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Category “Sessions”

Bitter North | 2017 Sessions | Edmonton

In November of 2017, Brendan Kane of Welcome to the West partnered with Emily Bachynski of Bitter North in Edmonton to curate and produce a series of session recordings. We invited six artists to bring their songs to film over a two day period at the studio: Winnipeg’s Sweet Alibi, Toronto’s Jadea Kelly and Amy van Keeken, Luke Thomson, Prince Bunny, and Jom Comyn all of Edmonton.

Welcome to the West | Steve Young Montgomery in the Rain

Outlaw Country music pioneer, Steve Young wrote and first recorded Montgomery in the Rain in 1971. The song is the final track off his second solo album, Seven Bridges Road. In 1977, Hank Williams Jr. recorded a version of Montgomery in the Rain on his album, The New South.

Welcome to the West filmed this Montgomery in the Rain session in Montana on the Gallatin River, a tributary of the Missouri River which flows through high alpine meadows, dropping into the rocky Gallatin Canyon, and flowing out into the Gallatin Valley.

“Montgomery in the Rain is a very unusual song. Sometimes I wonder how I wrote this. While I was in Montgomery, I was having all these problems with some of the junior clansman. Then, I started writing this song and it evolved into Montgomery in the Rain. There’s a slight reference, kind of toned down to the hostility that sometimes I would encounter in that city. Because it was a very redneck city. Not so long before that, I realized there had been a mob that was trying to get at Martin Luther King in downtown Montgomery at a church and President Kennedy called in the National Guard. So here I come, and I’m southerner. I’m supposed to be one of them and I’m saying ‘No this isn’t right’. So that’s why they disliked me so much. It was really explosive.”

– Steve Young

Welcome to the West | Rachel Fannan

Sosneado Gentle
Words by Rachel Fannan:
In the winter of 2012 I was graciously flown into the snowy city of Calgary, Alberta for what would turn out to be a significantly life changing month-long residency of music, wine, baking and collaboration. My host, the magnetic Irish-Canadian captain of Welcome to the West, Brendan Kane. His inquisitive nature and gift of gab captured my attentions for most of the trip. The crew, a handful of elite local gentlemen all working to ensure my stay there would be cozy, inspiring and worth the journey. It was soon after settling in that we got to work. Kane had arranged a series of meet n’ play dates for myself and a hand selected number of musicians from the community, which included the likes of Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra frontman, Kurt Loewen and the Calgary Classical Revolution.

During my first week there, I met the enchanting Vi An Diep. Kane had shared a bit of Vi’s music with me before hand, but I really couldn’t have anticipated how spellbinding she and more over her music, would be in person. We would be performing Sosneado, a song of mine written for the lost lives of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 which crashed in a very isolated and hostile section of the Andes in 1972.

Vi arrived at our session fully present, eyes sparkling, laughter bubbling and we quickly felt a magical chemistry brewing between us. As the cameras and microphones took their place, and Vi An and I played through the song together, the air seemed to grow thick like a cosmic steam. We would come to the end and look at each other like… “ok lets do that again, right?” Eventually I had Vi playing a long intro and even longer outro, just so I could experience the pleasure of hearing her improvise. Incredible.
Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.55.07 PM
Words by Vi An Diep

“Indescribable pleasure and honour to work with such an impossibly beautiful artist as Fannan. She is my idol! So inspiring and generous throughout the entire co-creative process. Majestic sights and sounds, so thankful to Welcome to the West for this fine opportunity of a life time really. I’m a truly better artist because of this tremendous learning, loving and nourishing experience together! The world is a happier place for me now truly.”

Week 2. I’d spent my free time learning about the ebb and flow of Calgary living, perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe and traveling the outskirts of town. My second meet n play would take place at the home of Nathaniel Schmidt, rehearsing with the prestigious Classical Revolution players. There was Nathan on piano, Matt Heller on bass, and Laura Reid on violin. I knew very little about the organization itself before we all met but I was game. While I had grown up with piano teachers for parents, admittedly I felt like I had no business wrangling their talents into my world, but as we got to talking and then to playing, the snow melted and we found that golden eerie sweet spot. Laura’s technique, combined with Matt’s emotion and Nathan’s ear for arrangement Uneasy gradually came to life. That’s an understatement, they transformed a simple demo of mine into a confession. I mean they were damn good. Their focus and patience made a huge impact on me at the time and while the footage from our live session later that week was claimed by the ether, the audio is thankfully available. So without further ado, I humbly submit a few pages torn from the diary of my heart, made possible by yours truly, Welcome to the West.

Words by Brendan Kane
The events above transpired in conjunction with the third anniversary of Welcome to the West – a month-long Rocky Mountain recording expedition and week-long concert series based in downtown Calgary. The series featured 26 musicians from throughout western Canada and our resident recording artist, Rachel Fannan of the Los Angeles band, Only You.

Our dedicated technical team of video directors, Chad Tweten and Charles Roberts along with audio director, Nils Mikkelsen braved the cold temperatures and unorthodox personnel concoctions to digitally document a bevy of new works. These sessions were intended to followup Fannan’s ‘Let Me Sing You Love Songs’ which to this date, remains one of the West’s most popular sessions.


Petunia | Inside of You | Lyric Sheet

All of my worries and my cares all depend on nothing.
Nothing at all.
I cannot say what time will tell. One cannot know, this mystery.
All I have is a wandering, meandering way.

Do you want to scream? Do you want to cry?
I want to say what lives inside of me. Of all we see before us.
And I wonder sometimes if it’s the same inside, inside of you.

Are you a worrier? Are you weary, feeling blue, and dreary? Does it feel like rain?
Darkness and rain, cold driving rain, that will not stop.
Well I will try to explain why it matters.
It will not stop with every step, with every thought
The sinking ship that went to sea with us.

We boarded and will not return.
We were born with a ticket in our hands. That’s just the way it goes.

Wild as the flowers, free spirited, but many of us go blind, working to forget.
But the child inside knows what is true for me and you to feel alive.
To truly resound within this world.
Do you want to lie on your deathbed thinking of a world that may have been?
Every second I do… dream a nightmare.
And I wonder, sometimes if it’s the same inside, inside of you.

Feeling like a loner, when I walk down the street.
For feeling like a loner, this song came to me.
Now I cry out for all our souls, for all to claim one as their own.
An invitation that only goes out to the brave.

Do you want scream? Do you want to cry?
I see the angels reaching down to me while a terror lies out before us.

We are born as wild and beautiful creatures of fancy.
Yet now shackled are we by the ploys of the weak and the fearful.
The damaged ones among us rule our sick and diseased society.
Riddled with false guilt and broken promises
Heaped upon generations of broken promises.
“How can this be?” we ask ourselves.
Perhaps it has always been so, throughout all time.
And that which we need most is being beaten out of our heads
From the time we are little children.
A belief in our individual abilities, that once born
Become beacons of our own true natures.
What could be more important than this in a lifetime?
Now consider the obstacles
That are consciously placed in this path of self-awakening:
Believe in yourselves, it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do.

And I wonder, sometimes if its the same inside,
Inside of You.

Photographed by Francis Willey // Session Filmed by Welcome to the West in Calgary, Alberta 2015
Petunia Music // Photographed by Francis Willey // Session Filmed by Welcome to the West
Calgary, Alberta, Canada 2015

Tofu Stravinsky: Decades and Dépaysement

Hello from Montreal. My name is Tyler and today I’m thirty years old. I have come to realize a lot happens to a person in this amount of time. They can watch their sucky hockey team get good and then suck again. They can work odd jobs; they can move around; and if they’re lucky, they can learn about love, music, art, and what not to say at a Jewish funeral.

The first 14 years of my life are a blur. I mostly experimented with matches, played street hockey, and raced hot wheels cars with my younger brother, Ben. But at the age of 14, I strapped a guitar to my hip, put my head down, and started to play music. 16 years later my telecaster is still with me and it has steered me and my life a lot like a compass would. I’m gonna tell you now the story of all the people I’ve met and floors I’ve slept on in the last decade leading up to the formation of Tofu Stravinsky.

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Reuben and the Dark | Funeral Sky

Tasting momentum, they are becoming one of western Canada’s most promising new exports having just signed with Arts & Crafts, and showcasing with one of the world’s leading artist firms, the Agency Group at CMW in Toronto. One year ago, while still operating under his namesake, frontman, Reuben Bullock made some wise chance encounters during his time gigging in Mexico. A mutual friend, who ran a smoothie bar, introduced him to Florence and the Machine’s drummer, Christopher Hayden, and the two quickly began conjuring projects together – first in London and later in Calgary.

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