Your 2021 Sultans of String Christmas Caravan Playlist and Tour

3x JUNO nominees and Billboard-charting SULTANS OF STRING serve up Global Grooves & Holiday Cheer with their 2021 CHRISTMAS CARAVAN YOUTUBE PLAYLIST and TOUR!

YOUTUBE PLAYLIST https://tinyurl.com/sultanschristmasplaylist

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST https://tinyurl.com/mwyhr32w 

LISTEN/BUY ALBUM https://sultansofstring.lnk.to/THc3VID

Canadian band Sultans of String keeps imaginative imperatives in overdrive for the entirety of Christmas Caravan, a generous pitch for global unity through the music of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. These five musicians have jubilantly recharged the classics with arrangements that demand attention. ★★★★  – Downbeat, USA

As winter crests and the mercury falls, everyone from your taxi driver to the music supervisor at the mall starts running timeless hits like “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.”

But Canada’s global groove wizards Sultans of String wanted to go deeper into this beautiful tradition, and have launched their 2021 Christmas Caravan Playlist, featuring songs from their album which hit Billboard’s World Music Charts and the New York Times Hits List. Recorded and co-produced with JUNO Award-winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey, Christmas Caravan isn’t your typical holiday collection. You may recognize a few titles but you’ve never experienced seasonal music quite like this before.  They celebrate the holiday spirit with an adventurous musical trip around the world, featuring exuberant originals, world-music-inspired classics, and seasonal favourites to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night.

They kick it off with a fresh version of “Feliz Navidad” along with Alex Cuba, who was just nominated for another Grammy in the Best Latin Pop category with his new album Mendo. In addition to his four Grammy nominations (all for Best Latin Pop Album in 2011, 2016, 2018, and 2022), Cuba has been nominated for five Latin Grammy Awards, four of which he won.

Alex Cuba

From fiery fiddle tunes to a Caribbean sleigh ride, the surprising and delightful holiday Christmas Caravan fiesta heats up when Sultans of String bring their signature sound to well-known gems such as “The Christmas Song,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a Turkish twist on “Greensleeves,” “Silent Night,” a Django-jazz inspired “Django Christmas,” not to mention a Rumba-Flamenca fuelled “Jingle Bells.”

Special guests also include jazz chanteuse Nikki Yanofsky, Mary Fahl from the October Project, hang drum player David Charrier from France, Turkish string group Gundem Yayli Grubu, Canada’s singer to the stars, Rebecca Campbell, African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Panamanian star Ruben Blades and Luba Mason, Pakistani-Canadian sitar player Anwar Khurshid, and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra!

Of special note is “Sing for Kwanzaa,” a cut featuring Richard Bona and Sudanese-Canadian Waleed Abdulhamid. Fans call Bona “The African Sting,” critics call him a pro, but it’s his unique and electrifying style of connecting with his audience that titles him what he really is—a true musician. This is the perfect song to celebrate Kwanzaa held December 26 – January 1 each year.

“An amazing worldbeat Christmas where even the tried and true is taken to such new and amazing lengths. Very hot stuff clearly made to chase the cold winter away.” – Midwest Record, USA

And Sultans of String is also bringing the show on the road!

Joining Sultans of String for the Christmas Caravan December tour is Rebecca Campbell and on select shows Donné Roberts (JUNO winning African Guitar Summit) w/Singer-Songwriter Yukiko Tsutsui from Japan, soulful-pop JUNO winning singer Kellylee Evans, award-winning flamenco dancer/singer Tamar Ilana, multiple CFMA winner Lynne Hanson, Andalusian classical and Arabic jazz instrumentalist Fethi Nadjem, the velvet voice of Kristine St-Pierre who won CFMA for Francophone Songwriter of the Year, and UK-Canadian multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Saskia Tomkins.

The Christmas Caravan tour also raises awareness of the plight of international refugees and the work of the UN Refugee Agency https://amplify.e-activist.com/14441/p2p/90279/sultansofstring .  As fundraising partners with UNHCR, the band has raised over $10,000 from their community awareness efforts and UNHCR’s ‘tip boxes’.

“Helping refugees is a cause we care about deeply because more than 67 million refugees worldwide are in desperate need of our support. They have every right to live a safe and dignified life as much as we do”, says Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient McKhool. “By supporting this show and partnership with the UNHCR, you are providing life-saving assistance to refugees all over the world.”

This vision is embodied in their double CD offering, Refuge/Sanctuary, which they’re also performing at the Simcoe Theatre show!

WHEN ‘N’ WHERE:

Fri. Dec. 3, 2021 – Collingwood Christmas Concerts @ Simcoe Street Theatre
65 Simcoe St, #Studio 7, Collingwood, ON
8:30 pm EST (Doors: 8:00pm)
Tix/Info: $25
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/collingwood-christmas-market-concert-series-christmas-caravan-tickets-208199679847

Sat. Dec. 4, 2021 – Refuge/Sanctuary @ Simcoe Street Theatre 
65 Simcoe St, #Studio 7, Collingwood, ON
8:30 pm EST (Doors: 8:00pm)
Tix/Info: $25
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/collingwood-christmas-market-concert-series-the-refuge-sanctuary-concert-tickets-208233591277

Fri. Dec. 17, 2021 – Annapolis Symphony @ Maryland Hall
801 Chase St., Annapolis, MD
8:00 pm EST
Tix/Info: $59-$119
https://annapolissymphony.org/events/holiday-pops-sultans-of-string

Sun. Dec. 19, 2021 – Zoom Room Global Livestream
7:00 pm EST
Tix/Info: $10 requested minimum donation
https://sultanschristmas2021.eventbrite.ca

Mon Dec. 20, 2021 – Harmony Concerts @ Algonquin Theatre 
1385 Woodroffe Avenue, Building E, Ottawa
7:00 pm EST (Lobby 6:00 pm / Doors 6:30 pm)
Tix/Info: $35.79 – $56.79  l  613-727-4723 x6442  l  boxoffice@algonquincollege.com
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/sultans-of-string-christmas-caravan-tickets-202065131247

SPECIAL GUESTS:

Rebecca Campbell
Rebecca Campbell is an acclaimed and prolific singer who also serves up percussion, Stella guitar, melodica, and harmonica. Bred in the Maritimes and Ottawa, educated in Montreal, and now based in Toronto, Rebecca has performed with Jane Siberry, Lynn Miles, Porkbelly Futures, Parachute Club, Royal Ottawa, Ian Tamblyn, among countless others. Her gorgeous voice has graced both the big and small screen and on over 120 recordings.

Kellylee Evans
Known for her stunning crystalline voice that is both powerful and emotive, Kellylee Evans is a stylistic connoisseur who has tackled everything from jazz to R&B and pop, in such previous tasty classics as “fight or flight?” and “Nina”, her Juno-winning tribute to the legendary Nina Simone. She recently released “Come On”, and comes on the heels of two nearly career-ending accidents: a freak lightning strike in her Ottawa kitchen and further effects of a concussion suffered during a fall at her home.

Lynne Hanson
Too tough for folk and too blues-influenced for country, Lynne Hanson’s brand of “porch music with a little red dirt” can turn on a dime from a sunshine blue sky ballad to a full-on thunderstorm of gritty Americana swamp from one song to the next.  Lynne is a two-time Canadian Folk Music Award winner, a recipient of the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, winner of the Blues and Roots Radio International Song Contest, two-time Folk Music Ontario Song From The Heart Blues Award winner,  a two-time Indie Acoustic Project Alt-Country album of the year winner, and a two-time Kerrville New Folk finalist.

Tamar Ilana
Powerhouse vocalist and dancer Tamar Ilana fronts Ventanas, a six-piece Toronto-based world music ensemble featuring the city’s finest world musicians. With songs in Ladino, Spanish, Bulgarian, Hebrew, French, Romani, and Arabic, Tamar Ilana intertwines composite rhythms with flamenco dance, leading audiences down the less-traveled paths of the Mediterranean and mixing in contemporary interpretations of ancient ballads, original compositions, and new choreographies. “I’m a huge admirer,” says Leslie Feist.”

Fethi Nadjem 
Fethi Nadjem was born in 1983 in Algeria where he grew up in a family of musicians and learned Andalusian classical music, becoming accomplished on both violin and mandolin. At the age of 21, he became one of the founders of the acclaimed world music fusion band named Djmawi Africa, performing Andalusian classical music for 13 years across the globe. When he arrived in Toronto to begin a new life in Canada, he continued to pursue his musical career, performing with several bands and musicians. Fethi is a member of the World-Fusion style music band, Moskitto Bar, and additionally performs with the Arabic-Jazz band, Moneka Arabic Jazz.

Donné Roberts
Donné Roberts is a passionate performer who performs mainly in Malagasy, his mother tongue from his birthplace of Madagascar. Yet this never proves to be a barrier to the audience, providing living proof that music truly does transcend language. Donné came to wider recognition for his solo release and his contribution as one of the members of the African Guitar Summit, which won a JUNO, and as a member of Okavango The African Orchestra that also won a JUNO Award.

Kristine St-Pierre
Folk-pop singer-songwriter Kristine St-Pierre captivates audiences with her velvet voice and wide range of emotions that challenge us. In 2018, Kristine received a CFMA for Francophone Songwriter of the Year, and the 1st track hit the Top 10 in SiriusXM’s FrancoCountry channel. In addition to tours across Canada, Kristine has performed in Kenya, Nigeria, Congo, and most recently in Ukraine, establishing closer links between musical creation and the values of respect, inclusiveness, and equality.

Saskia Tomkins
Saskia Tomkins is a British musician and actress, living since 2007 in Ontario. A stellar multi-instrumentalist, she serves up the violin, viola, cello, and nyckelharpa, seamlessly crossing genres, including traditional, modern, jazz, and classical music. In great demand, she has performed with the likes of The Chieftains, Jimmy Bowskill, The Chieftains, Kim Doolittle, Ken Whiteley, and a plethora of other amazing musicians, actors, and dancers! Currently, she performs with hubby  Steáfán Hannigan as Steáfán & Saskia, the instrumental jazz/roots duo 2ish with Brandon Scott Besharah; the Celtic crossover group Cáirdeas, and the jazz trio Marsala and the Imports.

Yukiko Tsutsui 
Yukiko Tsutsui is a singer/songwriter from Akita, Japan. Her compositions are beautifully arranged and are influenced by Japanese contemporary music, traditional folk music, and world music. Since immigrating to Toronto in 2016, she has been performing with various musicians at multiple venues and was selected to perform the Japanese National Anthem at Richo Woodbine Mile broadcasted internally on TSN. Yukiko also produced/hosted her Canadian syndicated and award-winning radio show, Japanese Musiquest, on the Kootenay Coop Radio, exposing listeners to Japanese music and culture.

New Album by SULTANS OF STRING, Sanctuary (The Refuge Project), Transports Listeners to Ethereal Plane with Musical Alchemy

ALBUM REVIEW
by Christine Bode

Just when I thought that Sultans of String couldn’t devise a more ambitious and exciting project than their 2020 album, Refuge, they proved me wrong with the second installment of this project entitled Sanctuary. It is an equally ambitious, diverse, inclusive, and passionate album with a VIP roster of global ‘ambassadors’, some of whom are recent immigrants and refugees to Canada, as well as important Indigenous voices. All are masters of world music that tell the story of how to communicate with others through the global language of sound.

The album was released on Friday, November 5, 2021, on Fontana North! You can listen and purchase digital and hard copies now and also see Sultans of String’s new video for “Ariengue Arianga” at this link: https://smarturl.it/SultansSanctuary.

I was fortunate to be among the first to enjoy a sneak preview of Sanctuary which features this phenomenal guest artist list:

Ahmed Moneka – IRAQ / CAN
Amchok Gompo – TIBET / CAN
Donné Roberts – MADAGASCAR / CAN
Duke Redbird – FIRST NATION INDIGENOUS
Fethi Nadjem – Algeria / CAN
Gundem Yayli Grubu – TURKEY
Juan Carlos Medrano – COLOMBIA / CAN
Leen Hamo – SYRIA / CAN
Marito Marques – PORTUGAL / CAN
Mehmet Akatay – TURKEY
Padideh Ahrarnejad – IRAN / CAN
Ravi Naimpally – INDIA / CAN
Sammy Figueroa – PUERTO RICO / USA
Saskia Tomkins – ENGLAND / CAN
Selcuk Suna – TURKEY / CAN
Suat Suna – TURKEY
Tamar Ilana – CAN
Tara Moneka – IRAQ / CAN
Twin Flames – INDIGENOUS CAN
Yukiko Tsutsui – JAPAN / CAN

Chris McKhool’s grandfather came to North America as a stowaway on a ship in the early 1900s from LEBANON and his pianist mother from EGYPT.  And Sultans of String’s percussionist Rosendo ‘Chendy’ Leon came to North America as a refugee from CUBA.

The regular band includes the hardest working man I know—he never sleeps—the winner of the Canadian Independent Music Association’s 2021 Pivot Award—Chris McKhool, as well as flamenco guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire, Kevin Laliberté, and master bassist Drew Birston!

Working for Chris McKhool and Sultans of String for ten years has opened my ears to more world music than I have ever heard before, so I must credit them for adding sophistication to my musical taste. Not only am I a member of their amazing team, but a huge fan. You may feel similarly about this 3x Juno-nominated group who have accumulated more award honours than any of us can count!

There is so much richness, texture, and complexity to the songs on Sanctuary, that it is an album that becomes more cherished with repeated listening. All the sensational artists who contribute their gifts to the album are to be commended on their stellar performances as they transport us to another place through their musical alchemy.

My favourite tracks include the pure and joyful Madagascar sounds of “Ariengue Arianga”, with music and lyrics by Donné Roberts, arrangement by Sultans of String, and vocals by Donné and Yukiko Tsutsui. “Moroccan Dreams,” my favourite instrumental track, with music by Kevin Laliberté is luscious, wild, and evokes the desire for a Casablanca-like adventure, featuring Padideh Ahrarnejad on tar, and Ravi Naimpally on tabla. Turkish pop star, Suat Suna, lends terrific vocals to a gorgeous version of “Hurricane” (originally released on Refuge), featuring Turkish strings by Gundem Yayli Grubu, among other innovative musical guests. The stunning, passionate up-tempo ballad “Tell the Night” with lyrics and Syrian vocals by the exquisite Leen Hamo could transport you to the Ethereal Plane, while the quietly stunning “Khatenche” featuring breathtaking Tibetan flute by Amchock Gompa, who also wrote the music with McKhool and Laliberté, is perfect for inner reflection.

“Mi Santuario” featuring Colombian musician Juan Carlos Medrano, was the first single released on Friday, September 10, 2021, and the second single “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (originally recorded by Sonny & Cher) featuring Tara Saleh Moneka and Ahmed Moneka was released on Friday, October 8, 2021.

Sultans of String’s exciting new interview and music series, BACKSTAGE, a free online Livestream from their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/sultansofstring has been featuring different artists from the album since Friday, September 10th with more yet to come. On Friday, November 12, 2021, at NOON EST, Sultans of String will feature powerful and versatile Canadian singer and flamenco dancer, Tamar Ilana.

Tamara Ilana – photo by Carlos Gárate


If you missed these episodes of BACKSTAGE when they were live, you can always visit the group’s Facebook page to watch them in playback and share them with your friends. Some episodes are also on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/sultansofstring.

3X JUNO NOMINEES/3X CFMA WINNERS SULTANS OF STRING’S new single The Power of the Land out TODAY!

SOS_POWER_OF_THE_LAND_COVER_3000x3000_300DPI

3X JUNO NOMINEES/3X CFMA WINNERS SULTANS OF STRING’S new single
The Power of the Land out on October 25, 2019, ON MCKHOOL/CEN/THE ORCHARD,
A DIVISION OF SONY MUSIC

Sultans of String – The Power of the Land
Available now here: https://smarturl.it/PoweroftheLand
Artist:  Sultans of String
Song: The Power of the Land (feat. Duke Redbird & Twin Flames)
Upcoming Album: Refuge

“Energetic and exciting music fest from a band with talent to burn… the very epitome of world music: no boundaries, no rules!” – Maverick Music Magazine

NY Times and BILLBOARD charting band Sultans of String are releasing their new single on October 25, 2019. Entitled The Power of the Land, it features Ojibway Elder Dr. Duke Redbird and Indigenous artists Twin Flames.

Sultans of String are 3x JUNO Award nominees (Canada’s Grammys) and 4x Canadian Folk Music Award winners. They recently celebrated their 10th anniversary as a band, criss-crossing North America and UK, and performing at many taste-making forums such as JUNOFest, Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Birdland in NYC, and California’s hip music scene, including the San Jose Jazz Festival. They have sold out Koerner Hall three times (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall) and performed with Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton Symphony Orchestras. Sultans of String were recently recorded live on BBC TV, Irish National Radio, and internationally syndicated shows including SiriusXM in Washington DC.  At the core of the band’s sound is Chris McKhool’s (Jesse Cook, Pavlo) bold and fiery fiddle, melded seamlessly with founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté’s (Jesse Cook) rumba rhythm- together their musical synergy created Sultans of String’s signature sound – the intimate and playful relationship between violin and guitar. Added to this rich foundation are bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), guitar wizard Eddie Paton, and Cuban percussion master Rosendo Chendy Leon (Alex Cuba).

This collaborative single The Power of the Land, with lyrics by Duke Redbird and music by Sultans of String band, will be part of a larger upcoming album entitled REFUGE to be released in 2020, featuring incredible talents from the USA/Canada, many of whom arrived as recent immigrants and refugees. We feel it is important to highlight the extraordinary contributions of those that have arrived here from around the globe, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you, featuring special guests from First Nations, Turkey, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Greece, Syria, Mexico, Portugal, Cuba, and Sudan.

Refuge’s potent and poetic single The Power of the Land features the interwoven vocals of Indigenous spoken-word artist Duke Redbird and married Ottawa folk duo Twin Flames. “I actually heard Duke recite that poem years ago,” McKhool says. “I was so moved that I introduced myself to him after the performance and said, ‘Have you ever thought about putting this to music?'” Fast-forward three years, to the day when McKhool realized he had finally written the right backdrop for Redbird’s stirring words. “It was just one of those beautiful moments where I realized those lyrics might work perfectly.”

This single is co-produced by the multiple award-winning team of bandleader Chris McKhool and John “Beetle” Bailey.  The beds were recorded on First Nations land at the Indigenous-owned Jukasa Studios. Founded by Ohsweken’s, Kenneth Hill & Jerry Montour, Jukasa Studios is a multi-million dollar studio created for world-class and developing artists to make music in surroundings rich in spirit and tradition. The legendary 8072 G Series Vintage Analog Console which spent 12 years of its life in studio 3 at Abbey Road Studios in London England, was purchased and moved to Jukasa Studios in 2009.  Overdubs and mixing were done at The Drive Shed with John “Beetle” Bailey and mastering by Harry Hess at HBomb Mastering.

“It seems that Sultans of String can’t get out of bed at the moment without finding themselves nominated for one award or another. In a word: Magnificent!”
– Rock n Reel – UK Music Magazine 5* review

TEAM:  We are working with an amazing team to promote this single/tour

US Agent: Kevin Peters, GL Berg
US Management: Dave Wilkes
US Radio: Max Horowitz, Crossover Media
CDN PR: That Eric Alper
CDN Management/Booking: LW Communications
Social Media: Scully Love Promo

BAND: Sultans of String
Chris McKhool – LEBANON / CAN
Kevin Laliberte – CAN
Eddie Paton – CAN
Drew Birston – CAN
Rosendo Chendy Leon – CUBA / CAN

Extraordinary special guests on REFUGE include Grammy and JUNO Award winners:
Béla Fleck – USA
Edmar Castaneda – COLOMBIA / USA
Ifrah Mansour – SOMALIA / USA
Imad Al Taha – IRAQ / USA
Yasmin Levy – ISRAEL
Gundem Yayli Grubu – TURKEY

Ahmed Moneka  – IRAQ / CAN
Amir Amiri – IRAN / CAN
Anh Phung – VIETNAM / CAN
Anwar Khurshid – PAKISTAN / CAN
Donné Roberts – MADAGASCAR / CAN
Demetrios Petsalakis – GREECE / CAN
Duke Redbird – OJIBWE ELDER / CAN
Fethi Nadjem – ALGERIA / CAN
Majd Sukar – SYRIA / CAN
Marito Marques – PORTUGAL / CAN
Matias Recharte – PERU / CAN
Michel DeQuevedo – MEXICO / CAN
Nagmeh Faramand – IRAN / CAN
Ravi Naimpally – INDIA / CAN
Robi Botos – HUNGARY / CAN
Rosendo Chendy Leon – CUBA / CAN
Sammy Figueroa – PUERTO RICO / USA
Selcuk Suna –  TURKEY / CAN
Twin Flames – INDIGENOUS / CAN
Waleed Abdulhamid – SUDAN / CAN

LINKS:

YOUTUBE EPK https://youtu.be/fnog2CowXqQ

INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN https://igg.me/at/sultans

http://www.sultansofstring.com
http://twitter.com/sultansofstring
https://www.facebook.com/sultansofstring
http://www.instagram.com/sultansofstring

DISTRIBUTORS:
Canada – Fontana North
USA – C.E.N. (SONY/Red)
UK/EUROPE – Proper Distribution

UPCOMING TOURING PLANS:

01 Nov 2019 – Warren, PA (US) – Struthers Library Theatre
02 Nov 2019 – Stroudsburg, PA (US) – Chester Concerts
04 Nov 2019 – Durham, NC (US) – ArtsMarket Official Showcase / Showcase A6
08 Nov 2019 – Toronto, ON (CA) – OMEA Showcase / Quartet
23 Nov 2019 – Fergus, ON (CA) – Fergus Grand Theatre
28 Nov 2019 – Banff, AB (CA) Christmas Caravan – Banff Centre for the Arts / with special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
29 Nov 2019 – Calgary, AB (CA) Christmas Caravan – Fish Creek Concerts / w/ special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
30 Nov 2019 – Sherwood Park, AB (CA) Christmas Caravan – Festival Place / w/ special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
01 Dec 2019 – Turner Valley, AB (CA) Christmas Caravan – Beneath The Arch Concerts / w/ special guest Rebecca Campbell
05 Dec 2019 – London, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Wolf Performance Hall / w/ special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
06 Dec 2019 – Kingston, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Live Wire Music / Double bill– 1st show w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell & Lynn Miles; 2nd show featuring Lynn Miles
07 Dec 2019 – Oswego, NY (US) Christmas Caravan – Oswego Music Hall / w/ special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
08 Dec 2019 – Cobourg, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Concert Hall at Victoria Hall / pres. by Les AMIS Concerts & The Loft
13 Dec 2019 – Brantford, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Sanderson Centre / w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell, Donné Roberts, Ken Whiteley
14 Dec 2019 – Oakville, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Oakville Performing Arts Centre / w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Donné Roberts, Ken Whiteley
15 Dec 2019 – Toronto,  (CA) Christmas Caravan – Kingston Road Village Concert Series / w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Donné Roberts, Tamar Ilana
19 Dec 2019 – Ottawa, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Shenkman Arts Centre / w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Kellylee Evans, Kristine St-Pierre
20 Dec 2019 – Nelson, NY (US) Christmas Caravan – Nelson Odeon / w/ guest Campbell, at Catherine Cummings Theatre
21 Dec 2019 – Saratoga Springs, NY (US) Christmas Caravan – Caffe Lena – by invitation only – become a Caffe Lena member today!
08 Feb 2020 – Mississauga, ON (CA) Symphony show – Living Arts Centre / w/ Mississauga Symphony Orchestra
07 Mar 2020 – Cobalt, ON (CA) – Classic Theatre / Quartet
19 Mar 2020 – Ely, MN (US) – Mesaba Concert Assn @ Washington Auditorium /
20 Mar 2020 – Thief River Falls, MN (US) – Thief River Falls Concerts / – Lincoln H.S. Auditorium
22 Mar 2020 – Redwood Falls, MN (US) – Estebo Performing Arts Center /
24 Mar 2020 – Dixon, IL (US) – Historic Dixon Theater /
27 Mar 2020 Concordia, KS (US) – Brown Grand Theatre /
28 Mar 2020 – Pratt, KS (US) – Pratt Community Concerts @ Carpenter Auditorium /
29 Mar 2020 – Lamar, CO (US) – SouthWest Colorado Concerts / Trio – Lamar High School Auditorium
30 Mar 2020 – Columbus, NE (US) – Nantkes Performing Arts Center /
31 Mar 2020 – Rapid City, SD (US) – Rushmore Plaza Civic Center /
02 Apr 2020 – Anaconda, MT (US) – Washoe Theatre /
21 Apr 2020 – Burlington, IA (US) – Burlington Memorial Auditorium / Quartet
02 May 2020 – Gravenhurst, ON (CA) – Gravenhurst Opera House / Quartet

RECENT AWARDS:

  • 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards– Producer of the Year nomination for McKhool
  • 2017 New York Times Hits List
  • 2017 Billboard World Music Charts – Christmas Caravan CD hits #6
  • 2017 Canadian Nielsen World Music Charts – Christmas Caravan CD hits #3
  • 2017 Folk Music Ontario- Songwriting Award for “Sing For Kwanzaa” from Christmas Caravan
  • 2017 Folk Music Ontario- Songwriting Award for “Road to Kfarmishki”
  • 2017 ISC International Songwriting Competition- World category – “Sing For Kwanzaa”
  • 2017 JUNO Award Nominees for “World Music Album of the Year” – Subcontinental Drift
  • 2017 Billboard World Music Charts – Subcontinental Drift CD hits #15
  • 2016 Canadian Folk Music Awards– World Music Group of the Year
  • 2016 Global Music Awards– World Music / Beats
  • 2015 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) – Subcontinental Drift
  • 2015 JUNO Award Nominees for “Instrumental Album of the Year” – Symphony!
  • 2015 Toronto Independent Music Award – World Music
  • 2014 SIRIUSXM Independent Music Awards Winner- World Group of the Year
  • 2014 IMA Independent Music Award Winner – Instrumental Song – “Josie”
  • 2014 IMA Independent Music Vox Pop Award – Music Producer – Symphony! -Chris McKhool
  • 2013 ISC International Songwriting Competition- Instrumental category – “Monti’s Revenge”
  • 2013 Folk Music Ontario- Songwriting Award for “Monti’s Revenge”
  • 2013 Festivals & Events- Performer of The Year
  • 2013 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for bandleader Chris McKhool
  • 2013 SiriusXM Canadian Indie Awards Nominee for World Group of the Year
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners– World Music Group of the Year
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees – Instrumental Group & Pushing the Boundaries
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee- Producer of the Year for Chris McKhool
  • 2012 Folk Music Ontario- Songs From the Heart Winner
  • 2012 Festivals & Events- Entertainer of The Year
  • 2011 Ontario Contact – Artist of the Year
  • 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards Finalist – Instrumental
  • 2011 Independent Music Award 2x Finalist – Instrumental Album & World Beat Album – Yalla Yalla!
  • 2011 ISC International Songwriting Competition 2x Finalist- Instrumental & World Music categories
  • 2010 JUNO Award Nominees for “Instrumental Album of the Year” – Yalla Yalla!
  • 2010 Canadian Independent Music Awards nominees- Favourite World Artist/Group
  • 2009 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) First Place Winners – Instrumental
  • 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award triple nominee winning Instrumental Group of the Year (also nominated for Ensemble of the Year and Pushing the Boundaries)
  • 2009 Toronto Exclusive Magazine Award 2x Winner- Best Toronto World CD & Artist of the Year
  • 2008 International Songwriting Competition Winner (ISC) – Instrumental
  • 2008 Festivals & Events Ontario- Best Variety Act
  • 2008 Canadian Independent Music Awards Finalists- Favourite World Music Band
  • 2008 International Independent Music Awards Finalists- Best World Fusion Song
  • 2007 Musique du Monde Award
  • 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award nominees – Best Instrumentalist Group
  • 2007 Ontario Independent Music Award winner- Best Song & Best Instrumental
  • 2007 Toronto Independent Music Award nominees – World Music Category

This recording was produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council. We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and Canada Council for the Arts.

 

 

Ilona Pal’s Americana Single “A Farm In Indiana” Pays Tribute to James Dean’s Hometown

Ilona Pal cd single cover artwork

What you have written, and written well, obviously came from the heart and, for me,“A Farm in Indiana” has that same haunting quality as Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”. And it’s not because it’s about James Dean, it’s just a great song.  I have now listened to it repeatedly and I don’t tire of hearing it.” — Jim Hayes

Ilona Pal has travelled the rails between Montreal and Ottawa many times over, but in November of 2017, that train ride, and a movie about friendship, love and loss inspired a song that gave her wings to fly.

The movie was the 2015 feature film “Life”: the story of photographer Dennis Stock’s historic 1955 photo shoot of iconic actor James Dean in Fairmount, Indiana, for that still famous spread in Life Magazine.

“The song was a gift,” says Ilona. “I wasn’t looking to write a song about James Dean that day, the song was looking for me.” But when the last frame of the film faded to black and the words ‘James Dean died 6 months later’ appeared on the screen, she felt a wave of emotion well up in her chest. That wave soon reached her creative spirit, and all at once, most of the lyrics and melody that would become A Farm In Indiana were born.

Pal, an insightful singer-songwriter from Montreal, first emerged as an independent Canadian New Country artist with her debut single, Hold On Heart, and self-titled album. She landed a spot on the roster at Peter Asher Management in LA, alongside such notable artists as Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. French recordings of her songs have ranked #1 in Quebec and received ADISQ award nominations. Film credits include the closing theme song for Time At The Top (Showtime, HBO).

Produced by Les Cooper (The Good Lovelies, Jill Barber, Andy Stochansky, Craig Cardiff, Meaghan Smith, Madison Violet and David Myles, among others.), a Juno award-winning producer, Les is a songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, whose arrangements have frequently been compared to those of past greats such as Nelson Riddle and Duke Ellington, earning him a reputation as a composer with a classic and timeless sound.

A Farm in Indiana is their first collaborative writing effort.

Les brought in the magnificent Drew Jurecka to play violin. His soaring emotional solo was a first take, and captured the essence of the song beautifully. His passionate playing conjures up images of love and loss, as well as the sweetness of home and longing to be there. Stylistically, the down-home feel evokes genuine feelings of comfort. The solo is the heart of the arrangement, which features Cooper on guitar, lap steel and banjo, rounding out the ‘Americana’ folk tune.

“The train had a huge influence on this song. It was born on a train, inspired by a train ride when at the age of nine, James Dean brought his mother’s remains back to Fairmount, Indiana from LA, and it was the train that took me to Les in Toronto to produce the song,” mused Pal. “One thing I knew for sure was that the train had to be represented in the rhythm of the song.”

Pal then contacted the Main Street Fairmount organization in Indiana to propose a partnership. She would attach their fundraising initiative to her music video to aid the town of Fairmount in its ongoing effort towards the restoration and preservation of James Dean’s hometown. This was a complete leap of faith on their behalf, but the proposal was met with incredible enthusiasm and excitement, and soon, plans for a performance at the annual James Dean Festival in September were also underway.

“The highlight of making this connection for me was the day I called Marcus Winslow,” says Pal. Winslow, James Dean’s cousin, was like a little brother to him. To this day, he lives on the farm that both inspired the song and figures prominently in the photos of Dean from 1955. So, on a lovely summer afternoon, she called Marcus and told him all about the song. “He’s a gracious man of few words. He listened intently as I explained what I was trying to do,” Ilona recalls. It all seemed to come full circle as she recited the lyrics to him. The song had ultimately ‘come home’, to the place of its inspiration—the dream of every songwriter. 

In September 2018, Ilona performed A Farm in Indiana at the James Dean Festival in Fairmount, Indiana. Appearing on the Main Street stage and at the James Dean memorial service at the Back Creek Friends Church, a huge privilege and honour!

According to Ilona, “this song has legs and it’s moving on a mission unto itself.” She’s just very grateful to be along for the journey and happy the song chose her.

Today would have been James Dean’s 88th birthday.

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