*Nominated for Canadian Country Music Awards' ROOTS ARTIST OF THE YEAR
*Currently #115 on the Americana Music charts in the U.S. (aug 31)
*Currently #13 on the FAR chart (aug 31)
**AND...THIRD PLACE in the International Songwriting Competition in the Americana category. This is Kirsten's third year in a row with a song in the finals of the INTERNATIONAL SONGWRITING COMPETITION!
“Smooth-as-buckwheat-honey vocals…a bona fide comparison to Emmylou Harris is not out of order…”
- Eric Thom, Exclaim Magazine
Toronto-based singer/songwriter Kirsten Jones had only one producer in mind for her sophomore album, The Mad Mile: former Jayhawks front man Gary Louris. "I knew I wanted to try getting in touch with Gary before even trying to think of anyone else, so I looked up his management online and just sent them a package." A few months later, Louris’ management e-mailed Jones, saying Gary was interested in the project. By summer, Jones and Louris were writing in her Toronto living room, where they also finished all the preproduction for the recording in three days. They hit the studio later that fall. Creating a sound that combined her alt country and folk influences with her own unique writing style came naturally, thanks to Louris' firsthand experience with some of Jones' favourite artists (The Dixie Chicks, Kelly Willis, Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawks).
"She has interesting lyrics, pretty heavy duty lyrics and a hook sensibility. She has it, you know? I’m jealous - I wish I had written these songs...
- Gary Louris
In what proved to be a banner year, Kirsten also received a coveted FACTOR award for over $20,000 toward the making of the new CD. The Mad Mile is distributed through Fontana North/Universal in Canada. Guests include pedal steel player Greg Leisz (Emmylou Harris, Tracy Chapman, Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss), Oh Susanna, and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy and Bob Egan (Wilco, Freakwater).
“The end result of (Jones/Louris') fruitful partnership is 'The Mad Mile,' an alt country/roots record which could very well do for Jones what 'Failer' did for Kathleen Edwards”.
– Jason MacNeil, spinner.com
Throughout the last two years, several aspects of Jones’ career have fallen into place. She was chosen by Billboard Canada as one of five artists to watch in 2010, and The Mad Mile has already been nominated for a 2010 Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent to the Grammys), thanks to an early iTunes release. Jones has been a finalist three years in a row in the International Songwriting Competition (out of over 15,000 entries), a Top 3 finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the country category (alongside Canadian success story Gordie Sampson), was a finalist in the Kerrville New Folk Contest, and has received honourable mention in both the Billboard and Nashville Songwriter’s Association songwriting competitions. The Canadian Country Music Awards invited Kirsten to perform two years in a row at the prestigious Songwriter's Cafe, alongside such celebrated Canadian songwriters as Victoria Banks, Lisa Brokop, Jamie Warren, and Jessie Farrell. Kirsten wrote or co-wrote every song on The Mad Mile, and two songs were co-written with producer Louris.
Most recently, Kirsten was invited down to Nashville to sing on WSM, the official radio home of the Grand Ole Opry, at the Country Music Awards’ Music Fest Celebration. Just gearing up her touring in support of The Mad Mile, 2011 is shaping up to be a big year.
Kirsten Jones released her debut album Drive-In Movie in 2005. It received airplay in all Canadian provinces, peaking at 3 on CBC's Galaxie Folk/Roots chart. She has toured in the US and Canada, including dates with Jim Cuddy, Lynn Miles, Oh Susanna, Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Minnie Driver, Rose Cousins and numerous others.
“The music of Kirsten Jones combines the best elements of alt-country and contemporary folk. She’s also an engaging live performer, bringing both
Mitch Girio - Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals, Banjitar
Robin Pirson - Drums, Percussion
Kevin O'Donnell - Pedal Steel
Gord Light - Backing Vocals, Electric Guitar, Baritone Guitar
Sophomore CD "The Mad Mile" (Fontana North/Universal and internationally on iTunes) - includes a duet with Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy, and musicians Greg Leisz (Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss), Bob Egan (Blue Rodeo, Wilco), Oh Susanna and many more...
"Drive-In Movie" - official release February 22, 2005 through Fontana North/Universal (available on-line at www.maplemusic.com)
- Download print quality (high-res) version (Right Click -> Save As)
- Download print quality (high-res) version (Right Click -> Save As)
- Download print quality (high-res) version (Right Click -> Save As)
- Download print quality (high-res) version (Right Click -> Save As)
- Download print quality (high-res) version (Right Click -> Save As)
Kirsten Jones goes deep for The Mad Mile
[+ Show ]
The best things come to those who wait. No one knows the meaning behind this old adage better than T...The best things come to those who wait. No one knows the meaning behind this old adage better than Toronto singer-songwriter Kirsten Jones. But with a little help from friends including Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy and Bob Egan and The Jayhawks Gary Louris, Jones’ excellent new record The Mad Mile just might be her breakthrough moment.
Although Jones music would certainly fit in comfortably at country radio, there is something far deeper to Jones’ music than the typical fluff associated with country music nowadays. There is an honesty to tracks like “There’s A Right Way (To Break My Heart)” that is both simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking.
Though this should not come as a shock to anyone, there has never been a shortage of Canadian bands making music that would be fit into the Americana genre in the United States; Blue Rodeo and The Skydiggers come to mind, for example. Yet here in Canada, we tend to slap easier labels and genres such as folk or roots or worse, pop, upon these artists due to the lack of other labels to stick to them. If Jones has her way though, she is going to see that the Americana music genre becomes a commonly accepted would cross the border and be an accepted term on Canadian soil.
“Americana is a genre that technically doesn’t exist in Canada,” Jones starts.
Asked why she feels that this has been the case, Jones lists multiple reasons:
“I am guessing that the term Americana is just too closely related to the word America so right off the bat, it is not a very international genre. Yet people all over the world are making music that is technically rooted in Americana. In the United States, Americana is its own entity. There are radio stations that exclusively play artists like The Jayhawks, Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris.
“But I have found that you really have to be careful about how you label yourself and your music no matter where you are because you can inadvertently position yourself outside of different musical worlds and genres almost by accident. If you say you’re a folk artist, country radio won’t touch you and vice versa.”
“Ideally, I would love to unite the Americana community here in Canada and have a whole lot of us tour together and stand together. Right now, I do not feel that it is a very united community.”
Though she admits that celebrated folk artist Patty Griffin was a huge influence upon her career, another name that continually comes up during the course of our conversation together is the name of The Jayhawks. The legendary Americana group helped steer Jones down the musical path that she currently walks and having the chance to birth The Mad Mile with The Jayhawks Gary Louris was nothing short of a dream come true for the artist.
“Going into the project, I had hoped that he would have the same sensibilities that I have and found that we worked together extremely well and agreed on nearly everything,” Jones gushes. “Gary kept us focused and helped make the recording process a lot of fun.”
The Jayhawks Gary Louris is not the only one who has been drawn in by Jones music. Earlier this year, Jones placed third in the Americana category of the International Songwriting Competition, the third consecutive year that she has been among the finalists. Despite not having brought home the top prize, Jones is still wowed by her good fortune.
“The International Songwriting Competition is the only songwriting contest that I have ever entered and is incidentally the only one that I wanted to win,” she says.
With more than 15,000 song entries in the competition, finishing in third place is indeed no small feat for any artist, let alone a Canadian one playing Americana.
“It is not as though Emmylou Harris is calling me to collaborate,” she laughs when asked whether she has experienced any run-off success as the result of the competition. “I do see the competition as a great way to help me break into the Americana market in the United States, however. Those are the people that I am looking to connect with.”
Billboard Canada - "5 for 2010"
[+ Show ]
“January is always a good time to peruse acts that look set for bigger and better things in the comi...“January is always a good time to peruse acts that look set for bigger and better things in the coming months... Jones attracted Canadian music industry attention when Jayhawks main man Gary Louris agreed to produce her album. …but then Jones is full of surprises…don’t be surprised if a label comes knocking very soon”.
- Robert Thompson, Billboard Canada, Jones was selected as one of five acts to watch in 2010 (January 15, 2010)
No Depression article - "More Mad Miles Than Money"
[+ Show ]
About five years ago, singer-songwriter Kirsten Jones was in New Zealand, on holiday from her work a...About five years ago, singer-songwriter Kirsten Jones was in New Zealand, on holiday from her work as a major-label account executive in Toronto, when she took a sea kayaking trip that would change her life.
The leisurely paddle on the open water took an abrupt, dangerous turn when a storm blew in, leaving the novice kayaker and her friend struggling to return to shore for some three hours. When they eventually made it back, they were informed that the lethal stretch theyï¿½d been out on was known locally as the ï¿½mad mile,ï¿½ which provided inspiration for a song.
ï¿½That song ï¿½The Mad Mileï¿½ is definitely about that experience, and about life in general. On that trip to New Zealand, I decided to quit my job and do this,ï¿½ she says, gesturing around the suburban Toronto recording studio where work was underway on her forthcoming record, also titled The Mad Mile.
The connections to the New Zealand trip donï¿½t end there. Jones, an ebullient Virginian who relocated to Canada at 22, says she listened to the Jayhawksï¿½ Rainy Day Music throughout that trip. Not so coincidentally, the Jayhawksï¿½ Gary Louris is at the mixing board, producing The Mad Mile.
How did she hook up with Louris, who, aside from his own work, has produced or written with the Dixie Chicks, Kelly Willis, Maria McKee and the Sadies? Simple. She wrote and asked him.
ï¿½People said to me, ï¿½You should send it to a bunch of producers,ï¿½ but in my mind I thought, I want Gary Louris to produce it. It took me a year to send him something, just to put it in the mail. I thought, oh yeah, right! All I did is look up his management company and sent it to them. He is one of my all-time idols for songwriting. The Jayhawks were hugely influential to me, as were a number of artists he has worked with ï¿½ Kelly Willis, Maria McKee, the Dixie Chicks. There was no one else I had in mind. I had to get to him before I could move on and try anyone else.ï¿½
For his part, Louris says he was drawn by both the quality of Jonesï¿½ voice, which he likens to Dixie Chicksï¿½ Natalie Maines, and the caliber of her songwriting (he ended up co-writing with Jones, too).
ï¿½It is fun for me to work with someone who can really sing,ï¿½ Louris says during a break from recording. ï¿½It is difficult to have to finesse things sometimes. I was looking to do something where the songs were mostly there and with someone who can really sing, and she had both those going on.ï¿½
The audacity of Jonesï¿½ effort only really comes into focus when you consider that she lured Louris north of the border without the support of a record label. And like a certain audaciously hopeful presidential-elect, Jones has turned to the internet to enable that dream. On an adjunct page of her website, she has posted demos for the record and opportunities to sponsor, ranging from Life Preserver ($15) to Cruise Ship ($10,000) categories. Thereï¿½s even a caricature of Jones in a canoe, paddling toward her goal of $75,000 (as of this writing, sheï¿½s about one-tenth of the way there). In return for sponsorship, donors can receive everything from a download of her demo to listing in the CD credits to the chance to host a private ï¿½house concertï¿½ by Jones.
ï¿½I made a conscious choice to make this record without a label; I did not even look into that,ï¿½ Jones says. ï¿½I am interested in shopping it to a label (once it is complete), but I knew what I wanted to do with this album. Maybe I am being naive in thinking a label wants to take my record and put it out, but I hope they do,ï¿½ she laughs.
She studied other artists who had used online solicitation to support record production, and mentions Jill Sobule as one who had done a fine job of engaging fans to support the creation of the album. ï¿½I want to be where music is going. I want people to hear my music just like everyone else, and using technology to do that makes sense.ï¿½
For his part, Louris is intrigued by Jonesï¿½ strategy. ï¿½Any way you can do it so you are not totally begotten to a record company is a good thing. Any way you can make money legally to fulfill your vision and make the music is great,ï¿½ he says. ï¿½I think it is making people feel a part of the project and being somewhat altruistic in a way. I think it is great when other people can feel part of making a work of art.ï¿½
Jonesï¿½ strategy is informed by her own stint in the record biz. For seven years, as she worked on her music on the side, she toiled as an account executive, selling albums to retailers such as Wal-Mart and the Canadian department store Zellerï¿½s. ï¿½I met a lot of my favorite artists through that time, and it just got to be painful to meet Sheryl Crow and shake her hand and say, ï¿½Iï¿½m an account executive.ï¿½ I wanted to say, ï¿½Iï¿½m a singer-songwriter!ï¿½ï¿½
When she would attend concerts by artists she admired, she would be reduced to tears, but not simply because she was moved by the music. ï¿½I would be really upset. I couldnï¿½t figure why I was so upset. I couldnï¿½t pinpoint it, but it was hard. It was difficult to see other people doing what I wanted to be doing. I said, ï¿½I canï¿½t do this anymore. I canï¿½t bawl my way through another Sarah Harmer concert.ï¿½ï¿½
Four and a half years ago, she walked away from her job with the label and turned to music as a full-time occupation. She released her first disc, Drive-In Movie, in 2005.
ï¿½I just knew I had to quit. I knew it would mean starting from the bottom again and kind of doing everything from scratch. Some people call it gutsy, some people called it stupid. But having worked in the music industry, I knew what it meant. I knew I would be struggling for a certain amount of time, and it is an undefined period of time. But I couldnï¿½t not do it. I just had to do it.ï¿½
Back in the studio, Louris and engineer Denis Tougas (who has worked with Harmer and Kathleen Edwards, among others) are at the board. Blue Rodeoï¿½s Bob Egan lounges on a couch, waiting for his turn to add some pedal steel. On the other side of the couch, Jonesï¿½ sidemen ï¿½ bassist Mitch Girio, guitarist Kevin Zarnett and drummer Gary Craig ï¿½ run through takes of a composition of Girioï¿½s (the only non-Jones composition being considered for the album) titled ï¿½Norma Graceï¿½. A take breaks down, and the players dissolve into studio cross-talk. Louris, who is scheduled for two six-day strings of all-day sessions, calls for another take: ï¿½Less talk, more rock,ï¿½ he intones through the intercom.
Craig plays a unique shuffle variation on his toms as the other players fall in with understated empathy to the song, a spooky character study delivered in Jonesï¿½ bell-clear voice.
Sheï¿½s a freaked-out fugitive, running from her past,
Races with her guilt and always comes in last,
She used to be a farm girl way back in the day,
When her I think of her now I wonder how she got this way?
Through take after take as Louris toys with different feels and alternate ways to end the song, Jonesï¿½ vocal never falters, notwithstanding the hours theyï¿½ve already spent on the track and the many hours and days left to go. Outside the vocal booth, her enthusiasm for making The Mad Mile and her online initiative is just as unwavering.
ï¿½I am thrilled to do it this way. So much creativity springs from having so little time. You have to dig in. It is interesting watching people come up with stuff on the fly,ï¿½ she says.
ï¿½This is so the way of the future, people getting heard for once rather than the record company deciding. People can pick what they want to listen to or invest in. Iï¿½m really excited by that.ï¿½
Billboard Canada - Kirsten Jones is Miles Ahead
[+ Show ]
One of the Canadian artists we tipped in January to make waves during 2010, Kirsten Jones is followi...One of the Canadian artists we tipped in January to make waves during 2010, Kirsten Jones is following her dreams and creating some believers along the way.
The latter include the Jayhawks' main man Gary Louris, who produced the little-known Toronto alt country singer's second album, "The Mad Mile", and Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy, who appears as aguest vocalist on the set.
Jones says she had vision of Louris producing her record and set out to make that a reality. "His name just kept coming into my head," Jones says. "I kept trying to get it out of my head because it sounded ridiculous. But it stayed there."
Eventually, Jones sent a note and some demos to Louris' management, although she admits to being surprised when she heard back. Not only did Louris agree to produce the project, he also co-wrote two tracks on the album, which is due May 11th in Canada on Fontana North. "He came to my house and suddenly we're sitting down to write songs," she says. "It was remarkable."
The result is a decidedly country album that flirts with alt-country in spots, dominated by Jones' smooth vocals and occasionally hushed tones. "I'm a big fan of Patty Griffin and The Dixie Chicks," she says. "I hope this album comes out somewhere in the middle".
While there's plenty of twang on the album, Jones says she's a little concerned about whether she's too country for the Americana crowd and too alt-country for traditional country radio. Still, her belief in the record is solid, "While I keep wondering whether people will like it or not,"she says, "it doesn't matter. I know this is what I meant to do."
Kirsten Jones/The Jayhawks
[+ Show ]
The Phoenix Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 Toronto’s own Sweetheart of the Rodeo was visibly tickle...The Phoenix
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Toronto’s own Sweetheart of the Rodeo was visibly tickled pink to be opening for her recent producer, Gary Louris, if not mentors in the form of his recently reformed Jayhawks. Launching into the country-rock-hungry crowd with a tightly played set of songs from her latest, The Mad Mile, Kirsten was all-confidence and clearly all-smiles. In truth, she seemed in a hurry to deliver her goods so she could concentrate on taking in this first show of the Jayhawks’ reunion tour.
Equipped with a strong band to deliver a torqued-up version of the goods, Kirsten was joined by Kevin Zarnett (guitar and backing vocals), Mitch Girio (bass), Robin Pirson (drums) and the phenomenal Bob Egan (pedal steel). An added bonus was the guest appearance of the ever-sultry Suzie Ungerleider (O Susanna), providing backing vocals on Jones’ blissful “Bittersweet Grand Canyon”.
Egan’s aggressive pedal steel whipped up the party potential from Mad Mile’s country-kissed originals, Jones revealing her love of the genre, while teeming with the confidence of her band’s polished sound before a hometown crowd. To her credit, they paid full attention to highlights including the hard-hitting “I Don’t Want To Live Like This” but seemed equally sold on her softer numbers like the stunning “I Will Love You Now” and the equally dramatic “Losing Something”. A fine showing and an enthusiastic set-up to her favourite band.
Kirsten Jones - The Mad Mile CD Review
[+ Show ]
By Jason Schneider There's no denying that the company you keep makes a big difference in life, and...By Jason Schneider
There's no denying that the company you keep makes a big difference in life, and music. For her sophomore release, Toronto, ON singer-songwriter Kirsten Jones pulled out all the stops to work with one of her primary influences: Gary Louris of the Jayhawks. As well as his experience behind the board, Jones brought along a host of other luminaries, including Jim Cuddy, Oh Susanna and steel guitarists Greg Leisz and Bob Egan, giving The Mad Mile a rare polish, in terms of Canadian independent releases. However, Jones's songs are strong on their own, delving deep into classic themes of love and loss. Her understated, almost effortless singing is the binding force, in terms of setting just the right tone for Louris's uncluttered production. While, at times, The Mad Mile will seem a bit too understated for some tastes, its charms will surely appeal to the majority of Canadian folk fans.
Kirsten Jones - The Mad Mile
[+ Show ]
Sweethearted, hard working, country music artist Kirsten Jones releases her star-studded The Mad Mil...Sweethearted, hard working, country music artist Kirsten Jones releases her star-studded The Mad Mile today in Canada. The album was produced by Gary Louris of The Jayhawks and accompanied by Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy and Bob Egan with singer Oh Susanna and many more talented musicians.
In our April interview, Kirsten talks about how she made her dream album, where she gets her inspiration and her involvement with The Townships Project.
MB: You have so many great names on this album! How did you get connected with everyone?
KJ: You know it started with Gary Louris from the Jayhawks, which is one of my favourite bands ever, and he had recently written some songs for the Dixie Chicks’ album and it reminded me again of how much I love him. I just kind of summoned up the courage to send his management a package with a bunch of information; I looked him up online. A few months later I heard back from his management saying that “Gary would love to talk to you about the album.” So, that was a really wonderful surprise and when we started talking we realized we were on the same page and it came together from there.
It was pretty much the same thing for the other artists as well. I had been a fan of Oh Susanna for a while and I just contacted her. I had opened for her once but we really didn’t know each other, but she was wonderful. She’s like “sure, what the heck?” I just loved it.
MB: So, you just summoned up your courage up, found the artists you wanted to work with, and asked them? That’s so great!
That’s exactly right. Yah, I didn’t have unbridled courage every minute but when I have an idea in my head that I can’t get rid of I know it’s something that I should try.
MB: What were you doing when you got the news that Gary wanted to speak with you?
KJ: I was actually in Alberta on tour and Gary was in Toronto and I was lamenting the fact that I was not able to see his concert. It was right around the same time that I got the e-mail from his management. On the same day I found out I got a FACTOR grant as well… so that was pretty much the biggest day of my career so far.
MB: I’m a little confused about the release date. On the site it says October 2009, but we are celebrating the national release on May 18th, 2010.
KJ: I did an early iTunes release mostly because I wanted to give my engineer a chance at a JUNO nomination. So, I actually released it on iTunes in Canada in October with no fanfare whatsoever and made it into the JUNO awards, and my engineer did get nominated for my album. It was kind of amazing, again, one of those little things that was nagging at me.
MB: What has been happening in the last 7 months for the national pubic release?
KJ: I wanted to hire a publicist. I did an album without a publicist and thought ‘I don’t think I’ll ever do that again,’ because you put so much work into making your dream a reality and really the only way for people to hear it is to tell people about it, and really, that’s what publicists do. I have a new little guy at home, he’s 14 months now, but took over a bit of last year too, so I wanted to wait to release it for those reasons.
MB: What does the release of this album mean to you?
KJ: The culmination of, you know, in some ways 5 years of work, in other ways a lifetime of work, because this is the album that I always meant to make. Regardless of what anybody thinks of it, this is what I meant to do. And I’m really happy with it. I’m happy with the songs I wrote, I’m happy to have written all the songs on the album. I’m happy to have worked with everyone that’s on there. So to me it’s really the end of one era and the beginning of another. I hope to tour to the heck out of it and maybe tour with people I admire.
MB: What’s the most important piece of advice that you gained from recording with such experienced musicians?
KJ: I’ll talk about Gary as a producer. He was nicely laid back, and I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and worry about a lot of little things. One of the things he told me was ‘the more time you give it, the album will expand to whatever time you decide to make it in.’ So we took those two weeks and really pulled it off. He kept things rolling. I got a lot of good advice from him, but in particular to just ‘let it happen.’
MB: The lyrics on the album can be heavy, do you write from experience or observation?
KJ: A little of both. Almost always when you hear the heavy on my album it’s usually from a life experience. It’s usually something that happened to me, or part of it happened to me. More often than not, I tend to write about personal experience. That’s the kind of music that I like to listen to. I like to hear authenticity; because it’s much easier to be authentic about something you’ve actually experienced.
MB: Have you always written country songs?
KJ: No. I hated country. Growing up I never listened to a lick of country. I wasn’t one of those people who grew up with George Jones. My mom was a rock chick and I listened to rock. I never thought in a million years I’d be a country artist. It was certain artists for me that I discovered over the years, including, but definitely not limited to people like Patty Griffin, The Jayhawks, Lucinda Williams, Maria McKee and even as far back as people like Tracy Chapman who were just there amazing songwriters. Like, Tracy Chapman was on the radio with all these hair bands and you’re like ‘what is that?’ It was such amazing songwriting. So a lot of artists kind of bridged the gap between folk and country for me, and then alt-country.
MB: If you had $100,000 to donate to the cause of your choice, what would it be?
KJ: It would be the Townships Project. It is a Canadian charity that I’ve worked with for a number of years now, that provides micro loans to women in the townships of South Africa; the townships that were created by apartheid and still exist. These micro loans are given to them and they are paid back and they build themselves out of poverty by creating a business that thrives within that community. I just love the cycle and the respect and the dignity. All of these women want that chance and they all know what they’d do if you gave them a $50 loan to start a business. They know exactly what to do and they start it. And I love that it goes directly to the women, it’s not through this big corporation and trickling down through all the layers. This is on the ground, in the townships, and it’s helping women everyday.
MB: How have you been involved with Townships Project?
KJ: I actually put together a fundraiser for them called Lend to End. [poverty]. It’s actually coming up right before my record release. It (was) May 13th, and it’s the 4th year. I was their event manager for the first 2 years and I have just been kind of consulting with them ever since because I’m just a big believer in the project and the founder Martha Deacon. She’s just a great person and preservers through anything.
MB: You were born in Virginia, how long did you live there?
KJ: I was born and raised there until I was 22. My father is Canadian though, so have dual citizenship. I love it. I didn’t move from the States for any political reason, I just really love being in Toronto and in Canada.
MB: What’s your favourite part about living in the city?
KJ: The international flare. How you can meet different types of people and get all different types of food and meet really interesting people any day of the week.
MB: Do you prefer wine, beer or whiskey?
KJ: Beer! I’m a beer girl.
MB: What’s your favourite?
MB: What’s your favourite beer right now?
KJ: Okay… hmm… my favourite beer right now… um, jeez I’m thinking of so many, how can I narrow it down. Um… I’m not much of a drinker… I sound like a boozer but I just like beer. I cannot even think of the name of it right now, but I’ll go with Rickard’s White because I just tried that recently. But I mean, oh man… all the Belgian beers. You know what, I like Belgian beer. Those are my favourite.
Songwriter's Speakeasy, Profiles Pt. 1
[+ Show ]
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Kirsten Jones has had an exciting year – she was selected as a final...Toronto-based singer-songwriter Kirsten Jones has had an exciting year – she was selected as a finalist in the Kerrville New Folk Contest, the Canadian Country Music Awards invited her to perform at the prestigious Songwriter’s Cafe, and her song “Bittersweet Grand Canyon” was chosen as one of the finalists in the International Songwriting Competition. Kirsten’s Juno-nominated recent release, The Mad Mile, should be nestled comfortably in your CD-changer beside your copy of Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball, since the transition between the two discs will sound seamless. With a sweet, country-tinged voice and songs that come with a side of whiskey, Kirsten kicks off the Songwriters’ Speakeasy and proves why she was named as one of five acts to watch out for in 2010 by Billboard Canada. Video: “Bittersweet Grand Canyon” (feat. Oh Susanna)
Kirsten Jones leaves Music INdustry job to pursue music
[+ Show ]
The story of the aspiring musician wasting away behind a desk is an all-too-familiar tale. But singe...The story of the aspiring musician wasting away behind a desk is an all-too-familiar tale. But singer-songwriter Kirsten Jones' day job wasn't too far removed from her life's passion when she quit being a Universal Music executive to make music full-time.
"I was like, 'Yeah, I know the ins and outs of producing a record,' but it took me five years to shed that image and totally emerge as a musician," she tells Spinner in a Toronto café. "I've forgotten about that time, thank God."
Jones says the seeds of her sophomore album, 'The Mad Mile' were sown during her time as an executive, but the record blossomed with the help of one of her musical heroes: Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris.
"I loved it, I wish I could do it every day," she says. "He was someone I idolized for a decade or more as a songwriter. I loved the Jayhawks, they were one of my favorite bands of all time. So working with him I had to pinch myself everyday."
Louris announced his intention to produce a record for a Jones in an interview back in 2008. Not an earth-shattering revelation, but his admission came before Jones herself knew he was on board.
The end result of their fruitful partnership is 'The Mad Mile,' an alt.country/roots record which could very well do for Jones what 'Failer' did for Kathleen Edwards. Released digitally last year but out on CD May 11, 'The Mad Mile' was already nominated for a 2010 Juno Award in the Recording Engineer of the Year category.
Jones might also be pinching herself when she notes the cast of musicians surrounding her on the record: Louris, Oh Susanna (aka singer Suzie Ungerleider), Bob Egan (Wilco, Blue Rodeo), Gary Craig (Kathleen Edwards), Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy and pedal steel guru Greg Leisz (Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris) to name a few.
The 12-track album features Cuddy singing a duet on the barnburner 'Hold Me Closer,' as well as Oh Susanna on the closing 'Bittersweet Grand Canyon', and the tender, personal opener 'You Ain't Comin' By.'
"It's about one day in my life when I was six-years-old, so that's how I generally introduce it," Jones says, without revealing further details. "It's my favorite song. I personally like songs that are really personal. All the artists that I love write those types of songs."
'You Ain't Comin' By' -- which ended up as one of three finalists in the 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest's country category -- took some hard work however, as Jones and Louris reinvented the song from start to finish. "It was our last night and we had three hours left in the studio. I said, 'We have to redo this song.' Everyone was game, we just hopped right to it and it was just one of those meant-to-be things where it was done in three hours."
Perhaps the only small setback regarding 'The Mad Mile' was the timing of an innovative idea to help self-finance the album. With different gifts offered depending on the amount given, Jones ended up with more than $8,000 (and one penny) in donations.
"I launched that fundraising website the same week that the entire economy went in the toilet," she laughs. "Every headline said, 'We're done, we have no money, don't spend it.' And here I was saying, 'Hi, help support and fund my album.' If I had done it six months before it would've went a lot better, but I learned from it and I still made some money and some new fans. It was a really great learning experience and I do think it's the way of the future, regardless if I had success with it or not."
The rest of the year sees Jones -- one of Billboard's five artists to watch this year -- touring as much as possible behind it, though her one-year-old son means the typical touring-for-weeks routine won't be in the cards. But even without a relentless touring schedule, it seems Jones is already drawing interest from record labels.
"With the music industry these days you need to build yourself and then people will get on board," she says. "I've had some really nice phone calls from people who've said, 'We love what you do, keep building and keep in touch.' So there's been that kind of thing and there are been a couple of labels I had in mind. To be honest I'd rather wait on those than take whatever label is offering whatever right now."
The Mad Mile - A Kirsten Jones interview
[+ Show ]
“I was proposed to at the grand canyon.” Says alternative country gal, Kirsten Jones of her song “Bi...“I was proposed to at the grand canyon.” Says alternative country gal, Kirsten Jones of her song “Bittersweet Grand Canyon”. “Then I got divorced, hence the bittersweet part.” And she says it with a bit of humour in her voice. This is the kind of person Kirsten is. She is confident, easy to talk to and never misses a chance to throw in some wit.
Born and raised in Virginia, Kirsten Jones chose to pursue her musical career in the concrete jungle of Toronto. So how does one get to the roots of great country music so far away from the land of belt buckles and Stetsons? Our man Gavin spoke with Kirsten and he found out that she believes you don’t always have to go to Nashville to find fame, Kirsten firmly believes that she can bring the best of Nashville to Toronto.
Q: What was it about Country music that made you say, “hey this is what I really want to do”?
A: Country music crept up on me. I couldn’t stand listening to country. But I started to become a folky singer songwriter along the way and that started to bridge the gap to a more country sound. It’s more alternative country music. It’s just a different kind of country.
Q: You were born and raised in Virginia but live now in Toronto. Why did you decide to move so much farther away from a place like Nashville – the land of country music?
A: My dad is actually Canadian and I’ve been living here for a long time. I had no real intention of staying, I just loved it here and decided to stay. But I can honestly say I’ve been to Nashville more since living in Toronto. There’s a ton of songwriters there and it’s a great place to go and write.
Q: You decided to pursue music as a full time career a little later than others; what made you decide that “yes this is what I want to do 100 percent”.
A: A lot of stuff happened in my life all at one time – I got divorced and my mother was in a coma from encephalitis. My life just took a turn for the worse for a year. It just completely shook me up. I emerged from that saying I can’t wait any longer. I was born to do this and I never wanted to do anything else. Sometimes it just takes something to push you in that direction.
Q: Your new album The Mad Mile hit stores on May 11th. Why the Mad Mile? Has it really been that tough?
A: I took a trip to New Zealand with a friend of mine. We took a sea-kayaking trip and a storm came up and we were stuck out there for a while and a little scared to say the least, but we got to shore. A little later someone told us that the stretch of water we were on was the “Mad Mile”. It’s also about life, but literally it is about the stretch of water in New Zealand.
Q: You’ve said you really wanted to work with Gary Louis (former Jayhawks frontman) to produce the record. What was it about Gary that made it such a decisive decision for you?
A: His musical sensibilities are so in line with mine. He’s worked with the Dixie Chicks, Kelley Willis and Lucinda Williams – artists I’ve loved. He was up here producing the Sadies and I knew he had a connection to Toronto, so with the songs I had I thought we’d fit really well together – at least in my head.
Q: Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo is your duet partner on the track “Hold Me Closer”. Was he able to give you some insight into the business or did he just come along for the ride.
A: Jim and Oh Susannah, Michael Johnston, Skydiggers and Bobby Egan of Blue Rodeo were all on my album, so I just bugged his management. He showed up and did his part. We didn’t really talk about the business, but he was so nice and extremely professional, he just opens up his mouth and that voice comes out.
Q: Personally, is it enough to be recognized in Canada or is the honourable mention in Nashville’s Songwriter’s Association more of an accomplishment?
A: The international songwriter’s recognition is important to me because I want to tour other countries. I would love to go to the UK, Scandanavia and Australia so that can really open doors but Canada is certainly enough. But to make a living as a musician you need to branch out to really make that work.
Q: Now that the Mad Mile is out, what can fans expect from Kirsten Jones in the upcoming year?
A: Tour as much as I can! I will probably hit everywhere in Canada throughout the year.
Q: Current favourite album?
A: The Courtyard Hounds which is the Dixie Chicks offshoot with Marty and Emily.
Q: Current favourite movie?
A: The Best Years of Our Lives, it’s from the 1940’s. It’s been one of favourite movies for years now.
Q: Current favourite book?
A: I am a biography reader. I read the Michael J Fox bio recently, Lucky Man.
*PHOTO CREDIT: Heather Pollock
Stonecroft Folk Concert Review
[+ Show ]
The lovely Kirsten Jones charmed the audience at Stonecroft on her return to our stage. Her honest e...The lovely Kirsten Jones charmed the audience at Stonecroft on her return to our stage. Her honest enthusiasm for the audience makes everyone feel you are actually enjoying an evening visit with friends. Each of her songs reveals an interesting reflection on the human condition. Kirsten's crystal pure voice warms the room and the audience went home humming her new album Mad Mile.
CD review - Drive-In Movie
[+ Show ]
...the beauty of (Kirsten's) most outstanding trait comes through loud and clear on softer, more int......the beauty of (Kirsten's) most outstanding trait comes through loud and clear on softer, more introspective compositions like the achingly beautiful "Shadows" and the more melancholic "Need You", which have more in common with Maria McKee and Lucinda Williams...
...her hurtin' potential is painfully obvious on songs like "You Don't Feel", which offers that fateful hint of country that shines through in her live performances...
...A bona fide comparison to Emmylou Harris is not out of order.
..."Don't Mind Me" previews a talent about to break...Drive-In Movie demands an immediate sequel.
Eric Thom, Exclaim Magazine
Beacher Wins Country Music Award
[+ Show ]
Entertainment by Bill MacLean Beacher wins country music award On the night of Sept. 16, in fr...Entertainment
by Bill MacLean
Beacher wins country music award
On the night of Sept. 16, in front of more than 4,000
country music fans gathered on the grounds of Magna
International in Aurora, Beach singer songwriter
Kirsten Jones took first place in the annual Magna
Hoedown Showdown. The Hoedown Showdown is a showcase
for aspiring Canadian singers and songwriters. This
year 85 musicians took part in the two-week contest
judged by Sylvia Tyson, John McDermott and current
Chair of the Canadian Country Music Awards, Heather
Ostertag. The gala performance featured performances
by The Good Brothers, Diane Chase, Corb Lund, and the
Showdown winner, Kirsten Jones.
“It was a great night of country music,” said Jones,
who expressed her admiration for all the other
performers (“Everybody was so good...”) as well as her
surprise at her own choice as winner.
“I think I’m far more folk,” she said. “But in the end
I think it was more about songwriting and
performance.” All the artists were required to perform
solo in front of the judges, and the fact that Jones
has been playing for several years – has already
released a solo CD – combined with her pure, lilting
voice, no doubt were factors in the judges’ choice.
For the gala concert Jones brought her bandmates Mitch
Girio, bass, and Kevin Zarnett, lead guitar, on stage
Jones is originally from Virginia, but because her
father is Canadian, she has dual citizenship. When she
decided it was time to move to a big city to pursue a
career in music she chose Toronto, where her father
was living at the time. For the next few years Jones
did the usual rounds of coffee houses and open stages
before taking a job in sales at Universal Music. It
was there that she learned a lot about the business
side of music. It was a meeting with Sheryl Crow that
convinced her to make the commitment to music full
“Here I was meeting Sheryl Crow and introducing myself
as a record company employee,” she said. “And I
realized that I’d rather be introducing myself as a
singer and a songwriter.” She packed up and headed to
Nashville where made the rounds of clubs, honing her
skills as a performer and a writer.
Her first CD, Drive-in Movie, was released in 2005. It
was produced and recorded here in the Beach by Mitch
Girio, and distributed by Maple Music. It has enjoyed
extensive airplay (you can hear three cuts by visiting
www.myspace.com/kirstenjonesmusic), and she is
currently at work on a second recording due out in the
new year. Jones has made the Beach her home for the
last few years.
The prize for winning the Magna Hoedown Showdown is
$2,500, a block of recording studio time – and a
$3,500 Gibson guitar (Gibson was the sponsor of the
contest). Jones is excited about the prospects of
owning this guitar.
“I drop into Long & McQuade often, and every time I’m
there I play this big Gibson Jumbo guitar,” she said.
“I sure hope that’s the one I win.”
You can hear and read more of Kirsten Jones and her
music at the ‘myspace’ site, or at
www.kirstenjones.com, and order Drive-in Movie from
CD Review (New Brunswick)
[+ Show ]
If you enjoy Natalie Merchant, Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow, Virginia native Kirsten Jones will be...If you enjoy Natalie Merchant, Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow, Virginia native Kirsten Jones will be right up your alley. While she most closely resembles Merchant vocally, her strong songwriting skills and smooth vocals help to make the sounds of a winning combination here.
- Ken Kelley
Solo - anything up to two 45-minute sets
Duo - anything up to three 45-minute sets
Trio - anything up to three 45-minute sets
Band - anything up to two hour long sets
Sets are 85% original material unless otherwise requested.
Sample set list:
There's a Right Way to Break My Heart (K. Jones/K. Zarnett)
I Don't Want To Live Like This (G. Louris/K. Jones)
Bittersweet Grand Canyon (K. Jones)
Losing Something (G. Louris/K. Jones)
Hold Me Closer (K. Jones)
Thoughtful Man (K. Jones/K. Zarnett)
I Will Love You Now (K. Jones)
Rowing Song (Patty Griffin)
Extra Days (K. Jones)
You Ain't Comin' By (K. Jones)
Don't Mind Me (K. Jones)
The Mad Mile (K. Jones)
Covers can include - Michael Jackson, Tracy Chapman, Sade, Patty Griffin, Beatles, Tom Petty, Prince, The Jayhawks, Dolly Parton, Don Henley, Britney Spears, and countless others, all with an Americana/Folky bent...
There are no upcoming dates at this time.