Patrick Brealey

The music and musings of Canadian songwriter Patrick Brealey

Vancouver Shows

I’m look­ing for­ward to head­ing to Van­cou­ver for a cou­ple sum­mer­time shows! Here is the infor­ma­tion. The deets. The dilly-​​o.

Fri­day, August 3 — 10pm-​​1am
Fair­mont Pacific Rim Hotel
3 sets!
I have been play­ing in a coun­try band in Toronto called Leon Knight & the Neon Lights and this will be the first time the band plays in Van­cou­ver. Unfor­tu­nately, our ruth­less band­leader, Leon Knight, can’t make the trip but that’s noth­ing new — he hasn’t shown up to a gig in two years. Regard­less, there will a bar­rage of coun­try hits and misses from the likes of Buck Owens, George Jones, Ray Price, Lyle Lovett, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson.…not to men­tion a bunch of orig­i­nal tunes too!

Sat­ur­day, August 4 — 3pm
ShoreFest at Sun­set Beach, Eng­lish Bay
A set of orig­i­nal tunes to get you all riled up for the fire­works that light up the sky. Boom boom boom!

Look­ing for­ward to see­ing you!

Rufus Does Gum

I’ve always been a fan of Rufus Wain­wright. But now he’s just blow­ing my mind bub­ble! He is a genius.

North by Northeast

That spe­cial time of year is here again when Toronto gets taken over by music indus­try types and hun­dreds of bands try their hard­est to get some­one (any­one!) to lis­ten to them — it’s North by North­east! While I don’t have my own offi­cial show­case, I will be play­ing my reg­u­lar Cameron House gig on Fri­day, June 15 start­ing at 8:30pm in the delight­ful ambiance of the front room. You should come out and lis­ten. I SAID, COME OUT AND LISTEN! (That’s me try­ing to get some­one [any­one!] to lis­ten.) Some­one else you should come lis­ten to is Steven Bow­ers. I will be back­ing him up on piano for his show­case at The Cen­tral on Wednes­day, June 13 at mid­night. He is from Canada’s East Coast and he is really very good. Poetic, even. Look at how he looks at the sky from out­side a barn. Check him out by click­ing here.

Per­haps we will see each other in the madness!

Sparrow Songs

I will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in a very unique event on Sat­ur­day, May 19 at Hugh’s Room in Toronto. It is called Spar­row Songs: A Coun­try Song String. You can get more infor­ma­tion here. Or read below to get a gist of what the night will hold. I will be one of four vocal­ists per­form­ing songs from a recently dis­cov­ered sheaf of doc­u­ments which included lyrics to a mys­te­ri­ous col­lec­tion of inter­con­nected tunes. We will be backed by a crack band for this one-​​of-​​a-​​kind event, so be sure not to miss it!

“The Spar­row Songs is taken from a col­lec­tion of lyrics housed in the archives of the State of Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity at Tacoma. Eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gists believe that these songs are the only known rem­nants of what was once known as a “song-​​string” – an extinct musi­cal form of the Amer­i­can west. The Spar­row Songs have never before been per­formed publicly.

Song-​​strings were an after din­ner enter­tain­ment in which neigh­bours and fam­i­lies would gather with their instru­ments and set about to make a string of songs. The par­tic­i­pants would take turns adding songs; the chal­lenge being that each song would have to – in some way – relate to the pre­vi­ous song in tone or sub­ject. Ide­ally, the songs would even­tu­ally form a nar­ra­tive. Some­times song-​​strings would develop over a period of years, and achieve great lengths”

For more infor­ma­tion, click here.

Cameron House Interview

Read how I fend off inter­view ques­tions with my rapier wit and épée elan! Do you think I look like William S. Bur­roughs? Because inter­viewer Mike from Cameron House Records did.

Click here to check out the interview!

Todd Simko 1966–2012

Todd SimkoThe world lost a great man, father, musi­cian and sound engi­neer when we lost Todd Simko on Sun­day, April 22th, 2012. I had the hon­our and plea­sure of spend­ing many hours, days, weeks and months with Todd as he recorded my first demos as a solo act, which led to he and I mak­ing my first full-​​length album. To be quite hon­est, the album took an unprece­dented length of time to make and surely we could have fin­ished quicker if we weren’t so busy hav­ing such a great time hang­ing out. Todd was a gen­er­ous, thought­ful, imag­i­na­tive spirit who I am proud to call a friend. The mem­o­ries I have flood through: Todd test­ing the sounds of var­i­ous pieces of wood so we could get the “per­fect” sound of me sweep­ing a broom; being nearly crushed in the back of a bor­rowed pickup by a piano that Todd bought from a local 2nd hand store – why I was in the back with the piano and why Todd decided to drive up the steep­est hill in New West­min­ster are both beyond me; lis­ten­ing to the sounds that came out of “Karate Todd” when we recorded a pro­posed theme song for a kids’ car­toon involv­ing crime-​​fighting, kung fu chick­ens – we didn’t make the cut; the reac­tion of Todd’s wife, Minna, when Todd came in from his back­yard stu­dio and ran­sacked the kitchen look­ing for the ideal sound­ing pots and pans to record that would add a cer­tain clank to one of my songs, “What the hell are you record­ing out there? Stomp?!”; invent­ing a dance called “The Frog Boo­gie” with Todd’s then-​​3 year old daugh­ter Emily; hav­ing a pint at the Thirsty Duck Pub and lis­ten­ing to Todd’s wild desire to win a local meat draw; and I remem­ber laugh­ing. A lot.

I met Todd at the Media Club in Van­cou­ver in 2005. He had come highly rec­om­mended as a sound engi­neer by friends who had recorded with him and he was all ears when I told him I wanted to put a few songs to tape. In a flurry of Simko-​​styled energy it seemed like the next day that Todd was patch­ing together a remote, guerilla-​​style record­ing stu­dio in our rehearsal space. I’ll never know how he got those sounds out of that oddly-​​shaped, moldy-​​carpeted, concrete-​​walled room. Todd was always excited by a chal­lenge and loved to try new things. If some­one said they wanted to record in an igloo Todd would have not only fig­ured out how to build an igloo but he would have been thrilled to know what the out­come would be. Todd didn’t use a text­book to fig­ure things out. He expe­ri­enced life. He made mis­takes. He learned. He wasn’t a clas­si­cally trained musi­cian but he knew what sounded good to him. He wasn’t out to make music that sounded per­fect. In fact, Todd loved what he called “happy accidents”.

Todd loved it when I made mis­takes record­ing. Flub­bing a note. A cough. A squeaky chair. He felt those were the magic moments that make record­ings unique. Todd had no inter­est in mak­ing “gridrock” as he labeled it: music that is edited with record­ing tech­nolo­gies so much that it ends up sound­ing ster­ile. It’s music that may fit on Top 40 radio but doesn’t fit in the heart. Todd wanted rough purity. I recall my voice crack­ing while record­ing a song and instead of hear­ing “Okay, let’s try it again” through my head­phones when I fin­ished I heard, “Happy acci­dent!” as Todd shouted glee­fully, “That’s the take!” I resisted at first but ulti­mately Todd con­vinced me to keep the take. Life isn’t per­fect. Mis­takes are what make us human. There is an impli­ca­tion of truth, of the human ele­ment, in moments when our guard is down. To Todd’s credit, I now love those happy acci­dents that ended up on my album. Things that may seem tech­ni­cally wrong at first are actu­ally just unique – and as an artist that’s all I could strive for. I’m glad Todd fought to keep those moments on record and that he was able to see what was spe­cial from a long way away. And now as I look from a long way away, I real­ize Todd was a happy acci­dent. He was a quirky, cre­ative, curi­ous and unique indi­vid­ual who I came to love.

Today would have been Todd’s birth­day. He left us far too early. I could go on and on with how much he taught me and how much we would laugh as we sat in his stu­dio lis­ten­ing to all of the strange sonic roads we would travel before get­ting to our des­ti­na­tion, but for now it is time to let go of what is gone and cher­ish what is in my heart.

Todd, I love you brother and I will always miss you.


Leon Knight Wrestlemania

I thought I’d let you know that Patrick Brealey (that’s me!) will be hav­ing a musi­cal wrestling match with Leon Knight & the Neon Lights (a screw­ball coun­try band I con­ve­niently play with) at the Cameron House this Fri­day, April 20th, 6:00–9:30pm. The band includes myself (vocals, ac. gtr); Rob Fen­ton (vocals, fancy slide gui­tar); Chris Staig (elec. gtr, rock moves); Kevin Walsh (upright bass, freestyle rhymez); and Leon Knight (cussin’, fussin’, hus­tlin’). Join us!

Cameron House Residency Extended

I’m pleased to let you know that my res­i­dency at the Cameron House has been extended for the fore­see­able future. That deserves a hoot! Please join myself and a cast of oth­ers on Fri­day nights start­ing at 8pm. I aim to please.

Canadian Music Week

Just so ya know, I’ll be play­ing as part of Cana­dian Music Week at the Cameron House on Fri­day, March 23 at 8:30pm. Come for the music, stay for the rib­aldry! Play­ing with a full band!

Cameron House Residency

I am pleased to let you know that I will be play­ing a reg­u­lar gig at Toronto’s ven­er­a­ble Cameron House dur­ing the month of March. I will be there on Fri­days start­ing around 8:30pm — what a rea­son­able hour! — with a vari­ety of peo­ple on stage with me includ­ing Rob Fen­ton (dobro) amd Michael Her­ring (upright bass). So mark your cal­en­dars and I hope to see you at 408 Queen St. W. (one block west of Spad­ina) some­time in the near future. Check out the lovely poster cre­ated by Pearl Rachinksy!

Cameron House Toronto - Patrick Brealey Residency

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