Kev Corbett
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Kev Corbett

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter




"The people's songwriter performs in Hampton"

I am always bewildered by how people tend to define music. To me, folk music means "the people's music" ... so as far as I am concerned everything falls under that umbrella.
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Courtesy Kev Corbett
Kev Corbett performs at the Vintage Bistro in Hampton on May 28.

But, according to contemporary thought, folk music is a guy or girl singing with an acoustic guitar, and poring their heart out.

Kev Corbett is exactly that. He has a true writer's heart much like the great literary writers. Corbett embodies everything that is wonderful about the song as an art form, while most folk singers today are mere shadows of great singer/songwriters.

Corbett has great tales to tell. He is a straight shooter and a gifted guitar player, who brings the songs to you in a profound way. Corbett has toured the globe, performing in more than 20 countries. He has shared stages with Stephen Fearing, Jill Barber, Ben Sures and Annabelle Chvostek.

Here are some rave reviews of Corbett's music:

"That's a mighty fine CD you (and your friends) have cobbled together. Beauty. Great songs. Vivid and evocative rapid fire storylines, sweet and raggedy sounds, and terrific arrangements. Thanks for that." - Lewis Melville

Here's another fan's description: "Like Cohen, but with a sense of humour; Dylan, without the angst."

On Corbett's site I love the short bio summing him up for you: "Cohen humour, Dylan minus the angst. Mixes the scruffy informality of Greg Brown, the four-eyed bluesmanship of old Cockburn, and the yarn-spinning wink of a merry stranger in a pub with yellowed stucco walls. One of Canada's best new writers, and a humdinger of a guy." Perfect! LOL

Corbett is performing at the Vintage Bistro on May 28. For ticket info call 832-1212 or check out

To find out more about Kev Corbett, check out - KV Style

"Ode to a Celtic icon up for prestigious prize"

Songwriter Corbett was inspired by spirit of John Allan Cameron

Jerry West

Kevan Corbett was understandably a little nervous about writing With
the Grace of God, but so far the song has been very good to him.

It's an ode to John Allan Cameron, the late, iconic pioneer of Celtic
music. The germ of the song came last year when Corbett called up an
acquaintance, Cameron's son. Stuart Cameron answered the phone from
his father's bedside; his father was dying of cancer.

Corbett, 34, had lost two grandparents to cancer, and Corbett's father
had been in the seminary around the same time as John Allan.

That got Corbett thinking about Cape Breton's musical pioneer.

"There were certain things that you could see about him that reminded
me about my granddad and my dad, and people who have lived in a
certain spiritual mode for a long time," Corbett said. "In his case,
what I saw was somebody who tried to leave smiles behind him."

So he wrote a song, not about an influential musician, but about a man
who wore an ear-to-ear smile, and was happy to encourage any youngster
with a penchant for music.

"I wanted to think positive things about the sum total of one's life,"
Corbett said. "When you're lying on your deathbed, what are you left
with? What did you do?"

But the song is about a man Corbett had only met once.

"In a way, it's a bit of an absurd song to write, because it's totally
conjecture," Corbett said.

Shortly before Cameron died in November, Corbett played it for a local
CBC host. When Cameron died, the CBC asked Corbett to record the song
for a local tribute show.

"But I wasn't sure; I didn't want it to be too soon," Corbett said.

He didn't want to profit. But he was
talked into the recording. Just to be sure, he sent the song to Stuart
Cameron, who gave it his blessing.

Recently, he sent the recording in to a songwriting contest at the
Telluride Blue Grass Festival in Colorado.

And the Godfather of Celtic Music might have been still watching out
for a young musician, because Corbett was chosen as the only Canadian
among 10 finalists. The festival is revered in roots-music circles,
with performances this year by the likes of by Emmylou Harris and
Alison Krauss.

Even though John Allan has been more than good to Corbett thus far,
the Halifax songwriter is hoping the old spirit can stick with him
just a little longer. This morning, he competes in the first round of
the Telluride Troubadour contest, and by tomorrow night, he'll know
whether he gets to go home with a $9,000 custom-made guitar for a

So, if you feel up to it, John Allan, please, dance, dance, wherever you may be.

With the Grace of God

Some lyrics from Kevan Corbett's song:

There will be a great outpouring of sadness

In the ocean of the nightly news

And an invisible marching of the casket

Through the streets and through the pews

And they will say all sorts of things about heritage

And how you mined a vein of gold

But the greatest victory for a warrior

Is when he dies, just from getting old

He rises above it all

Rise above

You ride the bear of Song, your whole life long,

And now you get to ride the doves ...

It's nice to imagine you'll be up there

Teaching Stan Rogers how to play Tarabish over a beer

And that's what we all do, just to get ourselves through

'Cause we don't know where we go from here.

But when I think about you, to give credit where it's due,

It's the high road that makes the man

But as a better scribe wrote on a similar note,

Godspeed, God bless, God damn ...


Kevan Corbett (left) "wanted to think positive things about the sum
total of one's life.

Category: Arts and Culture
Uniform subject(s): Music
Length: Medium, 549 words

(c) 2007 The Daily News (Halifax). All rights reserved. - Halifax Daily News

"Halifax singer-songwriter vitalizes the village"

There are many endearing qualities about Halifax singer-songwriter Kev Corbett, but what comes across the most is the fact that the man is all about community.

And in this sense, there could have been no more fitting a place for him to play than in the ever-quaint and tightly-knit Victoria-By-the-Sea for the Victoria Playhouse Concert Series this past Monday night.

For the past several years, the guitar picker/singer/prolific lyricist has been establishing himself as “one of the best of our bumper crop of fine young songwriters” as his bio says. And upon listening to the dude live, I would certainly echo the truth of this statement.

The former pro sideman guitarist/bassist for various acts, who has now turned to his own solo career, brings with him that adept skill from his former musical profession and combines it with a deep-thinking, far-lefty-political, love-of-his-wife-and-his-homeland kind of songwriting charm.

And even though his onslaught of almost novel-esque lyrics in each song, delivered through a voice that might seem gruff in nature, could come across as off-putting at first, the personality only grows on you as you listen more. And in a Dylan/Cohen/Old Man Luedecke/Al Tuck/Lou Reed-esque kind of way, he ends up taking you off on a new and profound adventure in every tune.

And yes, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performer who trumpets a love of his Halifax community as much as Corbett does.

This was proven soon into his first set on Monday night when Corbett sang a song about one of his favourite places on Earth: the Halifax Farmers’ Market.

“Get up, get clean, get on the bikes, get on downtown and look for a space, get in a coffee lineup that just never ends and down to the steps and take our place,” Corbett sang (words that many of us market-goers can relate to) over a quickly-plucked arpeggiated progression in an open acoustic tuning.

“And the world would just seem heartless without a place that has some heart, like the First Church at the Farmers’ Market.”

As the song ended, Corbett elaborated on the theme that seems to be central to his worldview/way of life/artistic trajectory: “When the oil all runs out, we’re gonna’ be turning back to each other and will be dependent upon each other in ways we haven’t been for quite some time.”

His forward-thinking liberal views continued to be expressed throughout the night in great songs like Growing Down (his “20s manifesto,” as he called it, and one of his first tunes ever), and The Cottager’s Reply (a lovely story-in-a-song by songwriter Chris Wood).

Some other highlights of Corbett’s night included Cheese and Whiskey (a fun tune that’s just jam-packed with food/love analogies), 12 Steps to Hell (an intriguing tune about a night in the green room at his favourite booze can — The Times Changed High and Lonesome Club in Winnipeg) and With the Grace of God, a song about the life and times of John Allan Cameron.

Corbett’s father actually went into the seminary with Cameron, when Cameron was originally thinking of becoming a priest. And when Cameron passed away several years ago, Corbett felt the “Live at 5” kind of tributes being done for the musician who touched so many of our lives was not nearly fitting enough.

So in a five-minute long song dedicated to Cameron’s life, Corbett expressed some touchingly beautiful sentiments, not only specifically about Cameron, but about the journey from life to death we all make together:

“The greatest victory for a warrior is when he dies just from getting old ... and he rises above it all, you rise above. You ride the bear of song your whole life long, and now you get to ride the doves ... we’re all stars tied down to the Earth and then we all will join the stars above.”

This lyric sample and the one preceding it are just two little paragraphs from a wealthy evening’s worth of creative word-weaving to song by Corbett. And if these appeal to you, check out his lyrics page on the website at www.kevcorbett. You can also listen to The Grace of God on his CBC Radio 3 page online.

“I’m still thinking about this communities thing, and I want to thank all you guys for coming out to this show and for supporting this little community of Victoria,” Corbett said near the end of the night.

But I think it was certainly the community of Victoria that was feeling indebted to Corbett’s presence when all was said and done. - Charlottetown Guardian

"Kev Corbett: Finding the Sweet Spot"

(published in All Rights Reserved Literary Journal, Vol. 1)

Kev Corbett: Finding The Sweet Spot by Lesley Mulcahy October 19, 2004

I love the sensation of hearing a song for the first time. For me, it's a total trail of discovery, like losing your virginity all over again.

Okay, Kev Corbett did not take my virginity, let's put those rock-n-roll rumors to rest! But the Halifax songwriter and performer did give me a new appreciation for his craft. After meeting following a performance at The Khyber, we corresponded by email as he traveled across Asia and Europe. Thousands of miles away, his responses read like a conversation over lattes.

"I think the first melody popped into my head when I was about five, a Kenny Rogers-y piece of schmaltz. But I had a kid's attention span, so at least it went away quick," he says.

Starting when he was roughly eight years old, Corbett concentrated on learning instruments until university, and flirted with song writing while completing Mount Allison's Bachelor of Music program. He really shelved composing until returning to his home city of Halifax in 1995.

"That's when I started exploring writing: story songs, pseudo-pop commercial tripe, be-my-own-shrink songs, giggly stuff. And, I was still getting it together instrumentally."

Some of the songs written during that period have found a place on Corbett's upcoming debut solo album, possibly titled Beautiful Loser or Clumsy. The themes capture glimpses of himself and the world around him.

"'Beautiful losers' have been coming up - lost souls and people struggling out of ugly places. I was going to call the album that until I noticed Leonard Cohen's book in a store and thought 'bastard', he jokes.

Corbett, who suspects he and Rex Murphy would make good pub mates, also incorporates aspects of Canadian politics and culture into his songs. Avoiding questions of love unless he feels they're really worth the effort, he has focused a lot of attention on the concept of 'home'.

"It's something I've always had a tenuous relationship with and I've started exploring the spirit of resolving tenuous relationships," he says. "The album is about taking a proactive stand vis-a-vis your own happiness and dealing, occasionally fearlessly, with your own reality."

For Corbett, forcing himself to compose results in creations that are 'uniformly laughable.'

"If I hear a snippet coming through, it's like a radio finding its tuning and I'd better get paper! I've lost albums worth of material into the ether by saying 'oh, that's so good; I can't forget that tomorrow morning�... N'ah. I save it then, or I lose it. It might come back, but the integrity of the idea always comes through better if I just deal with it in the moment, whether that means staying up another hour, or pulling the car over."

So, he puts the ideas on paper and leaves them.
'I get a particular vibe when I'm ready to write. I'll write, cut out half, wait awhile - maybe up to a year - and let it cook. The piece will tell me if and when it's ready."

Corbett appreciates brutal honesty and songs that are 'cleverly constructed and lovingly executed.' As both a writer and performer, he feels a song lives equally in its delivery as its lyrics. He acknowledges the challenge of exposing oneself to various audiences.

"The first time I really wrote with brutal honesty and sang it, I cried like a baby," he recalls. "But I'd just busted a wall down, so fine. Sharing is the very stuff of what a writer in any genre does: if I have no connection to what I sing, it can't translate. I've got to feel it for you to as well."

Having toured with regionally and nationally renowned musicians Knifey Moloko, Amelia Curran and Blou, Corbett is now focusing on his own path.

"I love making people react. Finding the sweet spot is a musician's goal, because that initial moment someone really gets you, whether in a performance or face-to-face, is addictive."

With the release of his album, virginal ears are bound to discover Corbett's whimsical yet mature style. With poetic lyrics like "I was standing outside your life/ too scared to touch the door..." (Growin' Down) and "I love to eat/ I love to drink/ I'd love to wash your hair tomorrow in my sink..." (Honourable Mention), there's something everyone can relate to.

And, I hope they do.

After all, everyone has their sweet spot.
- All rights Reserved Literary Journal, vol. 1

"Corbett Gets Clumsy With Solo Release"

Corbett Gets Clumsy With Solo Release
By Stephen Cooke
Halifax Chronicle-Herald
Nov 4th, 2005

Halifax-based musician Kevan corbett has played more places than most East Coast musicians, but he's far from a household name in his own backyard.

A former member of acts like Knifey Moloko and the Carol Ritchie Band, this jack-of-all trades, who excels at guitar, bass, and percussion, has done most of his globetrotting with the award-winning Acadian band Blou, from Paris, France to the 'Paris of the Orient,' Shanghai, China.

But now he wants to put his own personal stamp on the music he plays, with his solo alter-ego Clumsy, and a self-titled CD of honest, sometimes sardonic tunes that feature Corbett playing most of the instrumental parts.

On Saturday night, Clumsy performs at Ginger's Tavern playing the forthright folk that appears on the disc, available in local music stores, or online at or

But as the name Clumsy implies, initially inspired by the Celtic folk staple 'Clumsy Lover' Corbett's musical experience has taught him that one of the most important things is not to take himself too seriously.

"There's a certain gravitas that's there in certain songs, but I don't want everything to just be about me," says Corbett over coffee at Uncommon Grounds on Argyle St. "In the capital-S singer-songwriter aesthetic, the songs shouldn't be just about the writer. But some of my songs started out that way; you go through something crappy, try to get through it by writing a song about it, and bob's your uncle.

"But at some point I realized that this was going to be some sort of Leonard Cohen thing if I didn't do something for comic relief. At first I had my guard up about it. For example, I wasn't going to put the song about the Ice Cream Guy on the record, because I (didn't see its value). But then I played it for Greg Pretty, who was recording me, and Carol Ritchie, who lives with Greg, and they were like, 'Are you out of your mind? OF COURSE you've got to put it on the record!' And that just opened up the floodgates for experimenting with what a song should be about."

Some of that experimenting involved throwing in unique elements like a portion by legendary evangelist Rev. Billy Sunday on one song, or a special vocal by Virgil Muir on another.

"There's just a bunch of really weird juxtapositions on there," he explains. "People don't really associate Tibetan throat singing (performed by Muir) with Maritime Singer-Songwriter stuff, but I don't see why not.

"For crying out loud, we've got so many Buddhists in town, it should be a Halifax staple!" he said, laughing.

Corbett's show at Ginger's will also feature some familiar Halifax staples in the form of local CBC personalities as the show is being declared an instalment of the Lockout Lounge. The event sprung up in the midst of the recent labour dispute at the national broadcaster, and is being held one more time to celebrate the return to normal operations.

Fellow performers will include Massey Red, Rob Hutten and Doug Barron, and the Good times Hard Times Picket Line Band.

Currently engaged to CBC producer and journalist Stephanie Domet (best known for her spots on Definitely Not the Opera), Corbett has a personal stake in the state of affairs at the nation's station.

"There were lots of people I knew from listening to the radio, but I only knew them by name," he says. "I sort of knew Jack Julian through Steph, I'd only met Stan Carew a little bit here and there, I didn't know what Preston Mulligan looked like at all, same with weekend morning show producer Bob Bauer and so on.

"So one day in the middle of the lockout, we came up with the idea of having a jam on the picket line. I had been under a certain amount of pressure to go down and play, so we put together the Good times Hard Times Picket Line Band with Bob and Preston and a few others and we played eight or nine tunes, and a week or two later they decided to have the Lockout Lounge at Ginger's, to get together and blow off a little steam."

Expect to hear the string band's 'acoustic guitar, Bruce Cockburn-y, finger-picking version' of Queen's Radio Ga-Ga, with everyone singing along on the choruses.

- Halifax Chronicle Herald

"Corbett’s in Good Company"

Singer-songwriter Kev Corbett plays in everyone’s band, but it’s his turn for the spotlight with the release of Son of a Rudderless Boat.

by Shannon Webb-Campbell

"My tunes are my way of processing," says Kev Corbett. "I write audio songs. I work out the world by talking in my head. Music is my first language."

As a natural storyteller, Corbett brings listeners on quite the journey with his narrative-driven songs. Despite having a soft release at the Lunenburg Folk Festival, he's releasing Son of a Rudderless Boat at The Company House on January 16.

"A song is not finished until it is heard," says Corbett, with his hand wrapped around a mug of tea at Just Us!. "I write about the things people don't talk about but feel deeply---the sweet stuff of human experience. I don't write break-up songs, I don't write piss-up songs. There has to be some sort of silver lining.

"Proverbially I like to get to the nub of things. I write about some of the stereotypes of being Canadian."

Whether he's accompanying a band, in the role of leading man or hosting Sing For Your Supper, a songwriter's circle Saturday afternoons at The Carleton, Corbett lives and breathes music. The odd time he's not beneath the glow of the stage lights, he's somewhere nearby listening keenly with his signature Cheshire cat grin and pint glass in hand.

"It's almost mathematically impossible to be a songwriter now," he says. "No one needs to buy a CD if they don't want to. My job is just to show up every day and not obstruct my own progress."

With splashes of blues, folk, reggae, bluegrass and jazz, Son of a Rudderless Boat runs the musical gamut. The toe-tapping opening track "That's All Gone" features Old Man Luedecke on banjo and highlights life's more sugary moments. "Cheese and Whiskey" might be an unlikely pairing, but it's a true ode to love and comfort food. "The Driving Song" sorts through life on the road and the long stretches between home and away, while Christina Martin lends her vocals across the telephone wire. Meaghan Smith joins Corbett with her buttery voice on "Flowers In My Sidewalk," a hopeful song despite life's finite endings.

Many others lend their handclaps, musicianship and vocals, including Erin Costelo, Norma MacDonald, Jason Mingo, Thom Swift, Don Brownrigg, Fleur Mainville, Heather Cameron, Mike Aube and Steve Bowers.
- The Coast, Halifax NS


Kev Corbett
(Little Red Canon Music)

It's probably not easy to sound as comfortable before a microphone as Kev Corbett does, but the Halifax singer-songwriter has a way of making his conversational songs sound immediate and fresh, like the lyrics are spilling forth in a brand new way every time.

You can hear hints of the masters, like Kristofferson and Prine, in Corbett's odes to the good life and one-of-a-kind characters, but his voice is his own, and his observations absorbing.

( - The Chronicle-Herald, Halifax NS

"Exploratory Music Finds Success"

Kevan Corbett
Clumsy ****

By Sandy MacDonald

Few young musicians have seen the world from the stage the way Kev Corbett has. Touring with the lively Francophone band Blou, the Amherst-raised bassist and drummer has visited the four corners of the globe, won awards and played for hundreds of thousands of fans.

All the while, though, the multi-talented musician was burning for a more intimate musical outlet, a chance to record his own rootsy-folk songs. So last year, Corbett enlisted Halifax soundman Greg Pretty and they put together a mobile recording studio in Pretty's 120 year-old house.

Building the songs from simple acoustic guitar and vocal tracks, Corbett layered on the colour tracks, playing everything himself. It was the ultimate take-control gesture.

"I'd just always wanted to make a record where I played all the instruments," says Corbett, 32. "For better or worse, it was going to be something that was mine. Every single wart that's there is because I wanted it there."

Corbett and Pretty have created a warm, organic recording. Corbett calls it 'exploratory folk music.'

In addition to Corbett's voice, guitars and percussion, there are dollops of didjeridu, found sounds, a digital rainstorm, a marching band (created by overtracking Corbett on his pulled-apart drum kit) and even a fiery sermon dredged up from 1931.

This debut solo project is a solid affirmation of Corbett's mature songwriting skills. There's no cloying faux-folk here; it's clever, economical writing that marks the best of the genre. Think Dave Gunning or Texas songwriter Slaid Cleaves.

Corbett digs into a Tom Waits-like groove on 'Honorable Mention,' a salty lovesong built over a trashy cabaret backbeat.

Corbett is a beautiful phraser, tumbling his lyrics all over the rhythm of his songs.

His 'Ice Cream Guy' song a charming tune about Funky Bob, a loveable loser who decides his fortune lies in selling ice cream, the whimsicle (sic) tune recalls the music of Bob Bossin's Stringband or Bob Snider.

"I never knew I had anything to say until I started writing songs. It's not like I set out to revolutionize the songwriting world, but I'd like to think (these songs) are at least an interesting contribution..."

Corbett studied percussion at Mount Allison University, with a minor in playing bass. After relocating to Halifax, he helped form the Latin jamband Knifey Moloko, recorded with traditional fiddler Gordon Stobbe, and performed with singer-songwriter Amelia Curran, Gaelic singer Patricia Murray, and Celtic-folk duo the MacLean Sisters.

Then he landed a touring gig with Acadian band Blou, which quickly became his bread and butter. He still performs with the band. Late last month they were headed to China.


WHAT: Kev Corbett launches his solo album Clumsy
WHERE: Ginger's Tavern, as part of the CBC Lockout Lounge victory party
WHEN: Saturday
- Halifax Daily News


Live in Orillia! PWYW Download postcards
(Little Red Canon, March 2013)

Son of a Rudderless Boat (Little Red Canon, 2010)
RADIO PICK: 'Cheese & Whiskey'

Clumsy Zunior, 2005



a beautiful snapshot of the Canadian landscape. This native Nova Scotians voice is like no one else all Canadian, hints of Cockburn, Cohen and Lightfoot well-crafted and skillfully written songs dazzling guitar playing Corbett is a true folksinger and Son of a Rudderless Boat is a marvelous listen. - Penguin Eggs Magazine

The man is an exceptional guitar player for one thing but also writes extremely clever, finessed, clockwork folk-pop songs whose singable surface belies a tremendous underlying sense of craft. It was really great to see him again. Jowi Taylor, Six String Nation

Corbett embodies everything that is wonderful about the song as an art form, while most folk singers today are mere shadows of great singer/songwriters. - KV Style News (NB)

"A total teddy bear. Who SLAYS on bass." - Brooke Miller


People keep telling Kev Corbett he really doesnt sound like anbody else. Hes a wordy guy with a big heart. A serious guitar picker. A man who loves a great story, especially if it isnt his. Hes comfortable in his own skin, not a hint of pretense.

Hes experienced, too: 20 countries worth of touring under his belt, keeps placing in songwriting competitions, and has opened in the last bit for Stephen Fearing, Jill Barber, Ben Sures, and Annabelle Chvostek, on top of sharing stages with Brooke Miller, Don Ross, Christina Martin, Jill Barber, Suzie Vinnick, Charlie ACourt, David Celia, and more. But, to hell with musical comparisons: this dudes a writer. Hes known for the attention-to-the-everyday of an Alice Munro, the attention-to-detail and research of a Robertson Davies, the brutal frankness of a Farley Mowat, the warm-cuddliness of a Peter Gzowski, and a work ethic of iron, to boot. He's a touring machine. This year, hes putting out two records: Live in Orillia! and a studio album of all new material, to be produced in Guelph by Lewis Melville (Skydiggers, Rheostatics, Cowboy Junkies, Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Tannis Slimmon, Barenaked Ladies).

Kev Corbett is the best kind of folksinger, writing zingers that can veer hilarious, heartbreaking, lusty, pious, political, fighty, thoughtful, wistful, helpful, and/or clever; and then usually throw a self-deprecating monologue on top. Its hard not to pay attention; stories become songs break down into stories, and you realize hes not singing about his own life. Hes singing ours.


Cohen + humour, or Dylan with a voice. Mixes the scruffy informality of Greg Brown, the four-eyed bluesmanship of old Cockburn, and the yarn-spinning wink of a merry stranger in a pub with yellowed stucco walls. One of Canadas best new writers, and a humdinger of a guy.

Band Members