Karen Palmer
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Karen Palmer

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Lily Fair reaches new heights and audiences"

Saint John's music scene has taken something of a hit lately. The recent closing of Akhord, one of the city's few venues that showcases original talent and material, has left many music fans in the dark.

Enter Karen Palmer and her Lily Fair. The free monthly concert series takes a bold leap by creating an evening with the focus on female talent at the increasingly popular Lily's Café in Rockwood Park. It's something unheard of in the city and it's proving to be one of New Brunswick's most popular musical nights out for people in search of local artists playing original material.

Karen Palmer returned to New Brunswick after spending time in Halifax where she honed her craft as a singer/songwriter with considerable talents on the guitar. Last year she released her debut CD, I Drive, to critical acclaim. The disc features some of the region's top players like Tom Easley (Hot Toddie) and Darren Arseneault (the hippie-dippie musician/artist of the Maritimes). Songs on her record straddle musical boundaries giving folksie songs a funky feel and vice verse. The one constant between the excursions of musical style is her crystal clear voice.

With Lily Fair, Palmer is providing the opportunity to fellow females to have their musical voices heard in a supportive environment. The idea for Lily Fair was born when Palmer returned to New Brunswick after her time in Halifax, where she participated in the hugely influential Battle Axe folk series. Battle Axe was the launching pad for talents like Rose Cousins, Amelia Curran and other top east coast female talents. It was there that Palmer felt the support that encouraged her to take her music further.

"It was such a wonderful experience. We all loved and supported each other as musicians and artists and people. The whole environment of that scene was incredibly positive that when I came back to Saint John I wanted to do something like that here."

As Palmer reveals, the idea came to fruition with surprising ease and Lily Fair's success has surpassed all expectations.

"I had this great idea and I loved Lily's Café, it's such a wonderful room with great food. I called Allan Connors the manager and told him that I wanted to look into booking a music night once a month. He agreed and it's really taken off. For our first show in September you had to book a table to ensure that you'd get a seat and we expect this month's will be the same. For the September show I made a lot of calls looking for talent, now I have people coming to me wanting to be a part of this and we're already booked until February!"

Lily Fair takes place on the last Thursday of each month. This month's show happens Thursday the 29th with special guest Jen Jewett. November's Lily Fair features Moncton's Julie Aube and Halifax artists Kim Wempe and Carmel Mikol.

Lily Fair is aimed squarely on building an opportunity for regional female talent to hone their skills in a comfortable environment. Palmer notes that men are absolutely welcome to attend she also understands that the reality is that the majority of people that come to the shows are in fact female and that creates a unique environment for the performer.

"I think it really helps with the comfort and confidence. I do see a difference in how men and women appreciate music. Men seem to understand the songs very well, and understand the art and structure. I think women better understand the emotions of the artist playing the song because we are emotional beings. So far the experience has been that the crowds celebrate and encourage the artists and the artists are happy to be playing and sharing the experience."

Thus far the musical lineup has been what you would expect from an event like this, but Palmer is aiming at broadening the palate for future events.

"I'm not going to lie to you, right now we've got girls with guitars."

Palmer laughs over the phone when quizzed on the sterotype.

"But I really think we can do something very interesting here. We've got some cellists coming to provide accompaniment and we can switch genres from folk to blues or even country. I'd like to see a female DJ or a poet. There are all kinds of opportunities to collaborate and do something unique. Hey, I don't care if they play the kazoo. If they do it well and can entertain an audience for 90 minutes I want to hear from them."

You can check out Lily Fair Saint John's monthly female music night at Karen Palmer's website www.karenpalmermusic.com or off of her MySpace page. Lily Fair runs the last Thursday of every month at Rockwood Park's Lilys Café. This is a free event but book a table as seating is limited.
- Here Magazine

"Artist Profile - Karen Palmer"

Born in Fredericton and growing up in Saint John N.B., Karen is undeniably inspired and proud of her Maritime home, however 'typical' Maritime music is not Karen's genre.
Karen's experiences range from New Brunswick's hot cities of Saint John, Fredericton, and Montcton, to Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island and the Metropolis of Halifax, along with many spontaneous shows in places like Puerto Viejo Costa Rica, and New York State. Her philosophy and confidence make every musical opportunity a chance to share her talent. - Loyalist City Folk Festival

"The 'amazing' Karen Palmer"

'I feel love when I'm playing and singing and isn't that what we're all searching for anyway'

By Richard Blaquiere

As well as being a source of great food and drink, Fusion has morphed into an excellent venue for jazz, folk and other styles of live music. Tables are cleared and moved, microphones and amps are plugged in and sweet music fills the air most Thursday evenings - or whenever opportunity knocks.

Opportunity has indeed again knocked and on Sept. 8, a evening after helping Isaac and Blewitt kick off the 2007 Falls Brook Fall Fair, singer-songwriter Karen Palmer will bring her brand of sweet, smart and often edgy music to Fusion.
The amazing Karen Palmer was born, bred and educated in new Brunswick. An English major with minors in philosophy and sociology at university, Palmer brings those influences - coupled with a home life saturated in music - to the stage.

As well, Palmer is a world class hula hoop artist. If the Olympics are ever held in New Brunswick, a hula hoop competition should be added and Palmer would certainly walk away with a gold medal. Her skills will be highlighted at Falls Brook during the day of Sept. 8.
Palmer, who gave up sports at university to focus on her music, maintains her hula hoop skills to keep her hand - or hip - in there should competitive hula hooping ever gain its rightful status in the wide world of sporty things.

Asked about her musical influences, Palmer talks about living in Halifax for four years and playing in a female folk group called the Battle Axe Fold Group. She tells of how they embraced her, noting she had "a fantastic time playing with other amazingly talented women like Andrea Somers, Amy Campbell, Rose Cousins and Amelia Curran... Halifax really opened my eyes to the community that goes along with playing music. I had never been around so many women who shared my interests and it was nice to feel a part of a group."

I was introduced to Karen "Crash" Palmer at the first and fabulous Fred Eaglesmith's Down East Picnic in Muniac in June 2006. She was everywhere with her hula hoop, actively and energetically shimmying and shaking and twisting and gyrating to the fabulous music played on stage. I didn't hear her sing, but her energy was infectious and memorable.
This past June, again in Muniac, I heard, I saw and I was conquered. She is amazing. She has a freshness about her that is irresistible. She can also be a little irreverent but is clever enough to keep it cute. And she is in love! With a guy named Dick.

Love, thankfully, doesn't corrupt the irreverency because she now has a new filter through which to view her previous amores about whom she has a few choice lines. She is hilarious both during and between songs. Asked about her stage persona, she responds frankly. "I don't take myself all that seriously and I think it comes through in my performances. I like to be funny and comfort the crowd. I'm much more angry than I look and my songs reflect my full emotional spectrum. I don't want to be a one dimensional artist... I draw and paint and get mad, sad and sentimental. I want to give away all my true stories and genuine feelings. There is no point in hiding because you'll eventually be seen. So why not just come right out with it?" What you read is what you will get on Sept, 7 and/or 8. I'm going both nights.

Palmer is currently working on her first full-length album. When speaking about her experience, the English and philosophy that underpins Palmer's muse emerges to contextualize her art. "This album is particularly daunting," she reflects. "It has been in the works for years. I can't wait to move on to new material, but it seems that I am to learn more from this project than anything else. This album has taken me through dealing with loss in the face of death, theft, abandonment, disappointment, friendships and severe self-doubt. I have learned a lot in the process and I believe it's only going to help me in the future in all aspects of life, not just musically." And as for singing and performing in general, Palmer again waxes philosophically. "I feel that it's important to tell you that I have no choice but to play music, write songs and sing my heart out... my soul simply needs to express itself through song. I don't care if I'm alone or surrounded, I feel love when I'm playing and singing and isn't that we're all searching for anyway?" It seems as if Palmer's found love and we've found Palmer and that is all good, believe me. All good!

You have two opportunities to catch this up-and-coming star. Don't blow it. - The Baron

"Palmer could rise above the pack"

Palmer releases gentle, poetic debut I Drive

Karen Palmer is one of those uniquely gifted artist that comes once in a lifetime. She is a genuinely passionate artist that writes music that is both innovative in it's composition while restlessly striving to create music that is both earthy and anthemic in its message. The CD I speak of is the debut release 'I Drive' by Saint John's own Karen Palmer.

Out of all the current Maritime femme fatale singer/songwriters on the rise, Palmer is the one that I believe will rise about the pack as the one artist that truly has made her own inroads with a CD that embodies the heart of a poet and a gently brush stroke that musically could paint the sky blue in a world that is otherwise dark and desperate.

I Drive is a wonderfully compelling record and Karen Palmer is an artist you need to know now.
My favourite track on the CD is The Holiest of Blues, which recently won the World Quest Music songwriting championship. Fans of Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, Lisa Loeb and Myspace 'it' girl Colbie Caillat will love this record! I look forward to her future in music.

To find out where you can buy this gem and discover more on Karen go to www.karenpalmermusic.com.

Dates in celebration of her CD release includ Nov.28 at 8 p.m. at Thandi's, Dec.3 at 7 p.m. and the Blue Olive, Dec.6 at 2 p.m. and Backstreet Records and Dec.12 at the Red Whale Cafe in Rothesay. - KV Arts

"Karen Palmer set to perform at Crumbs Cafe on Saturday"

Karen Palmer set to perform at Crumbs Café on Saturday

Folk-rock songstress Karen Palmer will bring her sweet voice and nimble guitar-playing to the Fusion Café in Woodstock on Friday, and then Crumbs Café on Saturday. The Fredericton-born singer-songwriter now lives in Grand Bay-Westfield, but said it's always fun to zip up the highway to perform in her hometown.

Palmer said she's looking forward to these shows because she finds it fun to perform in intimate venues as opposed to crowded pubs and clubs. "I love playing in cafés and theatres or for listening crowds in general," she said. "You have people who are really listening to what you're saying and watching what you're doing with the music, instead of listening along as they talk to their friends all night." She said these kinds of shows also make it easier to interact with her audiences - something she finds fun and exciting. "I love to connect. So I try to get the crowd involved with some banter," she said. "And when they're brave enough to talk back to me, it's always best because I can tell stories all the time, and when they talk to me, it's a random challenge to have a good response. You never know what they're going to say, so it's always exciting."

Palmer said she'll be playing a mixture of songs from her latest album, I Drive, and some new pieces and old favourites. "I'm always interested in what songs catch them and which ones cause some people to drift away a bit," she said. "It's also interesting to see who is listening to which songs - do women listen to this one more, or do men listen closely to this song?"

The Crumbs Café show starts at 8 p.m.

Adam Bowie is a staff reporter at The Daily Gleaner.
write to him at bowie.adam@dailygleaner.com - The Daily Gleaner

"Fusion Offers World Class Music But Is Anyone Listening?"

Fusion Offers World Class Music But Is Anyone Listening?

This Friday, August 28, recording artist, singer/composer and hula-hoop artist Karen Palmer is giving a repeat performance at Fusion Coffee Company in Woodstock. Palmer’s new CD, I Drive, is in retail stores now and is selling quite nicely, thank you very much.

Karen's stage experiences range from New Brunswick's hot, hotter and hottest cities of Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton to Nova Scotia's Cape Breton and the Metropolis of Halifax, along with many a spontaneous show wherever her feet, guitar and hula-hoop find her. These performances have taken place in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica, Montreal, Quebec City and New York State. Her philosophy and confidence make every musical opportunity a chance to share her talent. She is quite simply one of the better singer songwriters around. And did I tell you that she is at Fusion this Friday evening? She is indeed.

But will anyone hear her? Despite bringing in often world class entertainers, most recently the uber-talented Misha’s Dream from Antigonish, Tracie Jones, Fusion owner, manager and programme director, worries that she can’t continue bringing in high caliber talent such as she has been doing if people don’t leave their houses to listen. Fusion doesn’t charge admission for the entertainment but a free-will donation jar is on site and people are asked to throw in what they can or what they feel the musicians are worth.

With Palmer, go for what you can afford because if we paid her what she is worth, most of us would need to visit Sandy at the Food Bank on Monday. I am not sure what reception you’d get if you told her you needed help because you gave all your worldly goods to this real cool folksinger at Fusion.

It isn’t only more bodies she needs to see but those bodies need to be aware of how Jones is able to keep doing this. She has an arrangement with her musicians and what doesn’t come from the donation jar comes from Jones’ till. “The music doesn’t come free. I’d rather not charge admission for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I wouldn’t want someone to opt not to come out and hear great music because it would put a strain on their budget. I need numbers but I also need those people who do come out to support my endeavours by tossing some bills or coins into the jar. I feed and house these musicians and I love doing this. I want Woodstock to experience live entertainment, the likes of which is more commonly available in urban settings, not small rural coffee houses. But it is getting harder and harder to do this.”

Music is a gift. It creates community and Tracie Jones is nothing, if not about community. Gifting is typically a reciprocal action. It usually happens in the context of a relationship. You buy me a birthday gift, I get you one. I give you a scarf at Christmas and you give me a Toyota. Fusion provides us with exceptionally good music delivered by typically genial musicians and we fill the jar as much as we are able. That’s gifting without pain. Seems simple and fair but it ain’t happening enough and the future of live music at Fusion is at risk.

Musicians from Scotland, South Africa, South America, the U.S. and all over Canada have played at Fusion. There have been great crowds and not so great crowds. I remember being one of three people listening to this amazing country/folksinger from Alberta. I have also missed some great entertainment for various reasons, like everyone else. I asked Jones if she feels she may have to scale down the frequency of hosting live entertainment at her café or worse, cease altogether. That would be a shame. Jones takes this situation quite seriously but when all is said and done, she is running a business and a business can only take so many hits before it starts to take on water. From my perspective, life got better in Woodstock when Fusion opened. “It is one thing for me to personally want to support the arts and specifically the indie artists and bands, but from a business standpoint it is a financial loss most of the time.” Worries Jones. “As I said, the trouble stems from two directions, how to get the cohort of people who claim they want to enjoy such events to actually physically support them, and then - how to encourage tips for the performers. Neither the artists nor Fusion can operate for free. It is becoming more of a charitable project from Fusion’s standpoint, and however disappointed I would be if the music had to come to a stop, I am equally discouraged when at the end of a stellar performance, there is less than $1 per person in their tip cup. Something has to change”

Peanut Butter Productions is working with Fusion, pro bono, to bring Karen Palmer back to Woodstock. Richard Blaquiere, me, Peanut Butter Productions manager, has her at Crumbs in Fredericton the next evening and later in the month at Boom, Fredericton’s only bar that caters to the capital gay community and its allies. “Karen on CD is so warm and melodic’ says Blaquiere, me. “She carries that to the stage and adds an edge that is witty and sometimes cutting without being anywhere near offensive. This woman can write and sing a wicked song but her stage patter is equally entertaining. We are fortunate that Tracie has seen it possible to bring her back. “

Karen Palmer appears at Fusion Coffee Company this Friday, August 28, starting at 8:30
- Bugle - Woodstock NB


I Drive, 2008 - First Solo Release, 15 song full length album

Voices for V-Day 2004, Compilation to support Women's Day!

Live @ O'leary's 1999, Compilation of local Saint John Musicians.



Karen Palmer the Saint John native released her first full length album in Nov of 2008. *I Drive* is a highly anticipated album, as Karen has been sharing her live music with the east coast for over 10 years.

I Drive, features such celebrated Maritime veterans as, Geoff Arsenault, Tom Easley, Darren Arsenault, & members of the talented Lunenburg treasure The Flat Fifth; as well as a haunting duet with Saint John's Debbie Adshade.

"The Holiest Blues" featured on the album won Karen the 2008 World Quest Music Award 1st place for outstanding song writing ability.

Karen has had the pleasure of opening for & playing with many great Canadian treasures, but to mention a few there was David Suzuki, Cathy Jones, Valdy, Ember Swift, Matt Andersen, Amy Campbell, Jessica Rhaye, Brent Mason, Hot Toddy, Issac & Blewitt, and many, many more...