July 14th, 2015
If it seemed like I checked out for a while, yes.
I got sick of being Kev Corbett, Solo Acoustic Songwriter. I toured my last record as hard as I could, and then I was: just done.
I took sideguy gigs, I started learning carpentry (which I’d always wanted for myself), waited for songs to come. They always seem to. People came into my life, and went from my life. This site got hacked to bits and I didn’t know what to do about it, so I waited. The only one feeling it was me. (It’s being gradually rescued by my pal Graham Lindsey, whom you should totally hire for your forensic webdudery.)
Until Shandra MacNeil came along.
Shandra runs the Brandon Folk, Music and Art Festival. She had been watching from afar, and wrote to ask if I’d be interested in coming out to play, based almost solely on my politics on Facebook, which was the fire I needed lit under me to rejoin the world. I had no plan, some half-finished songs, no money, and not a lot of wind in my sails. Nonetheless, I worked, and saved, and chose my pal Jason Mingo to produce this thing. I knew, more than anything else, was that I would rather shoot myself in the face than make a record that sounded exactly like my last.
I’ve been a drummer for 33 years: there would be drums. I have a stellar, highly customized Gibson Les Paul and an amazing mid-80s J-series Telecaster: there would be electric guitars. There would be choruses, and the songs would be more succinct. I needed to get out of habitual forms (generally: verse, verse, verse, verse, verse, verse… kill me now…) and find the distilled essence of the song. I wanted groove, on top of the things that needed to be said. This is what Jay is really good at. I can’t thank him enough, or Shandra for hooking the booster cables up to me, or my pal Meaghan Smith for turning around the art and layout in miracle time.
This is what we’ve come up with. I’ll be touring these songs, mostly solo-electric, but occasionally with a full band, to a town near you as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience. I’ve done some living, gone off, and returned with some stories to tell you. Talk soon.
March 10th, 2014
I know: it’s been awhile. A year ago this time, I toured from Winnipeg to Nanaimo and back, partly with my favourite House Concert network Home Routes, and partly opening for my pal Stephen Fearing. It was 7 weeks, I think, by the time I got home, and in the process released Canada’s first postcard-album (‘Live in Orillia!’). I’ve done a lot of roadwork with my dudes Charlie A’Court and Kim Wempe, taught at Lunenburg Folk Festival‘s Song Camp, sessioned on Bob Ardern‘s new record, been teaching students around home when I can, and just got back from an epic trip to the North American Folk Alliance, in Kansas City MO, stopping off in Guelph ON on the way home to do some writing and demoing work towards my new record.
Yes, a new record. It’s coming. Soon.
I confess here that I needed a change-up. I’d lost interest. I got some electric guitars. I switched up my writing. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to just regurgitate what I’d already done.
And now, the snow’s starting to melt off.
Plans are afoot for business expansion into the States. It looks like my old band Knifey Moloko (we were before the internet tidal wave, so there was no site) might reunite in Vancouver for a member’s wedding. Charlie and Kim have stuff coming up. All is proceeding apace.
Here’s a new tune.
Most of my friends are songwriters, middle-aged, and/or female. I’ve had some talks lately with at least 5 of them, each experiencing some doubt as to how much their music remains relevant in the current pop culture. I decided I might remind them that they (you) are the coolest. Their (your) voice is the one I listen to most. In honour of International Women’s Day, this is for my sisters, cousins, aunties, friends, and moms. Especially Linda. Love you to bits.
Thanks to Jimmie Inch, Glen MacIsaac, and Ian ‘Slim’ McInnis for this. More to come. Keep an eye on my YouTube channel.
Quick news, folks: I’ll be leaving home soon for another humdinger of a tour, about 6 weeks long. That is 6 weeks too long away from one’s Person, but we do it so you don’t have to. I’ll first drive to Toronto for the North American Folk Alliance, playing electric guitar with Roots Reggae band Andru Branch and Halfway Tree. FA is a massive conference. It’s like Old Home Week for folkies.
After that, go West, young man.
I have the insane privilege of doing another Home Routes house concert tour; this time in a loop through northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. It’ll be 13 dates in 14 days. Check out the Dates section above. Then, I fly to Vancouver and meet up with my pal Stephen Fearing, and we’ll work our way back across the frozen Prairie, to Winnipeg.
April, dates around the Maritimes. May, I go to Guelph, Ontario, to begin work on my new studio record, which should probably come out in November. I’m really excited, and writing like crazy right now, to have enough material to pick from.
In the meantime, it’s a slow, stewy, cold winter, and I’m woodshedding reggae and writing. Life is good.
Drop by my Facebook page and let me know how it’s going, yeah?
January 2nd, 2013
Someone just reminded me the other night, I got published in 2 books this year, which seems impossible, but it’s true.
One is linked here. My pal Lana Grant wanted to put out a book where musicians wax foodie (you know me) and it also raises awareness around mental illness. I kicked in my story about my love affair with tacos, and the recipe for perhaps my greatest creation ever, the haddock ceviche taco. I should sell these little suckers at my merch table. Check the book out. They did a really great job on it.
The other book is an anthology, of writers-on-writing. It’s a benefit for the Writers’ Federation of NS, of called Saltlines.
Here’s what I wrote:
Writing. You buy a drafty old house, just to live in, turns out to be a goldmine. Or you discover you’re the goose that lays Ugly Ducklings.
I hatched as a journeyman Musician. Words were for ‘words’ people (whatever they were on about). In the process, began journaling. To call oneself a ‘Singer Songwriter’ might’ve been seen as laughably precious, but the songs came, and it was fun. I never had any intention to sing them. One night, noodling with a guitar after dinner, was cajoled into singing, and embarrassingly, knew only my own stuff. The listener, a writer herself, asked for another, then another, and told me that if I never sang those for anyone else, I was an idiot.
I sent them out into the world, among friends mostly, and was taken aback at the response. In what I’d seen as silly navelgazings, people saw echoes of their own lives. They compared me to artists they liked, or that I liked. I was interviewed on CBC, got letters, was invited to play, to mentor, heard what people say in the Hype aisle of the Music Market (which I try to avoid: synthetic ingredients, irresponsible packaging – give me my garden!).
I didn’t totally get it, but decided to respect it nonetheless. There is a magic in it, and it never fails to amaze me, especially when I doubt it.
It ebbs and flows. The well dried up, for a while. I thought I was done. I took a break, and now I have things to write about again. Art can be a petulant child, often says, You’re Not The Boss Of Me, as if you didn’t already know. But as you may have gleaned, uncertainty and solitude are dear friends of mine.
June 24th, 2012
So, a lot has happened, and you need to know, in order to get what’s been going on over here in the Corbett Inc. saltmine.
When I put out the last record, which is partly the subject of this website, I toured it off and on for the better part of a couple years. It was frantic: Folk-Fest-offered, record done, booking, 2 months on a train to BC and back, drive to BC and back, trip around Ontario, trip to Newfoundland, back to Ontario, it was relentless, fun, tiring, an amazing privilege.
That tour ended, the day I and some friends found a dead teenager floating in a river in Thunder Bay.
(He was a 15 year old named Jordan Wabasse, who had left his town, Webequie First Nation, to go to school in Thunder Bay. He was a hockey player, an artist, a boyfriend, a shy kid. I found out that thousands of Aboriginal kids do this every year: go live in boarding houses 600 clicks away from everything and everyone they know, in a foreign culture, because their schools aren’t funded past grade nine at home. Sometimes they want to, because they dream of life’s possibilities. Sometimes they are reluctantly pushed, because ‘go do something with your life’. It boggles any mind, the weight they must feel.)
For almost a year, I didn’t write. I wasn’t interested in playing. I hated this country, for not giving Native kids the same shake I had. For apologizing out of one side of the mouth to their parents for ruining their lives in residential schools, while simultaneously upholding all the trappings of official colonialism and racism.
This past February, I knew I had to shake that negative inertia off. I jumpstarted myself with a writing project, through February Album Writing Month (FAWM.org), which is a website where songwriters hang, and everyone tries to write 14 songs during the month of February. I got it done! Not all keepers, mind you, but first drafts. Some of them will make it into shows, onto records, some may not, but just needed to be written out, and thereby shut up in my head.
I had a deadline, see.
I’m gonna do another Home Routes house concert tour next March, through northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. It’ll be long past time for a new record by then, and people have been asking for a ‘Live’ record for 3 years, so I need to have it done by then, which means preferably ready to go by Xmas, which means sooner rather than later. So I’m booking a tour across Ontario for August, and recording ‘Live in Orillia’ at a show some friends are hosting for me there. I’ll drive out to Thunder Bay, where we found Jordan, and lay it all to rest. Visit Manitoulin Island, Owen Sound, Prince Edward County, do some camping. I can’t wait.
Then it’s album production, and start booking for next year. I’m gonna release two records, the live one and a new studio project, produced by my friend Lewis Melville, in Guelph. And tour like crazy. Because I can, because I must, because I promised Jordan.
Here’s a new demo, just for you:
March 13th, 2012
This is what ‘vacation’ looks like. *sigh*
First, I signed up for February Album Writing Month, where 1700-odd songwriters hang out, and everyone agrees we’re all gonna try to write 14 tunes during the month of February.
That’s a lot. Did it, tho. Here’s a new one:
Sneakers On a Wire. Also, been booking a return tour out to British Columbia, one to Ontario, and filling up the Summer with trips around the Maritimes. Will apprise. Keep in touch.
November 10th, 2011
A quick little update: last weekend, at the Nova Scotia Music Week conference, I was awarded the Musician of the Year award.
This award is voted on by people in the biz, and is about the jobbing player. I call it the Journeyman’s award, and having come into the biz with the goal of being the ultimate sideman, it is maybe the award I have the most respect for, as it’s not about who’s-cool-this-year or how big your team is, as much as it’s about being versatile, busy, giving every song its due. At least, it is to me.
So, to Music Nova Scotia, thanks for all your hard work, it was a great conference. To the folks who voted, thanks for your confidence. I’ve worked for many of you and I hope to work for all of you before we die. To the folks who hire me, thanks for your trust. To my baby, thanks for everything. I’m insanely lucky, and very happy with life.
October 5th, 2011
October 5th, 2011
September 6th, 2011
Hi, folks. My name is Kev Corbett, and I’m a Musician.
I applied for the Music NS Musician of the Year award because it’s where I most rightfully belong, and because I care a lot more about the craft of being a utility man, than I necessarily care about the social phenomenon of being a solo artist. Solo guy whatever, player always.
So, my musical life has 3 equal parts: artist, sideguy, drum teacher.
This year, I completed a tour I’d been on for 2 years, that took me across the country and back about 3 times; self-booked, self-financed, self-executed, and a raging success. The tour was just about wrapped up when we unfortunately found a cadaver floating in a river in Thunder Bay and I was gonna be a little late for rehearsal that night. Still rehearsed, tho, subsequently played 5 gigs in Tbay, 3 in TO, came home to Hali and sidebassed with Dave Celia at the Carleton that night.
Tour highlight: being invited by Stephen Fearing to open for him at Hugh’s Room (as well as 4 other places), and being occasionally complimented by other artists I really look up to. It just tells you you’re doing the right stuff.
Other nice things people said:
“…a beautiful snapshot of the Canadian landscape. This native Nova Scotian’s voice is like no one else… all Canadian, hints of Cockburn, Cohen and Lightfoot… well-crafted and skillfully written songs… dazzling guitar playing… Corbett is a true folksinger and Son of a Rudderless Boat is a marvelous listen.” -Penguin Eggs Magazine
“Corbett embodies everything that is wonderful about the song as an art form, while most folk singers today are mere shadows of great singer/songwriters.” -Jeff Liberty, writing in KV Style before a gig at the Vintage in Hampton NB
“The man is an exceptional guitar player – for one thing – but also writes extremely clever, finessed, clockwork folk-pop songs whose singable surface belies a tremendous underlying sense of craft. It was really great to see him again.” – Jowi Taylor, Six String Nation, after a gig in TO
“That’s a mighty fine CD you (and your friends) have cobbled together. Beauty. Great songs, vivid and evocative rapid fire storylines, sweet and raggedy sounds, and terrific arrangements. Thanks for that.” – Lewis Melville (producer/musician: Rheostatics, Skydiggers, Cowboy Junkies, Woodchoppers Association. and the next Kev Corbett record)
This year, I joined a band with Don Ross and Brooke Miller, and had the entire setlist transcribed onto staff paper and memorized before the first rehearsal. I built an electric fretless bass in order to execute the artist’s sonic vision of the material as presented on the album versions. We rehearsed every day for 2 weeks. I was subsequently involved in their album sessions, both as bassist and drummer. They are two of the most uncompromising musicians I know, and it is part of my wiring as a journeyman player to make them feel like their songs will be safe in my hands, that I will bend over backwards for what they need. You can hear samples at Brooke’s FB fan page.
I’ve also just recorded Steven Bowers’ new record, on which I played upright bass, electric bass, mandolin, and my first two ever banjo tracks. Here’s a sample from that, you can hear all three instruments at once, last chorus at 3:00: http://soundcloud.com/steven-bowers/steven-bowers-song-for-grown
Also, Norma MacDonald’s record just came out, and Irish Mythen’s. I’m on both of those (voice/percs and bass/drums, respectively).
So, that’s four records this year, multiple parts on each.
I’ve played Liverpool NS to just outside of Whitehorse and back to Kempt Shore NS with Charlie A’Court in the past two months. I played Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and London with Gillian Boucher. I got blown up for a Brooke Miller video in PEI, and I turned down a gig playing drums with Carole Pope to do it.
Also freelanced this year with Dave Celia, Tannis Slimmon, Sean Ashby, Kim Wempe, and Carmel Mikol.
I’m gonna do bass sessions for Manitoba Hal in September, be a sideguy at the OCFF in October, house concerts in Ontario in November, and headline my first at the Union St Cafe on Dec 30th. After that, booking the next cross-Canada.
I began teaching at Buckley’s little school in Halifax, and had worked at one point up to about 30 kids a week. When they closed, I simply started doing house calls, and I still do.
Which the parents think is *fabulous*, as they can be making dinner rather than carpooling kids around. Plus, it kills multiple birds for me, as there is no reason any parent should know how to set up or maintain a drum set or a practice space, so I can go facilitate that, and not have to give anyone else a cut. It’ll never be the biggest chunk of my income, but I’ll never stop, as I understand what my students are going through and I find pleasure in translating it all for them, empowering girls to play, creating community, and also re-examining my own process through the lens of someone else’s. I had somewhere around ten weekly students this summer.
There you have it, folks. The three parts of my professional life, all of which feed, support, and inform each other, and my larger process. Thanks for your consideration.