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Toronto Star: Joel Plaskett joins forces with father on new ‘folkie’ album

Juno-winner Joel Plaskett teamed up with his 71-year-old dad to make Solidarity.

By Nick Patch, The Toronto Star

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 11.41.10 AMJoel Plaskett, left, and his dad, Bill Plaskett, teamed up for their Solidarity album and will be performing at Massey Hall in April. (J.P. MOCZULSKI / FOR THE TORONTO STAR)

When Bill Plaskett first moved his family from Halifax to Lunenburg in the 1990s, it took only a short while — social folkie that he was — before he stitched together a network in the local folk scene and started drinking in the coffee house circuit.

It was on one of those evenings, at Dalhousie University’s Grad House café, that Plaskett remembers sharing the stage with his then-14-year-old son, Joel.

“We did a couple instrumental numbers,” Bill recalled, remembering their performance of Bert Jansch’s “Angie.”

“That was one of the memories I have and Joel remembers it, too. That was when we did our first public performance together and in a folkie kind of vein.”

Only a few years later and before Joel’s teenage years were through with him, the younger Plaskett had already graduated from intimate coffee houses to become the co-frontman of the promising rock outfit Thrush Hermit. Bill was a persistent presence then, too, particularly since Joel was too young for unaccompanied admittance into the clubs Thrush was rocking.

Bill remained a proud observer and occasional collaborator over the ensuing decades as Joel built a Juno Award-winning career as a prolific songwriter and perceptive producer.

Only now, however, have father and son teamed up as equal partners in new music, with their contemplative new record Solidarity. And once again, it’s in that “folkie kind of vein.”

The winsome 11-track collection, which features both Plasketts’ voices and songwriting, was recorded in a month — a surprisingly intense month, both players attest — but its roots stretch back much farther.

Bill penned “No Sight Compares” in the ’70s when the beauty of nature seemed to offer hope amid a troubled relationship. The 71-year-old’s “On Down the River” recalls his upbringing in postwar London, when he would watch from the bank of the Thames as boats chugged in and out, while the album’s poignant title track finds the elder Plaskett reflecting on working in New Orleans and journeying around the United States in 1966 before eventually moving to Canada and starting a family.

Of course, Joel’s musical education began with his dad. When Joel, now 41, was really little, he would listen as Bill rehearsed with his band, Starboard Side, or hosted boisterous kitchen jams. By recording with his father, Joel not only tuned in to a family connection, he also re-engaged his interest in folk music.

“I’ve been influenced by both his music but also his musical tastes and the way he plays guitar,” Joel said. “I felt like if we made a record together, where he was singing some songs and I was singing some songs, it would push me toward that part of my musical heritage.

“It was fun to make. Challenging, actually — more challenging than I thought.” [READ MORE]

Father-son team Joel and Bill Plaskett join forces through eras and music in the NP Sessions studio

By The National Post

JUNO Award-winning songwriter Joel Plaskett and his father Bill’s latest album Solidarity is the product of influence from many different eras, sources, and stages of life.

Bill wrote “No Sight Compares” in the early 1970s about a troubled relationship and signs from nature that everything would work out fine, while Joel’s “The New California” was written this past summer at a hotel in Yellowknife where “the Alpine trees and perpetual sunlight on the Great Slave Lake made me think of some magical part of California I dreamt up.” [READ MORE]

#NPSessions #NPMusic

American Songwriter Premieres Bill and Joel Plaskett’s “Blank Cheque”

By Brinley Hineman, American Songwriter

While Joel Plaskett might be a familiar name to some, as he has won multiple JUNO Awards for his songwriting and ranked frequently on the Polaris Music Prize Short List, Bill Plaskett might be a new one. That’s because Solidarity, the pair’s forthcoming LP, is Bill’s first album, an achievement he gets to share with Joel, his son.

In advance of the release, the father and son duo have shared their politically-fueled track “Blank Cheque.” “We sing of love with sadness, because this modern world is madness,” croons Joel over the folk-rock tune, which calls out capitalist greed and consumerism. [READ MORE]

Solidarity is slated to be released Feb. 17 via Pheromone Recordings.

Bill & Joel Plaskett – “The Next Blue Sky”

By Sarah Murphy, Exclaim!

Joel Plaskett and his father Bill are showcasing family Solidarity on their upcoming joint album, and they’ve just teased the upcoming release with a single titled “The Next Blue Sky.”

The new song follows the album’s previously shared title track, and Joel explains that it’s a song about the Maritime mindset of looking to the west for greener, more hopeful pastures.

“Go west, they say,” he said in a statement. “That’s been the story out east for years. Chasing some work, a safe haven, or the next blue sky. Or maybe just to get out from the shadows cast by the glassy trade centre they dropped on Argyle Street. The march of progress is no parade.”

In addition to the father-son duo’s previously announced live shows, the Plasketts will also perform on April 8 at Toronto’s storied Massey Hall. The show will be captured on film for the ongoing Live at Massey Hall series, and tickets are available here. [READ MORE]

MacLean’s: Joel Plaskett on the Tragically Hip – ‘Lucky in their presence’

The Halifax singer/songwriter on the Hip in the Canadian landscape — pure and cool and weird

By Michael Barclay, MacLean’s

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Joel Plaskett is a Halifax singer/songwriter who is often hailed as one of the true heirs of The Tragically Hip’s legacy, in terms of writing stadium-size, raw rock’n’roll married with the Canadian folk tradition, with explicit lyrical nods to a specific sense of place. He spent the ’90s with his high school friends in Thrush Hermit; in the 2000s he formed the Joel Plaskett Emergency, who opened for the Tragically Hip in 2004; you can hear Gord Downie thanking them on the 2005 live album That Night in Toronto.

What did the Tragically Hip mean to you as a kid?

A. I got Up to Here in Grade 9, when it came out. Then I found the first blue album [the 1987 debut self-titled EP]. I was a big fan of that and Road Apples; those two records got a lot of play from me. Then the whole Halifax thing took off, the Hermit got going, and I was very wrapped up in what was happening locally. When they were touring those early records, I was too young to see them in bars. The first two records—I can sing along to every song. “Little Bones” and the riff-rock stuff like that kicked my ass and continues to do so. There were songs after: “Courage,” that song too stuck with me. He dedicated “Courage” to Hugh McLennan, who is a first cousin of my grandfather. I met Hugh when I was in junior high; I remember him coming over to my grandparents’ house for dinner. [READ MORE]

Vue Weekly: Shotgun Jimmie teams up with Joel Plaskett for Field of Trampolines

shotgunjimmie-colinmedley-810x810By James Stewart, Vue Weekly

“Join the band, come on tour / Get in the van / What are you waiting for?” sings Jim “Shotgun Jimmie” Kilpatrick on “Join the Band,” the lead track from his new record, Field of Trampolines. A prolific songwriter, Kilpatrick isn’t one to shy away from the open road, often reminiscing on his shared experiences through his lyrics. So, is the music game just a flimsy excuse to get out and see the world?

“It’s a great excuse!” Kilpatrick laughs. “It’s an excellent way to see the world—you’re not just a tourist if you’re working, too. If you’re on tour you get your hooks into the culture a little bit more, in that you are interacting with people from the scene that you’re playing in. It’s like a working vacation. You’re in a little car with this crazy dude in Berlin, and he’s an architecture student showing you all of his favourite buildings in the city.”

Field of Trampolines was recorded at the end of a cross-Canada tour in Dartmouth, NS with longtime friend Joel Plaskett. After having sworn off the notion of ever working with a producer, Kilpatrick had something of an epiphany one night while watching Plaskett perform. [READ MORE]

Exclaim Reviews “Nowhere With You: The East Coast Anthems of Joel Plaskett, the Emergency and Thrush Hermit”

By Matthew Ritchie, Exclaim!

Nowhere+With+YouForget what the real stats say: Nova Scotia’s biggest export is its people. For centuries, underemployed Maritimers have headed west in search of work. But not Joel Plaskett.

The unofficial mayor of Halifax (even though he lives across the harbour, in nearby Dartmouth), the scrawny Thrush Hermit star-turned-solo singer-songwriter has been a champion of regionalism when most of his friends, as he sang in “Work Out Fine,” were moving away to Montreal or Toronto. For nearly three decades, Plaskett has been a beacon of hope for musicians on the East coast, a shining example of how to make it on your own terms. He’s also a reminder of home for the thousands of expats who fill his shows across the country. [READ MORE]

Beyond The Frame: Art Gallery of NS Q&A WITH JOEL PLASKETT

By Camille Dubois Crôteau, Beyond The Frame

Anyone who’s into music in Canada not only knows about Joel Plaskett, they are likely huge fans of the man and his music, including his time in indie band Thrush Hermit in the 90s, solo work, plus albums released under The Joel Plaskett Emergency. After twenty years of what his own website bio calls “music-making mischief”, Plaskett has grown into a nationally-adored icon and a beloved figure in Nova Scotia. From local shows to symphony-backed concerts, his oft-sold out gigs are always joyful, raucous and meaningful affairs. [READ MORE]

Review: Josh O’Kane’s Nowhere With You is a meditation on roots and community

Nowhere+With+You By Vish Khanna, The Globe and Mail

Should I stay or should I go?

When Mick Jones captured this desperate question for one of his biggest hits in the Clash’s catalogue, it was ostensibly about whether or not to maintain a romantic relationship.

But for so many of us entering adulthood or preparing to leave our parents’ house or the city we were raised in, it’s the ultimate philosophical and existential conundrum. Who am I? Where is my home?

Joel Plaskett loves the Clash. Or at least he did when he was in a Halifax band called Thrush Hermit and name-checked the open-minded British quartet on the title track of the Hermit’s 1995 EP, The Great Pacific Ocean. [READ MORE]

Winnipeg Free Press: For Plaskett’s fans, new bio rocks

By Erin Lebar, Winnipeg Free Press

It may seem odd to some for an entire 220-page biography to be dedicated to a musician many haven’t heard of. But for those who do know Joel Plaskett, there is no denying the influence he’s had not only on the East Coast music scene, but on the Canadian musical identity as a whole.

Nowhere With You: The East Coast Anthems of Joel Plaskett, the Emergency and Thrush Hermit, written by Globe and Mail reporter Josh O’Kane, is out to prove that point, and he does so successfully. Read More