most of a year

Hmm, it’s been a while since I said hello here! I left off in the summer last year, and it was a great summer – I did some touring with Sarah Jane Scouten, some shows with Jenny Ritter, and I took some real time off in the actual summertime. That looked a lot like me laying in the grass in various Vancouver-area parks eating fruit and sighing contentedly.

I had a strange and beautiful fall semester at Berklee that involved work with the conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony, further studies of Arabic classical music with Simon Shaheen, a South Indian Rhythmic Solfege class, and deep joy in continuing to learn from Bruce Molsky.

Nate and I had a great EP release show in November at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre in Newton MA. Our EP is now available on Fiddlehead Recordshave a listen here.

Aerialists have been dribbling out teensy pieces of evidence of our existence for months, and our debut EP is in boxes inside of boxes in the mail right now – it should be on our doorstep in a couple of days. Our official release is May 9th at Club Passim in Cambridge MA, and we’re bringing it to BC soon afterwards for our first Canadian tour in June!

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boeur sabat

Nate Sabat and I recorded our first duo EP this spring, coming very soon to a merch table near you! We debuted the project in each other’s hometowns of New York City and Vancouver, and toasted the end of our first west coast tour on a sailboat outside of Victoria.

While Nate was out west, we spent a week in studio recording with our new 5-piece prog-trad band Aerialists. We got a heck of a lot done in that time – tracking, videos, photos, midnight swims – and I can’t wait to share the fruits with the world!

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summer festivals

SUMMER FESTIVALS SUMMER FESTIVALS! Next weekend I’ll be with Jenny Ritter at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, playing songs from our upcoming record with a killer 6-piece band. The VFMF was an important part of my youth – I started volunteering with them when I was 11, and as a teenager the music I saw there every summer had an enormous influence on my record collection / life. It will be my first time onstage at the festival that shaped a lot of my ideas about what folk music is and what it could be, and I can’t wait.

I just got back from Arts on the Fly with Dirty Grace, which is a super fun festival that happens to be near a gorgeous waterfall swimming hole. That was my first formal show with Dirty Grace, and I’ll be accompanying them to three more BC festivals this summer, with some touring mixed in. Festival season is magic and I’m looking forward to long weekends of crawling out of my sweaty tent in the early morning, jumping in icy rivers and playing music til all hours with the people I love. See you out there!

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berklee world strings

I finished my first year at Berklee and found myself back on the west coast in the blink of an eye. I spent a lot of time in the practice rooms at my old college in Vancouver in those first couple of weeks off, it took me a while to remember how to be a non-student.

My experience last semester revolved around working under Eugene Friesen in the Berklee World Strings. We had a condensed group of 17 string players working with an incredibly diverse and exciting repertoire, including a lot of material written or arranged by members of the group.

We undertook a couple of crazy projects outside of the program we were developing – first, we flew to Kentucky to perform and accompany Darol Anger on his inspired and uncompromisingly difficult suite of music, Three Places In America. Just two weeks after that we teamed up with composer Eren Basbug and an expanded orchestra to play with legendary prog-metal juggernaut Dream Theater at the Boston Opera House. Eren went way beyond the usual orchestration techniques for rock music and integrated us completely into the pieces, adapting drum and guitar lines for the orchestra and setting every one of us to the task of really playing metal. Learning to play John Petrucci’s guitar leads on viola was an education in itself. One of the pieces we did had 108 time signature changes. I shouldn’t have counted. We had an intense time of daily rehearsals and nightly shedding, and the show was a glorious explosion of sound. During soundcheck tiny flakes of plaster were drifting down from the ornate ceiling at the opera house….

The whole show will be released as a live Dream Theater DVD. Here’s a picture of dress rehearsal with the band at House Of Blues. Rock.

dream_theater2014

We had the opportunity to play our own repertoire around New England throughout the spring, and bassist Nathaniel Sabat arranged a pair of Norwegian and Swedish tunes that we’d been playing together on bass and hardingfele for the whole group. I think I’m still high on the feeling of playing those tunes with him supported on a swelling cloud of beautiful strings. Whoa.

Video from our show at a theatre in Rockport will surface one day, but for now I’d love to show you this groovy tune written by the New York Gypsy All-Stars and arranged by members of the group – it involves Mairi Chaimbeul being a total badass and tuning the upper register of her Scottish harp to play quarter-tones, and ends with a heartbreaking cello solo from Naseem Alatrash.

Crosswinds from Jeff McCaffrey on Vimeo.

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celtic connections video

a video of the jenny ritter band playing at celtic connections surfaced on the bbc! iiiit’s right over here.
I’ve been enjoying working with the hardingfele in less traditional contexts lately. as well as using it in that song on jenny’s upcoming record, I had the opportunity to lay a track on psychfolkrock band sprïng‘s new record “celebrations”. my vinyl just arrived in the mail, and it rules. stream the whole record here, or hone directly in on the h-fiddle textures here.

 

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school

my first semester in boston is almost over, would you believe? living in a house full of fiddlers has been every bit as fun as I had imagined. school’s been a whirl, overwhelming at times but the heavy workload’s been balanced by the fun workload of things like traditional arabic microtonal theory class and old-time ensemble with bruce molsky. this is quite an extraordinary institution. I’ve been doing some duo playing with a fantastic bass player called nathaniel sabat, and we made a bass / hardingfele video in my turret room the other day – check it out!

I’m headed back to the west coast every so soon, and I’ll start off the new year at one of my favourite places on earth, fiddlehead studios on mayne island, working on a new record with the jenny ritter band. after a couple weeks in studio we fly to glasgow for our first gig at celtic connections! I was at the festival as a visitor last year, had a grand ol’ time, and I’m thrilled to join the ranks for their 20th anniversary.

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sameus

meanwhile, back in norway… I’m delighted to share sameus, the debut duo record from myself and michael caplin with y’all. released today, it’s as fresh as it comes! go have a listen on boeurcaplin.com, go straight to bandcamp, or stream it on spotify if that’s your jam. the latter half of the record has some tracks with hardanger fiddle and pump organ, which is a pretty nifty sound. check it out!

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to boston

I’m moving down to boston tomorrow to start my new life at berklee! right now I’m hammering through my to-do list like a champ. I’ll be stopping in toronto for a few days on the way, to drink a ton of coffee, eat korean food, and meet with the slaight family, the folks behind my amazing scholarship.

I did a short interview with my alma mater VCC about my next steps in music school, you can read it here. they knocked a couple of years off my age in the article, musta been katie stewart’s youthful photo!

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scholarship

well my life has changed radically since my last update here! I was recently awarded the slaight family scholarship to the berklee college of music, a full-ride, full degree scholarship for a canadian that usually goes to a single entering student per year. this year they chose two, and we’re both vancouverites! the vancouver sun talks about it here. I’m honoured, and beyond excited to have the opportunity to spend the next four years at my dream school. the music that folks are making out there is nothing short of mindblowing, and I can’t wait to be a part of it all.

so I’m trying to organize my life for the big move down to boston, in the midst of summer touring fun. I just wrapped up with sarah jane scouten, far too soon. our first outing was a great success, and along with her own lovely music she got me all excited about shape-note singing, some american vocal traditions I’ve never explored. now I have a couple of days off at home to work up some solo material for sendoff concerts in vancouver and victoria! details soon.

another big source of excitement is the upcoming release of sameus, the duo album I recorded with the amazing multi-instrumentalist michael caplin in norway last fall! it’s not quite out yet, but you can hear a teaser track on our website.

 

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summertours

summer music adventures are jussst over the horizon. I’ll be getting in the car with dear friends and long-time compatriots o‘mally and david newberry for a jaunt up to the tiny lights festival in ymir with some shows on the way. at tiny lights, I’ll also be subbing for the marvelous hannah epperson with morlove. their 2010 record is one of my most-listened-to albums of all time – needless to say, I’m delighted to be sitting in.

after the glorious mayhem of helping put together the campbell bay music fest  (5th annual! check ‘er out!) I’m taking a turn around vancouver island backing up the lovely montreal-based roots artist sarah jane scouten. we’re going to be offering some workshops alongside our shows! I’ll be teaching various scandinavian fiddle styles, and sarah jane will be sharing old-time repertoire gathered from her travels around the usa.

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