Ian Foster’s been busy on a Canadian tour to promote the release of his new album, The Great Wave, and this week he’s back for the hometown launch. You can experience that two ways: an intimate sitdown show at Winterholme and a barshow at The Ship. Pick your flavour:
Thursday, June 26: the story side of The Great Wave:
Winterholme, doors at 7:30 p.m.
$15 tickets in advance at Fred’s Records
w/special guest Kat McLevey
Friday, June 27: the full band show:
The Ship Pub, 10:30 p.m.
$10 tickets in advance at Fred’s Records
w/special guests Kalem Mahoney and Waterfront Fire
Alternatively: Enter below to win a pair of tickets to either show, courtesy of Ian!
The album is currently available on iTunes and at Fred’s Records, and as the video above mentions, it was recorded at The James Baird Gallery in Pouch Cove: a small, open concept space full of amazing art, records, and large walls of windows that offer a panoramic view of the Atlantic.
“The the top floor had a beautiful natural reverb,’ Foster says, “that you can really hear on the drums for the record: they are probably my favourite drum sound from any of my albums. We got creative as well, putting room mics at the foot of the stairs to pick up a snare drum as it bounced around the room from a different floor – you can hear it on the almost military snare rolls on the song “The Great Wave.”
The album art was lifted right from the space as well. “It’s a painting called ‘Salt Rose’ by Elzbieta Krawecka. It was a painting that was hanging in the gallery during the entire time we were recording, and I was regularly drawn to it. It obviously works in a very literal way, but I think there’s just something about the colour and mood that seems to really fit. Plus, there’s something beautifully symmetrical about a painting that lived in the space where the music was being recorded coming to represent the music visually as the cover.”
In terms of a unifying concept for the album, Foster says The Great Wave of the title is a reference to time. “The album deals with how time moves past us, or in some cases, over us. And it addresses how we deal with things after that wave has passed. In many ways, this is a brighter kind of record for me in tempo and sonics, even though it deals with some questions of mortality and seizing the moment.”
The Story Behind “Ethie”
“Ethie” was one of the first songs written for this album. I was performing at the 2011 Trails Tales Tunes Festival in Gros Morne, and had a day off. As I was reading emails in the morning, I found a link to a website forwarded to me from a friend. It was a blog post, written by a complete stranger to us both, but it had been circulating the web due to its content – it was a posthumous entry. The writer – who had documented his life for ten years on this blog – was dying of cancer, and had his family post his last essay after he died. It was beautifully written, full of wisdom and insight, and quickly had me thinking about bigger questions.
As we drove up the Northern Peninsula that day, it was still on my mind when we came to the S.S. Ethie lookout. The Ethie was a mail ship that delivered mail to the colonies on the Northern Peninsula. It sank in 1919 with everyone aboard SURVIVING, including a baby zip-lined to shore in a mailbag. We stumbled down the embankment to see the remains of the Ethie … which were less than spectacular; a few rusted pieces along the beach; nothing that resembled a ship. But then, that shouldn’t surprise: the boat sank almost 100 years ago, and the ocean has steadily taken her back, one piece at a time.
The song “Ethie” is a combination of these two parts of that same spring day in 2011.
The Story Behind “Hannah”
The Story Behind “States of Grace”
While on tour in Nova Scotia, I met a woman who sat in a coffee shop one day with me, and told me this story of her life. She was a stranger, but sometimes it’s easier for strangers to tell their stories, I suppose.
She was a stewardess who had lived a fairly adventurous life until she met her husband, who settled her down, in the best way. Not in a ‘kept woman’ way, but rather in a ‘found what you’re looking for’ kind of way. They lived many amazing years together, until one day a motorcycle accident left him near comatose. The doctors actually told her – in the beginning – that if she walked out of the hospital room and never returned, he would never know. Months of rehabilitation proved futile, and finally she decided to take him home to try some therapy herself, though she wasn’t trained to do so.
It was winter. She decided she would take him to a classical music concert, as that was something they regularly did together. She explained the vivid image that starts the song – pushing her husband’s wheelchair through the snow, the Rebecca Cohen Auditorium in Halifax in the distance. They waited inside for the music to begin, and when it did, her husband sat forward immediately. When it was over, she asked him if he liked it, and he smiled. For the first time since the accident; the first reaction of any kind he had expressed.
The story of their lives together continues, but this portion of it was particularly powerful to me.
The Story Behind “The Great Wave”
While on tour in Italy, I played in a small town called Francavilla-Bisio. It had a beautiful castle on the hillside overlooking the town, though it was completely locked up (yet in excellent shape). I asked the venue owner, Maurizio, about the history of it that evening, and was treated to a harrowing description of the town’s involvement in WWII. The Nazis were the last occupants of the castle: they lined their trucks up at the gates and carted all the valuables away to Germany, leaving only the frescos painted on the walls.
Flash forward to about 20 years after the war, when Maurizio was about 10 years old. He told me the castle was not as secure then as it is now, and he would regularly sneak into the place to play games. The image of this child playing in a castle emptied of all valuables by the war just a short time later was striking to me: an incredible image of innocence versus experience, and how we start again, no matter what.
And here’s one another video, of Ian talking up “The Projectionist”