Christmas music’s weird. In a way, it’s just about the only remaining music in our culture that acts as that musical commons we drone on about. (Nobody really knows or cares who wrote or first recorded any carol or Xmas song, yet we all kind of know them and could probably sing along.) There’s loads of gorgeous and fun carols – and yet somehow Christmas is a season when we’re mostly likely to get subjected to aggressively schmaltz and annoying music. (It’s like commercialism ruins everything good, or something?) Anyways, making these recordings is our tiny “be the change” act, and we hope it brings a little more beauty and a little less schmaltz into your holiday season.
Just like its music, Christmas itself can be an annoying and/or bad time for some folk. If that’s you, we see you and care! However the holiday season goes for you, we wish you festive times in there too, with genuine warmth, peace, and things you love.
In this quiet season of long, cold nights we’re grateful for all you lovely people we’ve met through music and everyone who’s listened and played and sung with us. Here’s to lots more music making in the new year.
There’s a party coming up to celebrate the release of Wychwood’s first “proper” album and you’re invited. Come celebrate our new Blackgrass Harvest album with a combination concert and listening party. We’ll be playing songs from the album with an assortment of guest musicians including Oddeline, David Jackson (Day of Niagara, IMOO), Haley Wolk (Rubber Roses), Justin Dickie (Daipth, Obsidian Will) and Jack Pyl.
There will also be some trippy videos and at least one game to keep things interesting. It should be a good time.
(And just imagine – if you come, you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren “I went to the album release for the first proper blackgrass album ever made!”)
When: Sunday November 20
What time though?: Doors7:30pm, start 8pm
Where: Spark Beer – 702 Somerset St. W. It’s cute, comfy, and conveniently located in Chinatown
Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at the door (Pay-what-you-can at the door or in advance by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message us on socials.)
Accessibility note There’s one 6-inch step to get into Spark (and our attempts to borrow a stopgap ramp haven’t paid off, sorry) and a couple doors that aren’t automatic. The bathroom also isn’t accessible.
Covid note As much as well want to pretend that the pandemic’s over, there are more people in the hospital in Ottawa with covid than any other autumn. If you want to come to this and haven’t got your booster yet, please do so! Not to be melodramatic but we don’t want anyone to die or be debilitated because of a fun time celebrating a little Bandcamp album. Let’s take reasonable precautions, look out for our neighbours, and have fun living life.
About Blackgrass Harvest
Although we have a soft spot for the raw live recordings and demos we’ve shared to date, Blackgrass Harvest is truly a milestone. It’s the first well-recorded album we’ve put out, in many ways our first real album, and the first fully realized demonstration of this “blackgrass” idea that’s motivated Wychwood from the beginning.
Blackgrass Harvest is an album of mostly dark traditional folk songs played mostly acoustically, but blending in some black metal, ambient, drone and noise music, samples, and other experiments. It was recorded in Tim’s bedroom between the 2nd and 7th wave of the pandemic.
Blackgrass Harvest is out on Bandcamp on 20.11.2022 Have a listen at wychwood.bandcamp.com (samples before that date and the full thing after).
We look forward to sharing these sounds and sharing the evening with you!
We’re going to playing Libby & Cal’s album release this Hallowe’en weekend – October 29 – it’s gonna be great spooky fun. There will be candy, there will be prizes for best costumes… also: music.
All the fun details & tickets magically appear by going to bit.ly/libbycal.
If you wander over to Libby Hortop on Faceborg, she’s been posting about creating an album of alternative, non-prescriptive love songs, the joys and challenges of recording an autoharp, and other genuinely interesting things.
Traditional folksongs and our set will do a good job warning of the dangers of conventional, possessive love – also, how to avoid being misled by a demon lover (look, forewarned is forearmed). Libby & Cal’s set and album will point to more open and diverse ways of loving.
Kick off spooky month in Ottawa with us this Saturday – and a host of musical friends! Once again, the tunnel supplies natural reverb and amplification, the fresh air provides pleasant safety, we’ll supply the songs, you can make it special.
Saturday, Oct 1, 6pm, at the tunnel to the Library & Archives parking lot (behind the library, towards the river – here’s the spot on google maps.)
If you came to previous tunnel shows, this tunnel is directly below the bike tunnel we played in before – the bike tunnel which is closed for construction. This tunnel is bigger, more reverberant, and spookier. There will be refreshments to share and we encourage you to bring your own light to pool with ours – and whatever you need to keep warm.
Also, it’s kind of a secret (sshhhh) but Chrissy’s going to play some songs from her solo project and Tim’s going to play a little bit with Haley from Rubber Roses. AND David from Day of Niagara and IMOO (the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa and Outaouais) will be adding ambient burbles and spooky drones to our folksongs.
Here’s a snippet of “Kitty alone,” a traditional kid’s song from Appalachia with a haunting melody and slightly surreal lyrics, on the ukelele and through the Empress Reverb and Echosystem.
Featuring a totally normal bedroom with an ultranormal amount of pedals.
Shot by Sandy Zelazy (AKA Silver Reeds). We actually spent nearly the whole time singing and playing acoustically into a single mic, believe it or not, that’ll get a more official release down the road.
Earnest TV, Episode 1, guest starring Hayley and Kris.
After coming together to play some songs at Ottawa’s Hiroshima & Nagasaki Peace Memorial Lantern Ceremony a couple of days ago, we reconvened to the Quaker house basement to create a record some of what we’d played.
“Deadly Harvest” is known in Japanese as 原爆を許すまじ or “Genbaku o yurusumaji” – “No More Atomic Bombs” or “We must never forgive the atomic bomb.” It was written in 1955 by Koki Kinoshita (music) and Ishiji Asada (words ). The English translation is by Ewan MacColl, with a few touch-ups from Tim.
(The reverby echo is coming from an Empress Reverb pedal that’s well-hidden by Tim’s head, plus that Orange MicroDark that is only half-hidden, hurrah.)
The lyrics and chords we used:
[Introductory verse in Japanese]
Furusato no machi yakare Mi yori no hone umeshi yaketsuchi ni Iwa wa shiroi hana saku Ah yurusumaji genbaku o [Refrain] Mitabi yurusumaji genbaku o Warera no machi ni
Verse 1 In the place where our city was destroyed Where we buried the ashes of the ones that we loved There the grass grows and the white waving weeds Deadly the harvest of two atom bombs
Refrain: Then brothers & sisters you must watch & take care That the third atom bomb never falls
2 The sky hangs like a shroud overhead And the sun’s in the cage of the black evening cloud No birds fly in the leaden sky Deadly the harvest of two atom bombs Then brothers & sisters…
3 Gentle rain carries poison from the sky And the fish carry death in the depths of the sea Fishing boats are idle, their owners are blind Deadly the harvest…
4 All that we have created with our hands All that is, all the glory of the world we live in Now it can be smashed, in a moment destroyed Deadly…
Verse chords: Am Dm E7 Am | Am E7 AmDm Am | – A7 Dm E7 | Am C E7 – Chorus chords: F Dm E7 Am / Dm E7 Am —
Slashes show line divisions, dashes mean repeat the previous chord, two chords squeezed together means play two chords in the time you normally play one.
“Step by Step” uses the melody of the traditional Irish song “The praties grow small,” a song about blight and starvation during the Potato Famine. The first verse was adapted by Waldemar Hills and Pete Seeger from the preamble of the constitution of the American Mineworkers Association (1963).
The last two verses are by Ottawa folk music stalwart Chris White.
Step by step the longest march can be won, can be won Many stones can form an arch, singly none, singly none And in union what we will can be accomplished still Drops of water turn a mill, singly none, singly none
VERSE 2 Note by note the sweetest song can be sung, can be sung As our voices sing along, we are one, we are one Different colours rising high form a rainbow in the sky So together we will rise, singly none, singly none
VERSE 3 Thread by thread each slender strand, can be spun, can be spun And then woven hand to hand, one by one, one by one Making fabrics that enfold weak and strong, young and old Intertwined all lines shall hold, singly none, singly none
CHORDS: Am C Am — G Am G Am / ” / Am C – – – Dm – E / E7 Am G Am G Am E7 Am
(Slashes show line divisions, dashes mean repeat the previous chord, ditto/quotation mark means repeat the last line’s chords)
If you’re in Toronto, you should probably come see Tim try to keep with Alexis Castrogiovanni at the Canadian Music Centre, this Thursday June 16. There’s a livestream too! If you can stand another screen event.
There will be cello, there will be banjo, there will be dreamy-noisy effects, many feelings, and strange beautiful music.
If you don’t know Alexis’ music, it’s stunning, and here’s proof:
We’re going to be playing 6-7 pm on May 28 at Art House Cafe as part of Ottawa Drone Day. If you want to hear the saw (and other admittedly less exciting instruments) played through a bunch of dreamy-spooky effects and blended into old folk songs, you’ll like this.
Ottawa Drone Day has activities all day too… there’s a youtube livestream and the adventure of performances start at 5pm at Art House and run through the evening.
It’s going to be a fun adventuresome time, and we’d love to connect with you!
The saw might just be the most musical tool out there and one of the most attention-grabbing folk instruments ever. Here’s Chrissy demonstrating at a rehearsal. Bowing the saw sets it vibrating, which makes a musical tone, a little like rubbing a wet finger over the edge of a glass. Then by bending the blade, it changes the resonating length of the saw, which smoothly shifts the pitch. To create vibrato, you shake or bounce your knee a little.
And yes, that’s a plain old saw that’s been used and still could be used to cut wood. We’ve also been experimenting with running the sound through effects and it sounds astonishingly creepy and beautiful.
There’s a full version of Cruel Mother with two saw solos here: