Jacquie Drew
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Jacquie Drew

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Country Singer/Songwriter


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Jacquie Drew @ Lantern Community Church

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Calgary, Alberta, Canada



"Top 12 DIY Pick"

Canadian artist Jacquie Drew's 10 tunes from Rolling Wind breeze along at a languid pace. Slowly unfolding to the tune of a finger-picked acoustic guitar and piano, these songs shuffle with a vintage country-pop sounds that falls somewhere between Patsy Cline ("Blue Eyes") and Simon & Garfunkel ("Long Way Down"). The bluesier "Imagine That" shows off Drew's versatility as a singer. At times, her twangy vocals evoke Nanci Griffith, but Drew croons with more low-end in her alto. Drew's compositions tackle love and longing with equal parts attitude ("Goodbye Man" and vulnerability ("Save Me"). - LCB - Performing Songwriter

"From Eye Candy to Ear Candy"

The odds seemed long on a bitter winter night four years ago when a pretty, dark-haired musician showed up at an 8th Avenue bar, shakily clutching a banjo.
The week before, Jacquie Drew and her husband Gary had been on a date at the Ironwood and fallen in love. Not with each other -- that had happened years before -- but with the music of perennial Calgary favourites Tom Phillips and the Men of Constant Sorrow.
Smitten, Drew approached Phillips offstage that night and offered to add her talents to the band. The easygoing Phillips suggested showing up downtown at King Henry VIII Pub, where the band played informal sets most Saturday nights.
So Drew found herself onstage, banjo turned down very low, trying to fit in with six highly seasoned players. Although she had years of experience as a trained pianist and as a singer with the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus, as well as a member of Calgary party band The Deputies, things didn't go well. Her banjo didn't exactly mesh with the music.
Still, at the end of the night, Phillips invited her to come back. She ended up playing with the band for three years.
No wonder the banjo wasn't meshing. The naturally musical Drew had taught herself to play the instrument with a series of "how-to" tapes, but when it needed repair and she took it into local bluegrass icon Craig Korth, she got the straight goods. "I said, 'Give me a few tips: I want to see how a real banjo player does it,' and he said, 'Maybe you should go back to square one.' "
It's hard to believe those words were directed at the same woman who recorded the stunning debut CD Rolling Wind, which will be feted with a gig at the Ironwood Stage tonight.
Celebrated Calgary musicians such as Steve Pineo, Ron Casat, Ian Tyson's drummer Thom Moon, and Constant Sorrow bandmates Charlie Veilleux and Allen Baekeland turned up to support Drew's songs in the studio.
Longtime local musician Danny Patton produced the 10-song disc, and his veteran ears nudged the rootsy album towards simple, classic sounds graced with wide-open harmonies and delicious snippets of guitar and keyboard. The songs range from the intensely personal, such as Blue Eyes, which sketches the evolution of her relationship with her husband and two children, to universal themes like the title track's celebration of wanderlust.
If the album is surprisingly solid for a first release, especially from someone who was told to relearn her instrument just a few years ago, it's because Drew has worked hard to earn her accolades. After a half-dozen gigs with Phillips' band, he suggested the banjo wasn't working, and could she play the accordion?
Drew laughs remembering the request. "(He said) 'Oh, you only have to play the right side of the accordion, and it's like a piano keyboard, so how hard can it be?' I remember the first time I got up on stage with that accordion, I thought I must look like an idiot. People are going to laugh at me -- but I played along with the songs, and I practised with Tom's CDs."

As with the banjo, Drew was a long way from proficient. Guitarist Dwight Thompson kept Drew's accordion turned down so low that she blew a key trying to hear herself play. "I used to say, 'I'm turned down too low' and Dwight would say, 'Well, there's a reason.' "
When she went to get it fixed, it was a bit of banjo deja vu. "I took it in to get the key repaired at Mason Accordion Studio, and they said, 'You really need some lessons.' Tom was saying how he was going to get a CD produced and I thought, 'If I'm gonna join this band and record, maybe I should get some accordion lessons so I won't be lagging behind all these guys.' Especially when you're the only woman in the band, who wants to be the worst player? Then people would say 'She's there for eye candy.' "
Drew's evolution from eye candy to ear candy was speedy, especially when she augmented her accordion lessons with vocal lessons, to help her with harmonies and leads, and with lessons in jazz piano, to learn to improvise on the accordion keyboard. "I had to do it because the rest of them (the band) were so good. So the band inspired me to become a better musician."

The inspiration paid off when Phillips invited Drew to sing duets with him onstage. Their versions of Hickory Wind and Jackson soon had people calling out requests every gig. It also paid off on Drew's contributions to Phillips' most recent release, this year's Downtown Cowboy CD, where she contributed an absolutely addictive improvised accordion solo to Nowhere Fast and smoky, tear-jerk vocals to Phillips' duet All the Things that Don't Matter (Matter Now).
The songwriter compares leaving the band earlier this year to pursue her solo career to breaking up with a boyfriend, and tears up even talking about it. She has been back to see them several times.
"I can't help it -- I love them," she smiles, adding that their influence on her has been profound.
"Before I joined the band, I wouldn't say I wrote very good songs. I had maybe written a dozen songs, most of them not very good, mostly from when I met my husband. What I learned was especially the importance of good lyrics. The early songs I wrote were weak lyrically, and then listening to Tom, his songs are so strong lyrically, and it makes the song really interesting."
Ever inspired to improve, she continues with the guitar lessons she began taking early this year to add another dimension to her songwriting.
"The question people always ask is 'Why? Why put out a record?' I love playing music; you need to have something to show people: here's what I sound like.
"But I guess like anybody, you want to have the excitement of going up there and seeing if you can pull it off."

- Calgary Herald


1. Rolling Wind: Debut CD released July 2008. Tracks "Save Me" "Taking Back this Life" "Rolling Wind" "Long Way Down" and "I Found Love" have all received airplay on CBC, CKUA, and Golden West Radio.

2. Red Hot Candy Heart: CD completed summer 2010. Radio Release in January 2011. Received airplay on 30+ stations across Canada, and reached #4 on national folk/roots/blues chart.

3. The Boss is a Woman:  CD released 2015.  Title track released to commercial country radio, and full CD released to independent stations across Canada with airplay on over 40 stations.



Born in New Brunswick and raised in Calgary, Jacquie Drew started out like many kids, required to take classical piano lessons! Though she was very skilled in this, by the time she was working on Grade X Royal Conservatory, she felt it wasn't her musical calling, and left music for a few years for a career in marketing, until she met her soon-to-be husband.

Love, marriage and kids inspired Jacquie toward songwriting - and this kicked off a whole new direction for her musically. She took new kinds of music lessons and self-practiced to broaden her skills (voice, keyboard improvisation, guitar, banjo, and accordion) while she progressed through many popular Calgary-based pop and country bands as an instrumentalist and harmony/lead singer.

In early 2008, she decided to launch her own act, and completed a debut CD, Rolling Wind. The CD received excellent reviews, and was chosen as a Top 12 DIY in Nashville's Performing Songwriter Magazine. Many of the tracks from the CD received airplay on radio in Canada - such as CKUA, CBC, and Golden West Radio. The CD also enabled her to book over 250 shows of many kinds - honing her skills as a solo act and band leader.

In Summer 2010, Jacquie completed her second CD, Red Hot Candy Heart and released the disc to independent and community radio stations across Canada in January 2011. The CD was picked up by over 30 stations across Canada and reached #4 on the national folk/roots/blues charts in early 2011.  Her latest album, The Boss is a Woman, was released in 2015, has been played on over 40 stations across Canada, and included her first commercial radio single "The Boss is a Woman" - which received commercial country airplay on over a dozen commercial stations in Canada, despite it being a home-grown, independently produced release.

Jacquie's voice and musical interpretation crosses country, jazz, and bluegrass. Often praised for her versatility as a singer, her voice can fit smooth jazz, tender pop, or twangy country. She also has a very large catalogue of cover and original music in many genres, delivering it with her own unique stamp.

Jacquie's band, which goes by "Jacquie Drew & the Crew" is a team of seasoned musicians, each with over 15 years performing experience and extensive musical training. The band includes drums, bass (electric/upright), lead guitar, keyboard, accordion, banjo and harmonica, depending on the tune.


Band Members