Andy Hillhouse | The Eisenhauers @ Rogue Folk Club, Vancouver [13 May]

Andy Hillhouse | The Eisenhauers

20:00 - 23:00

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Rogue Folk Club
3214 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V6K 2L2
Andy Hillhouse

Having spent much of his adult life as a travelling musician in the fields of folk and traditional music, Andy now divides his time between performance and scholarly pursuits in traditional world music. Andy’s entrance to the world of professional folk music began with the creation of his own group “Mad Pudding”, who released four CD’s in the late 1990’s and performed widely across 2 continents. Now as a song interpreter and specialist on Celtic rhythm guitar, he plays with several of Canada’s most respected, unique and exciting acoustic musicians including Pierre Schryer, Zav RT, and The McDades, with whom he won a JUNO award in 2006. Andy is a former member of the JUNO nominated vocal ensemble, Musica Intima.

Andy is also an accomplished choral director and the former musical director for Vancouver’s Universal Gospel Choir and the Sarah McLachlan Outreach Choir. He is currently working towards his PhD in ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto with specialization focused on the music of the late Canadian fiddler/composer Oliver Schroer.

The Eisenhauers

It has been said that all Canadian writing inevitably reflects the almost impenetrable vastness of the land and the great distances that separate us. If ‘The Road We Once Knew’ by the Eisenhauers, the husband and wife duo of Jeremy Eisenhauer and Sheree Plett Eisenhauer, is any indication, you’d be hard pressed not to come to the same conclusion about Canadian music. Simple, spare and heartbreaking in its directness, the concepts of distance, time and the wavering arcs of separation and reunion have rarely been as compellingly explored as they are in this powerful debut album.

‘The Road We Once Knew’ is, at heart, a meditation on change that explores the dynamics of escaping from the city and moving to the country. In the Eisenhauers’ case, the move involved swapping life in metropolitan Vancouver for the relative seclusion of Kaslo, an old lumber town tucked deep in Eastern British Columbia’s Purcell Wilderness Conservatory. The decision to pull up stakes was motivated by the need to find a place with enough peace and quiet to care for Sheree’s mother, who was suffering from a terminal illness. When she passed away not long after they arrived in Kaslo, they suddenly felt cut off and quite alone, with only the ‘trees, lakes, and world around them as friends.’ When Sheree plaintively cries ‘there’s a wilderness inside of me’, on the album’s final cut, it is obvious that she knows of what she sings. Isolation brought unexpected rewards, however, as their seclusion allowed the pair to go inward and reflect, before eventually surfacing and writing music together. This was something that they had been unable to do while they lived in the city with all of its competition and distractions. After twelve years of living and making music together and recording eight solo albums between them as ‘Eisenhauer’ and ‘Sheree Plett’, ‘The Road We Once Knew’ is their first release under their shared family name.

Realizing the significance of their decision to work together, Jeremy and Sheree wanted to ensure that their new songs got the treatment they deserved, so they bit the bullet, fundraised a handful of cash, and flew to Nashville to meet Steve Dawson and record at his legendary Henhouse Studio. The attractions of travelling to the country music capital to work with one of North America’s most renowned roots music craftsmen were obvious, but more than that, the journey offered the Eisenhauers the opportunity to focus on their music and songwriting fully, ‘without the beautiful and messy chaos’ of their busy lives to distract them. With kids and a pile of projects awaiting them upon their return to Kaslo, they made the best of their time in Nashville and got down to work right away to record 15 songs in 5 days, with 14 of them making it onto the album.

With its songs of loss, faith and the gratitude of renewal, ‘The Road We Once Knew’ is the perfect soundtrack for real people trying to live authentic lives. Beautifully played, sung and executed, it is a testament to the healing power of music and the value of wisdom gained from experience. The ‘Road We Once Knew’ is true soul music. Every word and note on it rings true.
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