tom fidgen
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tom fidgen

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
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"Former Sunfish frontman Tom Fidgen releases new album, performs at The Upstairs March 19"

WHAT'S GOIN ON-
Former Sunfish frontman Tom Fidgen releases new album, performs at The Upstairs March 19
by Devon Strang — February 15, 2011

Songwriter Tom Fidgen
(photo: Dan Russell)
One of the most loved songwriters to have emerged from the burgeoning local indie rock scene of the 1990's, Tom Fidgen has released his first recorded collection of music since 2002's independent release Beyond Before.
Recorded in Toronto and featuring a who’s who of that city’s finest studio musicians, a boy called fish is an atmospheric take on Fidgen’s rootsy storytelling style. The album sees Fidgen reunited with longtime collaborator, friend and former bandmate, Juno-award winner and in demand studio guitarist, Stuart Cameron. Cameron produced the new album, a role he also played during the recording of Sunfish’s 1993 demo which, by popular demand, became their cassette only, self-titled debut.
Sunfish rose to prominence beyond the local bar scene after a win in 1994's CJCB Music Spirit East contest enabled the band to record the single “Find the Time”, produced by friend and fellow songwriter Gordie Sampson. The buzz from this recording gave the band the momentum to gather the resources needed to record their now classic CD Mola Mola. Mola Mola was a hit locally and beyond, with the song “Difference“ winning Best Indie Video at the Much Music Video Awards in 1995 and receiving national rotation on popular radio. In ’96, the album was released in Australia to more critical praise. (Dave Mahalik does a great job of exploring the band’s impact on local mid-’90s zeitgeist in this article from October 1995.)
Despite this early success, by 1997 the members of Sunfish had gone their separate ways and Fidgen began splitting his time between Toronto, where he continued to write and record music–including 1998's Lupins Records release Human by Trade–and a house in Belle Cote where he began building traditional style wooden boats in his one man boat shop. As skilled at the craft of boat building as he is at songwriting, Fidgen won the Peoples Choice Award two consecutive years at the Mahone Bay Wooden Boat Show. Boat building quickly developed into custom furniture design and by 2009 Fidgen began to write Made by Hand – Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop which became a top selling wood working book of 2010.
With his two young children becoming more independent and his woodworking career developing a solid foundation, Fidgen recently found the time and energy to return to music making. a boy called fish was recorded during the fall and winter months of 2010 and saw its official release in January with two packed nights at the Carleton. Fidgen has scheduled a hometown release for the album at The Upstairs Club on Saturday, March 19th where he’ll be backed by a band featuring Scott Brown on bass, Jay Smith on guitar and Matt Thauvette on drums. Tickets are $8.00 in advance and $10.00 at the door. - WHAT'S GOIN ON


"FIDGEN BACK ON STAGE AFTER SIX YEARS"


Fidgen back on stage after six years
February - 2 - 2011
Adam Burns
adamburns@dal.ca
Tom Fidgen took the last six years off from his music career to play “Mr. Mom” to his two children, but he was back on stage Monday night.
Fidgen just recorded his latest solo effort, A Boy Called Fish, and he played two CD release shows at Halifax’s Carleton Music Bar to celebrate.
Fidgen was the front-man for Sunfish, a three-piece indie-rock band from Cape Breton that won a MuchMusic Video Award in 1995 before breaking up in 1997.
“It was never due to internal conflict,” Fidgen says, “but more an issue of the expectations from the record industry.” Following the band’s split, Fidgen embarked on a solo career, releasing three albums in four years from 1998 to 2002. Since then, he has been pursuing his other passions — writing, woodworking and raising a family.
Fidgen began Monday’s show with an eight-song acoustic set before bringing up band-mates Jay Smith (guitar), Scott Brown (bass) and Matt Thauvette (drums). The set-list drew from Fidgen’s entire career, including the unreleased “Greener Is as Greener Does,” a full run-through of A Boy Called Fish and even a few Sunfish classics.
“That’s my favourite song,” said Troy Ginter, 32, after the band’s performance of “Whiskey Don’t Go Bad,” a Sunfish track given a new twist by Smith’s twangy lead guitar work. “I danced many a night to that one.”
Ginter’s enthusiasm was somewhat out of place. The crowd of about 75 was appreciative but subdued, with only occasional bursts of energy. Fidgen didn’t seem to mind. He told stories to the audience, called for improvised jams with the band and dealt with equipment trouble with ease.
Between sets, Fidgen talked to the Halifax Commoner about music, family and furniture.

Q: How does tonight’s show compare to last night’s?
A: Very different energy. Last night was like a full house — a lot of friends, a lot of Cape Bretoners — so the energy was through the roof. Last night was the perfect homecoming. I couldn’t have asked for more. Tonight’s a much quieter night, a little less energy. But it’s all good.

Q: What were you doing during those years (away from music)?
A: I left music to raise a family. Bottom line. My son was born six years ago. We knew he was comin’ and we had planned for it. (We) had been living in Ontario and we decided to move back to Cape Breton, my wife and I … So I said, “I’m just gonna take some time off and be a Mr. Mom for a few years.”

Q: How did you get into furniture building?
A: Woodworking is another passion of mine. By the time my son was two, I realized I had enough time to start doing projects … I didn’t really start advertising or anything. People just started saying, “Can you build this for me? Can you build that for me?” you know, friends and family, a few local sales.
At that same time, I started writing about building furniture on a blog (theunpluggedwoodshop.com) … Before I knew it, I was getting about 2,500 hits every month. I got an email one day from Popular Woodworking Magazine, asking if I wanted to write a book for them on building furniture using hand tools. So that’s what I did.

Q: What connection do you find between playing music and woodworking?
A: They’re both creative outlets. A lot of people say, “You’re either playing music or you’re doing this.” But the truth is, for me, where that outlet is for me is very much the same
place … (I) try to make a living out of a bit of both. It’s really hard to be any kind of artist in 2011 and just do one thing. So, music, writing – I write articles on woodworking — the CDs, live gigs; you’ve got to wear a whole bunch of hats to pay the bills, right? That’s the bottom line.

Q: What’s your song-writing process like?
A: I always have a
notebook … just henscratch and ideas. Sometimes, some page will have a few lines on it, and then a piece of furniture design I’m thinking of, or something specific like that. Whatever I’m thinking about, I’m jotting it down … Then, when I do pick up my guitar, I open up that. I start noodling around on my guitar and look through that and things just start connecting and firing.

Q: Where does the song “Greener is as Greener Does” come from?
A: That’s a tough one … It’s definitely environmental; there’s a play on words there. I’m a pretty environmentally conscious fella, I like to think. I don’t wave any flags or anything. I just try to do my part. - THE HALIFAX COMMONER


"Tom Fidgen back with "A Boy Called Fish""

FROM THE CAPE BRETON POST
Tom Fidgen back with "A Boy Called Fish"

Tom Fidgen will perform March 19 at the Upstairs Club in Sydney. Submitted photo
Tom Fidgen will perform March 19 at the Upstairs Club in Sydney. Submitted photo

Published on February 16, 2011
Laura Jean Grant RSS Feed

SYDNEY — Musician, songwriter, craftsman, author and “Mr. Mom” — Tom Fidgen really is a jack of all trades.


On the heels of a best-selling book on woodworking, Fidgen is now focusing his attention on two other passions, songwriting and music. After a nine-year recording hiatus — six of which he’s spent as a stay-at-home dad with his son, now 6, and daughter, now 4 — he’s back with his fourth solo album, “A Boy Called Fish.”
A native of Sydney, Fidgen and his family now reside in Toronto, but he’ll be making a trip home next month to celebrate the release of his new project with a performance at the Upstairs Club in Sydney, March 19. He’ll be joined by Scott Brown on bass, Jay Smith on guitar and Matt Thauvette on drums.
Perhaps most well-known as a founder and member of Sunfish — a popular Sydney-based folk rock band in the 1990s which toured nationally and took home a Much Music Video Award — Fidgen said “a boy called fish” may bring comparisons to his former band.
“To Sunfish fans, what people have told me is it sounds more like a Sunfish album than any of my other solo stuff,” he said, noting it’s produced by his friend Stuart Cameron, a former Sunfish bandmate and producer.
Fidgen said while the album is a solo effort, it has a band feel, with performances from Cameron, Stephan Szczesniak, Peter Fusco, Damhnait Doyle, Chris Church and Blake Manning rounding out the tracks. Seven of the nine tunes on it he wrote this past fall, while the other two are among the 30-plus songs he wrote over the last six years when he found time in between being a self-described “Mr. Mom” and spending time on his woodworking.
“Woodworking was just another passion and I started blogging about woodworking and before I knew it, there was a few thousand people every month visiting my blog and I was asked to write a book for a woodworking publication out of the States,” he said.
The result was “Made by Hand - Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop,” which Fidgen describes as a how-to woodworking book, using only hand tools, as he doesn’t use any power tools in his work.
“The book came out last Christmas and I just got copies the other day from its second printing, so it went great. Apparently it was the top-selling woodworking book of 2010 anywhere,” he said.
Now, Fidgen is hoping for similar results on the music side of things with “A Boy Called Fish.” And so far, so good. The first single from the album, “The Weeds of October,” is now in the No. 8 position on the East Coast Countdown.
Fidgen said he’s looking forward to returning home next month to celebrate the release of his latest project. At his Sydney show, he’ll be doing tunes from the new album, some older tunes from his three previous solo albums — “Human By Trade” in 1998, “A Vitamin for Media Love” in 2000 and “Beyond Before” in 2002 — as well as some Sunfish favourites.
“All the Sunfish years, I think very highly of them looking back now,” noted Fidgen. “And even the people that listened to Sunfish, that were Sunfish fans and really still are, that album had a lot of longevity. I still get emails from people looking where they can buy it or pick it up, so that’s kinda cool.”
Tickets to the March 19 show are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.
“A Boy Called Fish” is now available on iTunes, several other digital music sites, and at Fidgen’s live shows. - The Cape Breton Post


Discography

1993 Cassette SUNFISH
10 song indie release
Produced by Stuart Cameron
Engineered by Mike Wadden
Recorded at Spectrum Sound, Blackett’s Lake, NS

mike morrison- drums and mandolin
scott brown- bass
tom fidgen- vocals, guitar

1994 CD SUNFISH [ Mola mola ]
Jesse Dogg Records, Cape Breton, NS
Liquid Records, Canada
TWA Records, Australia

Produced by David Rashed
Engineered by Jamie Foulds
Recorded at Over Tom Studio, Glace Bay, NS
Mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering- Portland, ME

mike morrison- drums, vocals
scott brown- bass, vocals
tom fidgen- vocals, guitars
with:
~The Kitchen Devils~
kelly edwards- vocals
jamie foulds- jaw harp
wally macaulay- banjo
tom o'keefe- fiddle
gordie sampson- mandolin, accordion

The video for the song Difference won Independent Video of the Year at the Much Music Video Awards in 1995.
Stoke the Fire video receives medium rotation on Much Music.

1998 CD tom fidgen human by trade
Lupins Records, Canada.

Produced by Tom Fidgen
Engineered by Bob Varghese
Recorded at Mothership Sound, Toronto, ON
Mixed by Jacques Poirier at Inception Sound Studios
Mastered by Ted Carson at Musiclane Inc.

steve gaetz- drums, bodrhan and percussion
tom fidgen- vocals, guitars and bass

CD Review: Tom Fidgen – Human By Trade
in Arts & Entertainment Reviews by I. K. MacLeod — October 1, 1998

This 6 track release has that emotional edge that usually gets left on the cutting room floor of the local modern rock station. Tom Fidgen expertly handles the vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, and bass on all the songs and called in Steve Gaetz to add percussion.
The initial groove of “Humans Being” gives a good idea of what Tom is capable of and an exciting hint of what’s to come. His songwriting and storytelling represent the beauty of graffiti that decorates the roots of something rather organic. File under intensely passionate. “Silver Submarines” is probably my pick…it has a refreshing bounce and lift to it that exposes vulnerability, even if you are looking to crack some bones.
The proverbial hand reaching out from the darkness, in “Prohibited”, to stop you from being yourself…listen as reality disappears in a cynical gasp. The skeptical title cut switches gear from near dirge to a modern shanty…all without losing the cohesive effect of the whole. “Political” is a great choice of Spirit of the West tune to cover that puts a little more raw angst into this 10 year old gem. Tommy recalled the song from his high school days, and when Tony Boone heard him sing it at a party, he encouraged him to include it on the recording.
“Familiar” is a chance to show off some eastern influences and I ain’t talking about Ravi Shankar. This was captured off the floor and has an interesting genesis behind it: “Gordie Sampson and I were having a little too much fun,” recounts Tommy, “and ended up in Mississauga with Wendy MacIsaac for a ceilidh. When I got home and picked up my guitar that Gordie had been playing it was still tuned funny.”
Human by Trade has spent a considerable amount of time in my discman. Self-produced, and mostly self-performed, it’s pleasing to the ears and will make a great addition to your collection.

2000 CD tom fidgen a vitamin for media love
Independent release.

Produced by Ed Woodsworth and Douglas September
Recorded at Sound Park Studios, Cape Breton, NS
Engineered by Jamie Foulds
Additional recording at the Boiler Room, Toronto, ON

mattie foulds- drums
jamie foulds- loops,keys and vocals
ed woodsworth- bass and guitar
scott brown- bass
douglas september- audio loops, samples and transistor radio
carolyn macintyre- trumpet
tom fidgen- vocals, guitars, organ

2002 CD tom fidgen beyond before
Independent release.

Produced by Tom Fidgen and Douglas September
Recorded, mixed and engineered by Douglas September
on Roxton Road and at the Boiler Room. Toronto, ON
Mastered by George Graves at the Lacquer Channel

scott brown- fretless electric bass
carolyn macintyre- trumpet
keith mullins- drum loop
douglas september- audio loops, samples, effected accordion and transistor radio
tom fidgen- vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica, organ and oscillator

2011 CD tom fidgen a boy called fish
Independent release.

Produced by Stuart Cameron
Mixed by Peter Fusco
Recorded at the Orange Lounge, Toronto, ON
Engineered by Metal
Additional recording at StusBrus
Mastered by Phil Demetro at Lacquer Channel, Toronto, ON

stephan szczesniak- drums
peter fusco- bass
stuart cameron- guitars, piano, vocals
damhnait doyle- vocals
chris church- strings
blake manning- live loops and glokenspiel
tom fidgen, vocals, guitar

Current: Weeds of October spends 4 weeks on the East Coast Countdown,(#6) a nationally syndicated radio show.

February 2011-
Tom Fidgen - song mermaids
Recorded at Cherry Beach Sound in Toronto, Ontario with Ashley MacIsaac. Scheduled release date:
May

Photos

Bio

Artisan, musician and author, Tom was born on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1971.

2011 begins with the much anticipated studio recording- A BOY CALLED FISH
Fidgen recruited friend and former bandmate, Juno-award winner, Stuart Cameron to produce the project. They met in Cape Breton, NS some 18 years before when Fidgen founded the indie-adorned band Sunfish. In 1992, Sunfish recorded its first album and it too was produced by a then slightly younger, Stuart Cameron.
A BOY CALLED FISH follows after the roller coaster year writing the top selling wood working book of 2010,
MADE BY HAND - Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop.

In like a lion, 2011 brings with it a performance with Ashley MacIsaac in Toronto and from there it was back into the recording studio laying down Fidgens original 'mostly instrumental' tune, -mermaids- for the new Ashley MacIsaac album slated for release this Spring.
March break in Canada and it's back to the East Coast for a home town performance and a few days to write with fellow SUNFISH member Scott Brown followed closely with more Ontario performances.

"The characters that transcend Tom's music are very believable and just a little bit frightening..."