Jess Reimer performs on Wednesday

Jess Reimer performs on Wednesday

Upping the ante

The beauty of Manitoba’s forests, lakes and grasslands helped inspire Jess Reimer’s latest bluegrass-flavoured album The Nightjar and The Garden.

The beauty of Manitoba’s forests, lakes and grasslands helped inspire Jess Reimer’s latest bluegrass-flavoured album The Nightjar and The Garden.

But despite some fairly bucolic song titles, like Whippoorwill and Blackbird, Reimer clearly doesn’t just sing about the sunny side of life.

An animated video for Reimer’s new song Maggie the Retriever (Bang Bang) tells a dark tale of alcoholism and domestic abuse. Another original track from the release, The Lonesome Death of Troy Davis, is about the lethal-injection death of an African-American man many feel was wrongly convicted of murder.

“I think I’m mostly influenced by what’s happening in my life directly, but also when something triggers my emotions,” said Reimer, who performs on Wednesday, April 8, at Fratters Speakeasy in Red Deer.

Her feelings have been piqued by topics both personal and political. Two-hundred-year-old trees being felled for a Manitoba Hydro project (Big Machines, Small Man) and imagined infidelity (Maybelle’s Muse) sparked a couple of original tunes from her 2011 debut record, Sweet Darling and Sorrow.

On her second album, Reimer feels she took everything she’d learned from her first release, and then upped the ante some. “I hope it contains some of my best songwriting yet,” said the singer, who grew up in Thompson, Man. and now lives with her guitar-maker husband and musician in La Riviere, Man.

One of her most haunting new tunes is Whippoorwill, about having to make tough choices at a young age. It alludes to the bird as an omen of death when it sings at night. “It’s supposed to steal souls before they have a chance to move on to the afterlife. I like to believe that’s why Hank Williams and other country artists sang about it,” said Reimer.

“The Nightjar and The Garden also encompasses everything from Patti Smith’s rock ’n’ roll union song People Have the Power, which was given the bluegrass treatment by Reimer, to the original and gospel-infused tune I Want to Believe. There’s also Reimer’s Grand Ole Opry interpretation of Warren Zevon’s Heartache Spoken Here.

The new album was made with vocal harmonies from Juno-Award winning Ron Sexsmith, and production by Blue Rodeo co-founder and keyboardist Bob Wiseman. There are also instrumentals and vocals from Reimer’s father Doug and some mandolin playing from her husband, Jeremy Hamm.

Reimer, who met Wiseman through a musician friend, expressed appreciation for all these contributions. Although she’s always identified as a country-bluegrass singer, she admitted there’s seldom been a better time to be one.

The popularity of eating locally grown foods, beards on young men, hemp clothing, and even pop-folk bands like The Lumineers, show there’s a real back-to-nature movement afoot that’s also embracing roots music, said Reimer.

“It’s fantastic,” she added, noting her new album is not only played by Canadian radio stations, but also by those in the U.S.

“It’s gone to No. 5 on Earshot (national campus and community radio) charts.”

For more information about her 8:30 p.m. show, with a $5 cover charge, call Fratters at 403-356-0033.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta is on pace to administer more than 300,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses per week, according to the provincial government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
One million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Alberta

Alberta hit a milestone in the fight against COVID-19 this week. As… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Interior work will start this year on Red Deer hospital project, says infrastructure minister

‘We are committed. This is a top priority,’ says Presad Panda

Even with recent restrictions due to rising COVID-19 variant case levels, about 95 per cent of businesses are open in Alberta, said Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Consistent pandemic policy has helped Alberta, premier says

Alberta fatality rate lower than Canadian average

Richie Laryea of Toronto FC, left, and Jean Meneses of Mexico's Leon battle for the ball during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, in Leon, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Toronto FC hosts Club Leon in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie holding a valuable away goal after a 1-1 draw last week in Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mario Armas
Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Winnipeg Jets' Dylan DeMelo (2) skates the puck around Ottawa Senators' Thomas Chabot (72) as he holds off Winnipeg Jets' Mason Appleton (22) during first-period NHL action in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Jarrell Brantley (5) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Salt Lake City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer
Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh speaks during a news conference in Lethbridge, Alta., on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Rossiter
‘Right path:’ Lethbridge police release improvement plan in wake of controversies

‘Right path:’ Lethbridge police release improvement plan in wake of controversies

Most Read