Raised between two potato fields on Prince Edward Island, Ashley Condon is the grandchild of Bill Leblanc, a Canadian country pioneer who once spent the night in jail with Hank Snow. Like pecan pie – sweet and nutty – Ashley has won audiences over with her larger-than-life stage presence and down-to-earth charm. Growing up on everything from old-time country to folk, blues and soul, her music resonates.
The success of her 2007 EP I've Got This Feeling garnered the attention of Ontario native and ECMA-nominated producer and musician Joel Hunt (Teresa Ennis, Old Man Leudecke). The two joined creative forces for Ashley's debut, full-length album Come In From The Cold, released on June 15, 2010. Since its release in 2010, Come In From The Cold has been nominated for a 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award, a 2011 East Coast Music Award and has earned the rising star two 2012 Music PEI Awards for “New Artist Of The Year” and the “Lynn Grishko Memorial Bursary”. Her highly anticipated sophomore album This Great Compromise is set for release on May 28th, 2013 and was produced by Condon’s songwriting hero; three-time JUNO award winning singer-songwriter David Francey . Condon is backed on the album by Francey’s touring band of Chris Coole (banjo, guitar) and Mark Westberg (guitar), John Showman (fiddle) and by celebrated Maritime multi-instrumentalist Darren McMullen.
The signature track on her Francey-produced sophomore album, This Great Compromise, is “Betty’s Song,” a tribute to Condon’s mother and a wistful lament over Condon’s inability, as a teenager to appreciate her mother’s strength and perseverance. Other highlights include “Gentle Man,” a haunting number about an encounter with a stranger; “We’ve Got Love,” a simple love song with a very Francey-like sing-along chorus; “I’m Going Home, Amen,” a rollicking gospel song about moving back to PEI; and the title track, a sophisticated statement about the impact on relationships when partners must leave the province for work.
Having lost both her parents by the age of 22, it is not surprising that Condon’s music is marked by an astonishing degree of maturity and nuance – the kind almost never heard in emerging artists. She has established a reputation in the Maritimes as a powerful writer and singer and an uncommonly-talented entertainer who jokes and tells stories to audiences as naturally as if they were guests in her living room.
Ashley will be doing a national tour of Canada in fall 2013 to support her new album and is playing several Canadian folk festivals this summer including The Stan Rogers Folk Festival, The Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival and The Shelter Valley Folk Festival.
"The finest writer and performer I have heard in many years. There is not a song on this record that I wouldn't gladly claim as my own."
"One of the leading lights on the East Coast scene"
-Bob Mersereau, CBC
“Ashley Condon brings to the music industry a sweet down-to-earth tone that truly captivates the listener and brings to light a joyfulness of acoustic singer-songwriter styles”
– Maverick Magazine UK
Toll Free 866.966.9040
6337 – 2100 Bloor St. W
Toronto ON Canada M6S 5A5
Darren McMullen - Banjo, Guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, mandola
"This Great Compromise" - (produced by David Francey) - released May 2013
"Come In From The Cold" - release date June 15 2010
"I've Got this Feeling" EP - released October 2007
All My Life
Deep Down In The River
Your Love Is Beautiful
This Great Compromise
Going To The Country
Sea and Land
I'm Going Home, Amen
Rising Star Ashley Condon Hits N.B. For Shows
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Rising Star Ashley Condon Hits N.B. For Shows Thu, Feb 9, 2012. One of the new leading lights on t...Rising Star Ashley Condon Hits N.B. For Shows
Thu, Feb 9, 2012.
One of the new leading lights on the East Coast scene comes from Montague, where she was recently honoured with two Music PEI awards. Ashley Condon is playing a series of shows this week in New Brunswick, and it's a good chance to get acquainted with this singer-songwriter. Condon was the winner of the Best New Artist prize, as well as the Lynn Grishko Memorial Award, which recognizes a female performer making great strides in their career.
You can hear those strides on her debut, called Come In From The Cold. Condon does a mix of self-composed folk, country and roots material, all in a laid-back mode, an easy pace which lets her considerable vocal talents shine through. Largely acoustic, or at least mellow, the disc has a feel that places it in the parlour, and sometimes on the front porch. It's easy to imagine her sitting around with a couple of players, making music to touch the hearts of everyone in the room. Even on the suggestive, romantic The Neighbours Ain't Home, the message is sent out softly, but of course there's always lots of power in the subtle approach.
There's lots of love on the disc, whether its for a partner, parent or child. You Got Me By The Heart is a strong one, interlocking guitars, bass and mandolin the backdrop for a simple scene, a loved one coming in from the cold, and the desire to bring some warmth their way. Gone, which closes the album, is old-time folk music, and aside from the use of the word rewind, could have come from a hundred years ago, and Condon summons up a voice full of remorse in this tale of an unfaithful lover.
The emotional high-point of the disc is called Everything, a sparsely-accompanied song sung to a mother who has passed away way too young. The child thinks she hears or sees her mother all around her, her eyes sparkling in the stars, her voice whispering in her ear. It has one of the most touching lyrics I've heard in awhile: "Then you disappeared/into everything/the rain and spring/the sea and the soil and the summer wind/I'll remember you 'cause your love shines through/in everything."
Original ideas, wonderful vocals and beautiful musicianship... this sweet down to earth toned album has exceeded all expectations...
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Ashley Condon brings to the music industry a sweet down-to-earth tone that truly captivates the list...Ashley Condon brings to the music industry a sweet down-to-earth tone that truly captivates the listener and brings to light a joyfulness of acoustic singer-songwriter styles. I like music like this, when you can hear the thought process, listen to the original idea and see how it reaches out with music that is just simply made from the heart. A New Heart has to be one of my favourite tracks, with its sweet harmonies and sing-along chorus and bountiful guitars! Reaching out to the audiences of folk, acoustic country, blues and southern rock, the variety on this album is a real charmer. Featuring award-winning instrumentalist Dale Murray on pedal steel and electric guitar and Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies on mandolin, bass and harmonica, it even has wonderful musicianship to offer. Everything is a song about her mother’s spirit and her questions when someone goes missing in life. It’s a beautiful song and with her warm lavender scented vocals, that drift in and out of grainy and full bodied, to harmonic and compelling, the listener is left in a contemplative mind. The Neighbours Ain’t Home is a country toned song, quirky and vibrant about an unabashed passion. Something Sacred has a rockier tone about it, while Heavy Rain has a driving sound that starts out dark and mysterious and soon moves to a passionate and atmospheric song. Heavy Rain has been played at least ten times already and I will just keep listening—it’s the most moving song on the album and unlike anything I’ve heard in a while. LB
Two to watch: Chastity and Ashley Condon
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What is the deal with the overflowing musical talent on this Island, really? Is there some sort of ...What is the deal with the overflowing musical talent on this Island, really?
Is there some sort of causal connection between the starch of our potatoes and the development of strong musical genes?
I think someone needs to commission a study on this at UPEI.
For now, let’s look at this week’s two particular subjects of evidence to zero in on: Ashley Condon and Chastity Fizzard.
Both of these gifted Island female singer-songwriters held CD launches this past Saturday evening — Condon out at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown and Chastity at The Guild in Charlottetown.
And while it is rare for me to review two shows in one night, it was just one of those occasions where I had to make it work, somehow, simply because there was just no way to choose. (Even if it meant driving to Georgetown for Condon’s first half, and smart-car-hightailing it back to Charlottetown for Chastity’s second half of her launch.)
Unfortunately, the massive amount of events taking place last weekend kept what should have been a good crowd from coming out for Condon’s launch.
But that small number who did attend surely felt, as I did, privileged to be within the lucky few.
Flanked by her three-piece backing band, the 28-year-old Murray Harbour North native (who developed her performance career in Toronto and now resides in Halifax) began with the first track on her new album — a meditative soulful folk ballad called Already Come.
Amid tiptoeing chordal strolling on the Dobro by multi-instrumentalist and ECMA award-winning producer of the record, Joel Hunt, the song set a sweet and peaceful opening mood to the show, showcasing both Condon’s wholesome and graceful voice and a kind of pure-and-direct form of songwriting that seems signature to her style.
Rheo Rochon, on stand-up double bass, and Peter Riu, on piano and Hammond organ, added tasteful, fibrous texture as Hunt’s backing vocals, along with playing the Dobro, guitar, fiddle and mandolin throughout the show, superbly rounded out the sound.
What is notable right from the get-go, though, at a Condon performance is the feeling that you’ve been invited into her kitchen for a show. You feel welcomed and warmed. Immediately she tells you all kinds of hilarious and often self-deprecating stories about what’s going on in her life. Then she sings to you about these things. All that’s missing is the cooking-you-dinner part.
And, in this sense, there could be no more fitting title for her first full-length CD than Come in From the Cold.
Condon also performed at Montague’s Relay for Life concert the night before, in honour of her mother Betty, who lost her battle with cancer eight years ago.
A woman who was loved by the community as a strong, always-giving, and always-entertaining soul, it is clear that this spirit also lives on in her daughter as that strength is evidently giving rise to a gifted performer.
To hear the song Everything, written for her mother, and the 10 other well-crafted beauties on her debut, you can buy your own copy at www.ashleycondon.com.
"Come In From The Cold" cannot help but melt the coldest heart
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"The title of Ashley Condon’s debut recording ‘Come In From The Cold’ couldn’t be more apt. Ric..."The title of Ashley Condon’s debut recording ‘Come In From The Cold’ couldn’t be more apt. Rich earthy tones wrapped lovingly around a voice as fresh and pure as a forest stream cannot help but melt the coldest heart."
Condon's call to musical glory
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Sometimes a single phone call can change everything. For P.E.I. singer-songwriter Ashley Condon, ...Sometimes a single phone call can change everything.
For P.E.I. singer-songwriter Ashley Condon, the Ringtone of Destiny came a year ago when she was in the middle of weeding her garden in Sturgeon, just down the coast from Montague.
At the other end of the line was Mark Watson, manager for acclaimed Canadian folk singer David Francey and his personal record label, Laker Music.
“He asks me if this is a good time to chat, and I’m standing there with dirt all over my hands, in my ears and up my nose, going, ‘Oh yeah, absolutely!’” recalls the green-thumbed performer, who had no idea about the offer that was to come.
It turned out the Ontario-based, multi-Juno Award-winning songwriter had been searching for an emerging artist to work with and potentially add to the Laker imprint. He’d been keeping his ears open and after a visit to P.E.I. Music Week 2012 a couple of months before — where he and Condon shared the stage for a songwriters’ workshop — he knew he’d found a performer who had all the elements of what he was looking for.
One year later, the result of that phone call is Condon’s sophomore CD, This Great Compromise, recorded at Almonte, Ont.’s Signal Path Studio with Francey in the producer’s chair.
Her clear, strong voice and down-to-earth tunes were brought to full fruition by the masterful backing of Cape Breton multi-instrumentalist Darren McMullen, fiddler John Showman, guitarist Mark Westberg and Chris Coole on banjo and guitar.
The record gets its launch on the mainland this weekend with shows at Halifax’s the Company House on Saturday, a 4 p.m. matinee with the BBQ Kings.
She also has two shows on Sunday, a Lift the Wind house concert in Boutiliers Point at 2 p.m. (email Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details) and a 7 p.m. show at the West Dublin Hall with Newfoundland and Labrador folk song storyteller Ian Foster.
Condon also has appearances planned for the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, July 4-7 and Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Aug. 8-11.
They are additional important steps in this new phase of a music career that turned an unexpected corner last spring after that phone call from Watson.
“I was really thinking, ‘Pinch me!’ " says Condon when asked what was going through her mind at the time.
“Right after my conversation with Mark, my partner Ken came over and asked what was going on, and I just looked at him with this complete sense of peace and calm and told him, ‘I’m making a record with David Francey. That just happened.’ He just went, ‘Wow!’
"We just sat there and stared off into the woods for a while. It was like all that work and sweat and blood and tears and frustration all came together into that one moment, it just felt right to me.”
Condon is referring to the work she put into her first full-length release, 2010’s Come In From the Cold.
A fine debut, full of warmth and humour, she tackled the job of building an audience for it head on, eventually earning some fans and a few nominations for Music Nova Scotia Awards (while she was living in Halifax), East Coast Music Awards and the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
The acknowledgement comes after months of playing shows, attending music conferences, “and postering the frig out of those events and putting my face in front of people over and over again,” she explains.
“One of the main things I learned is that there’s a (crapload) of work to do, to make this happen. Especially with the way the music industry is right now, there’s nobody that’s going to come in and change your career. Not that it doesn’t happen, but it’s not usually just one person.”
But one person can make a difference. Enter Francey, the Scotland-born songwriter and storyteller deemed one of the best in the country.
When he and Condon shared that workshop stage a year-and-a-half ago, it was like a revelation for someone who’s heard nearly every folk musician in the country at this point.
“She just opened her mouth and I just about fell out of my chair,” he recalls. “I was just stunned at how great a singer she was. I’m looking out at the audience, and they’re just thinking, ‘Oh, there’s Ashley, doing her thing,’ and I’m thinking, ‘This girl’s BRILLIANT.’
“I was super-excited, and I heard her a few more times over the course of that week, and when Mark was casting around for somebody to add to our label Laker Music, I told him I’d already found someone. It was kind of a done deal then.”
Condon feels what sealed the deal was her composition Betty’s Song, about her mother’s life as a P.E.I. fisherwoman, and not really understanding what she went through until she became an adult herself, running her own home.
“I had written it two days before this songwriting workshop, and I was really nervous,” she explains.
“I thought maybe it was too personal, and it’s pretty emotional for me to sing it, but I did, and after it was (finished), like the whole room had tears in its eyes.
“David looked at me and just shook his head and went ‘Whoa.’ And that was it, but later that day he told me the song had really stuck with him, and I was thinking here’s my favourite songwriter and this means a lot to me.
“And when I asked him months later why he wanted to work with me, he went through that series of events, and said ‘When you wrote Betty’s Song, I knew you were the real deal.’
“And that was it, he told Mark to call me.”
Francey says he invited Condon to come to his and his wife Beth’s house in Lanark for a week-long session of songwriting, getting to know each other, “and then it was full-tilt boogie after that.”
She had to continue pinching herself as Francey agreed to act as producer for her new batch of songs, even though he’d never helmed a record by another artist before.
“He told me he was nervous about it, at the start he looked at me and said, ‘I just really hope that you don’t want to make a country record,’ ” she recalls with a laugh.
“’Cause that’s not really his thing. And I told him I just want to make a folk record, I want to make an Ashley record.
“So in the studio, we were both kind of like little babies, a bit wobbly and getting used to each other and what this process was going to be like. But we had a team of amazing musicians and a great engineer, and when we started it was like the magic button got switched on for the next six days. I feel like the songs were just born.”
Condon describes Francey’s style in the studio as “a facilitator,” coaxing the best out of everyone involved in the project and ensuring everything fit together naturally.
Once the final mix was in, and she listened back to what they’d achieved, Condon says she realized how far she’d come as a songwriter, and how much working with someone she respected so much helped bring out the best in her.
“I feel like I’m a lot deeper into my personal life, my spiritual life and my love life, and those songs are coming from a deeper place that’s more authentic,” she says.
“I always talk about finding your authentic voice, I’ve done workshops on it, and that’s been my journey, learning to sing from a place of pure honesty and vulnerability.”
For more information, visit www.ashleycondon.com.
Ashley Condon - This Great Compromise
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Music Review: Ashley Condon - This Great Compromise Wed, May 29, 2013. There's an awful lot ...Music Review: Ashley Condon - This Great Compromise
Wed, May 29, 2013.
There's an awful lot of people making folk music these days. At least, what they're calling folk music. The comeback of the fiddle, mandolin and banjo is remarkable, and it seems that half of the young groups I see have some or all of these traditional instruments. But there aren't too many who resist the urge to modernize it as well. You could never call Mumford and Sons old-time, just to name the most obvious and biggest. My favourite description of them is Coldplay, with fiddles.
Ya, most groups want to build up the sound, adding layers of ambiance and extra electric instruments. These days there's obviously a belief that you have to have a trick to get noticed. There aren't many out there purposely keeping it simple. You know, just a acoustic guitar, a little backing, a singer-songwriter, nature, the nature of relationships with the land, the community, people, lovers. Enter Ashley Condon. She's a performer from small-town P.E.I., where life is relatively calm and simple for sure. Except it wasn't always that way for Condon. She lost her father, a fishing captain, when she was six. Then her mother took over the boat, becoming the first female captain in the area. Ashley moved to Toronto for school, and shortly after her mother passed as well, from cancer. Amidst this grief and different career directions, being in a big city, Condon did something most never consider: She went for the simpler life, headed back to PEI, took up folk song writing as a job, and ignored all the modern influences that were starting to take over folk.
Her first album, Come In From The Cold, won her a lot of acclaim, including two Music PEI awards, and nominations from the East Coast Music Awards and Canadian Folk Music Awards. That attention turned more heads, including one very important one. Seems her musical hero has long been Ontario folk giant David Francey, who has been working on the East Coast a lot the past couple of years. Francey was setting up a new record label, loved what he heard from her, and this new album is its first release by another artist. It's called This Great Compromise, and Francey himself produced it.
The songs are made from warm and friendly camp fire instruments, guitar, banjo and fiddle, and not much more. And the simplicity continues with the song structure, both the words and melodies. Most of them are very direct, easy to digest, easy to remember and sing along to. They were composed that way on purpose, Condon even directing her audience at live shows to join in on them before they've ever heard them. They are highly personal, and she's stepped back a few years to give you this life story about a return to simple pleasures. There's Eastbound Train, I'm Going Home, Sea and Land, Going To The Country, and, obviously, Toronto, all songs about making the decision to relocate to PEI. Betty's Song is for her mother, figuring out her strength. And Chamomile Tea, the first folk song she ever wrote, after seeing a David Francey concert, explains the album in one line: "The simple things are just right for me."
Ashley Condon has grabbed the big picture in life, stripped it all back and condensed it into thirteen songs. This is right-to-the-point music, folk at its core best, no wasted words and lots of truths. And the bonus is, her voice and her heart seem directly connected, and both pure.
2 x 45min sets
A collection of original songs from both of Ashley's full length albums, "Come In From The Cold" and "This Great Compromise"
There are no upcoming dates at this time.