Tag Archives: Tyler Wagler

Community Helps Launch Talent of Jayden Grahlman

By Bill Monahan

Jayden Grahlman, a young local talent familiar to anyone who checks out the open stages, or catches live music in area venues, has a crowd-finding campaign in place to help him create a new album to be called “Diving In”.  He is well on his way, with most of the bed tracks completed, working with producer Craig Smith.

“He’s got amazing ears and he really knows what he’s doing,” Jayden enthuses, “He’s super easy to get along with and he has great ideas, and he really brings the best out of whatever we’re doing.”

Jayden will be benefitting from the help of several musical friends to make the album a reality.

“There’s going to be some great people playing on it,” he says, “We’re just getting the core tracks done on their own and then we’re going to have people come in on their own once everything’s totally ready.”  Not everyone has been lined up yet, but He mentioned that Tyler Yarema is “going to come and play piano on some tunes,” and he will be heading to Guelph at the end of March to add drums and bass with Adam Bowman and Tyler Wagler respectively.

“It’s something that’s been a long time coming for me and I’m having a lot of fun in the studio,” he says.

Jayden has guitar skills that put him in the top echelon of local players, something that developed from a passion he discovered at a young age.

“The first time I remember actually learning guitar and playing stuff was me and my brother.  I think I was twelve and he was thirteen and something like that and we had a contest to see who could play the most riffs.  It was like, ‘Smoke On The Water’ and ‘Seven Nation Army’, and whatever many little riffs you could learn.  So I just learned a whole whack of them and at that point I just got into it.  I was like, ‘Oh! I can learn songs!’  It was just fun so at that point I started playing more.”

Drew McIvor To Celebrate CD Release at Heartwood

This Thursday, Drew McIvor will be launching his second CD, “Through The Tangle of Trees” with a release party at Heartwood Concert Hall in Owen Sound that will feature a full band performing songs from the CD, plus an opening set from Luke Martin.

Drew’s first CD, “Porchlight”, released in 2014, made an impact in CBC’s Searchlight Contest which led to a lot of spins on CBC radio as well as local and campus stations.  He wants to build on that initial radio exposure with this release, but he’s approached it with a different focus.

“The first one was more of a smattering of everything up to that point,” he says, “This one is more about my songwriting.”

While his repertoire has always included a lot of original material, he felt that his first album was more like a sampling of genres (he likes to call it “international folk”) and he approached this second album with the clear intention of taking these wide ranging influences and making something more personal with them, “instead of mimicking those styles, embrace them.”

“This album represents the next three years of my life after the first one,” he says, “It’s important for me to consolidate what I’ve done, to document the journey.”  He has also taken a different route in terms of the sound of the new CD.  “We tried to make it sound more like a session with a band rather than everything set perfectly in place, tried to give it more of an organic feel.  We wanted to bring out the songwriting.”

Ensemble of Talents Remembers Tom Thomson at Leith Church

Review by Bill Monahan of “The Woods Are Burning” presented at the Historical Leith Church on July 8, 2017.

On Saturday night at the Historic Leith Church the iconic Canadian artist Tom Thomson was remembered on the centenary of his disappearance with a special presentation of words and music entitled “The Woods Are Burning”.  It combined the talents of singer-songwriter David Sereda with poet Anne Michaels and a quartet of talented musicians in a show that hovered somewhere between musical theatre and séance evoking the spirit of the artist in a way that was exceptionally moving and inspirational.  Here in the unamplified acoustics of the church that the Thomson attended every Sunday, with every pew filled on this summer evening, the show was an exploration of the creative force, of the power of support from peers, of the mystery of Canada’s lakes and forests, and the nature of legacy.

Anne Michaels stood in the pulpit and told stories to bring us into Thomson’s world as it was a century ago, her narrative moving from historical artifact to poetic reflection.  David Sereda sat and often stood at the grand piano and in front of him was the quartet, with Keira McArthur on cello, Tyler Wagler on bass, Sandra Swannell on violin and Terry Young on mandolin.  The mood ebbed and flowed through the artist’s private thoughts as revealed by personal letters and quotes from associates and music that moved between being celebratory and elegiac.  Every one of the six contributors excelled in their portion of the presentation and as an ensemble they were transcendent.

Dramatist Joan Chandler provided an introduction to set the scene.  She reviewed the long genesis of this project (which will continue with a book and recording in the works).  When in 2002 the Tom Thomson Art Gallery asked her to produce “Colours in the Storm”, a musical about Tom, she declined, offering instead to do a workshop that would explore local stories and oral history about Tom, and really look at his paintings. That became the Brush workshop (2002) and led to collaborating with David Sereda on Songs in the Key of Tom, a concert in 2005 and then the full-length musical TOM in 2007. Toronto’s Poet Laureate Anne Michaels started her collaboration with David in 2016 with a Toronto version of “Woods Are Burning” last fall, which led to this night.  It was a warm summer night just like this one when Thomson left the camp with his friends to go off and spend the night alone on the other side of the lake, never to return.

She explained that the performance was in two parts with an intermission and that the spoken word and music would flow together, and so she asked us to hold our applause until the end of each act.  That instruction was difficult for the audience to follow as there were so many points when the emotion was so strong that the impulse to applaud was a reflex.  In the moment of silence that followed many songs a single clap was heard, from someone who caught themselves reacting naturally to the feelings evoked.

The music was sublime.  David Sereda’s voice has a wonderful evocative quality to it, made for this kind of church acoustics.  He reminded me of Josh Groban without the excessive mannerisms.  Equally evocative were the few solos by violinist Sandra Swannell, who plays with such pure emotion.  Both of these musicians are masters of tone, fitting in a tribute to Tom Thomson, who accomplished the same thing in the visual medium.  And the other players, contributing both vocally and instrumentally, maintained the highest standards of musicianship in the service of the work.

And that’s where there was a curious aspect to this performance.  Despite the fact that this was all about someone who worked in the visual arts, there was not a single example of his work on display.  That’s because this was not so much about the man’s work as it was about his obsessions.  Its exploration of how life and work interact for a creative artist would resonate with anyone who lives with that undeniable drive.  Thomson struggled with the need to find employment, with guilt about being left behind when the youth of his generation were called off to war, and with growing beyond the pursuits of youth without settling into the expected pattern of employment, marriage and family.

Parts of the narrative were particularly enlightening.  How he painted his canoe a special colour mixed from his palette so that it would fit perfectly into the nature around him, how he ran out into a violent storm to capture the essence of it in sketches.

The show said a lot about the importance of support for the creative artist.  When Thomson fell in with the other innovative painters who have become known at The Group of Seven it is what led him to the art of seeing that is the essence of his legacy.  He had a particularly close relationship with A. Y. Jackson and he valued the fact that they could go to paint from the same vantage point and each see it in his own way, a phenomenon that strengthened the bond between them.

David’s original songs captured moods that were alternately haunting and ebullient.  “One Fish At A Time” and “No One Lives Forever” were particularly effective.  During the intermission, the company assembled at Thomson’s grave to lead us in “Sun’s Evening Prayer (over Georgian Bay)”, a prayerful selection which also began the second act when we returned inside.

The cover tunes were also done with such skill that even songs which were chestnuts in Thomson’s time took on new life.  “L’il Liza Jane” was rollicking fun and “Hard Times” highlighted the great humanist skill of the 19th century songwriter, Stephen Foster.

By the end of the performance I was anxious to go and check out some on Tom Thomson’s work, which I expect was the intent of the evening.  And somehow the sounds that lingered in my imagination were fused with the colours of Thomson’s palette.

The Historical Leith Church is a very special venue that provides an exceptional acoustic setting for exceptional performances every summer, particularly in the area of classical music.  Next Saturday, July 15th, they will be presenting Duo Concertante, the celebrated piano and violin duo of Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves who have been praised for their “artistry, poetry, and impeccable technique”.

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“The Woods Are Burning” Celebrates Tom Thomson at His Birthplace

It was a hundred years ago this Saturday that Tom Thomson, one of Canada’s most important painters, disappeared into the wilderness.  A magical evening called “The Woods Are Burning” is planned at The Historic Leith Church, the church that Thomson and his family attended when he was growing up in Leith, to mark the occasion with a celebration of his life and work presented in poetry and song.  At the helm of this production is singer-songwriter David Sereda, and he has assembled some of the area’s most impressive musicians along with internationally celebrated poet Anne Michaels to create “a long kind of journey in two parts about the painter and the place.”

David Sereda has a long history in theatre, having worked as actor, musical director, composer and teacher through a long and distinguished career.  Originally from Edmonton, he now lives in Annan, not far from the Leith Church, but that is not his only connection with the story of Tom Thomson.  He still remembers when he was young how he was struck by seeing a painting called “The Fisherman”, one of the few Thomson paintings that has a human figure in it.  In 2002 he produced, with Joan Chandler, a musical based on Thomson’s life.  Although this current show includes a few songs written from that project, this is not a play.  “It’s more letting the songs tell the story,” he says, “we let the songs sing for themselves.  The way into his paintings is trying to imagine his thoughts.”  Some of them include excerpts from letters written or received by Thomson, and in addition to the original songs, the production will include some songs from Tom’s lifetime like Stephen Foster tunes and even some local songs.

Listen to, download and buy David Sereda’s music on iTunes by clicking on this album cover

To help him perform these songs, David has assembled a stellar group of musicians from the area, names familiar to local music fans.