Sonic adventurers perform traditional folk and improvisation

Myriam Gendron + Marisa Anderson & Jim White

Swallowtail by Marisa Anderson and Jim White
Mayday by Myriam Gendron
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Mayday and Swallowtail were both released May 10 on the Thrill Jockey label

  • ONE SONG Long Way Home by Myriam Gendron with Marisa Anderson and Jim White
  • ANOTHER SONG Peregrine by Marisa Anderson + Jim White

    Marisa Anderson in the Creative Independent
    Myriam Gendron in Bandcamp Daily: Absolutely No Strategy:
    How Myriam Gendron’s Lovely Music Found Its Audience

    Mayday album by Myriam Gendron
    Swallowtail album by Marisa Anderson + Jim White
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Drummer Jim White and guitarist Marisa Anderson (Anna White photo)


Sonic adventurers play Vancouver this week

When Portland-based guitarist Marisa Anderson dropped out of college in the late 90s she criss-crossed the U.S. for a few years on foot with no fixed address supporting environmental causes, indigenous issues and the anti-nuke movement. Her peripatetic meandering ultimately imprinted on her music.

“All my stuff begins at a certain tempo,” she told Creative Independent magazine explaining the link between movement and her creativity.

“Pretty much everything I do starts off with this medium gait,” she told writer Jeffrey Silverstein. “With walking, there’s a rhythm. There’s a pace and phrasing … that definitely influences me.”

This helps explain the music she makes. Committed to improvisation and varied genres, she’s worked with a wide range of musicians since her first recording in 2006. They include Sharon Van Etten, Thurston Moore, Bill Callahan, William Tyler and many more.

Currently she’s touring behind her second album with Australian drummer Jim White – Swallowtail. The duo brings their act to Vancouver’s St. James Hall next Thursday, May 23 in a show presented by Coastal Jazz & Blues Society and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Also on the bill is rising Montreal folk singer Myriam Gendron who is their label mate at Chicago’s Thrill Jockey.

Jim White: from restraint to wild intensity

New York-based White, like Anderson, is a versatile artist – drummer, producer and songwriter. His work ranges over country and folk, noise rock and free improvisation. He’s played with Nick Cave, Will Oldham, and Cat Power and is known as a go-to session player in the Chicago scene. He’s best known for being a co-founder of the rock group Dirty Three. His first album with Anderson was 2020’s completely improvised collection,The Quickening.’s review said: “As a meeting of minds, Anderson and White are a well-matched duo with a similar creative aesthetic. That’s not to say The Quickening is an easy listen. Melodies and recognizable rhythms are hard to come by, and those that do present themselves are rather spare and subtle. The quiet and gently unfolding “18 to 1″ stands as the album’s prettiest and most tonally pleasing cut, though for the patient listener, there is plenty of magic throughout the set as these two masters intertwine their ample talents.”

Myriam Gendron: vintage folk music

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Montreal’s Myriam Gendron (Kristie Shanley photo)

In 2014 then bookstore employee Myriam Gendron garnered a minor swell of infamy for putting music to Dorothy Parker’s 1940 book of poems – Not So Deep As A Well. It was the first music she’d ever written. Her unpolished debut album of demos won raves. Through word of mouth she started gaining a small and enthusiastic following.

It took another seven years for her to issue second album Ma délire – songs of love, lost and found (my delirium), which folk music faithful readily embraced. Her third collection, Mayday, has been earning favourable reviews from top music publications like Mojo, Uncut, Exclaim!, Pitchfork and The Wire.

The Wire wrote: “Gendron’s penchant for vintage phrasing gives the record a mid-20th century folk revival vibe that even the guest squalls of guitarist Bill Nace and saxophonist Zoh Amba cannot dispel. Gendron’s singing alternates between French and English; the pitch of her voice is low, but its place in the mix is high, held aloft by her unhurried guitar picking.”

Come listen to her sing at St. James Hall next Thursday to hear what all the praise is about.

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18 May 2024