Live at RootsMusic.ca !
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.
From Penguin Eggs, Canada’s Folk/Roots music magazine:
“Kev Corbett, with his 10-track debut release Son of a Rudderless Boat, has taken a beautiful snapshot of the Canadian landscape. This native Nova Scotian’s voice is like no one else. He is all Canadian, with hints of Cockburn, Cohen and Lightfoot in his voice. Corbett weaves through well-crafted and skillfully written songs about everything from love to fallen idols to roadside adventures.
Primarily an acoustic release, Corbett’s dazzling guitar playing compliments his unique perspective on life. Son of a Rudderless Boat has it all, from the quirky, as in the humorous foot tappin’ Cheese and Whiskey, to the introspective of Uncle, a stirring honest observation of a bigot uncle.
Corbett is a true folksinger and Son of a Rudderless Boat is filled with passionate commentaries, and none more spirited than Skull and Bones, a story about civic corruption and civic do-gooders. Son of a Rudderless Boat is a marvelous listen.” (by Phil Harries)
In response to recent Google searches involving my name, and my partner’s:
There are actually two Steph Domets, y’see.
There’s Stephanie Domet the Construct: a public radio show host in a small city on the end of Canada, reading traffic and weather, facilitating discussions on all matter of quotidian water cooler talk, occasionally laughing, playing tunes, alternately playing cat and mouse with someone, usually listening and coming up with the followup question. People develop this one-way relationship with her; this internal monologue where they develop a relationship with the Construct, and it occasionally comes exploding out in either the most effusive ways, or the most batshit-crazy, patronizing, and sometimes downright mean ways (usually without attaching their names in the latter case). People call the answering machine, *losing their minds*, over the pronunciation of a single word, or the formulation of a salutation, or if she takes a day off sick, or comes back from being sick. People approach at the Farmers’ Market, and I do not exist, they address the Construct: you should’ve asked him this, you’re so great, are you getting my emails, I need to talk to you about this thing, here’s what’s wrong with the CBC (like she can change anything?), can you host this thing, I know it’s on your day off, but I figure, you’re on my dime, anyway…
Seriously. The Construct is never, ever allowed to be off the clock, think for itself, have an opinion, or say anything not in your words.
I married Steph Domet the Person. She’s the smartest, coolest, most interested and interesting person in whatever room she walks into. She loves her job (even the crazy people; I’m rather less charitable) and believes deeply in its intrinsic democracy, that not everybody *should* like everything they hear, but she’ll do her best to bring everyone in on this-or-that discussion. She has the brightest eyes in the world, has read more books than anyone I know, is learning to play the piano, writing another book, editing another two, is a stellar cook, gardener, organizer, my favourite roadtripping companion, and my best friend.
Which one would you rather talk with?
If you’re not familiar with the Six String Nation guitar, you’re a Bad Canadian. Go up to your room, and read up on it. It’s insanely cool.
So, this week, the guy behind it, Jowi Taylor, happened to see that I was playing at Not My Dog in Toronto. He brought Voyageur down for a little visit.
My thanks, J: that was a cool enough night already; this made it pretty perfect.
I don’t do it often, but I’m doin’ it next week- playin’ your town! Any chance you’d wanna stop by?
Monday night, May 16th, 10 pm sharp, I’ll be the guest of the Ladies in Waiting (CindyDoire, Andrea Ramolo, Sarah Burton, Faye Blais, and Sara Fitzpatrick) at their Monday series at Not My Dog on Queen at Jameson. Real psyched: amazing artists, great little spot.
Kev Corbett & Ladies in Waiting
@ Not My Dog, 1510 Queen St W @ Jameson, Toronto.
10pm Cover: Pass the jug!
Tuesday afternoon, I’m playing RootsMusicCanada’s Woodshed Sessons!
These dudes are doing heaven’s work for Canadian Roots Musicians, and I’m honoured to be invited into the sanctum. Might even bring a present for ’em.
Tuesday night, May 17th, 10 pm sharp, I’m splitting a night with my ole buddy Dave Borins at the amazing Tranzac. I’ve always wanted to play here, and Dave’s doing amazing stuff these days. Couldn’t be happier.
Kev Corbett & Dave Borins
@ The Tranzac (Southern Cross Room), 292 Brunswick Ave. Toronto
10 pm Cover: Pass the jug!
For further info, contact kev at kevcorbett dot com.
See ya there?
K (NOTE: BIO & LINKS BELOW!)
ON KEV CORBETT…
“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
He likes one fan’s description: Like Cohen, but with a sense of humour; Dylan, without the angst.
People keep telling Kev Corbett he really doesn’t sound like anbody else. He’s a wordy guy with a big heart. A serious guitar picker. A man who loves a great story, especially if it isn’t his. He’s comfortable in his own skin, not a hint of pretense.
He’s experienced, too: he’s got about 20 countries worth of touring under his belt, keeps placing in songwriting competitions, and had opened in the last year for Stephen Fearing, Jill Barber, Ben Sures, and Annabelle Chvostek. But, to hell with musical comparisons: this dude’s a writer. He’s known for the attention-to-the-everyday of an Alice Munro, the attention-to-detail and research of a Robertson Davies, the brutal frankness of a Farley Mowat, the warm-cuddliness of a Peter Gzowski. This year, he toured coast to coast and back by train over two months. Five days later, he set out to do it again.
Kev Corbett is the best kind of folksinger, writing zingers that can veer hilarious, heartbreaking, lusty, pious, political, fighty, thoughtful, wistful, helpful, and/or clever; and then usually throw a self-deprecating monologue on top. It’s hard not to pay attention; stories become songs break down into stories, and you realize he’s not singing about his own life. He’s singing ours.
I’ve been thinking about Sense of Place, lately.
I spent most of the last year on the road, windows down, music up, hair blowing, seeing new stuff. Connected to nothing but the zen of the journey itself. Seeing many places and things I never had. Tofino. Cathedral Grove. Kitsilano. A bear in Jasper. 4 trips across the Prairies. The hoserlicious pleasures of Northern Ontario. Fi’ n’ chi’ at the Ship. On and on.
But it’s time to siddown. I have songs scratching at the windows to get out. I need to reconnect with my back yard. I wanna spend time in a kayak. I am gonna have a beachbum summer.
Enter Shawna Caspi.
She called up recently, and said, ‘So if a girl were to find her way into a plane ticket, ya think, there might be some shows to be booked?’
I booked it to show my buddy around a bit. We’re calling it the She Came On A Whim And Couldn’t Go Home Tour. We played The Scuttlebutt in Lunenburg last night. What a wicked little place. Wolfville tonight, Tatamagouche Thursday, Shelburne Friday, Halifax on Saturday. Then I’m off to Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, and Toronto, but that’s about the extent of my touring plan. I think you’re gonna have a sense of whatever place is home, of course, and no place is really better than another. But as Denis Ryan says, one of the great things about our job is that it has more than its fair share of homecomings. If anyplace will fill my well again, this is it.
I found this today. Me on bass, with Don Ross and Brooke Miller, as well as drummer Benn Boss and keyboardist Aaron Collier. Great time had by all, lovely to have B&D living in town now! Hoping to do it many times again, as they are cool as hell. 🙂
In other news, I’m taking new drumming students, for whenever I’m not on tour. The deal is, I go to your place, so we can use and learn to setup and maintain your kit, and we just work out a weekly time that works. I’ve been teaching for about 10 years, and take drummers from about 10 years old right up to seniors, and work on the songs chosen by the drummer. If you know anyone who might be interested, just drop a line (kev at kevcorbett dot com) and we’ll work it out…
OK. Time to get outside. Happy Paddy’s. See y’soon.
…but this is the deck we’re dealt. I’ve been on tour for what feels like years, there were tech issues with my web doohickey, so I couldn’t post anything. It’s OK. I’m OK. How are you?
So, since we last reported back, I’ve been road-ing. I went to a great festival called Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of January, a a bassist for a friend’s band, then whirlwind gigs in Manchester, London, and Cardiff. Then flew to Toronto, where I met my sweetie and we toured Ontario together for two weeks together on a Home Routes tour. They’re a fantastic organization. It was two weeks worth of house concerts – 13 shows in 14 days – and it was the first time my darlin’ ever came on a tour with me. It was great: we got to drive around pretty, snowy Ontario together for a couple of weeks, and she also got a good dose of what it’s actually like on tour. It’s tiring! By day 3, she was all, ‘This is f*cking hard work, isn’t it?’. Ha.
K, gotta run. Back soon.