Jay Semko
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Jay Semko

Saskatoon, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1994 | INDIE | AFM

Saskatoon, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 1994
Solo Americana Singer/Songwriter

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Aug
21
Jay Semko @ The Northern Pikes at Rock the River Festival

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Aug
12
Jay Semko @ The Northern Pikes at Rock N Roar Music Festival

Spanish, Ontario, Canada

Spanish, Ontario, Canada

Jul
16
Jay Semko @ The Northern Pikes at Home County Music Festival

London, Ontario, Canada

London, Ontario, Canada

Music

Press


Written & compiled by Johanna J. Bodde - February 27th, 2015.

Jay Semko was born and raised in Saskatchewan, spending much of his first eleven years living on a farm. After moving to Saskatoon in Grade 7, Jay began honing his skills as a guitarist and bassist, playing in numerous rock bands through his high school years. After a year at the University of Saskatchewan, and after stints in a number of bands in and around Saskatoon, Jay formed The Northern Pikes in 1983, a guitar based pop rock group featuring twangy, atmospheric guitars and unique three part harmonies, with Bryan Potvin, Merl Bryck and Don Schmid. After releasing two independent albums which charted highly on College and Indie playlists in Canada and the USA, the Pikes signed an international record contract with Virgin Records, touring across North America and the band's career went to another level.



The Northern Pikes had a number of Canadian hit singles, including “Teenland”, “Things I Do for Money”, “Wait For Me”, “Hopes Go Astray”, “She Ain’t Pretty”, “Girl With A Problem”, “Kiss Me You Fool”, “Twister” and “Believe”. Two of these, “Things I Do for Money” and “She Ain’t Pretty”, appeared in the USA Billboard Charts and many of the band’s videos charted in the top five on MuchMusic, including “Girl With A Problem” - which made its way to number one. As a member of The Northern Pikes, Jay Semko has eight Juno Award nominations, four gold records and one platinum record with sales of over 1 million units worldwide. He has also received two Canadian Music Publishers Association Awards for “Teenland” and “Girl With A Problem”. In 2012, The Northern Pikes were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame in Regina, Saskatchewan.
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Currently, Jay Semko’s core focus is his solo career. Jay has released ten solo albums, firmly establishing him as one of Canada's premiere songwriters. In 2011 Jay was nominated as Songwriter of the Year in the Western Canadian Music Awards for "Before You Leave Canada"; in 2012 he won the SCMA Award for Roots Album of the Year ("Force of Horses") and he was nominated in the Best Solo Roots Recording category for "Sending Love" in the Western Canadian Music Awards.

Jay is an accomplished voice-over artist and a full ACTRA member, with his voice being heard on radio and television advertisements, public service announcements, documentaries, and dramas. He has also instructed songwriting courses and hosted songwriting workshops and seminars through the University of Saskatchewan, Songwriters Association of Canada, SOCAN and private clients. Jay has also co-written with many other well-known songwriters in Canada and the USA, and continues to do so regularly.

Aside from The Northern Pikes and his solo career, Semko is also an international award winning music composer for numerous film and TV productions including the hit TV show 'Due South' and for such films as 'Trailer Park Boys - The Movie' (2006), 'Men With Brooms' (2002) and 'Being Erica' (2009). He has won the MMPIA Blizzard and SMPIA awards for Best Music Score as music composer for the movie, 'Paris Or Somewhere' (1994).

Jay's songs, film and television scores, and legendary live performances continue to garner him international recognition as one of Canada's most prolific musical talents.
Jay's favorite films: 'Mrs. Miniver', 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox', 'True Grit' (both versions).
Jay's favorite music: Gordon Lightfoot, Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, all Glenn Gould recordings, Jackson Browne, Gram Parsons.


Jay's ALBUM:

Jay Semko's newest, tenth solo-album, 'Flora Vista', is a rootsy, melodic, guitar based musical road trip through love, loss, spirituality, addiction and recovery - he continues to tour, and his solo acoustic concerts are legendary for their laughter, tears, sheer love of music and indeed, life.

"My new album, 'Flora Vista', has truly been a labor of love for me. Some albums happen in days, others in years - 'Flora Vista' was recorded over the course of over a year, although many of the songs on the album were recorded mainly 'live off the floor' with my pal Randy Woods engineering and co-producing at his studio in Saskatoon. All of the songs on this album were written on the acoustic guitar… either my Gibson J-45 or my Washburn R320. Seven of the songs were written solely by myself, and three were co-written with close friends. It always takes a while for me, after completing a new album, to sink in to where my head and heart were really at when I wrote or co-wrote the songs, and where I was at when I actually recorded the songs. I've been very fortunate when recording every one of my albums to work with so many talented musicians, recording engineers, and producers, which allows me to express myself as honestly as I can, and working with Randy Woods on 'Flora Vista' fit perfectly. One thing I've learned over the past few years is to trust my gut instinct (intuition) more, and recognize when my subconscious is trying to tell me something… so… that's what I did with 'Flora Vista'.

Love… loss… spirituality… addiction… recovery… and back to love… the circle… the goldfish swimming in the brain, the bliss, the tears, the day to day to day combined with the 'is this really happening to me' for good or bad, the craving… bigtime craving, beyond anything imaginable… the love - deep, real, swimming with the goldfish and swimming through the bloodstream… at the ocean, the desert, the wheat fields, the bedroom, behind the wheel and behind the darkness… of God, of your soulmate, of your children, your home, your universe… hold up the palms of your hands to the sky… love."

Recorded in Saskatoon at Randy Woods Studios. Jay wanted to record close to home and chose Randy's Saskatoon studio. They've collaborated on music projects before and are friends. "It was a very homey record," Jay Semko says.
Mastered in Nashville at FivePoints Mastering.

Musicians:
Jay Semko (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion
Randy Woods (electric guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, keyboards, bass, vocals)
Mike Pierce (drums); Diane Woods and Leslie Stanwyck (vocals)
Warren Rutherford (pedal steel)
Jeff Assman (keyboards).

Jay's TRACKS:

1. "Ocean In Your Eyes": Co-written with Randy Woods. I have a couple of Jay's earlier solo-albums, but it's been a while since I listened to him. This is a very nice, relaxed folk rock song. I do understand why some people compare him to Jackson Browne, the music has a similar vibe. Cool keyboards and sweet female harmony vocals.

2. "Clean": Impressive intro on acoustic guitar. Deeply personal lyrics: "It's been a few years now since I left the darkness / It still comes back to visit once in a while". By now the band has joined in, pedal steel is of course the instrument of choice to underline words like these. Too bad, the album doesn't have a lyrics booklet. Fine punctuation by the mandolin. Jay is a winner in the end, good for him!

3. "Flora Vista": The exquisite title track. Evokes the vibe of a region of Southern California where several of the songs were written. Jay played this song live on his old Washburn guitar. "I'd never done that on a record, when it's completely live from beginning to end." I see, how he can keep an audience spell-bound for a full evening, just singing and playing his acoustic guitar.

4. "Let The Love In": The full band is back. An intriguing encounter with a ghost almost right at the beginning... Why not? Wonderful electric guitar solos, reflecting the atmospheric desert sound. This could easily be part of a movie soundtrack, for one of Jay's other fun jobs.

5. "Divide And Conquer": Many of these songs were written during times of tumult and change in Jay Semko's life, namely divorce and rehab. Divorce no doubt influenced this song. Rhythm, a female choir and flowing keyboards... "You just won this war / I put up my white flag / Now I'm walking out the door."

6. "Junkie Pride": Jay started writing this long (7m17s), raw and bluesy ballad while in rehab - he's been clean and sober for over eight years. The ominous evil sounding electric guitar duel halfway is just awesome... A very expressive as well as impressive track.

7. "Asleep In The Loving Arms Of God": Apparently Jay writes also religious / spiritual music. In 2009 he was a finalist in the Gospel / Inspirational Category of the internationally acclaimed John Lennon Songwriting Contest for "Jesus Is Gonna Help Me". He also was a finalist in the international Independent Music Awards Gospel Song category for "Drop You In The Water". This is a comforting, sweet and quiet song, re-assuring, very well sequenced after the heavy previous one.

8. "Only Sometimes": Co-written with Sherry Crawford and Dana Blayone. The pedal steel is back for this catchy country rocker. The duet vocal is sung by Leslie Stanwyck. I would say 'hit song potential', but I don't think Jay wants that at this point of his already successful career in music.

9. "Stand And Deliver": Co-written with Colli Christante. Bass intro, I love that. Rockabilly with frantic electric guitars! Jay brings this track just as convincing as all the other ones. Another hit song, if I may say so.

10. "Surrounded By Love": The expansive album-ender is a conquistador tale that resulted from a free-form writing session, just letting the ideas flow without self-editing. "I just let it go and this story came to mind. I sort of wanted to edit it, but it's a vibe and I'm 54 and I can do whatever I want," according to Jay. "If I want a song that's eight minutes long, so be it."

Jay says: "I had a guy tell me it was an album of redemption." There are thematic connections among these ten songs, but he wasn't necessarily going for a unified message. On the other hand, he does see it as an album. "That's what I grew up with and I love the fact that it's like a book; you have to have the chapters and it takes time and effort to have the sequencing of the songs to tell the story correctly."

Jay made a fine folkrock / altcountry album, with honest yet poetic lyrics, carried by beautiful arrangements. A good well-balanced mix of lighter upbeat tracks and emotional, heavy subjects that need to be addressed. It's a musical road trip indeed. From lovely beach towns to the dangers of the inner city, on to the dry desert and circling back. Place the disc on the tray of the CD-player, keep an open mind and enjoy!

I can't say this enough: Jay has also successfully escaped the demons of addiction and is enjoying life clean, sober and more productive than ever.

----- - insurgentcountry.net


Posted by Joel Naphin | March 9, 2015
Jay Semko at Seneca Queen Theatre, Niagara Falls, ON - March 7, 2015
Jay Semko at Seneca Queen Theatre. (C) JOEL NAPHIN

(Niagara Falls, ON) – It was a Saturday night filled with music, storytelling and laughter – courtesy of Jay Semko – at the Seneca Queen Theatre in downtown Niagara Falls.

Semko, best known as the singer and bass player for Canadian band Northern Pikes since 1984, played for close to three hours – two sets which included familiar Northern Pikes hits plus numerous songs from his solo career (his solo albums outnumber Northern Pike albums).

The crowd was very small, around 100 people scattered throughout the theatre. But that didn’t discourage anyone there, including Semko, from having a great time. Fans were treated acoustically to such hits as She Ain’t Pretty, Girl With A Problem, Things I Do For Money, Wait For Me, Hopes Go Astray, Teenland and the title track to his latest album Flora Vista. Semko did not disappoint and was well-received by those in attendance.

Semko hinted afterwards he may be back in the area this summer touring with the Northern Pikes. Seneca Queen Theatre would be a great venue for them. If this happens, I hope the venue fills to capacity next time Semko is in town.

Seneca Queen Theatre will be hosting numerous tribute acts plus The Spoons on March 21 and Rik Emmett (ex-Triumph) on May 2. For more information visit Seneca Queen Theatre online.

Special thanks to Jay Semko for making this an enjoyable and memorable night!

For more photos CLICK HERE to visit the gallery.

Related Stories:

Jay Semko: Northern Pikes’ Frontman Talks About His New Solo Album, Solo Tour and More!

Seneca Queen Theatre: A Great Place To Catch A Movie or See A Concert - MusicLifeMagazine.net


Jay Semko Live and Pickin'
03/05/2015
Submitted by Don Graham

Jay Semko is a veteran performer, composer and musician who is making his way across Canada to share his talent, tunes and tales. On March 14th, the Saskatchewan boy will land at Donald Quan’s Musideum in downtown Toronto. “I decided to take this show of mine back out on the road, just me and my J-45 and I asked my friend Lawrie Ingles to find me a good listening room in Toronto and he came up with Musideum. I’ve heard great things about it and look forward to playing there. Lawrie will actually be there as well to play a few before my set.”

While at the University of Saskatchewan, Jay formed the Northern Pikes, with Bryan Potvin, Merl Bryck, and Don Schmid. After a couple independent albums that did wellon Indie playlists in Canada and the USA, the Pikes signed an international record contract with Virgin Records, catapulting the band career to another level. They released seven albums on the label and toured across North America.

While in the Northern Pikes, Jay was awarded four Gold records and one Platinum, with sales of over 1 million units worldwide that included Canadian hit singles ”Teenland”, “Things I Do for Money”, “Wait for Me”, “Hopes Go Astray”, “She Ain't Pretty”, “Girl with a Problem”, “Kiss Me You Fool”, “Twister” and “Believe”.Both “ Things I Do for Money” and “She Ain't Pretty”, made the U.S.charts, the band's videos of “ Girl With a Problem” reached #1 on MuchMusic. The Pikes received 8 Juno Award nominations, and Jay received two Canadian Music Publishers Association Awards, for “Teenland” and “Girl with a Problem,” The Northern Pikes have released a total of twelve albums and in 2012 were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

The Northern Pikes took a break in 1993 and Jay recorded "Mouse", the first of ten solo albums, and started a new facet of his music career. He began composing for film and television and is now is known around the world as the music composer on the internationally syndicated TV series, "Due South" created Paul Haggis. Jay received two nominations in Canada's Gemini Awards - Best Music Score in a Dramatic Series for that work and has won the MMPIA Blizzard and SMPIA Awards for Best Music Score as music composer for the movie, "Paris Or Somewhere". In 2013 Jay was nominated in the Canadian Screen Awards for his work on the TV series "Dust Up”. Jay has had many of his songs and compositions featured in various film and television shows such as "Trailer Park Boys: the Movie", "Men With Brooms", "Being Erica" and "Cedar Cove".

Jay is currently on a three phase cross Canada tour, starting out West coming to Ontario in March and booking the Prairies following that. “I’ve never done a complete national tour with just me and my guitar.” Jay says he’s having a blast singing, strumming, and chatting with the audiences. He’s promoting his newest album, "Flora Vista" on the Inner Expression Records label.The record is “a rootsy musical road trip through love, loss, spirituality, addiction and recovery”. On this tour, Jay is playing a mix of material including a number of hit songs from the Northern Pikes and songs from his solo albums, some TV from Due South. - Cashbox


Posted by Joel Naphin | February 18, 2015


(Saskatoon, SK) – Singer / songwriter Jay Semko is truly one of Canada’s music geniuses. Semko has been in the Canadian music scene for over 30 years. Best known as a founding member and singer for the Canadian band the Northern Pikes (formed in 1984 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Semko has kept himself busy over the years with other music projects, as well, when not writing or recording with the Northern Pikes.

And it doesn’t look like Semko will be slowing down any time soon.

Last year, Semko released his tenth solo album on Inner Expressions Records called Flora Vista – described on his website as “a rootsy, melodic, acoustic guitar based journey of love, loss, spirituality, addiction and recovery”.

Semko is currently on the Western leg of his solo acoustic tour, being billed as “An Intimate, Solo Evening With Jay Semko.” Ontario fans will get to see the show in March.

Aside from the Northern Pikes and his solo career, Semko is also an international award winning music composer for numerous film and TV productions including the hit TV show Due South and for such films as “Trailer Park Boys – The Movie” (2006), “Men With Brooms” (2002) and “Being Erica” (2009).

The Northern Pikes had a number of Canadian hit singles, including “Teenland”, “Things I Do for Money”, “Wait For Me”, “Hopes Go Astray”, “She Ain’t Pretty”, “Girl With A Problem”, “Kiss Me You Fool”, “Twister” and “Believe”. Two of these, “Things I Do for Money” and “She Ain’t Pretty”, appeared in the USA Billboard Charts and many of the band’s videos charted in the top five on MuchMusic, including “Girl With A Problem” – which made its way to number one.

As a member of the Northern Pikes, which also includes guitarist Bryan Potvin and drummer Don Schmid (Merl Bryck left the band but may be back) Semko has eight Juno Award nominations, four gold records and one platinum record with sales of over 1 million units worldwide. Semko has also received two Canadian Music Publishers Association Awards for “Teenland” and “Girl With A Problem”.

To add to his accomplishments, as a solo artist, Semko has also had two nominations for Canada’s Gemini Awards for Best Music Score in a Dramatic Series and he has won the MMPIA Blizzard and SMPIA awards for Best Music Score as music composer for the movie, “Paris Or Somewhere” (1994).

In 2012, the Northern Pikes were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Semko is really excited about Flora Vista and his tour. I caught up with Semko this week and we talked about his music, his solo tour and, of course, the Northern Pikes:

Joel – I want to, first of all, congratulate you on 30+ years of making music here in Canada. Between the Northern Pikes, your solo career and other projects, what pushed you to keep going for as long as you have and to keep going?

Jay – Thanks Joel!!! I guess the thing is that I truly love music – there are a lot of challenging situations (and people) existing in the music biz, and entertainment biz for that matter, and it can get overwhelming – whenever I start to experience that kind of stuff, I take a pause and remind myself how amazing music is……music!!!!!!! When I take some time and listen to an incredible song by Dylan, or a piano piece by Chopin, or I just take a few minutes to strum my guitar without thinking about anything, it brings me back to…..music, and how much it is a part of me. I feel very blessed to be alive and making music – I receive email messages from people all over the world who have been touched by my songs and my film & TV music – it’s pretty cool, and it feels fantastic to know that something I’ve created is something that can affect people in such a positive way – it’s very humbling, and often very emotional for me – I feel very, very grateful.

Joel – Do you pay attention to what is current and does that help you or discourage you in any way?

Jay – Yes I do pay attention to current music, although I can’t say that I follow charts or that kind of thing. There is so much great music out there – age isn’t a factor for me – I’ve worked with people many years older and many years younger than me, and when it comes to creativity and the arts, we’re all the same age when it comes right down to it.

Joel – Who do you listen to musically?

Jay – I listen to everything – really – new, current pop, rock and country, and of course the classics of rock, pop, and country – lately deep into Bob Dylan, lots of instrumental new age and classical – when I’m driving, I’m listening……..to everything – I flip around and listen to everything on the radio.

Joel – Last year you released your 10th solo album, Flora Vista, and you are currently doing a solo acoustic tour in support of your new album. Where are you going on this tour and how long are you touring for?

Jay – I’m going across Canada – first leg in BC on the west coast, second leg in Ontario, third leg currently booking in the prairies, etc – I’ve never done a complete national tour with just me and my guitar – I’m having a blast singing, strumming, and literally conversing with the audiences – I’ve had some pretty interesting experiences on the road and in the studio over the years, and once I start talking, it’s hard to shut me up!!!!

Joel – Is Flora Vista released outside of Canada and do you have any plans to tour outside of Canada?

Jay – Flora Vista is released worldwide through CD Baby and is available on all digital sales sites – I currently have no plans to tour outside of Canada, but interestingly, Flora Vista is receiving some solid airplay on roots/acoustic shows at radio in Europe, Australia and the USA, so opportunities to tour outside of Canada may be happening soon.

Joel – I understand your shows have a mix of solo material and Northern Pikes material. Do you balance out your solo songs with Northern Pike songs? For fans who grew up on Northern Pikes, like myself, what can we expect to hear as far as the songs you perform?

Jay – On this acoustic tour I’m playing a real mix of material – of course a number of hit songs from the Northern Pikes, as well as songs from my solo albums, some film & TV music from Due South and a few other surprises…..I don’t make a setlist – I just bring a list of about 60 or 70 songs and let it ride according to the vibe in the room every night.

Joel – Do the songs go over well acoustically with fans? Are the people coming out to your shows mostly older generation?
Jay – I’ve been getting a variety of people at the shows – obviously some Northern Pikes fans, some Due South fans, some people who aren’t even that aware of my past and who know me from my solo stuff – I had someone in Calgary tell me that they thought I had some pretty good potential…….they knew me from Flora Vista only – it was cool!!!!

Joel – I’m sure there is a lot of great history behind your music and your songs. Is there a lot of story-telling, like the history of certain songs, in your shows?

Jay – Oh yes – every song has a story, and I often tell them – that’s a cool thing about getting a bit older…….

Joel – The Northern Pikes were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame on September 30, 2012 in Regina, Saskatchewan and the band performed at the induction ceremony. Since then, Merl Bryck has left the band and the Northern Pikes is now a three-piece band. Was that the last time the four of you played together? Any plans to continue The Northern Pikes as far as touring goes or to record and release a follow-up to It’s A Good Life (2003)?

Jay – Merl joined Bryan, Don and myself last August (2014) when we played in our hometown of Saskatoon – he joined us for 8 songs – I’m hoping the original 4 of us will do more together in the future. We’ve talked about the possibility of recording new material in the future – we’ll see what happens.

Joel – You have written a lot of great songs over the years. Many songs have created great memories for many who grew up listening to your music, whether it was with the Northern Pikes or solo. Is there a song by any other artist that you wish YOU had written? And if so, why?

Jay – I love great songs, and there are so many great songs out there – I think my songwriting is getting better as I age – I’ve written some pretty good ones – I hope someday I can have a song or 2 in the league of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Don Quixote” or Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”…….I just want to keep on writing from my heart – that’s what keeps me going.

Joel – Thank you so much for your time! Best of luck on your new album and tour.

Jay – Thanks Joel and all the best!!!!

To find out where Jay Semko is playing and to stay in touch with him you can contact Jay at:

Website : http://www.jaysemko.com
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/jay.semko
Twitter : http://twitter.com/jaysemko - MusicLifeMagazine.net


JAY SEMKO SENDING LOVE WITH NEW ALBUM ON VALENTINE’S DAY
posted by Shauna Powers on Feb 14, 2012

Saskatchewan’s Jay Semko is best known as the frontman for the iconic pop band the Northern Pikes, but he’s also one of the country’s most significant songwriters. Semko has written Canadian classics like “Things I Do For Money” and “Girl With a Problem.” He also worked for many years as a film and television composer, and was twice Gemini-nominated for his original scores for Due South.

In recent years, Semko has turned his creative imagination to solo projects. And today, Feb. 14, he’s releasing his ninth solo album, appropriately titled Sending Love. When Semko talks about the impetus for the record he says, “In a nutshell, the four-letter-word ‘love’ is what really inspired the whole album.”
Semko sees the title track for the record as “a combination of spiritual and relationship. I don’t know where the line crosses there. I don’t know if there is a line. And often deep love, and there are so many different forms of love, can be a combination of physical, personal, spiritual. And I left that topic really open.”

Semko’s life journey hasn’t always been easy, and he’s worked through his fair share of personal challenges. The last five years have brought some positive changes in his life, though. The extremely personal nature of Sending Love is due, in part, to new perspectives he’s gained in that time.

Despite the universal nature of love songs, Semko says making Sending Love was “very much a journey, because I really didn’t know what kind of a record I was going to make. I knew I wasn’t going to make as country-sounding a record as I had with the self-titled Jay Semko from 2010. I knew it was going to be a little different from that.”

In the end, Semko found himself at Calgary’s MCC Recording Studio playing everything from electric guitar, to acoustic guitars, all the keyboards and all the percussion. He even sang some of his own backing vocals. Some other great players joined Semko for the recording, but he says he “just totally went with instinct. That’s something I’ve really learned over the last two or three years, is to trust my instincts when it comes to musical ideas. Being a somewhat analytical person sometimes I tend to take a second look, take a third look, take a fourth look, and then really become so over-obsessed with things. And this time I consciously said ‘No, just go with it. Go with those musical ideas. If that loop sounds good just use it. If that mix sounds good, even though you only spent two hours on it, why mess with it? Let’s make it happen here.’”

Semko explains further: “I did consciously set out to make an album of love songs, and that’s really what it was, and once I got into it I realized things aren’t exactly going to be perfect all the time, but you can at least aspire to that. That’s what really ends up happening on this record, lyrically and musically. It’s aspiring to perfection in a relationship, aspiring to remaining optimistic in the face of sometimes difficult situations. The song “Nothing Left But Love” is sort of, when you strip it all away – that’s it, really. Whether that be a one-on-one relationship or any kind of relationships.”

Sending Love is now available through Busted Flat Records, iTunes and at most record stores across Canada.



- CBCmusic.ca on Feb. 14, 2012


JAY SEMKO – “SENDING LOVE” (BUSTED FLAT RECORDS)
http://www.jaysemko.com
Like The Odds’ Craig Northey, Jay Semko has been toiling endlessly for two decades behind the scenes keeping the fabric of Canadian media glued together with his ethereal, positive Canadiana both as a Gemini Award nominated soundtrack music composer for movies and TV shows like ‘Due South’ but also doing voice-over work for documentaries, radio and television. Of course, pop fans know him as a member of 1980s pop act The Northern Pikes. Semko has been following his muse as a music songwriter in Nashville and producer of note. On ‘Sending Love’, the eighth solo release to bear his name, Semko lays out an uplifting showcase for his acoustic singer-songwriter motifs which sits him comfortably alongside artists like Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Ron Sexsmith, Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo) and other mixed-genre troubadours. The production and instrumentation is minimal giving the songs a feeling of deep woods dreaminess like on “Undeniably Love”, “The Moon Stars And You”, “For Certain”, “Harmony” and the title track (Parts 1 and 2). A listener could imagine sipping coffee alongside a faithful dog during an early morning sunrise from the back-porch of a Northern Ontario cottage (which is a neat trick from a Saskatchewanian). Beefier tracks include a Tom Wilson-like grit on “Come Get A Little Love”, “We Shine”, and “Sizzlin’” where Semko’s voice becomes less sweet and more guttural without necessarily breaking a sweat…or the microphone. He even hints a traditional sounding Northern Pikes tune with “Nothing Left But Love” featuring guest vocalist Greg Godovitz (Fludd, Goddo). Semko has managed a smooth, easy listening album that clips along at the speed of summer. Highly recommended for de-stressing! - Jaimie Vernon for Segarini: Don't Believe a Word I Say


SEMKO AND TRUSTY GUITAR CONTINUE MUSICAL JOURNEY

May 2, 2012
By: Lindsay Seewalt

Jay Semko

From the steel-studded glare of a bustling Toronto to the open prairie skies of Saskatoon, the Northern Pikes’ singer/songwriter and bassist, Jay Semko is as Canadian as they come.

With a hearty career in the bank and a long history with Canadian rock band, the Northern Pikes, Semko smiles at being able to pack up his acoustic guitar —

normally a Gibson J-45 or a Martin D-28 — and put on a solo show, filled with stories of his life as a musician and songs that contain a rich and eclectic mix of country, folk, roots, rock and pop.

On May 12, Semko will be joining the ranks of Tim Williams, Will Hamm, Doug McLean and Terry Kruger who will be hosting various workshops on instruments, as part of the 2012 Cochrane Guitar Show at Frank Wills Memorial Hall from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Following the day’s festivities, Semko will perform, along with local musician, Angus Wilson and special guests at 8 p.m.

“I have more fun playing live now than I ever have before,” said Semko. “I just don’t take myself too seriously.”

“I just feel like I’m so lucky to get up and play every day,” said the songwriter, armed with his ninth and most recent, release on Busted Flat Records, Sending Love (2011).

“I kept calling this ‘the romance album’ as I worked on it,” said the song man of his newest release, which he is currently toting cross-country. “All the songs are sewn together in a subconscious stew of love and raw emotion…I just laid everything on the line, straight from the heart both lyrically and musically. . . ”

While he’s rocked stages from coast to coast, and continues to do so whenever he plays a show with his fellow Northern Pikers, Semko is in a groove where he enjoys taking a song back to its basics.

“It gets a whole new life blood to it when you strip it down to the bare bones,” said Semko, who these days, seems to be having a good time donning a cowboy hat — with considerations for his newly-found relationship with country music radio stations.

“Even though I’ve been around for a while, I’m relatively new to country music,” he said. “I think people have been very friendly and receptive to what I’m doing.”

The Northern Pikes, who were a four-piece unit from their 1984 inception until their 1993 break-up, reuniting in 1999-present as a trio, wasn’t the only musical mindset for Semko.

In 1993, as The Northern Pikes went on hiatus, television producer Paul Haggis approached Semko about writing the musical score for what would become the Canadian hit TV series, Due South.

“I kind of got lucky in some ways,” reflected Semko. “I never had aspirations to write music for television, but basically the producer for Due South was a fan of the band and approached me when the band was breaking up in 1993.”

One thing led to another, and since his success with writing musical scores in the early nineties, Semko has enjoyed a healthy career of composing various scores for television and film, including orchestral and even vocal compositions.

“It expanded me musically,” said Semko of writing music in so many genres. “Before that, I was always a pop-rock songwriter.”

Semko was recently nominated at the international 2012 Independent Music Awards for Best Gospel Song for the song “Drop You In The Water”.

These days Semko finds himself spending a great deal of his time in Nashville, co-writing songs with other artists. Whether writing solo or with a partner, however, Semko said that it’s a craft he will never cease to work on.

“I learned songwriting a lot by osmosis,” he said. “By looking at really good songwriters and seeing what they did.”

“Songwriting is still the most fun thing I do — it’s challenging. Some parts happen quickly and other parts I’ve had to struggle with.”

Learn more about the Canadiana troubadour at jaysemko.com.

For tickets to the Cochrane Guitar Show, contact Legacy Guitar House at 403-981-1808.

- By: Lindsay Seewalt - Cochrane Eagle - May 2, 2012


SEMKO ALL ABOUT LOVE ON HIS NEWEST RELEASE

by Bill Robertson, for the Starphoenix April 19, 2012


JAY SEMKO - SENDING LOVE (BUSTED FLAT RECORDS) Rating 5

Saskatoon's Jay Semko is a man in love and on his latest disc, Sending Love, he is doing just that. From out of his heart, from under the covers, from the personal to the universal, this guy's in love.

Playing many of the instruments on all self-written songs, Semko gets things going with the medium slow, acoustic strums of the title track, a careful but firm declaration of his intentions. Sending Love is followed by the wild and woolly, retro rocker Come Get a Little Love, and the sweet vocals and melody of the gentle love song, Undeniably Love. Attentive readers will notice a theme emerging in these titles.

Harmony is a gentle tribute to a smitten couple, with Semko singing in a high voice. In We Shine he layers on those high voices to create a rich harmony. In Sweet Sweet Love, Semko uses a big, big bass to let listeners know that the whole universe is in love with this girl. It's a hypnotizing beat.

In The Moon, the Stars and You the happy couple waltzes in heaven with a bit of mandolin for accompaniment, and there's more mandolin on the slow waltz of For Certain. Sizzlin', on the other hand, sounds like an old Jack Scott tune, with its big stride, low voice and raw harmonica fills. It sizzles.

There's more tender time under the covers in Nothing Left But Love, then Semko goes for an eight and a half minute reprise of the title track to close out this album of wholehearted love and gratitude. Semko's got the love and he wants us all to feel it.



- by Bill Robertson, for the Starphoenix April 19, 2012


Jay Semko – Jay Semko (Busted Flat) :: Wherein Jay uses his emotive voice to ably express these eleven country cautionary tales of life’s up and downs. Bonus points for writing the greatest cross-border breakup song ever, the humorously hurtin’ “Before You Leave Canada.”
- Jefferey Morgan's Media Blackout #237 - Jefferey Morgan's Media Blackout # 237


Semko finds redemption on new album
By Bill Robertson, The StarPhoenix September 23, 2010
Jay Semko
Busted Flat Records
Rating 5 out of 5
Fresh from its CD release party last weekend, Jay Semko’s new, self-titled album is a lively and occasionally moody mix of rock and country, the whole set rounded out by one hairy, electric gospel number.
Former Northern Pike Semko kicks things right off with the kickin’ country rock of Mountain Song and a major theme on the album, redemption. Yes, as he sings in this autobiographical song, he was busy building mountains, separating himself from others, when he should have been knocking those mountains down and walking the straight road. You can cross-reference this subject with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Wall of Denial.
He moves on to the slow and spooky Glimpse, with its whining steel guitar underscoring the glimpse the singer had of the future in a woman’s eyes.
Then there’s the peppy, rockin’ country of Girl Who Can Whistle, the slow work of Harder On Me, about a couple fighting, and the lovely acoustic guitar ballad, Before You Leave Canada, about a couple splitting up, leaving the sad Canadian in the snow.
Love You for a Million Miles, a nice little shuffling rocker, speaks to the redemptive power of love, while the wild and wooly rocker Comeback Kid is all about getting right back in the game. Then there’s the closer, Drop You in the Water, a wild electrified number about John the Baptist bringing folks around to the right way with some slide-guitar-inflected, heavy-duty baptizing.
Jay Semko’s back and he’s knocking down mountains. - The StarPhoenix - Sept. 23, 2010


Jay Semko: Self-titled
Review by: Calvin Daniels
Yorkton This Week - August 2010
8-out-of-10

It is interesting how time evolves the music of some musicians.
Saskatchewan’s Jay Semko is certainly one such artist.
Most readers over the age of 40 will remember Semko as one of the driving forces behind the rock band The Northern Pikes, who still do gigs as many of the bands of that era, Streetheart, Trooper, The Stampeders still do filling a thirst for the old rockers out there to recapture a bit of the past.
Aside from the Pikes Semko has had a solo career, while not having him fill stadiums, has meant a series of really fine CDs.
The best of them might still have been Mouse, a CD which really showed the modern poetic side Semko. It was softer than the Pikes, but still pop/rock/alternative in nature.
- -
With follow-up CDs such as Redberry and International Superstar, Semko began slipping toward the country side of things, a journey now pretty much complete with his recent self-titled effort.
I am not sure what the transformation will mean for some fans. This is not the music of the Pikes, and I’d love him to do Mouse II, but you know, in the end, Semko can do two things; he writes good lyrics, and he can sing.
When you are able to do both with the level of skills, and the input of heart Semko does, the music ultimately wins out.
On this one Semko is helped out on several songs. Kelly Brock chimes in on Nobody’s Watching and Let’s Wake Up the Moon, the latter song being a very nice one. I mention Brock because she is memorable among the hundreds of CDs I have reviewed. I didn’t like her disk, and she was quite upset with the low rating, vowing not to send me her future disks. You know I can’t say I’ve lost sleep over that, but I do remember it.
Then there is Canadian veteran Patricia Conroy helping out on That Kind of Blue. She is a musician always up to accommodate the media.
The same can be said of Semko. We email on occasion on Facebook, and follow each other’s artistic effort.
In this case Semko is solidly country, and not the Nashville tripe either. There is some element of ‘real’ here that works.
The first single release to radio is Comeback Kid, a rockier piece that has a good beat.
For sure one worth having. Check it out at www.jaysemko.net
- Yorkton This Week - August 2010 8 out of 10


Country Roads Beckon Semko
By Cam Fuller,
The StarPhoenix
For a fish out of water, he sure is happy.
Jay Semko, a practitioner of rock and pop for most of his career as a member of the Northern Pikes, is now a country singer-songwriter.
“This is very much a new beginning for me. I feel like a new guy in many ways.” Semko said this week.
His new album, self-titled to herald the new start, features 11 original songs played mostly live off the floor by a band with serious country roots. Counter-intuitively, the first single and video are for the album’s rockiest song, Comeback Kid. Lo and behold, it’s charting on country radio. Semko is going through all the steps, such as visiting each station and introducing himself. The reception has been warm, he reports.
“It’s pretty grass roots. It’s nice to meet people.”
Semko’s solo career has been heading in this direction for awhile. Even in the early days of the Pikes, there was no ban on pedal steel or mandolin, he says. Frequent songwriting trips to Nashville have solidified a sound which ranges from John Mellencampian on the lead-off track Mountain Song to Ian Tyson-esque on That Kind of Blue (with Patricia Conroy) to gospel-blues on the song Drop You in the Water (in the Tom Waits-ish vein of Way Down in the Hole).
It’s a switch which may not have been possible even a few years ago; the music industry ain’t pretty, it just looks that way. And the country music industry used to have very strict purity laws. But if a soul singer like Johnny Reid can win trophies at the Canadian Country Music Awards and if Corb Lund’s shadowy past as a punk rocker can be forgiven and forgotten, anything is possible. For his part, Semko says he feels welcome in his new milieu, although the new direction might puzzle his old fans.
“Every time you try to change things artistically or musically, it’s going to be different for people,” Semko says.
“At the end of the day, I just try to write the best songs that I can.”
Variety is nothing new in Semko’s career. He’s released six solo albums outside of Pikes stuff. That band continues, incidentally, with retro gigs alongside the Stampeders and Loverboy that are a hoot.
“We have more fun playing now than we ever did,” Semko says.
Over the years, he built a successful career writing music for film and TV, including 66 episodes of Due South. He still lives in Saskatoon, but he’s got friends all over the country, in all kinds of music industry positions. But a couple of the closest relationships are right here with Saskatoon singer-songwriter Kim Fontaine and Regina-area producer David J. Taylor. Semko produced Fontaine’s new album Blue Sky Girl. Together they’re the group Semko Fontaine Taylor. Their debut just out, recorded last summer in Semko’s living room, is Heartaches and Numb3rs.
“More than anything, we all just have a lot of fun together,” he says.
There was always a distance between the artist and fan. Now, Semko is having a blast doing house concerts and small shows; one of his favourite gigs was in a Regina Beach art gallery. The Refinery provides another intimate venue that, unlike a bar, promotes listening.
“It’s kind of up to you as an artist what you want to do and how you want to do things. The door is kind of wide open. You’re only limited by your imagination.” - The StarPhoenix - Sept. 16, 2010


Jay Semko: Self-titled
By Jason Schneider
Exclaim.ca - August 2010
Since the release of 2008’s International Superstar, Jay Semko has made great strides in distancing himself from what he’s best known for: leading Canadian ‘80s legends the Northern Pikes. On that previous solo effort, Semko boldly displayed his transformation into a contemporary roots rock artist and Jay Semko is the next natural step in that evolution. The album’s 11 tracks all bear the stamp of a true songwriting veteran, tailor-made for radio, although without the overbearing qualities that make so much contemporary country hits unlistenable. If anything, Semko today often sounds closer to Jackson Browne or John Prine, especially on the instantly memorable “Nobody’s Watching” and “Girl Who Can Whistle.” If there’s anything about Jay Semko to criticize, it’s that it’s perhaps too well made. But for a consummate pro like Semko, that’s a nice problem to have. He has matured into one of Canada’s premiere roots music artists and it’s about time he gets recognition for it. (Busted Flat) - Exclaim.ca - August 2010


JAY SEMKO
Jay Semko
Busted Flat Records - 031
Produced by: Jay Buettner

(11 Selections - Playing Time 40:25)
Mountain Song / Glimpse / Nobody's 'Watching / Girl Who Can Whistle / Harder On Me / fie/ore You Leave Canada / That Kind Of Love / Let's Wake Up The Moon / Love You For A Million Miles / Comeback Kid / Drop You In The Water

Jay Semko is a Saskatoon-based singer/songwriter who was part of the Canadian pop/rock outfit Northern Pikes before he ventured into a solo career.
His 2008 International Superstar album brought him more heavily into the country music spotlight, thanks in large part to his collaborations with Steve Fox and Tim Taylor. That album also yielded a heavily, played radio single in She Won't Be Lonely Long, a tune Semko co-wrote with hitmakers Willie Mack and Gilles Godard.
On this eponymous album, Semko takes his country interest even deeper, again eo-writing four songs with Tim Taylor (of One Smokey Rose fame); and inviting country ladies Kelly Brock, Alana Levandoski and Patricia Conroy to join in as special vocal guests. The Tim Taylor co-writes include Comeback Kid, the album's first single, and solid items in That Kind Of Blue (featuring the Conroy vocal visit). Nobody's Watching (with Kelly Brock sitting in), and Glimpse.
Jay Semko also shows a real knack for creating some off-beat tunes - songs like Before You Leave Canada, Mountain Song, and Lave You For A Million Miles all carry interesting and different messages. Girl Who Can Whistle, featuring Alana Levandoski, brings yet another musical sidetrip in what Jay Semko offers us...and he presents even more diversity with his country/folk/gospel flavoured Drop You In The Water, this one featuring New Brunswick bluesman Matt Anderson on guitar and vocals.
The album was produced by west coast musician/studio whiz Jay Buettner (One More Girl / Aaron Pritchett, Brad Johner, etc.) and recorded largely at studios in Abbotsford, BC and Saskatoon, SK. - Country Music News (Canada)


Jay Semko first enjoyed success as the songwriter-singer-bassist for the Northern Pikes. When the Pikes initiated a six-year hiatus in 1993, Semko turned to writing music for film and TV, including the popular Canadian-made show "Due South".

Despite career success, Semko wrestled with tough personal demons before he decided to head to Nashville and subsequently connected with some local songwriters. The experience provided the basis for a creative rebirth which resulted in International Superstar, released on Kitchener's Busted Flat Records.

Co-produced by Semko and Ross Nykiforuk, the album sounds like a cross between Gram Parsons and Ian Tyson. Semko's approach to country music is hip, informed as it is with an affectionate irony and a big grin.

International Superstar is for country music lovers who have grown weary of the inane fluff that passes for bicep and belly-button country pop. - Robert Reid- The Record


On his third studio record and sixth solo release, Semko steers away from the white line of straight-ahead, radio-friendly pop he was known for with the Northern Pikes, heading instead down the gravel country roads. The result is a soulful, sweet offering that shares similarities with Buck Owens. Recorded in Saskatoon, with several of the songs co-written in Nashville, Semko uses these rural locales as further inspiration. As the bassist/vocalist for the Pikes, Semko may not have been an international superstar but he certainly experienced the dark side of life as a rock'n'roller. The title cut is a semi-autobiographical song of hubris and sympathy, where the songwriter makes light of his own troubles using self-mockery as a cathartic experience, painting a picture of where a life of excess can lead. With the weeping of a pedal steel and a playful banjo, he sings of a guy at the end of the bar who is "drunk as a skunk/trying to light a cigar." Semko recently beat his battle with the bottle and as a sober songwriter, his head is much clearer and at peace. That's evident in the disc's dozen tracks, which are some of the catchiest of his career. - Exclaim - David McPherson - July 2008


On his third studio record and sixth solo release, Semko steers away from the white line of straight-ahead, radio-friendly pop he was known for with the Northern Pikes, heading instead down the gravel country roads. The result is a soulful, sweet offering that shares similarities with Buck Owens. Recorded in Saskatoon, with several of the songs co-written in Nashville, Semko uses these rural locales as further inspiration. As the bassist/vocalist for the Pikes, Semko may not have been an international superstar but he certainly experienced the dark side of life as a rock'n'roller. The title cut is a semi-autobiographical song of hubris and sympathy, where the songwriter makes light of his own troubles using self-mockery as a cathartic experience, painting a picture of where a life of excess can lead. With the weeping of a pedal steel and a playful banjo, he sings of a guy at the end of the bar who is "drunk as a skunk/trying to light a cigar." Semko recently beat his battle with the bottle and as a sober songwriter, his head is much clearer and at peace. That's evident in the disc's dozen tracks, which are some of the catchiest of his career. - Exclaim - David McPherson - July 2008


It's like something out of a country music ditty: the band split up and so did the marriage, the dog is dying and now the singer is too, one bottle of booze at a time.
Jay Semko's real life so closely resembled a typical country song, he did the only logical thing — he wrote a country song about it.
He was an international superstar,
Standing alone at the end of the bar,
He just pawned off his favourite guitar...
Drunk as a skunk, he just dumped his wife and the bank
took his car..
"Yeah," Semko says on the phone from his Saskatoon home, "that one's semi-autobiographical."
Truth be told, it's mostly autobiographical.
Though it's probably stretching the truth to say Semko was once an "international superstar," he was definitely a national superstar, which is a tall height from which to tumble.
Semko was a founding member and chief songwriter of The Northern Pikes, who during their early 1990s heyday were the most popular band in Canada.
The band was signed to a major record label, had four gold records to their credit and legions of fans singing along with hits like She Ain't Pretty at sold-out concerts across the country.
"And eventually" Semko says, "it got to a point where we kind of imploded."
That implosion led Semko into a dark decade of self-doubt, personal crises and an ever-worsening dependence on prescription drugs and alcohol.
He would emerge from the darkness periodically with in-trospective solo albums, nostalgic reunion gigs with The Northern Pikes and jobs writing music for TV shows and commercials, but every small victory seemed to be followed by a larger defeat. And yeah, his dog. Jet, got really sick.
Finally, after one too many throbbing hangovers, Semko looked in the mirror and had a chat with his reflection.
"I said to myself, 'Look, you've got a choice: you can either get your s*** together or you can resign yourself to the fact that you're probably not going to last much longer and might as well check yourself into the local fleabag and drink yourself to death.' "
And he answered himself: "Wake up, man, wake up."
That was a year and a half ago, just before Semko checked himself into rehab facility and sobered up — for good, he hopes.
"1'vc been clean for well over a year and I feel great. My head is really clear, I'm in pretty good physical shape and I don't wake up with horrible headaches anymore."
It was during his time in rehab that Semko wrote the seeds for what would become his new solo album, due out soon on Kitchener-based Busted Flat Records.
But those seeds flowered into radically different finished songs, since Semko's disposition improved so much during ' the writing process.
"I was starting to feel really good, so I figured I should write some happy songs," he says. "I don't want to go back into the dark again."
The result, International Superstar, is a 12-track collection of country-tinged pop songs that, despite some hard-luck storytelling (like that in the title song), convey a theme of hope, happiness and new beginnings.
When Semko and his two-piece backing band roll into the Circus Room on May 15, Semko will be finally free of the self-doubt and addictions that plagued him even when The Northern Pikes were at their peak of popularity
"I just feel so lucky about where I'm at in my life — lucky that I can still go out and play music," he says.
"I'm like a cat who's in his ninth life, and I'm really making the most of that ninth life." - Kitchener Nightlife - Colin Hunter


JAY SEMKO - INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR
For his third solo disc, the Prairie Prince of the Northern Pikes goes on a completely different tangent, putting out a fun country-rock album, roots music akin to what Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds used to do in their infamous New Wave group Rockpile. Checking in from Saskatoon before heading here for Maritime dates, Semko said it came from a chance visit with some other musicians and writers.
"I went down to Nashville, where I have a bunch of friends. I did a bunch of fun, relaxed writing with those friends, and met some new ones, too. And they were all fun, good feeling, which is where I was at," said Semko. "The guys that I wrote with, they know I'm not from a traditional country background, and they felt we didn't have to be genre-specific. We were able to expand, throw ideas around. So the tunes have an angle that way."
The new songs show Semko throwing out a barrage of hooks, plus loads of witty, even laugh-out-loud lines. While never crossing into pure country, they all have a loose, happy vibe, and a twangy edge. Semko introduces a lower, story-telling vocal register for some, leaping back into the higher notes when the catchy chorus comes in. Best of all is the twangy, uptempo You Do That To Me, and the close-to-home title cut. In International Superstar, he mocks the once-climbing music star now reduced to spending nights in a crummy bar, pretending to be someone. Semko's been through some well-documented problems.
"Last time I talked to you, I was just getting out of rehab, and things got better, and then things got worse, but I came out of it. I had to think, do you want to feel good, or do you want to die a drunk? Well, I've been sober for a good long time now, and I feel great."
That explains just how fun this turned out. Catch Semko and his band ripping through these little pieces of heaven, plus some of your favourite Pikes cuts tonight at 8 p.m. at The Blue Olive in Saint John, May 22 at the Capital in Fredericton, and May 23 at Studio 700 in Moncton. - Fredericton Telegraph Journal - Robert Merserau


They were never meant to be an album, but the songs Jay Semko was writing turned into one.
“Basically, about a year and a half ago, I cleaned myself up,” said Semko. “I had some substance abuse issues.”
A member of the Canadian group The Northern Pikes, Semko recently released his third solo studio album, International Superstar, and is appearing in Halifax this weekend as part of a tour supporting the CD.
“It’s been great,” said Semko who is crossing Eastern Canada as part of a three piece band — a set up he’s musically enjoying. “It’s tough, you are singing and playing and it all counts.
“Playing brand new songs is the funnest thing for me.”
It didn’t start off fun. The new album began to develop while Semko was in a rehab clinic, mainly for alcohol abuse. He was allowed to take a guitar with him.
“I was in the early recovery stages and they were all about the dark side, and what it was like to be there,” he said. “A lot of them were really good songs, but what happened is that I started feeling better, feeling happier and more positive.
“I didn’t know if it was correct for me to put out an album of this stuff right now.”
With his new outlook on life, Semko took the advice of his friends and went to Nashville. He’d been there before, but never for an extended period of time.
“I didn’t feel bummed out, and life was getting even better,” Semko said. “I took a trip down, set up some writing sessions — just a couple — but it ended up being a domino effect.”
He began collaborating with more writers, and soon International Superstar — with its playful melodies and tongue-in-cheek lyrics — began taking shape.
“I think the guys I wrote with got a kick out of working with me,” said Semko. “I came back with a platoon of songs and I realized, ‘Hey, this is an album.’” - Metro Halifax - Dean Lisk


The Northern Pike continues his quiet solo career, away from the boisterous pop of the band. Best known as the singer and writer of thoughtful fist-pumpers Teenland and Things I Do For Money, Semko's more comfortable here, laid-back and a little alt-countryish. Many of the tracks feature pedal steel to great effect, and the down-home feel keeps going with guest harmonies from Serena Ryder and Theresa Sokyrka, who's not the only homey from Saskatchewan: Pikemate Bryan Potvin guest-guitars for several tunes, as well.
The disc's best songs are prairie home companions, including the title track and the heart-tugging Saskatoon Smile. Always a keen observer, Semko now has a more sentimental and reflective style than his Teenland reporting days. - New Brunswick Telegraph


The Northern Pike continues his quiet solo career, away from the boisterous pop of the band. Best known as the singer and writer of thoughtful fist-pumpers Teenland and Things I Do For Money, Semko's more comfortable here, laid-back and a little alt-countryish. Many of the tracks feature pedal steel to great effect, and the down-home feel keeps going with guest harmonies from Serena Ryder and Theresa Sokyrka, who's not the only homey from Saskatchewan: Pikemate Bryan Potvin guest-guitars for several tunes, as well.
The disc's best songs are prairie home companions, including the title track and the heart-tugging Saskatoon Smile. Always a keen observer, Semko now has a more sentimental and reflective style than his Teenland reporting days. - New Brunswick Telegraph


Discography

"Flora Vista" - Jay Semko - 2014 - Inner Expression Records

"Sending Love" - Jay Semko - 2012 - Inner Expression Records

"Force Of Horses" - Jay Semko - 2011 - Inner Expression Records

"Jay Semko" - Jay Semko - 2010 - Inner Expression Records

"Heartaches and Numbers" - Semko Fontaine Taylor - 2010 - Inner Expression Records

"International Superstar"- Jay Semko - 2008 - Inner Expression Records

"Live At The Royal Saskatchewan Museum"- Jay Semko - 2008 - Inner Expression Records

"Platinum"- The Northern Pikes-2007- EMI

"Long Walk Home" - Stroud and the Pikes - 2007 - IND

"Merry Christmas"- Jay Semko - 2006 - Inner Expression Records

"Redberry"- Jay Semko - 2006 - Inner Expression Records

"Love Will Set You Free"- EP - Jay Semko - 2005 - Inner Expression Records

"It's a Good Life"- The Northern Pikes - 2004 - Sextant/EMI

"Truest Inspiration"- The Northern Pikes - 2001- Outside

"Live 2000"- The Northern Pikes - 2000 - Northern Pike Records

"Hits and Assorted Secrets" - The Northern Pikes - 1999 Virgin/EMI

"Due South Vol. 2"- various incl. Jay Semko - 1998 Unforscene/Nettwerk

"Due South Vol. 1"- various incl. Jay Semko - 1996 Unforscene/Nettwerk

"Mouse"- Jay Semko - 1995 Iron/BMG - rereleased 2010 - Inner Expression Records

"Gig"- The Northern Pikes-1993 Virgin

"Neptune"- The Northern Pikes - 1992 Virgin

"Snow in June"- The Northern Pikes - 1990 Virgin/Scotti Bros.- USA

"Secrets of the Alibi"- The Northern Pikes - 1988 Virgin

"Big Blue Sky"- The Northern Pikes - 1987 Virgin

"Scene in North America" - The Northern Pikes -1985 Black 'n Round

"The Northern Pikes" EP - 1984 Black "n Round

Photos

Bio


Jay Semko was born and raised in Saskatchewan, spending much of his first 11
years living on a farm. After moving to Saskatoon in Grade 7, Jay began honing
his skills as a guitarist and bassist, and played in numerous rock bands through
his high school years. After a year at the University of Saskatchewan, and after
stints in various bands, Jay formed the Northern
Pikes, a rock group featuring twangy, atmospheric guitars and
unique three part harmonies, with Bryan Potvin, Merl Bryck, and Don Schmid.
After releasing 2 independent albums which charted highly on College and
Indie playlists in Canada and the USA, the Pikes signed an international record
contract with Virgin Records in 1986, and the band's career went to another
level, releasing a total of seven albums on the label and touring across North
America and beyond.

As a member of the Northern Pikes, Jay was awarded four Gold records and one
Platinum, with sales of over 1 million units worldwide. The Northern Pikes had
a number of Canadian hit singles, including Teenland, Things I Do for Money,
Wait for Me, Hopes Go Astray, She Ain't Pretty, Girl with a Problem, Kiss Me
You Fool, Twister and Believe. Two of these, Things I Do for Money and She
Ain't Pretty, appeared in the USA Billboard Charts, and many of the band's
videos charted in the Top 5 on MuchMusic, including Girl with a Problem,
which reached #1. The band received 8 Juno Award nominations, and Jay
received two Canadian Music Publishers Association Awards, for Teenland and
Girl with a Problem. During the course of their career, the Northern Pikes have
released twelve albums. In 2012 the iconic Canadian band was inducted into the
Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame, joining elite artists from western Canada such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Loverboy, and Loreena McKennitt. 

When the Northern Pikes began a six year hiatus in 1993, Jay recorded
"Mouse", the first of many solo albums, and branched out musically, composing for film and television. As
music composer on the internationally syndicated TV series, "Due South"
created by Academy and Emmy Award winner Paul Haggis, Jay
received two nominations in Canada's Gemini Awards - Best Music Score in a
Dramatic Series. In
2013 Jay was nominated in the Canadian Screen Awards (formerly the Gemini
Awards) for his work on the TV series "Dust Up" (Best Original Music for a Non-Fiction Program or Series). Jay has composed for many productions on Discovery Channel, CBC,
Global, APTN, Showcase, History, and others, and had many of his songs featured in film and television.

Jay has released ten solo albums, firmly establishing him as one of Canada's
premiere songwriters - in 2009 Jay was a finalist in the Gospel/Inspirational
Category of the internationally acclaimed John Lennon Songwriting Contest for
"Jesus Is Gonna Help Me"; in 2011 Jay was nominated as Songwriter of the
Year in the Western Canadian Music Awards for "Before You Leave Canada"; in
2012 won the SCMA Award for Roots Album of the Year ("Force of Horses"),
was a finalist in the international Independent Music Awards Gospel Song
category for "Drop You In The Water", was nominated in the Best Solo Roots
Recording category for "Sending Love" in the Western Canadian Music Awards,
as well as being inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame with
his band mates in the Northern Pikes, and in 2015 Jay was the winner of the SCMA Award for Roots Album of the Year for "Flora Vista". Jay has performed at major events such as SXSW and Folk Alliance and continues to co-write with many songwriters in
Canada and the USA.

Jay's most recent album, "Flora Vista", released on Inner Expression Records, is
a rootsy musical road trip through love, loss, spirituality, addiction and recovery. Jay toured across Canada in 2015 and is very active with many charities - he regularly performs at events for charitable causes he supports. He continues to tour on his own and with the Northern Pikes, and his concerts are legendary for their laughter and tears, with Jay's sheer love of music and life.

Band Members