Thursday, August 16, 2012

see you soon, carly maicher

Take me with you so I don't have to miss you, 
Take me all the way across the prairies and back
To the bay.
Carly Maicher, See You Soon

Her latest album is called "Hiding" but Carly Maicher's life lately has been anything but secluded.  The singer-songwriter has spent much of this year on the road on a head-spinning Canadian tour with Zachary Lucky. (60 shows in three months!)  And now she's come back to the Bay and more specifically to Grand Manan Island to the festival she started three years ago.   Now I fully confess that I'm biased towards all things Grand Manan but I think the Summer's End Folk Festival is one of the great little gems of New Brunswick's music scene.  Established musicians and new discoveries playing in the open air a stone's throw from the sea? A perfect way to wind down your summer.  

The Festival runs August 24-25 and with just over a week to go, Carly took the time to answer a few of my questions, one island girl to another.

I love that your bio says you're one part wheat field, one part ocean.   How did you end up on Grand Manan?  How does the isolation of the island affect your writing?

Well, my grandparents are from Grand Manan originally! So, there's definitely a deep rooted family connection here. But basically, my family decided to buy a summer home here, and at the time I was looking to get away from Winnipeg, where I had been living. It sort of just happened - it worked out perfectly time wise, and since nobody was going to be living in the house, I decided to take advantage. My original plan was to just stay a couple of months and work on songs, and maybe record a home-made album, but then I just continued staying. I loved it so much that a year went by, and then years just kept going by. I built a little life here and got busy doing normal life things like working, and socializing.
During my time on Grand Manan, I spent a LOT of time alone with nature. I couldn't get over the natural beauty here. It's beautiful almost everywhere, but to me Grand Manan hosts this kind of obvious rugged beauty that's impossible to overlook. At least if you're not from a place like this. So, the environment definitely affected my writing. There's something super romantic, at least to me, about going to a little fishing island. 

Grand Manan is such a special place in general, but definitely became such a special place to me and an important time in my life. It has been such a substantial part of my life, and where I've felt most at home.

Tell me a little about Summer's End - it's no small thing deciding to start a festival on a pretty remote island. 
One of the things that I imagined about Grand Manan Island before moving here was that it would be a place filled with artists and musicians. I had been to Grand Manan before in my younger years on family trips, but never really got to know the culture really well. When I moved here, I didn't really meet anyone who had the same musical interests as me, which was surprising. There is definitely music on Grand Manan - but not specifically folk or traditional music. After a couple years of living here, I started managing a restaurant (Gallaway's Restaurant which is where the festival is held) - and there I began bringing in music from the mainland to see if we could become part of their touring circuit. With music being such an important part of my life, I needed a way to be able to continue doing that on Grand Manan too.
The festival became a dream of mine after living here and realizing that it's the most perfect place in the world for a festival, and I literally just couldn't believe it wasn't already happening here. So with that, I began planning the first one and everything just sort of fell into place. I thought that it would be a really great thing for the community to have a music festival with some music that maybe the culture here hadn't been exposed to yet. I think music can do wonderful, positive things - and that was my attempt at doing something positive within the community.

What's been the most surprising thing about Summer's End?
The most surprising part about Summers End is actually that the majority of our audience members have been people from away, not people from Grand Manan. This is really interesting! Although it means it is somewhat successful, meaning that our line up typically has some names that should draw, it is also surprising and I'd still really like the local crowd to grow. With there being so many off-islanders traveling to the festival from away, it's become a great tourist event which benefits local businesses - since the attendees are spending two nights on the island, they are contributing to the islands economy also via camping, groceries, restaurants, motels, ferry, etc! 

This year's festival offers up another great line-up - there are better-known names like Julie Doiron and Ruth Minnikin but who are some of the hidden gems / new talent / surprises we can look forward to?
This years line-up is theoretically pretty stacked! Julie Doiron, Daniel Romano, Bry Webb, and the Providers, Ruth Minnikin, and Owen Steel are all already very much so a part of the East coast music scene! People that are up and coming but that you may not have heard of are Klarka Weinwurm (NS), Devarrow (NB), Liam Finney (NS). I'm super excited to have them all involved in the festival!

(If you can't wait for the 24th to take in this music, the folks at SEFF have put together a great playlist over at CBC Music to get you in the mood! )

Summer's End Folk Festival is August 24-25th on Grand Manan.  You can get your tickets in advance on the website or in person at Gallaway's Restaurant (Grand Manan) Picaroons Brewtique (Fredericton) and Backstreet Records in both Fredericton and Saint John.

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