Archive for songwriter

Songwriter Sessions – September 11

Featuring Blair Packham, Lynn Harrison, Sam Weber, Samantha Martin

Hugh’s Room Live loves a good songwriter and is home to many a concert featuring Canada’s best. Our new Songwriter Sessions series explores songcraft in a round robin format with players peeling back the stories behind their work. Crossing genres and tapping into the natural Canadian gift of open, honest lyrics and tunes, we’ve invited some of our favourites to delve deeper and share their songs with you.

Blair Packham

Blair Packham, songwriter, is back. And with a vengeance.

“Not literally—I’m not seeking revenge on anyone or anything, honest! But it’s true that I’ve been on a bit of a tear in the songwriting department lately,” the critically acclaimed artist admits.

Having first burst onto Canadian radio and music video TV as the lead singer of 80s power pop stalwarts The Jitters, Blair later released two strongly-reviewed solo albums before shifting his focus to composing music for TV and films, teaching songwriting at the post-secondary level and in numerous special event workshops, and co-hosting a long-running major market weekly radio show about music (“In the Studio” on the Bell Media talk radio network).

Now, 13 years after his last release (2004’s “Could’ve Been King”), Blair Packham has returned to the role of recording artist with a collection of clever, catchy, at times poignant and always satisfying songs, titled “Unpopular Pop.”

Playing, producing and engineering the tracks in his home studio, Blair also called upon some respected peers and friends to bring some additional magic to the mix.

“I’d write and record the songs up to a certain point, and then ask Mark Kelso (Michael Bublé, Bonnie Raitt) to record some drums. Then I’d ask Maury LaFoy (Jann Arden, k-os) to play bass, or Simon Kendall (Doug & the Slugs) to play Hammond organ or piano. It’s a real luxury to have such top-notch players more than happy to get involved,” says Blair.

A couple of the songs (“Don’t Know Why” and “Loved By You”) feature the debut of a one-off/twin star vocal duo calling themselves 20 Years From Stardom: none other than Ron Sexsmith and ex-Barenaked Ladies’ frontman Steven Page.

“As I was saying, it’s a real luxury…” Blair laughs.

While rarely overtly mixing politics with his art, the (if you will) Trump-card track “Enough Is Never Enough” features bigly help from Odds’ frontman Craig Northey, who co-wrote the words—about an unidentified decadent narcissist Tweeting away madly in a luxury suite in the middle of the night.

Northey, who has been a key collaborator of Blair’s on previous projects, also contributed backing vocals and a rollicking double-lead guitar solo that recalls The Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing,” a psychedelic pop gem if there ever was one.

The Beatles are a touchstone for Blair, and although he’s had many other influences over the years, from John Prine to XTC to Jules Shear, the Fab Four (“especially the period from 1965 to 1967”) loom large for him.

Lynn Harrison

Rev. Lynn Harrison is a Toronto singer-songwriter and Unitarian Universalist minister. An inspiring musical presence at folk clubs, community events and festivals, she has released five CDs: Lynoleum, Learning Curve, Broadview, Simplicity and the brand new solo arrival, The Conversation. Lynn is also the Minister of Community Engagement at First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto and the creator and host of The Bridge, a themed open mic night that blends music and spirituality in an innovative and inclusive way. In all paths of her work, Lynn lifts up a powerfully inspiring message of love, hope and justice.

Sam Weber

Hailing from the open skies and minds of Victoria, BC, 20-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Sam Weber has gone from strength to strength with gigs and EP releases that have caught the imagination of listeners and media across the world. His ambitious, masterful debut full-length album Shadows in the Road is the culmination of years already spent intensely focused on gigging and recording.

Shadows in the Road is an album of intense contrasts, emotional entanglement, and mercurial, enthralling arrangements. Comparisons and contrasts are admittedly a glib exercise, but if you, dear reader, require them, then Weber channels the raw simplicity of early John Hiatt and Bruce Springsteen, while maintaining the gentle emotive grip of acts like Bon Iver and Bat for Lashes.

In 2012, at age 19, Weber was one of the youngest people to ever be covered in a major Guitar Player magazine feature. “Weber’s expansive blend of driving rock, dream pop and roots influences is a testament to fierce ambition,” said Guitar Player editor Anil Prasad. “The singer-songwriter and guitarist is already an expert tunesmith, brimming with addictive, adventurous and confident pieces. Infused with deep wit and wisdom, Weber’s output is truly impressive. His guitar work is also killer, full of nuance, soul and a truly unique voice. This is an artist built for the long-term. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Weber in the coming years, and more than likely, decades.”

The prestigious Berklee College of Music also saw Weber’s incredible potential, awarding him a summer scholarship when he was 17. The school went on to award him a full-time scholarship, but Weber’s artistic instincts proved too restless and he returned home to Canada to pursue his songcraft.

In addition to his solo work, Weber plays with the celebrated Canadian indie rock act Jets Overhead. As part of the band, Weber has enthralled audiences, opening for the likes of Sam Roberts, The Tragically Hip, Said the Whale, Current Swell, and Stars. Weber’s journey is just beginning, and it’s off to a truly inspiring start. We invite you to jump onboard and check out this amazing talent during his “early era.” We’re confident Shadows in the Road is a classic in the making. We’re sure you’ll agree.

Samantha Martin

2018 has all the signs of being the break out year – so long deserved – by Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar. The group’s latest recording, entitled Run to Me, will be released April 27, 2018. Produced by Darcy Yates, the album is a massive step forward for both Martin and Delta Sugar. Over the course of the project’s ten tracks, every song written by Martin solo or in tandem with Curtis Chaffey or Suzie Vinnick, the album explores the full range of the vicissitudes of love: desire, betrayal and, at times, emotional and sexual satisfaction. As a collective, the songs reflect remarkable growth on Martin’s part as a songwriter. The lyrics are incisive, the melodies are constantly arresting and the harmonies and arrangements call up the best of the soul sounds of Stax Records and such contemporary artists as Leon Bridges, Sharon Jones, and Lee Fields.

Songwriter Sessions – July 10

Featuring Paul Reddick, Noah Zacharin, Tanya Philipovich, Ariana Gillis

Hugh’s Room Live loves a good songwriter and is home to many a concert featuring Canada’s best. Our new Songwriter Sessions series explores songcraft in a round robin format with players peeling back the stories behind their work. Crossing genres and tapping into the natural Canadian gift of open, honest lyrics and tunes, we’ve invited some of our favourites to delve deeper and share their songs with you.


Paul Reddick

Melding poetry, mystery, darkness and light, along with an extensive knowledge of the history and traditions of blues music is what makes Paul Reddick one of the most popular figures on the blues and roots music scene today. For over 25 years he’s been writing and performing his eclectic brand of blues, bringing the art form to new frontiers with his rapacious, deep vocals, masterful harmonica playing and song writing. As the unofficial poet laureate of Canadian blues, words are his weapon of choice and when he sings, it is near impossible not to listen and get lost within the songs, right alongside him and illustrating what the influential British magazine Mojo described as his “wayward brilliance.”

A devotee of pre-war blues and classic artists such as Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf, Reddick formed his innovative band Paul Reddick & The Sidemen in Toronto in 1990, developing a cult-like following in the clubs and venues on the circuit at the time and spent the better part of a decade touring across Canada. Together they released four albums, two of which were JUNO nominated and in 2002 their ground breaking release Rattlebag won three Maple Blues Awards including Electric Act of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Album of the Year and was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award in the USA. In 2017 Paul Reddick won a JUNO for his much-praised album Ride The One.

Noah Zacharin

Born in Montreal, now residing in Toronto, Noah Zacharin is a full-time Singer, Songwriter, and Guitarist. He divides his time between TO, the road, and his rural off-the-grid paradise by the York River.

Noah Zacharin has produced eight CD’s of original music and several collaborations with musicians and spoken word artists; he also has some 60 production/performance credits on CD’s by other performers throughout North America.

Zacharin plays acoustic, electric, baritone, and bass guitar, as well as mandolin, clarinet, and piano. He is comfortable in all genres of roots music, writing folk, blues, country, bluegrass, ragtime, and jazz tunes, and presenting a mix of all these in any typical performance.

His songs have been covered by popular Jazz-FM radio host and performer Laura Fernandez, Rolling Stone (India) cover artist Rehan Dalal, and inventor of the double-slide technique, the late great Brian Cober.

Noah Zacharin is also a widely-published award-winning poet. Hundreds of his poems, translations, and reviews have appeared in many prestigious journals and anthologies world-wide, and he will be completing his first full-length manuscript this year.

Zacharin has recently been awarded Official Showcases at FARM (2016) and SERFA (2017).

Tanya Philipovich

Toronto based musician, Tanya Philipovich, creates music that is poetically driven and melodically captivating. Getting her start on the West coast in her band Sneeker, she’s deepened her passion and expanded her reach over time.

Her debut solo album, ‘Keep On It’ (2006), has been enjoyed by loyal fans in Toronto, Montreal, New York and Vancouver. It was recorded with double bassist Drew Birston  (Chantal Kreviazuk, Wild Strawberries) and produced by Brent Bodrug and B Group Music.

On Tanya’s sophomore album titled ‘Secret Fiction Romance’ (2009), was released on Doin’ Time Records. It was recorded and produced by guitar man Dan Walsh (Fred Eaglesmith, Willie P. Bennett, Corb Lund) at his Cozy Little Shack On Lake Erie Studio. She was recognized as Socan’s songwriter of the month for her song, Holy Tomato.

Check the video, directed by Virpi Kettu video here:

Her latest, ’Paper Boat’, 2016 out on Busted Flat Records, was produced and engineered by Aaron ‘Kid’ Comeau (Serena Ryder, Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs), on guitar and keys, and Jake Hoag, on percussion, at the Trailer in the city’s east end.

Hit up the video for the Cindy Sherman inspired track, ‘I Heart Cindy’, directed by Sean Ryan here:

Find her entertaining crowds at venues across the GTA with her sweet sound and classic companion, her Gibson Hummingbird acoustic.

Ariana Gillis

I’ve never seen an unknown performer with more power as when I saw Ariana…. I couldn’t stop talking about her. She may be the best new emerging artist anywhere.

– Dave Marsh (Author / Music Critic / Radio Host / Historian)

The above quote is typical of the excitement Canada’s Ariana Gillis was creating from the earliest stages of her career. But after sustaining a serious concussion in 2015, Ariana believed that she would never be able to write & perform music again. Well, she’s proving herself wrong, as after an extended period of recovery she’s back with some exceptional new music.

January 2018 shows in Nashville have led to producer, musician, singer, songwriter Buddy Miller (Emmylou Harris / Robert Plant / Patti Griffin / Elvis Costello / Steve Earle) offering to produce Ariana’s album at his Nashville studio in July/Aug.