There are 20 Nelson area musicians and singers on Bill Lynch’s new CD of original songs Would You Speak On My Behalf.
Most of them are seasoned, experienced artists who have shaped Nelson’s musical world over the past two decades while mentoring a younger generation.
Some, like composer and violinist Don Macdonald, cellist Jeff Faragher, and singer Bessie Wapp, appear on just one track each. Others like guitarist Jon Burden and bassist Mark Spielman play on several.
Lynch’s gratitude for the presence of these musicians seems to verge on disbelief.
“We have all these musicians and vocalists here, in so many different genres,” Lynch says. “Obviously that happens in some big cities. But you would not get to know them the way you do here. This is something special about the opportunities that this area provides. And with these musicians I have just scratched the surface of the people we have here.”
The mix of musicians on the album is surprising. Where else would you find a recording with all the aforementioned musicians plus singers Allison Girvan, Aryn Sheriff, and the classical soprano Noemi Kiss?
Not to mention Nelson’s signature horn section of Tim Bullen, Keith Todd, and Rick Lingard?
“I have got all these great players on it,” Lynch says. “But I had not intended that. My intention was to do something much simpler.”
As soon as he started writing this set of new songs, with advice from some music producer friends, things started to get more complicated.
“As we listened to the bed tracks, the suggestions I was getting were, that one needs a cello, or that one needs a trumpet, or another singer. And I said, well, all of these people live here.”
Lynch knew a cellist and a trumpet player and many singers. They are all fellow members of the performance community he inhabits.
“There was great passion in the way people joined in. Every one of the songs was transformed, they blossomed, by the input of all these folks. It was gorgeous that every one of these people said yes, and every one came out to the studio and put their hearts into it, gave generously.”
Lynch has been heading the Lazy Poker Blues Band in Nelson for 26 years and has always considered himself a blues musician.
“This album surprised me. I always thought of blues as the high road to emotional expression in music, for me. Of course other people have other genres that work that way for them.”
Lynch says the songs on the CD owe a lot to old blues song writers “who tried to express emotion without sentimentality, something I think a lot of more modern songwriters have done. Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan have done that and I have been influenced by them.”
Many of the songs are love songs.
“But one of them is an attempt to talk about something more difficult: “Painting in the Moonlight” is an effort to talk about the difficulty we have in expressing ourselves and understanding each other, because what we are given are poor tools that were built centuries ago, symbols of language, full of received notions, like the canvass that was already painted on that needs to be painted over again, to make our own painting.”
Other musicians on Would You Speak On My Behalf are Aran McMahon, Clinton Swanson, Donnie Clark, Ian Chater, Krista Lynch, Rob van der Laan, Ruth Beck, Steve Wilson, and Tom Thomson.