When I was growing up in the ’70s, it seemed like everyone had one of those brightly coloured transistor radios. CFRW and CKRC AM were blasting out Melanie’s Brand New Key and the Nickel Song, Murray McLauchlan’s Farmer Song and Lighthouse’s Sunny Days.
My first LP was the Beatles album with Hey Jude and Ballad of John and Yoko. Songs that you could sing along to. After a while, the music got heavier for me. The lyrics became secondary to the music. Much of the time it was hard to make out the lyrics anyhow.
If the music moved me, I was happy. So much so that I started to listen to more and more instrumental music.
These days, I appreciate a good song with a story and well written lyrics. As Mott the Hoople sang in the David Bowie penned tune All the Young Dudes, “Why do I need TV when I got T.Rex.” Great statement. A well written three to five minute tune could tell a better story than what a half-hour TV show could deliver (and no commercials).
I wasn’t familiar with Terri Clark before I went to her show the other night. She brought her Back to My Roots Solo Acoustic Tour to Club Regent. The venue was her 20th stop of 42 dates on her Canadian tour.
Seems like I picked a good time to see her live. Another name for this tour could have been The History of Terri Clark’s Rise to Stardom tour.
She’s not only a great songwriter but a great storyteller as well.
Born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, she was considered a nerd at school in her Reba McEntire t-shirt. Kids used to tease her and ask her where she parked her horse.
Her mother brought the aspiring country star to talent contests. She had to stand in the alleys behind the bars til it was her turn to take the stage.
When she was 18, her mother brought her to Nashville. That was 21 years ago. In that time she’s won three Junos, 18 Canadian Country Music Awards, and eight CCMA Fans’ Choice Awards.
Seems like Nashville has been good to her. Apparently the home of the Grand Ole Opry is a very inspirational place for songwriters.
She calls Nashville home now but she spends four months of the year at her cottage in southern Ontario. She impressed me on three levels at this show:
1. She’s a great songwriter
2. She’s a great storyteller
3. She’s a helluva guitar player
Terri was surrounded by five guitars on stage plus the one she was playing. She only played three of them, but as she said, each show is different. I saw the set list after the show and she even deviated from that a bit. Linda Rondstadt’s Poor Poor Pitiful Me and Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight were on there. I would have loved to hear her cover those but was still quite pleased with her mostly original material.
The only covers she did were when she put on a male voice and sang John Conlee and George Jones tunes during her Tootsies medley. Great impersonations.
Tootsies Orchid Lounge is a legendary honky-tonk bar in Nashville where all of the great country singer/songwriters have spent time. The owner even let a very broke Kris Kristofferson (one of my favourites) stay in a room upstairs before he became successful.
She pulled out a very personal song about her mother that she hadn’t sung in a while. When visiting her mother who was battling cancer in the hospital, her mother caught her crying and told her, “You need to smile.” The song Smile was a result of this very sad time in her life when her mother passed away at 60 years of age.
Songwriting and poetry, from my experience, have a therapeutic effect. Zen Buddhists have a way of dealing with misery. They say when something is troubling you, write it down on paper, then it’s out of your mind. Next step is to burn it, then your troubles are gone.
Many of Terri’s songs deal with relationships as well. She shared an amusing story about her marriage at age 21 to Ted.
Terri has come a long way from her roots in Medicine Hat. She also has extended family here in Winnipeg, many of whom were at the show.
Songwriters reveal their souls and their deepest secrets in their songs. Some of the most successful tunes have been written during hard times. A great example is Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Two couples in the band were breaking up and so much emotion went into the making of that album which was a huge seller.
First, there’s the therapeutic aspect of the writer talking about different issues and secondly, there is the listener who empathizes and relates to the story.
Many fans have related to Terri over the years how her songs have helped them through tough times such as breakups and divorces. People remember her songs from their “first dance, first date, first…all those words the start with ‘f’,” she said, “I’ve accompanied people down the church aisle to the court aisle.”
She was happy to be here in “Perogyville,” and was happy that this is the warmest she’s ever seen it here. Good thing she didn’t come here last week.
A week ago, I didn’t know a heck of a lot about Terri Clark, but after this show I feel like I’ve known her and her music for a while. This show was a great introduction.
Throughout the concert, she accompanied herself with some amplified foot stomping. For a few tunes, she created beats by slapping her guitar and stomping her foot, and looping the beats. She also played a few riffs on her guitar, looped that and played and sang along.
On Some Songs she created some beats, looped ‘em and got the audience to do the ‘whoa a whoa whoa whoa’ bits. We sounded pretty damn good. I think we passed the audition.
She wrote Northern Girl “for those who know what it’s like to plug in your car.” She’s proud to be a Canadian and said that if she ever has to turn in one of her passports she knows which one it’d be.
For the encore, she picked up the dobro and sang her “ode to the road song,” Gypsy Boots, ending off the 90 minute show.
No opening act but she closed off the show with a Q & A session. Fans wrote down questions at the beginning of the show which she answered in the 16 minute denouement.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer
I Just Wanna Be Mad
If I Were You
Now That I Found You
Girls Lie Too
Mama He’s Crazy
Why Not Me
Rose Colored Glasses
(George Jones cover)
Rose Coloured Glasses
(John Conlee cover)
Better Things To Do
16 minute Q & A