counter rhythms, and stretching things vocally, and in that regard, I think that each album has been somewhat of a progression from the last.

Visually, the album package itself is quite beautiful. The theme colour is green and I was able to use a number of Lewis’ illustrations, some of which are whimsical depictions of botanical scenes, richly coloured and quite intricate. He drew a number of illustrations specifically for particular songs.

You’ve been performing for a long time – what can you tell me about the evolution of your performances? What advice can you give to new musicians who have been following your career?
The bands that I have been in over the years have really helped to shape my evolution as a musician and a person. Many of the musicians I’ve played with are now life-long friends. I’ve become much more comfortable as a performer and feel more able to express myself vocally as a lead singer.  But I also enjoy harmony and backup singing and supporting other performers.

I’d encourage a new musician to invest in building a musical community. Follow your dream; do it because you love it. Try to avoid false expectations, and approach the music business in a sensible, practical way. Remember that music is not a commodity but a language that connects people.

Anywhere specific you’d like to perform, or perform at again?

Specifically, the Sharon Temple north of Toronto (a building with fantastic acoustics and a fascinating history) and the Aud Theatre in Virden, Manitoba (an iconic old theatre where I first sang in the music festival when I was in grade 4), but music has taken me all around the world and opened doors to people and places and I hope that will continue in places like Europe and South America. Oh, and perhaps somewhere warm during our Canadian winters.
As someone in the music community, is there an independent band or artist you’re particularly fond of?
There are so many in this community that I love that it’s hard to start naming them because I’m bound to end up missing someone special. But I’d like to also acknowledge all the studio and sound people that help all the independent bands and artists in this city, as well as folks in our music stores and all the music teachers.
Do you have a special message for your fans who plan to attend the show?
Wear something green and come with an open heart.
Tannis Slimmon In and Out of Harmony CD Release
Saturday, February 16th
Guelph Little Theatre