Music NB Awards

Music NB AwardsThere is a great scene in the movie “In and Out” in which Cameron Drake (an actor) is at the academy awards. He is on the red carpet headed in and is talking to an interviewer about how he feels that artists should not be forced to compete against each other like dogs. The interviewer says to him “Then why are you here?” The answer? “In case I win!” I love this scene in the movie and kind of feel that way myself.

I just won the “Classical Artist of the Year” from Music NB, and wanted to share the story with you of the awards gala. The night of the gala it was rainy and I had just finished a day of teaching. It seemed like a long way to drive just to go to a gala. I really didn’t want to go, and considered staying home, but decided that I should go to network with other musicians and industry professionals. I hadn’t considered winning to be an actual possibility, so networking was the only real reason to go.

Kim and I drove to Moncton through the rain, and I talked to a few other musicians. We sat down at a table to watch the ceremony and Kim asked if I had prepared my speech. “I don’t need a speech!” I replied.

We got to the point in the evening where the winner for “classical artist of the year” was going to be announced. I was really surprised when my name was called! David Adams, my violin teacher from high school was also up for the same award, and I had assumed he would win.

I was really excited to have won this award! I am actually better known for my fiddling in this area than for my work as a classical musician, so it is really nice to be recognized for this part of what I do. I was really pleased to have Richard Hornsby presenting the award as much of my work as a classical musician has been with him, and it was really nice to have David Adams there to see me receive the award.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and thanks to everyone who has helped me to get where I am!

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It’s a Small World!

It's a Small WorldOne of the great things in life is that you never know who you are going to meet! On June 9th, my band Different Folk performed at an anniversary party in Lake George, NB. I had received an e-mail earlier this year from a woman who lives in San Antonio, Texas, who was looking for an Irish band to play for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I had met the woman from San Antonio several years ago when her daughter attended a fiddle camp that I was running at the time.

The anniversary party was great. We played for two hours and were asked to stay for one more so we could play while the guests were eating. Once we finished playing we talked to some of the guests as we were packing up all of our gear. One woman I was talking to mentioned that she and her husband had gotten their passports to come up to Canada and were planning on doing some more travelling now that they had their passports. Here is how our conversation went:

Woman’: “We had to get our passports to come up to this celebration. We live in Southern Maine.”

Me: “Where in Southern Maine do you live? I have family there.”

At this point the woman made that sound that people who live in small communities make when they are trying to decide what to tell you about where they come from. They figure there is no chance you will have heard of their small town, so what bigger town should they use as a reference.

Me: “I have family in Springvale, Maine.”

Springvale is also a small community in Southern Maine. I usually tell people that my family lives about an hour South-West of Portland.

Woman: “We live about 10 minutes from there. What is your family name?”

Me: “My maiden name is Riding.”

Woman: “Bob Riding?”

Me: “He’s my uncle.”

Woman: “Susie and Alex?”

Me: “My aunt and cousin.”

Woman: “My husband taught with your uncle for years!”

At this point, the woman calls over her husband and we talk about my family and our camp as well. The woman took a picture of me with her husband so they could show my uncle who they had met during their trip to Canada.

It’s a small world!

Life is a picnic!

Life is a picnic!

Travelling with me is always an adventure! On May 26th, Kim, my mom and I headed out to Sussex, NB, so that Different Folk could do a gig. The gig went really well, and we headed back home. The drive takes about three hours, and two hours into it we heard a strange noise. It turned out that one of my rear tires had blown. This was on the side of the Hanwell Road on the way out of Fredericton. We were able to get back to a gas station that we had just passed so that we would have a little bit of light.

I called CAA to have them come change my tire. I was told that it would take about an hour for them to come. We had to unload all of our sound gear from the trunk since that is where the spare tire is kept. We went ahead and did that right away.

The owner of the venue where we had just played our gig had really liked our playing, so she had sent us home with an ultimate chocolate cake and a rhubarb custard pie. We decided that waiting for the CAA guy was a perfect time for us to have a little picnic. Nothing like a dessert picnic at 1am on the side of the road! It was a pleasant way to spend the 20 minutes that it took for the CAA guy to arrive, although as we were sitting in the parking lot eating, the lights at the gas station went off. They were on a timer, and I guess it was time!

I am sure that all bands have these kinds of stories, and I wish that mine ended here. On Sunday I drove to town to teach and then borrowed my Mom’s car to go home. All was well. Monday arrived, and I headed back to Fredericton to take my car (a Subaru Outback) to the dealer to get some new rear tires. My whole plan was to take it there so that if there were any other issues (we thought that there might be as my tires had worn out far too fast) that they would have the parts instead of having to order them in as my regular mechanic would need to do.

This is when the fun began… I was assured that my front tires had worn down too far and that I needed four tires, which they would have to order, but which should arrive by 2pm, so they should have my car ready by the end of the day. I wouldn’t be telling this story if that is the way it played out! I also asked them about my tires wearing down so quickly and it was decided to do a four-wheel alignment while they had the car.

At 5:20pm I got a call from the mechanic. “I have information about your car” was the message that he left on my phone. I called back to discover that my tires had arrived late and they were just starting on my car. He assured me that nothing else was wrong. My mom told me to borrow her car again to head home (which is an hour outside of Fredericton) so I told them mechanic I would get my car the next morning.

At 9:30am on Tuesday the mechanic called me again to tell me that he had “information about your car.” This time the information was that they had taken the tires off and were doing the alignment, and apparently my bushings had rusted into my car, so they were going to have to replace them. I gave them the ok to go ahead. My car would be ready later in the day.

Fast forward to 5:30pm. I got another call from the mechanic with “information about your car.” Actually, I did not get the message until 7:30pm as I taught all afternoon and was not able to answer my phone at 5:30pm. “Oh well,” I figured, I would borrow Mom’s car one more day and pick mine up in the morning. I got 10 minutes down the road towards my house when the engine light on my mom’s car came on. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” was the thought running through my head! So, I turned around the go back to Mom’s house to stay the night in town. I live in the middle of nowhere and did not want to get all the way there and then have to call CAA to get me back to town in the morning.

Wednesday, 8am. I knew that the mechanic opened at 8am so I called to get the status on my car. Apparently the work that they estimated would take 1.5 hours had taken 4 hours and they were not done yet “but don’t worry… We’ll only charge you for the 1.5 hours that you agreed to when we told you about the job.” It was going to take another 1.5 hours to finish up.

I went to do my first bit of teaching for the day and returned to my mom’s house at 10:30am. No call from the mechanic yet, so I called him. “I know that you said you would call me as soon as my car was ready, but I couldn’t wait.” “Well, it turns out that we don’t have a tool that we need to finish the job on your car, so it could be the end of the day by the time we get it done.” Good thing I took my car to the dealership right? My mechanic might have had to order parts… These guys had to order a tool!

I had plans for the day, going to visit a friend and some teaching. Mom assured me that I could borrow her car (which we had not yet had checked out), but I figured that the way things were going I would end up stranded in a busy intersection with a dead car, so I took cabs. The first cab I took ended up getting lost on the way to my friend’s house so I had to give the cabbie directions… an auspicious start to my travels that day. I have to say though, the rest of the day went pretty smoothly. My cabs all arrived on time and got me to my destinations in one piece and on time. Always a bonus!

Wednesday, 1pm. The mechanic called me to say that my car was finally ready. I managed to go pick it up on the way to my rehearsal at Leo Hayes High School…

Who knew that getting two tires replaced was going to take 2.5 days and a sleepover in town? Life is always an adventure, and you never know what will happen!

TubaFest 2012

Dad at TubaFest 2010

It is hard to believe that another year of TubaFest is over…  TubaFest?  Yes, you read that correctly…  The Fredericton International TubaFest was started in 2004 by my father, Richard Riding.  Every year for the last 9 years clinicians and participants from the US and Canada have gathered at Memorial Hall in Fredericton, NB.  This year was no exception!

As you may remember, my father passed away last August.  Mom and I had decided to hold TubaFest this year in his honour, and was I ever happy that we did!  Our clinicians included Lance Nagels (tuba) from Quebec City as well as Sotto Voce, an excellent tuba quartet consisting of Demondrae Thurman, Mark Carlson, Nat McInstosh and Mike Forbes.  A tuba quartet is formed of two euphoniums (which look like small tubas) and two tubas.  We had 29 participants from Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Maine and New Hampshire.

Lance Nagels

Thursday night our clinicians were to arrive…  The members of Sotto Voce flew into Bangor, Maine, where they rented a van and drove up.  We got a call from them on Thursday that one member had been delayed, and the tuba of another member had not managed to catch the same flight as him…  We were supposed to have a lobster supper that night, but their arrival in Fredericton was delayed until 3am!  No lobster that night!  We did meet up with Lance and Jean Sutherland (piano accompanist) for a fancy dinner at Pizza Delight on Thursday night.  It was great to meet up with them again as they have been part of the TubaFest since the beginning.

Sotto Voce (Demondrae, Mark, Nat and Mike)

Friday was our first full day of the festival.  Kim (my husband) ran the registration table.  It was great to see so many familiar faces!  Of the 29 people registered, 25 had attended TubaFest in previous years.  Lance got the workshops started and the guys from Sotto Voce arrived a little later, still looking tired!

TubaFest Ensemble

So what do you do at a tuba festival?  Well, we had a large ensemble in which all of the participants played.  It is quite a sight to see 29 tubas and euphoniums on the stage!  We also had small ensembles formed of about 7 people each.  These groups worked with the clinicians on various pieces.  To round out the activities, we had a masterclass and workshop.

During our dinner break we took the guys from Sotto Voce over to my mom’s house to have the lobster feast that we had planned for Thursday night.  It was a lot of fun to see their reactions to all the cooked lobsters in the kitchen!  We also treated them to local Picaroons beer.   The guys attacked the lobster with vigour!  If you look at the photo, you will notice that the salad in the middle of the table is untouched!  Lobster is always enjoyable, but is particularly wonderful with those who do not have a chance to have it often!

The aftermath…

Feeling incredibly satiated, we headed back over to Memorial Hall for an informal in-house concert.  Many of our registrants come from Maine.  Several of them have formed an ensemble that often opens our Friday evening concerts with the national anthems from both Canada and the US.  Several somewhat impromptu performances also occurred.  Some of Sotto Voce’s music had been left in their dorm rooms, so while Mike went back to get it Demondrae played a fabulous solo and Lance, Demondrae and Mark teamed up to read through a trio.  Sotto Voce also performed a few pieces once they all had their music.  The small ensembles had a final reheasal for the day, followed by an open rehearsal by Sotto Voce.  It was interesting watching a professional ensemble rehearsing.

The Maine ensemble

Saturday was another wonderful day with more rehearsals, another masterclass and a meeting about the continuation of TubaFest.  What with dad not being around anymore to run it, we were not sure if it would continue.   There was a lot of interest, so I see this festival continuing for a long time to come!

In the evening we had our final concert commemorating my father.  Lance and Jean performed Mahler’s “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen,” a favourite of both of my parents.  Sotto Voce followed up with two pieces, the second of which was written by Mike Forbes and was their premier of the work.  The small ensembles performed with the climax of the concert being the large ensemble, which ended the concert with Ave Maria, also dedicated to my father.  It was a lovely concert!

Lance and Jean

All in all, it was a wonderful year!  I look forward to seeing how things develop over the years and what the festival becomes as time goes on!  With all the interest shown, I feel quite confident that it will be around for years to come!

ECMA Day 3

This was my last day at the East Coast Music Week.  It was yet another great day!  The morning and afternoon were spent rehearsing with Symphony NB.  Today our soloists joined us throughout the day, so we rehearsed with David Myles, Chris Colepaugh, Samantha Robichaud and Matt Andersen.  During our lunch break I went to the Moncton Market.  I had never been to the market before, so it was very nice.

After our second rehearsal I headed back to the hotel to get ready for my showcase.  A quick dinner, a change of clothes, and then off I headed to the Delta.  I wanted to stop by and listen to a band called the BackYard Devils.  This is a country/bluegrass/rockabilly band from Moncton.  I went to hear them because a friend of mine had suggested it.  I thought they were great!  One of the things that I love about ECMA is hearing new bands and especially hearing bands that I would not necessarily have gone to hear in another situation.

I had to pick up my CDs today from the Export Buyers room.  This is where artists can drop their CDs off and promoters can pick up CDs from artists that they might be interested in hiring.  I did have a little interest, so that is good.

From there, it was off to the Tide & Boar for my showcase.  Tom Richards had driven from Fredericton to back me up.  We had a great time playing, and the audience was great!  The only strange thing was that they were actually running early.  That is very odd for a music event!

Once my show there was done, I had to walk back over to the Capitol Theatre for the concert with Symphony NB.  The orchestra was made up of members of Symphony NB, the Atlantic Sinfonia and the NB Youth Orchestra.  I think one of my favourite moments in the concert was when David Myles was talking about how great a concept it was having young people playing alongside more seasoned players.  All of us who were not youth were curious where he was going with it when he got part way through the sentence.

All in all, today was a good day!  No big meetings or connections made, but a great day of music!  What else can a person ask for?

ECMA Day 2

Today was a great day!  My day started off meeting up with Paul Milner, a producer from PEI.  We were originally scheduled to talk about doing a Christmas recording, but I have put that plan on the back burner for right now.  We actually ended up talking about some of my plans for teaching, and it turned out to be a great meeting.  I had thought about cancelling the meeting once I had decided not to record again this year, but thought that it could be worth meeting him anyway even if it did not lead to anything right away.

Most of the rest of my day was spent with Symphony NB.  We have teamed up with NBYO to be the back up orchestra for a concert at ECMA.  We will be performing tomorrow night with Matt Andersen, Samantha Robichaud, Chris Colepaugh, and David Myles.  We haven’t rehearsed with the soloists yet and will be doing that tomorrow.  The rehearsals went fine, except that we are playing new arrangements and each time we would rehearse a piece someone else would realize that they didn’t have the music…  By tomorrow night everything will be straightened out though!

I also tried to take in a couple of bands.  I went to hear “Ten Strings and a Goat Skin” at radio ECMA.  Sadly there were technical difficulties, so they band did not get to play live, which is of course what I wanted to hear.  This is a group of three high school kids who play mostly trad but also some original music.  I also went to hear Sprag Session.  I met these guys last year at the EMCAs.  At that point they were going under the name of the Colin Grant Band.  It was nice to see the guys again, and also very nice to hear them.  The final performer I heard today was Chris Colepaugh.  He was playing right before Sprag Session.  I had never actually heard him before.

All in all, a good day.  Tomorrow will be a big day with rehearsals for Symphony NB and my showcase at 7pm.  Looking forward to it!

ECMA Day 1

Well, well…  Kim and I got up at 5am today.  We packed up the car and hit the road early, arriving in Moncton around 8:30am.  I managed to check into our hotel (although we couldn’t get access to the room right away) so Kim would have somewhere to hang out.

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Gypsophilia

I headed over to the Delta at 9am, registered, dropped of my CDs to the Buyers Lounge, checked out the schedule and waited for the Export Readiness Pitching Training Workshop.  The workshop was excellent!  We talked about what makes a good pitch and then had a chance to make a 3 minute pitch.  After my 3 minute pitch I was critiqued on what was good and what I need to work on.  That was great!  After lunch three people from the class were chosen to pitch to presenters so we could observe an actual pitching conversation.

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Old Man Luedecke

I also made some interesting connections during the workshop with some of my fellow classmates.  I am always looking for entertainment that might be appropriate for the NB Highland Games in Fredericton, so it was great to meet the representatives for both “10 Strings and a Goat String” and “Arseneault.”  On top of that I met Crystal Mann, a teacher, children’s performer, and violin/fiddle enthusiast from Nova Scotia.

A very cool thing that happened at the end of the workshop was that one of the presenters came to me looking for a CD.  She is a music producer for some TV shows and sometimes needs fiddle music.  There is certainly no guarantee that my music will be used, but this is the start of a relationship, so I am really pleased!

While I was at my workshop, Kim was able to check into the room.  ECMA this year is offering a shuttle service to the hotels where people are staying, which is great!  I was able to meet up with Kim really easily and then we have been able to just leave our car at our hotel.  That is always nice!

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Matt Andersen

In the evening we went to the Roots Room concert.  Performers in the concert included Catherine MacLellan, Matt Andersen, Coco Love Alcorn, Old Man Luedecke, Kim Stockwood, Gypsophilia, ENNIS and Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys.  It was a great concert!  During the concert the awards for Folk Recording, Roots/Traditional Solo Album and Roots/Traditional Group Album were all awarded.  I, sadly, did not win the Roots/Traditional Solo (Kim Stockwood was the winner), however, I am still delighted to have the nomination!

All in all, this was a very successful day!