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Nanaimo's songbird is playing at home

Allison Crowe to perform at the VIEX

By Alexandria Stuart, Nanaimo Daily News, August 19, 2006 (Canada)

Allison Crowe's fifth album is due in October

1998's Songbird Talent Search was the start of it all for singer songwriter Allison Crowe.

"I remember walking home from the VIEX in a daze thinking, 'Wow... this feels like the beginning of something big!' And now I am doing what I love for a living."

The internationally acclaimed, home-grown Crowe returns for the Songbird Talent Search 10 Year Reunion happening this Sunday as part of VIEX.

I caught up with Crowe on the phone from Montreal where she was stopping over on the long trip home from her current base in Corner Brook, NL.

The Songbird competition in 1998 was a turning point, she says.

"I was just starting to get comfortable with (solo) performance," she said. "It really helps out your self-esteem... I've never been so great at competitions, that's my personal thing, but it helped me get over that hump a bit."

It's also a great opportunity for the spectators.

"The audience is super-supportive, everyone's there to appreciate the music, they're so friendly. (It's a) really cool way to be able to check out local talent, as an audience member, and (for performers) to showcase yourself to get future gigs."

Basically, to help jump start a career, Crowe says."You get an opportunity to perform that a lot of people don't get."

This Sunday's event on the Woodgrove Centre Community Stage at Beban Park starts at 11:30 a.m. with appearances by previous year's winners and this year's Talent Search. Last year's winner Courtney Blunt plays at 1:30 p.m. and Crowe takes the stage at 2 p.m. sharing new songs and old favourites.

Crowe plans to finish her new CD while she's home. Adding to the main vocals and piano that were completed in Newfoundland, Crowe will flesh out the instrumentation and production on a few songs.

Her fifth album, This Little Bird due on Oct. 9, was written in Nanaimo and out on the road and recorded in Newfoundland. "Probably everything has shaped songs," she says.

A portable recording console (MOTU) played a big role on the album.

"You plug a microphone or guitar into the back of it, a fire-wire to your computer which is your portable mixing board, and that's it," she says. After writing on the piano in the past, Crowe had exciting results writing on the road.

"Writing on guitar is kind of neat because I don't have as much knowledge as on the piano. Writing on guitar forces me to simplify, to go back to basics," she says.

Crowe heads back to Europe for a concert tour, her second, leading up to her album's release. Follow her progress at www.myspace.com/allisoncrowe


With more than a decade in the trenches of the music industry, we're reasonably sure Alexandria knows what she's talking about: e-mail at akstuart@shaw.ca