Back in January we kicked off our Mixed Tape category with a fabulous conversation with Carleigh Aikins, right before she was about to begin an American tour as vocalist with Bahamas. She told us during that interview that she would be back in town in the spring with an interesting performance project.
That project is this month’s Sound Tracks: A Retrospective Guide to Travel presented by Talk Is Free Theatre at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts in Barrie on May 27 & 28. Carleigh, along with a ton of great local musicians, will present songs by artists she has met and worked with across North America and Europe, and whose songs have formed the sound tracks to her travels.
Born and raised in Barrie, Carleigh is an integral piece of the musical fabric that weaves its way through the city. We are incredibly blessed to have an outrageous number of talented musicians coming out of this area. And its been happening for a long time. When we spoke earlier this year she reflected on the importance of home and of the connections she keeps. She seems very grounded to where she came from and at the same time extremely connected to everywhere she is going.
Sound Tracks is a perfect blend of past and present. She connects the encounters she is having out on the road to the experiences and memories of her hometown.
We met at R&B’s School of Music where she was about to start rehearsing for Sound Tracks with Courtney Dubois and Ben Lemen of Little Lakes. I loved that during our chat I could hear light guitar sounds from Little Lakes practicing upstairs.
CA: I have a lot of amazing friends here to pull upon. So, I’m not fully standing alone. I wanted to do something more than just me singing show tunes. Because I’ve been travelling and music is like the essence, or the purpose of the travel, I’ve been introduced to a lot of artists and different music. And that’s become the soundtrack of my travels. There is a soundtrack to it all, you know, the people are moving around and music of course does that. It brings us back to places and times. It has that ability to transport us back. So I thought the cool theme would be, not to be too self indulgent, but that it would be a way to bring that music here and present it to our community, and introduce people to artists that may have not heard.
The underlying drive for me has been finding songs by artists that I have been able to work with and that have shaped my travels. So, the theme is travel, but it’s also travelling and the wandering spirit. It is such a songwriters’ craft, longing for love that is far away or for a sense of purpose. In all of these songwriters that I have met, they all have that theme in their writing. All the songs are based on that theme of travel, and of lost love, or longing or trying to find a sense of home.
SC: How did you decide on who you would ask to work with you on this project?
CA: Picking out the people to play with was the easy part. There was even more people that I would have loved to involve. It’s an amazing scale to show people what their local artists are accomplishing. I feel pretty blessed to have so many talented friends.
I had a huge master list of all these different artists, and then I had a list of all the people who were willing to participate. Then I picked which songs I thought people might do nice jobs of interpreting. Essentially, its songs from my travels, by people who I met on my travels and then interpreted by people from home.
SC: It is such an incredible way of bringing it all together. This would also give the bands a chance to show a different side; they’ll be playing songs that are not necessarily their style.
CA: Totally. I tried to pick tunes that I knew would challenge people and ones that I thought they would find an interesting way to interpret. It’s a nice way to tie in. As it turns out, a lot of the artists on my list, the people that I worked with, are artists that we all know or are familiar with here at home. Or even worked with in some capacity. So it’s a nice way to tie everyone into what I’ve been doing on the road.
The list of musicians in the show is awesome, Carleigh be joined by members of Bahamas, Yukon Blonde, Indian Handcrafts, Paint Movement, The Morals, Little Lakes, The Socials, Fox Jaws, Brett Caswell and the Marquee Rose, Dave Thomson, Zeus and House Art Collective.
SC: Almost a sense of reunion for you, with the people that you haven’t seen for a while and giving them an intimate sense of what you’ve been doing.
CA: Yes. Any success that someone from here has, you always feel like, wow, they’re from Barrie. And there has been a lot of people who have been stretching out lately.
SC: It seems like we’re having an explosive moment right now, its incredible.
CA: We are! But as that happens, I think the hometown gets further away in this weird way. So I wanted to bring it back to be like, we all started here, were all still here playing and as much success as any of us have, we all still want to be a part of it and keep things thriving here. Things fall to the wayside, especially when you live close to a city like Toronto where everyone moves out of here to there. There is a lot of swell where things are thriving and then it kind of dies and then it’s disheartening, and you think, what about what’s going on here?
SC: It can be like a refresh.
CA: Yes, totally, and bring us all together and under one roof.
SC: You have so many great people who wanted to jump in and be a part of it.
CA: Yes, and it’s been great to have Talk Is Free Theatre as the spearhead for it and to provide us with a formal space as well. It’s so great to be presenting it in the theatre space, as opposed to in one of the clubs. Presenting it as a theatre piece, adding the formality, it brings the audience in as active listeners as opposed to a showing it in a bar where we’re all chatting to each other.
SC: In the theatre setting you will have a much more captive audience, it makes it much more intimate.
CA: I think it’s going to work well. Originally I wanted it to be very much like all of us singing around one mic, stripped down and acoustic but we have so many musicians involved and everyone are multi-instrumentalists, so we are adding a lot of instruments. But it is still going to be very intimate, and acoustic and very vocal heavy. A focus on the communion of voices. People should expect a lot of music. It’s going to be two full hours.
What is really cool for us about Sound Tracks is that we’ll get to hear these bands we love out of the element we’re used to. Some of the tunes they’ll be doing may not be the genre or style we’re used to hearing them play. It’s very fresh and it will be wickedly intimate at the Mady Centre.
We also love the reminder, or nudge this performance will give to our young, budding musicians. We are going to be in a room packed with amazing local talent who are totally moving forward with their musical ambitions. It has to be very inspiring to any young person dreaming of a future in music.
Sound Tracks is going to be a great show, not to be missed. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through the Mady Centre box office.