December 17, 2008
A Christmas chanteuseAllison Crowe returns to Whistler to get tourists and locals into the spirit, kick off the Whistler Holiday Experience
By Holly Fraughton, The Pique (Canada)
What: Whistler Tidings Concert
When: Saturday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Telus Whistler Conference Centre
Among the many Christmas concerts set to take place over the holiday season throughout the Sea to Sky region, there’s one that stands out from the rest: Allison Crowe’s Whistler Tidings Concert.
Oft-compared with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and The Beatles, it’s clear that Crowe’s sound is both strong and versatile. And at just 27 years of age, she has plenty of time to expand her repertoire and reach.
Despite the strong parallels drawn to Mitchell, Cohen and The Beatles, Crowe contends that she is actually influenced by all of the music she listens to, whether it be grunge rock, like Pearl Jam, or jazz and blues.
“If I think it’s good, I’ll like it,” she said with a laugh. She says she can’t seem to identify with just one genre.
The bicoastal singer-songwriter had a strong musical background and upbringing that helped foster her diverse approach and style.
“From a really young age, close family friends of mine have always played music, so it was always sort of around me,” she explained.
Her parents also nurtured her musical talent, putting her into lessons at the age of five. And while she always wanted to make music her career, it wasn’t until late into high school that she decided to actively pursue her dream.
She’s not just a pretty face and a stunning voice, Crowe also writes all of her own music and lyrics, though the process doesn’t always come easily. In fact, she admits that often, songwriting is most natural for her when something horrible is going on in her own life, because she draws inspiration from her personal experiences.
“It’s therapy, really,” she said with a laugh.
But world events and issues also occasionally feed into the process, though Crowe is quick to point out that she isn’t constantly on a pulpit, preaching through her music.
Her latest album, Little Light, is a compilation of live recordings and studio tracks that had accumulated while she was touring.
Last year, she was invited to perform at the John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in Durness, Scotland.
“It all started with a Beatles Fest in Halifax that I just kind of got asked to play a few songs, and I got to meet John Lennon’s sister, which was pretty cool. And she’s a really sweet lady, so she actually asked me to come out this year to the Liverpool Beatles Fest,” Crowe said.
The Beatles have led to big business for this songstress — during the Beatles Week 2008 concert series, BBC Radio 2 interviewed Crowe and recorded her performances for an hour-long documentary, which featured fellow artists, Imogen Heap and Kathryn Williams.
She is also featured in the December issue of the UK-based magazine, MOJO, in a feature that pays tribute to Leonard Cohen’s “deep and moving music, the kind of stuff we need in the run up to the holiday period.”
Crowe’s contributions of the tracks “Joan of Arc” and “All Star Tribute” to the cover CD, Cohen Covered, are cited as fine interpretations of original hits.
Now, Crowe is in the midst of her Holiday Tidings tour, which kicked off in late November and spans from her current hometown in Corner Brook, Newfoundland to the opposite coast, right here in Whistler.
Her soulful sound really fits the bill during the holiday season.
“I really love that kind of music — I love soulful, bluesey, I guess gospelly-sounding music,” she said. “Stuff with soul in it, you know?”
The upcoming Tidings performance offers up a blend of traditional Christmas carols and holiday favourites, combined with some classic, organic rock, jazz, folk, gospel and soul, which promise to meld neatly together for an intimate evening of feel-good music for all ages. Audience members can expect to hear songs like “Silent Night” next to a cover of “Let It Be.”
“It’ll be a mix of traditional Christmas songs and different covers that I think kind of fit, from Beatles to Leonard Cohen or Rolling Stones to Joni Mitchell, and originals thrown in there, as well!” she enthused.
This certainly isn’t Crowe’s first Whistler rodeo, so to speak. She’s been performing at venues throughout town for almost eight years, and her gigs are getting bigger and bigger as time goes on, moving from the Crab Shack to the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, and finally, to the Telus Whistler Conference Centre.
“It’s actually going to be my last show of the Tidings tour, so it should be a lot of fun, and I’ll be excited,” she said.
At the upcoming Whistler Tidings performance, Billie Woods, an acoustic performer who draws on travel experiences through Brazil and Canada’s Pacific northwestern coastal forest to inspire her English and Portuguese lyrics, opens the concert.