August 23, 2012

Ladies of the Canyon return

By ROBIN CAUDELL, Press-Republican

---- — CHATEAUGAY — If Senja Sargeant, Anna Ruddick, Jasmine Bleile and Maia Davies’s dads blasted anything other than rock ‘n’ roll during their formative years, there would be a whole different vibe Saturday evening at the Chateaugay Hall Town Theatre.

Sargeant (vocals, acoustic guitar and mandolin) of New Brunswick, Ruddick (vocals, electric and upright bass) of Saskatchewan, Bleile (vocals and guitar) of Ontario and Davies (vocals, keys, guitar and mandolin) of Quebec are the Ladies of the Canyon, easy on the eyes and even easier on the ears with lush lyrics, licks and vocals.


The band’s name pays homage to fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell’s 1970 platinum release.

“We had our first gig, and we did not have a band name,” Davies said. “We needed to make a poster very quickly. No one had any great ideas. I went home and looked through my vinyl records. I was looking for a Bob Dylan reference.”

Davies’s albums were alphabetically out of order, and she spied Mitchell’s third album, “Ladies of the Canyon.”

“The name was supposed to be temporary, and it stuck.”


“Haunted Woman” was their debut full-length album. Last December, the singers/songwriters offered a digital-only release, “Live from Quebec!”

Their current project, scheduled for a February 2013 release, remains unnamed. The plan was each would come to the table with two or three tunes.

“We ended up writing a whole bunch of new songs,” Davies said. “We wrote 19 songs. We did a lot of four-part team writing. We’ve always written a lot of vocal melodies. With some, we got Senja to play drums. We got some really cool tunes. I don’t think we would be able to come up with individually. That’s the beauty of the team.”

The band may resort to placing album titles in a hat.

“In the band, we don’t have the problem of not having enough ideas. We have too many ideas. We’re sort of strong-willed and imaginative people and not often in the same way. There is a lot of back and forth and compromise. We let everyone take turns now. That’s our strategy.”


Their life paths intersected seven years ago in Montreal’s downtown music scene.

“There were two distinct things going on,” Davies said. “One was the new indie-rock scene, specific to the east end of Montreal. We’re all from the west end. It’s a lot more English-language music based around roots music and Americana.”

The band began as more of a folk-Americana quartet.

“And evolved into this thing; we do roots and a lot of ‘60s and ‘70s American rock ‘n’ roll like the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, stuff like that. We all grew up listening to vinyl. Our dads were huge Stones fans. It stuck with us.”

Sargeant, Ruddick, Bleile and Davies were in different bands before but were not completely fulfilled by what they were doing.

“We got together for fun and wanted to do something fun,” Davies said. “We had no aspirations at first. We just wanted to play together and get to write some songs.”


The band gigged low-key venues.

“It went so well. All of a sudden, we would fill the little club without trying. We kept at it. People started buzzing around helping us to make a record and wanting to manage us. Other people believed in this thing we were doing. We took it to heart and hit the pavement really working hard at it.”

The band’s success set into motion possibilities and obligations.

“We put out our first record and toured that. We just finished our new record, and it will be out in the new year. We consciously made a left-turn departure from the very folky and country. Now, we’re letting go of our roots. We really wanted to make a retro rock ‘n’ roll record.”

The women didn’t witness the Make Love-Not War counterculture firsthand.

“I don’t know if it was as cool as we imagine it,” Davies said. “We watch a lot of those documentaries about Bob Dylan and The Band. It seems there was a time things were a bit slower, and people had time to take more care. To make art and quality music and good playing were things that were in musicians’ values and audience’s values. There seemed to be a certain amount of freedom culturally. People were just cool. The clothes were awesome.”

Touring Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, the Ladies of the Canyon logged many miles.

“It’s been a crazy journey so far,” Davies said. “We’re all very exuberant people. That’s a way to put it. We have a lot of fun.

“We have some stressful times. The music industry can be trying and triumphant other times. We have learned from everything. We’re a bunch of know-it-alls.

“At every turn, you get surprised by a new learning experience that makes you grow in unexpected ways. That’s the way it is now.”

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IF YOU GO ▶WHO: Ladies of the Canyon ▶WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday. Doors open 6:15 p.m. ▶WHERE: Chateaugay Town Hall Theatre, Main Street. ▶TICKETS: $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets are available at IBC in Malone, Studley Printing & Publising , 4701 Rte. 9, Plattsburgh; Wendy's Quick Stop in Chateaugay; Dick's Country Store in Churubusco: and online at: ▶PHONE: Bill Fitzgerald at 425-6804.

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