Local smoke… local smoke… These were the words of the weather forecast for the Northwest Territories during the summer of 2014. Hot temperatures and lack of rain brought forest fires that seemed to never end, and these fires sent smoke drifting in every direction.
With a nod to CBC North Radio’s weather forecasts, gratitude to the forest fighters, and in homage to the fires themselves, the Local Smoke Musical Exhibition was created! As the self-appointed ‘curator’ of this exhibit, I invited other musicians who had experienced the heavy smoke to write a new song… the only requirement being that the words “local smoke” had to appear in the song! From beer-can recycling to lost love, memories of the past to fiery female personas – the topics ranged far from these two simple words!
From September 15-18 2014, a new song was uploaded every day to this website – after it was been performed live on CBC North Radio’s Trail’s End program!
On my webpage, photography by some of the NWT’s great photographers and artists will accompany the tunes in the videos below. All songs will be made available on a youtube channel at the end of the week.
(Photo credit: Bill Braden)
Greyson Gritt – Seen her ’round
“First came “Local Smoke”, then came the groovy guitar riff, and just like a number of my tunes, I finished off the lyrics last. I wanted to write a song about a powerful woman who puts forest fires to shame. This is it.” – Greyson Gritt
“She’s got a way with words, she’s got a way with heat,
I hear she’s got a million different ways, some you’ve never seen.
The radio’s announcin’ record highs and local smoke
Those who have seen her ’round already know” – Seen her ’round
Beverly Rockwell – A long time ago (Photo credit during the video – James Mackenzie)
“A Long Time Ago is a different song than the others I have written. A little beyond my comfort zone. But, I wanted to write a song that was in the style of Mumford and Sons, my favourite band. It’s about a person that I had to let go, and I’m looking back remembering all the good times.”
– Beverley Rockwell
“A long time ago you were mine to love and to hold.
Fire burned all the houses down
Local smoke filled the streets
I stood watching not doing anything
A long time ago” – A long time ago
Anthony Foliot and Indio Saravanja – Ditch Picker
“Tony and I have been pals for 25 years. From time to time over the years we have performed some of our co-writes and classical country in local bars as ‘Cowboy and Indio’ and always had a blast. Tony is one of my favourite writers. He can write on demand, about ANYTHING, in proper rhythm and time, and make it funny as heck, in a Robert Service style. For this one here I gave him the two words Local Smoke and he came back the same night with a full page of lyrics. Then I grabbed them, messed with them extensively, wrote the music and melody and we went home with it 90 percent done. The next session was the usual fighting back and forth over ifs, ands and buts… it’s silly really, but we’re both very headstrong when it comes to poetry. This song was a blast to write. Makes me wish I liked the green stuff!’ – Indio Saravanja
“Well the DJ says its a beauty day, thems the very words he spoke.
With mostly sunny summer skies and a bit of local smoke.
They have it in Inuvik, and down in Behchoko.
They’re calling for that local smoke most every where we go.” – Ditch Picker
Pat Braden – Summertime
“I had to write 3 songs before this one came out, the first attempts being very dark and not very entertaining for a radio listening audience. Yes, this summer of 2014 was strange with all the smoke and ash but there were just about 300 fires burning around us. It is a natural process and we live pretty close to the elements here, just a part of living in the north. I just played through this summer, the same way I did as a kid so I went back to being 8 or 10 years old again with this reflective piece of an earlier Yellowknife.” – Pat Braden
“The innocence of another time
Endless days of summertime
We thought were never ending
Through local smoke, wind and rain
Mosquitoes, black flies, we kept playin’
Not a care in the world, just having fun”
The future looked so bright, in the midnight sun” – Summertime
Carmen Braden – Phil Morck Sings the Weather Forecast Fantastic
“After listening to the weather of the NWT read on CBC for almost 30 years, it sounds more like a musical composition to me than just words – it has a rhythm, a groove, a melody! In keeping with this idea, I took a full weather forecast as read by long-time CBC radio guru Phil Morck, and transformed it into an electroacoustic groovy tune using repetitions, vocoder effect, synthesized manipulations… All parts of the song – except the drum beat – are made using Phil’s voice!” – Carmen Braden
“Wekweètì, Whatì, Gamètì and Behchokǫ̀
Sunny, local smoke” – Phil Morck Sings the Weather Forecast Fantastic