The Blazing Elwoods

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Don’t Sell The Car – The making of…

The first country song I wrote was for my dad, Elwood. To make a long story short, (something that I’m not great at because sometimes I tell stories that make people’s eyes glaze over) I pretty much forced my dad to collect rooster stuff. Every birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas, Groundhog Day, Snow Day, I would arrive at Dad’s place and proudly hand him a gift with a rooster on it. Soon the house on the Island filled with rooster statues, rooster plates, rooster cups, rooster lawn ornaments and rooster salt and pepper shakers. I don’t know if dad really liked any of this stuff, but I kept giving it, and he kept smiling and taking it.
I decided to write him a song called Big Red Rooster. It took me about two days to write and record it and Dad loved it. I decided to release the song as a single, and it received airplay on Canadian radio stations including
CBC Radio, The Island FM, CKLU, as well as internet radio play in Nashville, California, and Florida. Big Red Rooster was my “country awakening” and it inspired me to work on The Blazing Elwoods project. My goal was to try and write a truly Canadian country album. In 2011, I started doing just that.

Liner Notes!

The Blazing Elwoods
I wrote this song as a filler tune for the album. This song wasn’t working at all… until I invited Chris Peplinsky (bass), Joey Fiorino (drums), Sarah Matt (piano), Guy Coutu (lead guitar), and Donny Reed (fiddle) to lend their amazing talents. Now it’s my fave.

My favourite lyric: “Heard her on the Christian radio, workin’ part time for the Lord...”


Dirty Old Town
My friend Rick Moggy and I wrote this tune about a nickel town in Ontario. None of it is true, but all of it somehow falls into my not so recent mid-90’s memories. I had some awesome help with musician friends
Marc Donato (mandolin), Donny Reed (fiddle), Peter Learn (piano), and vocal help from Sean Barrette and
Chris Leblanc.

My favourite lyric: “It’s last call as the lights come up, the jug monkeys come and fill their cups...”


The Motorcycle Song
Another one of my favourites, co-written with my friend Rick Moggy. It’s about a motorcycle trip that never happened, but someday just might. Rick and I shared vocal duties on this one, but the pièce de résistance is the chorus. I can’t help but smile when I hear Rick, Sarah, Sean, Chris and myself singing the shalalalas! I can’t forget to mention Peter Learn and Marc Donato’s piano and mandolin playing.

My favourite lyric: “Thought I saw the face of God, riding on my Honda hog...”


Brother
I’m happy to say that when I write a tune, you never really have to think “Hmm, he’s so deep! What’s he possibly writing about?” This song was going to be written for my brother Eric, then it took on a deeper meaning (helping a brother out), and then… it got deeper. It is my first “christian-esque” song, and every time I sing it, I feel very good. Sean Barrette, Kevin Closs and Chris Leblanc helped out with the vocals. Along with Eric, these guys are also my brothers. Again, Peter Learn twinklin’ the ivories and Marc Donato playin’ the mando.

My favourite lyric: “If you’re down on your luck and your back’s up against the wall...”


Don’t Sell The Car

My dad got an old 1968 Polara from my grandma Grace and I love this car. Sarah Matt came in and helped out with her amazing piano playing and her beautiful back-up vocals. Hearing her voice always sends a shiver down my spine. I also coerced Brian Quebec to come in and lay down some stand-up bass. Tryin’ to keep it real! Worked out well.

My favourite lyric: “I know she’s not firin’on eight cylinders...”


J’ai poigné un gros poisson
I married a french girl and she’s the only one for me. We’ve been together since high school and to give you an idea, that’s been over 25 years. Her family is really and truly my family. Her relatives are from Noëlville, Ontario, and they know how to have a good time. Uncle Gil knows a lot of “chanson à répondre” tunes, so I thought I’d take a stab at writing one.

This was started many years ago, and I’m glad it’s completed. The highlights for me on this song were of course Nick Krawchuk on spoons, Marc Donato on mandolin, Andrea McColeman on accordion, Donny Reed on fiddle, and Brian Quebec on stand-up bass. These elements for me made the French Canadian connection happen. The crowning touch – Isabelle Ratté, Yves Larrivière, Jean-Guy Rivard and Johanne Rioux, members of Les Troubadours, dropped in to sing some backups

My favourite lyric: “Le doré nous est très chers, les perchaudes nous tombent sur les nerfs...”


Don’t Bother Me (for Doug)
One clear cold January morning I headed out to my fishing hut on Ramsey Lake, and I brought my guitar and a little recorder. I wrote 3 songs in 4 hours. Didn’t catch a damn thing, but it was a very productive day just the same. Don’t Bother Me was inspired in part by my uncle Doug. He is who he is. He’s a very special man and I love him with all my heart. I had the pleasure of having my step-brother Kevin Closs joining in for some harmonies, and again so grateful to have my friends Peter Learn and Marc Donato playing piano and mandolin respectively.

My favourite lyric: “Me and the dog and the CBC, nothing more a man could need...”


It’s Over Hon
Every album has to have a break-up song. This one is mine. Luckily I had to imagine it all, because my wife has lots of patience and puts up with all my s**t. This is recorded with the same bunch of helpers: Kevin Closs (backup vocals), Marc Donato (mandolin) and Peter Learn (piano).
My favourite lyric: “They held a funeral for me, was too heartsick to attend...”


Aberdeen
Dad told me that there was a farm family in Aberdeen, Saskatchewan (in 1945-ish) that would hold barn dances on weekends for folks to get together and socialize. He explained that there would be musicians hired, or some would just show up and play at these community gatherings, and all the families in the farming district close enough to attend, would attend. They would eat, drink, dance and be merry. It sounded really nice. Made me think it would be nice to go back to that time and be a part of it.

This song was another treat to write and record. I called on my friend Andrea McColeman from the Yukon to do some long distance accordion tracks, I brought in Brian Quebec for his stand-up bass playing skills, my mandolin player Marc Donato, the great Donny Reed on fiddle and I learned to play the harmonica. Good times, and I love how it worked out.

My favourite lyric: “The pastor really cuts a rug, when he hears that country sound...”


The Tractor Song
I kinda pictured a down-on-his-luck Saskatchewan farmer who’s truck had broken down. Parked right next to his broken down pick-up is his shiny new tractor. Then I laughed to myself because I pictured a certain dairy farmer driving into town to get a case of brown pop. Peter Learn on keys and Marc Donato on mandolin. Peter’s playin’ is blazin’.

My favourite lyric: “Some folks look unhappy with their one finger salute, I just smile and wave hello, give my horn a roo-too-toot!”


Big Red Rooster
This is my first country song and I wrote it for my dad Elwood. It’s about a nasty rooster that lived on a farm in Speers, Saskatchewan. I’m especially proud of my guitar solo in this one and particularly pleased with
Chris Leblanc’s exuberant crowing.

My favourite lyric: “Best thing to do if he came your way, take a shovel to his head and run away...”