Conversation with Adam Webster: On Colour Picture Book, The Orange Album and Going Analog

Article by Kolston Gogan and Heather Beresford.

The first time I had the chance to see Adam Webster perform (almost twelve years ago now) he had long dreadlocks and was playing his infamous white Strat—he was performing the most soulful and beautiful rendition of “Superstition” I had ever heard. He put out so much energy to the audience, and you could immediately see that it was honest and effortless. 

Before this record with his new band Colour Picture Book, I didn’t know it was possible. However, Adam, his brother Matt Webster, and Max Roach seem to have taken all of the energy and magic of these live shows and stamped it onto a disc. It is bursting with colour and really gives you that “first time” experience.

The words that came to mind for this album: 

Fuzzy, warm, funk, beautiful, sentimental, mature, observant, fresh, vibrant. 

Listen to the album on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/631GWs25pMnyxbgUSDEM94

I had the opportunity to sit down with Adam and talk about the process and adventure he had in making this record. Here is what he had to say: 

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Album Cover (Colour Picture Book).jpg

K: Whats with the orange?

A: Well… Carly [Adam’s wife] had an antique orange juicer that had belonged to her friend’s grandmother, if I’m not mistaken. I was juicing oranges every day to have the freshest orange juice I could get. I would just look at this orange and think that it was so full of life, that no candy could ever taste that good. When my friend Andy said to me (about the album cover) “it has a Blind Melon vibe to it.” That made me really happy because that’s kind of what I was going for. It’s a slice of everyday life. It’s beautiful and vibrant, though still something you see everyday. I think it’s in those glimpses of our everyday lives that the real beauty lies. 

K: Who is Colour Picture Book and how did that come to be?

A: Originally, before it had a name, I was trying to break away from the projects that I was involved in that didn’t really represent who I am. I started working with my brother Matt and with Max. There came a point when I had to decide whether it was going to be called something with my name in it or not. I felt that it was much more inspiring to choose something that could be bigger than me and that could be a creative outlet for the 3 of us or whoever else we wanted to involve in the future. I wanted something that everybody could get credit for because I think amazing things can happen if nobody cares who is taking the credit for it. 

The name itself came from the aesthetic of an old photo album. It’s something that is harder and harder to find, those golden memories. I think a lot of things now are just lost on a hard drive somewhere. I picture Clark Griswold up in the attic, tears coming down, with the projector and all of the memories. Its that Bolex perspective on life, like seeing the world through a polaroid instead of a screen. It’s a more tangible reality like something you can feel and hold in your hands. 

K: Is that how you approach a lot of the writing as well, as a collaboration in that way?

A: I bring a lot of ideas to the table but those guys are so creative. Right down to the production and the levels to which we were distorting things on the board, they’ve been instrumental in that too. I might bring the initial song ideas to them but they really contribute to putting things together. I really respect what they do with it. I couldn’t have done it without them. I want them to feel like its theirs as well. 



K: How long have the 3 of you been working together?

A: I know it might seem like just 2 songs but they’ve been 3 years in the making. From trying to first record them through my interface, then bringing them to the guys and working the songs out, and getting the finances together to go to Revolution [Recording]. Part of it was in making sure the timelines worked out for everyone involved. Another part of that was because it was all done in analog format. 

Every time that you make a change in the analog world, you have to physically mail a tape somewhere and wait for it be mailed back. Or physically mail a plate somewhere and wait for it to be mailed back. Or an acetate, or whatever it is, it has to go two directions every time there is a change. It actually made the process a lot longer but I don’t necessarily think of that as a bad thing. Everyone is so caught up in getting things done instantly that it doesn’t hurt to have some patience for a process that will take longer but will be more rewarding in the end. 

What has been really overwhelming is the amount of positive response and good press that we’ve received all of a sudden. I could never have imagined it. I think its partly due to the fact that the story is easy to tell. It’s because every step of the way we decided to do things to the fullest extent in an analog direction. Nothing needs to be altered when people ask questions. Its such a great story because we had a great time making it, the actual process was that much fun for us. 

Colour Picture Book .jpeg


K: Are there any particularly good stories or funny moments that you had at the studio?

A: The first thing that comes to mind is a story about Max. Max Roach, our drummer, he’s a really hardworking guy both in the music industry and with his own business ventures. Whether he’s playing bass, keys or drums he’s always operating on such a high level. I have a video clip of one of our mixing sessions and it was a really intense session and there was some pressure to get a lot done in a short amount of time. It got pretty tense so we decided to take a short break. I was trying to get myself together and I walked out into the kitchen at Revolution and Max was working on his laptop. He was tracking a bass guitar on a little interface that he rented that day. He was recording a track for some session thing that someone had sent him online that same day. I couldn’t imagine that, and I thought I was driven! To walk out and see Max go from two completely different instruments, on two different recordings and two totally different jobs, getting it all done whenever he can… That is drive.

K: What inspired you to take an entirely analog signal path? Was that always the plan or you were surprised? 

A: Everything I’ve worked on, up until this point, always ended up with compromises somewhere along the way. Before I’ve even finished, the idea gets watered down so it ends up sitting on a shelf because I’m not as excited to put it out. One big question I always had is “why is it when I listen to something totally analog it seems to get into me more deeply?” I didn’t know why I loved my dad’s old tapes of live performances or rehearsals or old records. I didn’t know if it was the fact that an analog signal is completely continuous whereas a digital signal is a bunch of little snapshots placed so closely together that it tricks your ear into hearing a continuous signal. I don’t know if that’s it or if it's that there was generally less compression in that time. Whatever it was, I wanted to find out what the difference would be between going absolutely analog and what we’ve already done digitally. I thought the only way to get to the bottom of it was to do it.  

K: What did you learn from that?

A: I learned that tape if my favourite compressor. You don’t really need to use compression if you have nice magnetic tape. You just turn up whichever frequencies are driving you nuts, drive it into the tape until the red lights are flashing, until that frequency seems to disappear. It becomes a part of everything else which somehow leaves the bottom end more open and dynamic. It doesn’t squash the entire signal; it just seems to squash whatever was harsh about it.

There are a lot of beautiful digital recordings that I will always be in love with. I have nothing against that way of doing things. I find that the biggest difference is when you turn it up past the zero. In the digital world, things get really ugly. When you turn things up past the zero in the analog world, they get prettier. I don’t know why but it brings out these harmonics that I love. 


K: With the solidity of tape, most often, you aren’t doing many edits or a thousand takes of the same part. Do you think that having more of the “real performance,” with minimal to no edits, had any impact in the sound of it?

A: I really do think that is a factor. I think that because it is so easy to polish things now, we do. When you have the constraints of the equipment, you really have to make up for it in other ways such as having a good performance in the room. That was a part of why I wanted to work with it. A lot of great records from back in the day weren’t polished, they were pretty rough in a lot of ways. It’s just our humanity coming through. We really can edit as far as we want now and we can polish things as much as we want. I like that having some of the constraints that keep those human elements in there. 


K: What were your greatest inspirations for the project? In regards to writing these particular pieces.

A: To put it simply, live music was really the greatest inspiration for this recording. To be able to capture the chemistry of a real live band and to tap into the magic of what happens when everyone is really locked in. To be able to have that happen in a room and to be able to capture that vibe, that was the idea. I think that comes from the fact that my dad has tapes and tapes of recordings he made between 1960 and 1980. They’re of every gig and each rehearsal that he had back then. I had all of these amazing recordings of these tight bands that nobody else will ever get to hear but they’re the best things that I ever got to listen to. They’re full of real music from the time and they captured people pouring their hearts out. There was nothing polished about the recordings but they were tight and polished performances. There was no post production, it was just about the moment. 


K: Growing up in music was obviously influential for you, and your brother, seeing as how you are still making music together now.

Colour Picture Book 2.jpeg

A: I’m super lucky. People were a little less careful when I was a kid and I got to hang out in a lot of good bars with a lot of good musicians. My parents were really cool about letting me go out to witness some really good talent. I saw people who were on that level of gigging that nobody really talks about in the mainstream. There can be some of the most amazing musicians playing right around the corner. They may never get any bigger than being just around the corner but they’re still the best that you’ve ever heard. I think that needs to be talked about more and even celebrated more. 


K: I agree, Collingwood has a great scene and its something we’re both a part of. Ten years from now we will probably be looking back on it as the best thing we were ever a part of. 

A: It’s true and it’s cool because it seems like there is a whole new phase of music here. There have been great scenes before and it’s like this one is totally reborn. It’s full of new faces and many established musicians too but also new venues and new opportunities. The standard working gig is shifting towards people really figuring out how to get their original content out there. It’s everything that I’ve hoped would happen for the people who are here. There are so many talented people here. 


K: So are you planning an album release party?

A: Yes! I’ve spoken with some local promoters. The record is already out there but we have yet to celebrate it here. I want to include all of our friends and the people in this town that we love, those who have been supporting us the whole time. I want to celebrate it with a party because this is big for me… I’ve never been in this position before. 


K: After all of the time in the studio, going back and forth with the mail, waiting for the right time with the publicist, how does it feel to finally have it out?

A: Honestly, I never thought that I would be here, getting all of these good reviews coming back. My goal was just to finish something that I really felt proud to put my name on. I didn’t have the realization then that people were actually going to hear it and that some people might actually respond to it. To have this much love coming back is something I could never have dreamed of. My friend Danno [O’Shea], who has been helping as a consultant with this release and who understands much more about this than I do, he kept saying “Just wait.” He helped to push me. There were times when I just wanted to quit. I would say “Let’s put it on the internet now, that’s that, carry on,” but he would say “No, lets put this out for real.” He kept pushing me to each next step. He said, “When you see this all roll out at once and you start to feel some of the love coming back, it will all look different.” He was right, it really does. I want the same thing for all of the people around me who have been waiting their whole lives to do this too. 

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Adam and Colour Picture Book are currently planning a release show in Collingwood and a tour to follow. Follow their journey on the website here: https://www.colourpicturebook.com/ and check them out on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ColourPictureBook/

Route 26 to shut down in January 2019

Hey everyone,

Just to let you know, it looks like Route 26 will be shutting down in January.  It's been a great three years for building up this site, getting connected in the music community, and sharing some of the great Arts & Culture in the area through this platform.  Unfortunately, despite enthusiasm and discussions with the Town of Collingwood, regional municipalities, and tourist organizations, I have not been able to secure any funding for 2019 to support this project moving forward.

I have one final article to share this month from writers Kolston Gogan and Heather Beresford, which will be posted in the next few days.

I'm still personally very much a big advocate for our awesome Arts & Culture scene in the area, so I'll see you around at concerts and jams!

Love,

Laura

'A Skydiggers Christmas', this Saturday at Meaford Hall!

Article by Sari Connell.

In anticipation of the Skydiggers show this Saturday, I spoke with Josh Finlayson this morning.  

Photo by Heather Pollock

Photo by Heather Pollock

Josh is one of the original members of the band, along with Andy Maize.  Josh and Andy grew up in the same neighbourhood in Toronto.  They started the band over 30 years ago after bonding over a love of the traditional folk music sound.  Some of their early influencers were Chet Atkins; Doc Watson; various songs and melodies from the United Kingdom; and British bands, including The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones.  Gordon Lightfoot was a huge influence as well, referring to Lightfoot as “the songwriters, songwriter.”  Josh also commented on The Band being “a quiet watermark and a Canadian icon with great recordings and great songs.”   

Today, Skydiggers consists of seven band members; Josh and Andy, along with Jessy Bell Smith, Derrick Brady, Aaron Comeau, Noel Webb, and Micheal Johnston.  They still enjoy playing their original hits, such as ‘I Will Give You Everything’, ‘Slow Burning Fire’, and 'A Penny More’. 

The inception of the Christmas show was a number of years ago at the Horseshoe Tavern, after The Tragically Hip gave up playing every Boxing Day.  This eventually evolved into a Christmas album and a full tour.  Today, they begin their Christmas tour, and round it out with their last show being the weekend before Christmas at the Horseshoe.  

The band enjoys playing in theatres such as The Meaford Hall, commenting on how “beautiful and very musical” it is to play in a real theatre.  They are quite familiar with Grey Bruce Simcoe, having played in areas such as Meaford, Collingwood, Owen Sound, Goderich, and Kincardine.  Josh has personally spent a lot of time in the Collingwood area as his parents once had a place here.  Josh has seen the changes to the Collingwood area since he was a boy, just as many of us have.  The growth and gentrification has attracted many to the once quiet Shipyard town.  Alongside that growth comes opportunity to attract big names in the Canadian Arts and Culture scene, including musicians such as Skydiggers. 

We are fortunate to have Skydiggers celebrate the holiday season with us this Saturday, December 1st at The Meaford Hall.  Tickets are still available at http://www.meafordhall.ca 

For more information on Skydiggers and upcoming shows, please visit https://skydiggers.com 

-Sari Connell

Conversation with Colin Linden: On Nashville (the place) and Nashville (the show)

Article by Kolston Gogan and Heather Beresford.

While researching the specifics of Colin’s work for this interview, his personal website was one of my first stops. Here is some of what you can find there:

“Colin Linden is a genuine renaissance man of roots music. He is a member of the highly successful trio, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, a singer and songwriter, an in-demand and prolific record producer, musical director on the hit TV show Nashville and sideman to the stars as guitarist for the likes of Bob DylanBruce CockburnEmmylou HarrisRobert Plant and Alison Krauss. At last count, the total of recordings on which he has played approaches 400, while over 100 albums bear the “Produced by Colin Linden” credit.” 

With credentials like that, where do we even start?! His website also features a brief overview of his life story. It reads like a dream. This is a man who has met his idols, played with his peers, earned their respect and now continues to create and collaborate with nearly every waking breath. There is a lot to be said about the business of music in recent history and even more that could be said about its future. Sitting amongst those conversations is Colin and his home of 21 years in Nashville, Tennessee. In the midst of his holiday preparations, I got to ask him a bit about it, this is what he had to say.
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Colin Linden.jpg
 

KG: It sounds like you have a full house for (American) Thanksgiving this week! And next week you’re on your way to Collingwood. 

CL: When we (Blackie and The Rodeo Kings) came to Collingwood, Steve (Vipond) extended an invitation for me to come and play and I ended up getting a couple of other shows in Ontario. I’m gonna play in London on Thursday, Grimsby on Friday and then I’m back home in Nashville on Saturday. Its a quick trip but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been doing a lot of solo playing these last few months and its really been fun. I’ve always loved doing it. In some ways, playing by myself, is the ultimate in freedom and I really love doing it.

I’ve never played at that particular venue (Crow Bar and Variety) but I’ve played in Collingwood a few times. Im looking forward to it again. It’s such beautiful country. Are there still leaves on the trees there?


KG: I’m sorry to say that we’re on the other end of fall here. I wanted to ask about Nashville, the show you were working on. It’s just had its last season. What was that experience like?

CL: I worked on it from the first episode through to the last episode. It was a truly wonderful experience. I made friends that I’m hoping to have for the rest of my life. I got the chance to be involved in something that had such a positive resonance in our community and in music generally. It was great, the greatest thing was the cast. They were such wonderful people to work with. The woman who created it, Callie Khouri, is not only a brilliant writer, director and a real visionary but she also really venerates the calling of being a musician. She really knows what’s special about that. 

Her husband is T Bone Burnett which is how I got to know her. T Bone was the executive musical producer the first year. He really formed the persona of a lot of the characters. Buddy Miller was his right hand for that first year and then Buddy took over for the next 3 years. Getting to work with those guys was an honour beyond belief. 


KG: The show was about a 6 year commitment for you. Thats a long time to be working with the same people. Would you say that it became like a family?

CL: It really is and it was a totally unique situation because the lines between reality and fiction were really vague sometimes. The music was real. Those people, their characters, sang those songs with everything they had and really put out so much of their own spirit into the songs and into their characters. We did everything we could in the music department to make, even the way it was portrayed on camera, absolutely real. We did the very best that we could. It was a bit of an uphill battle because not everyone shared the enthusiasm for those ideas. For the first 4 years, there was certainly a tremendous amount of respect paid to that. We, the music department, did everything that we could to have it honour real people and real music. It was a big deal to us. 



KG: I can understand that, with the show being based on such a musical centre of the world. 

CL: A completely unique one too. Other (musical) places in the world, they’re such big cities like New York or Los Angeles or London. Nashville, in a lot of ways, is a huge music scene but its also a small town still. Even though its grown 3 times in the last few years, it still has a personal, small town feel. I think thats really conducive to making good music and people have known that about this city for a long time. Thats what attracted so many people. 

We’ve been here for 21 years now. My wife and I are both from Toronto. Today actually marks 21 years to the day that we moved here with a plan to stay 3 months and try it out. We’ve basically never left. We rented a place for 3 months because I was signed to a publisher here. They were very supportive of me. I had come here to write a number of times previously at that point. I said, lets try it for 3 months, just to be focused on writing for that time. I had a busy year before that, I was touring with Colin James, producing his record and a few other albums, doing some work with Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and I thought this would be a good window to come down and try it out. The guy who rented us the place said “anytime you want to come down here, its yours.” We kept our apartment in Toronto for a couple of years but basically we moved here then. It did take time, effort and money for all of the paperwork but I still get to do everything I love to do in Canada. I’m still up there a lot. Although this year, I wasn’t there a lot. I did do a tour in October of Western Canada and now I’m coming up to do these shows. 


KG: Do you feel that Nashville has had an impact on your music? The sense of time and place having their own unique effects.

CL: Tremendously. It totally does. For the most basic reason to begin with, which is that the bar is so incredibly high here. Any night of the week you can go to a club or a concert and hear the very highest level of song writing and singing and instrumental work. From where I’m sitting right now, within a mile or so there are literally dozens, probably hundreds, of really amazing recording studios where people are making music at a really high level, every single day. You’re surrounded by people that you can learn from all of the time. People who are real pros, or who have been doing it for a long time, or some people who are brand new and giving you ideas that you never would have thought about. 

Nashville is so much less expensive than other music centres so a lot of people come through here to record or rehearse for a tour. Its a destination for a lot of people, its easy to get to and its not that expensive. Those things contribute to a lot of people coming here and its small town in a lot of ways which makes things easier to get around to. Which is all very conducive to being productive. 

Then there is the whole environment of the music itself and that of living in the South where there is a tradition of music, all kinds of music. Where we live is in between two churches and the music that we hear on Sunday mornings is bound to have an influence and be inspiring. Its had a tremendous influence on me over the years, in so many ways. 


KG: Do you get out very often to enjoy music as a spectator?

CL: I go through periods of time where I do. My wife and I just built a studio, so a great amount of our time and effort has gone into that. We just finished the first album that we made, top to tail, in the studio for an artist from Spain who came here to work with me. Virginia Maestro, she’s a really great singer/songwriter. When I’m head deep in it like that, I don’t get much of a chance to go out and hear music. Although I still do, as much as I can, and theres always good stuff going on. I play in town as much as I can too because there are always some cool things that can be garnered from that.


KG: What was the process like in building a studio for yourself?

CL: We had a pretty developed studio in the house for a long time. In terms of making records, I have a pretty developed aesthetic of what I like for studio stuff. My wife has a really great sense of style and ergonomics which helped with getting the most out of the space, She had a great amount of imagination that went into that. 

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Ever evolving and developing his craft, I look forward to listening to the magic that is sure to come out of Colin’s new space, as he adds to his growing lists of album performances and albums produced. In the meantime, you can listen to Colin at a live and intimate show as part of the Crow Sessions. You can catch him November 27th, tickets can be purchased through the Crow Bar and Variety website.

Guillermo Subauste: The Peruvian-Canadian Music Machine and Bassist for The Honeyrunners

Guillermo Subauste is a very busy man.  He runs a recording studio in Toronto, and performs with a multitude of bands, including his main project The Honeyrunners.  This article talks about his background in Peru and Canada, and how The Honeyrunners feels about music communities in Canada.

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