Welcome

Dawn Pritchard has been playing guitar for years.  Writing songs was an obvious progression and she is now working on her second album at Little Bullhorn Productions in Ottawa, working once again with Dave Draves.  Her first album, "All Tied Up" was released December 2013 at the Kaffe 1870, Wakefield, QC  - the second is due for release November 5, 2016 at the Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, QC.  Still ambient, still quirky, but more groovy this time, with bass and drums watch for it! 

Influences and Opportunities  

As musicians, sometimes we are asked, "who are your musical influences?"  When asked this question, I never readily had a response.  Who did influence my music?  

I had often thought about this in the context of songwriting.  I like Regina Spektor's writing - her songs can be quirky, melodic, dramatic, silly, deeply emotional, sometimes troubling, with melodies and flow that are beautiful and unique.  I like Lisa Loeb's writing - again quirky, sometimes fun, sometimes troubling.  These two writers have certainly influenced me.  But then I got to thinking about my guitar playing which is nothing like the musicianship of Regina or Lisa. Who influenced that?

I have been playing music since I was about 8 years old.  I didn't take formal lessons, but goofed around on whatever was around.  I learned this from my dad who in his earlier days would play together with his buddies, dad on the harmonica, Ernie Arneson on the beer box and uncle Johnny on guitar and vocals.  The first instrument that I ever owned was a harmonica that my parents brought for me as a gift from the Army and Navy in Regina, SK that they went to after a Saskatchewan Roughriders game. I also played the organ - the kind with the numbers on the keys and the chords to the side.  My parents liked when I played "On Top of Old Smokey".

I attended St. Michael's elementary school in Saskatoon, SK.  In grade 7 and 8, our teacher Mr. Leonard Wawryk got us playing ukulele.  He also played guitar for us and we sang to the Tommy Soundtrack.  I recall him teaching me to play "Pinball Wizard".  My mom used to recall that when I was in a bad mood I would play that ukulele really hard.  (I still play guitar hard, but even when I am in a good mood - especially then!)

My first guitar was an old acoustic on which the strings were about a foot higher than the neck of the guitar.  It was hard to play, but I played it because it was what I had.

Whenever I went to my grandma Robinson's house, I played there a left handed 12 string that belonged to my uncle Robbie.  He didn't play it much, so my grandma and uncle Robbie let me keep the guitar. I had the strings switched around so that I could play it right handed and I played that for a while.  

At the age of about 11 or 12, my friend Kim Fontaine got herself a bass guitar and I wanted an electric guitar.  So, my uncle Johnny brought me around to the pawnshops in Saskatoon to find a guitar. I should note that uncle Johnny was the musician in the Pritchard family. He could play guitar and sing like Elvis.  Heck, he was even as handsome as Elvis.  We found an electric guitar.  My mom and dad bought me an amp from Woolco for Christmas that year.  I was pretty happy - I had a guitar and an amp.  My parents were pretty happy too, since just a few months before I had plugged my electric guitar into the organ and blown it up.    But, I digress...

I played guitar more and more.  My uncle Johnny had spent a period of time at the Prince Albert Penitentiary and we kept in touch with each other while he was there.  We wrote letters back and forth, but one day he phoned me.  I ran and plugged my guitar into the amp and played him some music over the phone.  Uncle Johnny thought that my playing was great and I was pleased.  He may well have been humouring me, but that is what uncles are supposed to do.  

My friends and I jammed in the house. There was much bashing about with drums, loud guitars and terrible singing.  My parents never told me to turn that racket down (well hardly ever).  My mom and auntie Johnnie came to my first gig ever at Albert School.  My dad financed my Fender Stratocaster when I was on the road playing and could not afford the payments.  When I told my dad that I was quitting high school to play music full time, he drove me to the next town for my first gig. This must have killed him, but he did it anyways.  Thankfully that first gig was in Weyburn, SK where my mom lived at the time.  They both came to see me play.  My dad still comes to see me play and he and my brother came all the way to Wakefield, QC from Saskatoon for the release of my first CD.  I was so happy to have them there, and I was so happy that I was still playing music all those years later.  

So, musical influences in the context of guitar playing?  I will write about that another day.  Today, I would like to thank those people in my early years who created opportunities for me to play music. They are my late mom, Pat Pritchard; my dad, Don Pritchard; my late uncle Johnny Ritchards; my late grandma Marie Robinson; my late uncle Robbie Robinson; my friend, Kim Fontaine, 
and my grade 7 and 8 teacher, Mr. Wawryk.  Thank-you very much from the bottom of my heart.

Here is a photo of me playing my first electric guitar at Kim's house.

Jeepers Creepers 

Jeepers creepers, it has been a long time since my last blog post.  During that time I have been busy recording not only my own album, but I have also been recording back up vocals for Jamie Ferguson.  I can now officially say that I am a studio musician!

As for my album, it is sounding great.  The ambient sound will still be present as in the last album, but it will be a bit edgier this go round with drums and bass.  Originally my producer Dave and I thought the album would have more of a band combo sound with guitar, bass, drums and Rhodes.  But, as things progressed, we found that sometimes, things sounded a bit too "Rhodesy", so we hooked up the Prophet 600 adding some synth, then the Nord, running it through a stereo preamp then distorting it. Yesterday we added infinite reverb to "le Chandail".   Yikes!  Typical Dave noted out loud that "there's just one more part I want to add as he says its too much".  This is exactly why I love working with him.  The song, about a sweater, conjures up so much imagery and Dave is able to bring that imagery to life.

I also played piano on two songs, which is a big change for me.  I have been a guitar player forever so playing piano was a bit of a challenge.  I could hear in my head what I wanted, but executing it took practice.  I am pleased with the results and with the songs.

Recording is almost complete.  We are looking at an album release date of early November at the Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield.  I will keep you posted.

Here is a shot of me recording back up vocals at James Stephens for Jamie's upcoming album.  


Waking Bowie and Beyond... 

Can you believe that it is already February?  Musically, a lot of fun things have been happening, not the least of which was "Waking Bowie" at the Kaffe 1870. A group of Wakefield musicians got together and honoured David Bowie.  I was so fortunate to be able to participate as it was one of the most amazing gigs I have ever played at - it was electric and we all knew it.  The group of us, Alise Marlane, Pat Maher, Simon Neufeld., Luther Wright, Paul Hampsey, Brant Lucuik, Anna Melita Muhl, Brian Dubbledam, Doug McArthur, Phil Jenkins, Sheena Turcotte, Tom Werbo, Jack Pelletier, Mark Michaud - did I miss anyone? each had "Changes", "Rock n Roll Suicide", "Heroes", "All the Young Dudes", "Suffragette City" , "Rebel Rebel" and more going through our heads for the next week.  I got to bring out the black Stratocaster for the first time in years.  Luther suggested that we take the show on the road - and maybe we will.  

But, for the immediate present, there are other fun things happening. Tomorrow is "Your Broken Valentine" again at the Kaffe 1870. I will be playing a few broken love songs with JF, along with some other great Wakefield musicians.  There is no cover, but it is a fundraiser for the Wakefield Community Emergency Fund.

And, for the first time, next Wednesday night, I am  hosting the open stage at the Kaffe 1870. It is a great open stage and all are welcome.  I remember the first time I ever played there, which was the first time I had played in front of people for years, my knees shaking and likely my voice too.  Louise Rompre who hosted the evening, welcomed me as did the crowd.  And, now I get to host!  (Thanks Luther!) I hope that you can come out and either listen or play.  

See you soon.

Gigging at the Blacksheep 

Wow! I will be gigging at the Blacksheep Sunday September 20.  I am very excited.  Dave Irvine has done up another great poster for the show.  I hope to see you there.  

Here's what's happenin' 

Hello everyone.

I am on holidays from my day job and just got back from the lac.  Before heading north, I spent the first few days of my holiday at LIttle Bullhorn productions getting bed tracks all ready for some next steps.  We also recorded a few more vocals, and experimented with some sounds.  I always know that when Dave Draves says "I have an idea", that something off the wall and musically wonderful is coming up.  Well, wait til you hear what we did with "Shell Shocked".  Here is a photo of Dave putting down some tambourine.  

Back in the Saddle 

Lots of news these days.  And, it is all so exciting.   First, I received the posters for the gig at Kaffe 1870.   Dave Irvine did them up and they look fantastic.  Check it out!  It looks even better printed and in real life!  Next, I am back recording at Little Bullhorn Productions.  Dave Draves is producing again, and it promises to be a great record. Hmmm, what else?...  I entered my song, "Twisted" into the CBC Searchlight contest.  I will post the link in my next post.  And, finally, I am heading off to Mallorca,Spain for a cycling holiday.  I will be heading there with my partner in crime, JF and we plan to bring a guitar along.  After a few days in England, we will be meeting with a gang in Cala d'Or and heading out on our bikes and caffe cortados.  Once I get back, it will be gig time.  Dave Draves will be on keyboards, Alden Roberge on drums and Pat Maher in bass.  The gig is April 25 at the Kaffe 1870.  I hope you can make it.

Video for 6 Feet of Snow 

This past weekend, just outside Wakefield in a small village called Alcove, we shot the video for 6 feet of snow. Dave Irvine was the photographer and will produce the video. We had a lot of fun although it was a lot of work crawling through the snow and climbing up on top of the little house. No one was injured during the shooting, although I ended up doing a lot of shovelling and we both got a good workout. Look for the video. It should be ready within a week or two. Please share it as well as I am hoping to get a gazillion hits. Thank you.

Thank-you and what's next 

This is a little late, but I would like to thank-you all for your support this past year.  Without you buying CDs, booking house concerts, coming to gigs, getting the word out and just giving me a thumbs up now and then, what would be the reason to continue?  I am so glad that I have you and that sometimes you are just as excited as I am to hear the next new song. Thank-you so much.

Next week I head back into the studio with Dave Draves.  We are working on a second album and I am curious to see how it will turn out.  In December we recorded "48 Foot Shadow" which is a song that I wrote for Jamie F to sing, but that I ended up recording.  (JF can record it on his next album.)  Dave and I thought to just demo it for now, but somehow there was a bit of magic in the air that day, so we build a whole song - quirky, but really cool.  

Tonight I am donating a house concert to a cycling fundraiser silent auction.  I had told myself that I would not donate any more house concerts, but one of the organizers, Chris Reid convinced me to donate one, as did my good friend Sheri Jay. So, I will at least donate this one as the money goes to supporting one of my favourite sports.


As for gigging, mark your calendars for March 13.  I have tentatively booked that date at the Kaffe 1870, but my regular bass player is booked that weekend.  So, I have to either rebook or wangle someone else. In any event, please put this date into your calendars. It's not often that I get to play with a full band and I am pretty excited.

That is all for now.  See you soon

Updates and Honesty 

Good morning my friends.  I have changed the look of my website.  A few weeks ago, I attended the Ontario Folk Conference. Dave Cool from Bandzoogle was there and he gave my website a good critique. Dave suggested that I update the look, which I have done. He also suggested that I stop my songs from automatically playing. Apparently, musicians love when the songs automatically play, but others do not. I have done that as well. Let me know what you think of the new look.   And, thanks Dave.

Also from the Folk Conference, I learned from Shawna Caspi that I should have a twitter account.  So, I started one, and I now have 17 followers.  :) I am in the process of attaching a widget to my website, so you can check out my twitter posts if you wish to.

My son suggested that I start to blog more.  I thought to myself, that certainly, I should be updating my website more often so that visitors like you have something new to read. But, I thought to myself, what could I possibly blog about, that would interest people enough to take notice of me, and particularly, my music.  Nevertheless, I decided I would write something. At this precise point in time, however, I don't know what this blog post will say.   It will be honest though.

I am beginning to record a new album. I am very excited about this, as I love working in the studio, and I love working with Dave Draves of Little Bullhorn Productions www.littlebullhorn.com .  I think the new set of songs are strong, and perhaps reflect my personality more, as opposed to the last album, which reflected, at least to some degree, a point of life I was going through.  But, I thought to myself, what good is a new album if people don't hear it?  I have one gig lined up right now.  I want more. I want to play for people so that they hear my music and so that when the next album comes out they will be excited to hear it.  What I don't want is to record a great album and have boxes of the new one, as well as the old one, sitting in my basement collecting dust.

My partner in crime, JF and I have decided to play two new open stages per month to get our music out there.  A few weeks back we played the Neat Cafe in Burnstown www.neatfood.com I had never seen so many artists at an open stage. And, the room itself was totally set up for listening to music.  We will go back there for sure.  This week is the open stage at the Kaffe 1870 in Wakefield, which is always a good place to play. I plan to be there this week to play a few new songs.  One brand new one, which I wrote for JF to sing, is called "48 Foot Shadow".  It is sort of about the struggles of the past year, but how that doesn't really matter.   It is all about perspectives and how a person might feel sooooo small, when you look at it, that person is really 48 feet tall. It is probably one of the coolest songs that I have written.  I should add that sometimes the best songs are those that are written quickly. This one took an hour, including the time we took to measure the shadow. 

I also wanted to make note that with all of this social media business these days, I find that it takes a lot of time to maintain various site, and it cuts into time that I use to actually create and play music.  I suppose that is the business of music though.  And, as I said earlier, I want to promote my music. I want people to hear it.  I want gigs. I want to make a great album. So, I will keep blogging and twittering away. More importantly I would like to hear from you.

Thanks for listening to this little update.  Here is a photo from a gig that took place at Bonnechere Caves.  See you soon.
  
 

Ontario Folk Conference 

Lots of fun and lots to learn at the Ontario Folk Conference in Toronto.  First order of business is playing for some high school students in Toronto and chatting with them about songwriting. Next, lots of panels, (including Bandzoogle - how do you like my website? :D) and late night tonight and tomorrow (or rather, early early this morning), I will be showcasing in the Chicks Rock room 353 at 1:40am, and tomorrow, the World of Music room 339 at 11:50pm.  Come on out!
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