Ep. #131: Ronnie Spector

Ronnie Spector is one of the most influential vocalists and performers in all of pop music. Her work with the Ronettes in the 1960s was legendary, altering the course of rock ‘n’ roll with its style, attitude, and gigantic international hits like “Be My Baby,’ “Walking in the Rain,” and “Baby, I Love You.” Spector simply casts a long shadow on contemporary culture, influencing filmmakers, fashion designers, hair stylists, and a list of musicians that includes the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen, Ramones and Amy Winehouse among many others. On September 19, Spector heads to the Riatlo Theatre and Pop Montreal with her acclaimed show, Beyond the Beehive, an evening of music and stories about her life. Here, Ronnie and I discuss the rock ‘n’ roll state of Connecticut, the origins of her current stage show and its unfiltered examination of her entire life, talking about yourself in an age of oversharing, how artists don’t have lasting power in the current music industry, doing her Keith Richards impression, making the live Ronnie Spector experience a special one, how her marriage to Phil Spector impacted her ability to tour and release records, losing years in court battles, deflecting her icon status, raising kids and living a perfect life, Bed Bath & Beyond, cooking, falling in love with the voice of Frankie Lymon, music homework, going to the Apollo Theatre for amateur night at 11 years old, what Phil Spector was like to work with in the studio, the wall of sound was people, her relationship with “Be My Baby,” how there is still a lot of unreleased material by the Ronettes and Ronnie that has yet to see the light of day, we get cut off, the song “Be My Baby” and that was it.

Related links: ronniespector.com popmontreal.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #130: Elisabeth de Mariaffi

Elisabeth de Mariaffi is a gifted writer and poet who lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Her 2012 short story collection How to Get Along with Women is extraordinarily moving, emotionally jarring, texturally precise, and it was longlisted for the 2013 Giller Prize with good reason. Of her work, author Michael Winter once astutely said, “She’s alive to what disturbs, and she’s dead to cliche.” Elisabeth’s work has been featured in prominent periodicals and her story “Kiss Me Like I’m The Last Man On Earth” was nominated for a 2013 National Magazine Award. She is also one of the founders of Toronto Poetry Vendors, a small press that sells single poems by established Canadian poets through toonie vending machines. De Mariaffi has a new novel coming out this January via HarperCollins Canada called The Devil You Know and she’s appearing at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival on Sunday Sept. 14. Here, she and I talk about the weather in St. John’s, living between Toronto and Guelph and Newfoundland, meeting St. John’s current poet laureate George Murray, Book Ninja, working for an airline during a long distance relationship, just married, working at Ed Video Media Arts Centre and learning about video editing, writing poetry under the tutelage of Dionne Brand and short stories with Michael Winter, flying together, finding the time and resources to write the stories in How To Get Along With Women, short stories versus long stories, travelling to Hungary a lot as a kid, learning several languages, politics and perception and the tangible impact of the Cold War, how I thought How To Get Along With Women would be funny but it was actually very heavy, the politics of our day-to-day existence, relationships and power dynamics, fear, the whole literary prize nomination deal, writing a novel while the iron was hot, Invisible Publishing, working at Breakwater Books, having four kids and jobs as writers, NO, her new novel The Devil You Know and its relation to fear, February 1993 in the weeks that Paul Bernardo was being pursued by police, darkness, writing more short stories or another novel, sending wedding thank yous, the future, and then the end.

Related links: invisiblepublishing.com twitter.com/ElisabethdeM edenmillswritersfestival.ca

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Ep. #129: Scott Merritt

Scott Merritt is a very talented songwriter, musician, singer, and producer who lives in Guelph, Ontario. He has been creating and occasionally releasing inventive pop music for close to 35 years and has collaborated with people like Daniel Lanois, Adrian Belew, Willie P. Bennett, and Fred Eaglesmith among others. He also keeps himself busy on other people’s projects in his studio, the Cottage, which might be one reason why he hasn’t released a new album since 2002’s stunning The Detour Home. On Thursday September 11, Scott headlines an Eden Mills Writers’ Festival event dubbed ‘Taste and Transmission’ at the Ebar in Guelph. On his back deck a couple of days ago, Scott and I talked about the Cottage, leaving Brantford for Guelph for his son/my friend John, the Barmitzvah Brothers, ages and grades, John’s Cafe at the top of the stairs, imaginary worlds, banning kids’ music in favour of the music you actually like, Van Morrison, the Beatles, Dean Martin, Ramones, my parents put me in tennis lessons, pie plates and elastic bands, his first musical mentor Stanley, “Foxy Lady” and “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix, fantastical and observational lyrics, strange sounds, if you can say what it is, don’t do it, fussy exploration, my obsession with Wayne Gretzky’s Brantford and sprinklers at the Woolco, Alexander Graham Bell, the manufacturing sector of the 1970s and 1980s, seeing Rush, Max Webster, and Breathless play at his high school, Spalding might’ve made basketballs in Brantford, giving music a try instead of going to school, parental guidance, playing better, garage bands and blood donor clinics, Max Rat, Leo Kottke, the record store in the mall, Bitter Grounds in Kingston and other coffee houses for songwriters, pay or play in Hamilton and a life-changing night, making Desperate Cosmetics, Duke Street Records, labels and DIY hardship, I.R.S. Records and Miles Copeland, making Violet and Black, making Gravity is Mutual with Roma Baran, Adrian Belew’s chaos management in the studio, Scott’s first new album since 2002, which he finished just last Friday, the new song “Everwill” and the idea of a parade that has no beginning or end, and then this podcast with a beginning also has its end.

Related links: maplemusic.com/artists/sco/default.asp edenmillswritersfestival.ca vishkhanna.com

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