There are some amazing reviews and recaps floating out there. We're grateful to have had Sean Michaels back for another year to give us all the play by play with the Sappy Times. If you missed it, or just want to feel nostalgic, check it out through his blog Said the Gramophone.
We've traded Eons for The Weather Station at the Vogue Theatre. They're both looking like beautiful afternoons.
Remember that space is limited!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, loves.
XO - Team Sappy.
SappyFest starts today and we've made a few last minute changes for your convenience. We like to think it makes more sense now.
Greetings Sappvilians! This year at the festival, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to share some of my most favourite writers with you. Last year, I had the great honour of sharing my own writing as part of Universal Dawn, the annual literary event at Sappy, and this year I've been tasked with curating it. And, oh! what a dream it has been thus far.
All the wonderful people I asked to read said 'Yes!' which means that you, the ever discerning and curious attendee, will be getting a first rate, top notch, number one draft choice selection of readers.
The very first person I invited was a tall, cool drink of water by the name of Geordie Miller. He and I have read together countless times, and each time he manages to floor me with his particular blend of humour, insight and anxiousness.
Geordie put his first book out this year with one of Canada's raddest independent publishers, Halifax's Invisible Publishing. It's called Re:Union, and boy is it ever a good read. But don't worry! You needn't bone up beforehand. As a a crash course in Miller Time, I present to you this interview in which Geordie jumps most eloquently through a series of thorny hoops and even manages to include a tasty, unpublished poem with which to whet your chops.
How would you describe the outfit you're wearing right now?
It roughly resembles whatever you and the people reading these words would like to imagine.
Will it differ greatly from the one you don at Sappyfest?
I suppose it depends. Did you imagine a marching band leader outfit or was it more 1950s childless Dad-inspired?
Is there a trick to writing poetry?
Yes. The trick is to trick yourself into an unselfconscious state where you are not "writing poetry," but rather doing things with and to words that come far more naturally than people often assume. Things that our brains are doing all the time, like assembling abstractions or recoding impressions as narrative. That's how a neuroscientist would describe brain activity, right? It's not the only trick, certainly. And it wouldn't work for those with formalist inclinations that exceed my, um, cryptic conversational style.
Are your parents proud of you?
My father has purchased in the neighbourhood of 100 copies of my book online and my mom read it with her Book Club. If pride can be measured by markers of contemporary literary prestige, then yes. They are proud of me.
When you meet someone and they inquire about your life, how do you decide whether or not to tell them you are a poet?
"Decision" is exactly it, as there are times when I hesitate to prioritize that fact about myself. Perhaps it's because I'm not always in the mood for the potential ensuing line of questioning about why/what I write. Does that sound nasty or just lazy? Both? It's not meant to be either; maybe sometimes I feel like talking about it is like describing your dreams to a necessarily disinterested person. But usually, yeah, I choose to brag about being a poet, no matter who this "someone" is--unless they look like they might be a member of the Inner Party. Then I keep it quiet.
Tell us about your new book, Re:Union, without using the words 'it' or 'the'.
You praised Re:Union's deployment of humour in your review for that Halifax weekly that rhymes with Le Toast. So my new book is funny--in a way (I hope) that communicates convictions and confusions that readers can appreciate and want to revisit, whether they have read much poetry or not. These convictions and confusions are frequently compressed into postcards/letters, dispatched to lovers (real and imagined), evil forces (neoliberals), cultural icons and common people like you (and me).
If you had to recommend a poem/poet to some unassuming chump in the grocery store, what/who would it be?
The temptation to recommend a grocery store poem would overwhelm me, and I would suggest Allen Ginsberg's "A Supermarket in California." The speaker ventriloquizes Walt Whitman, "Who killed the pork chops? / What price bananas? Are you my Angel?" If I was feeling more creative and ambitious on this chump's behalf, I would offer David Berman's Actual Air. It's even better than avocado.
For the long-distance, diehard fans who've never had the pleasure of seeing you read your poetry, how do you figure the experience will differ from merely reading it themselves?
Well it will probably be louder. And instead of what I'm conjuring as their melodious inner reading voices, they'll have to endure my tuneless ramblings instead. Nevertheless, friends and strangers have told me that my work is conducive to live performance, which is a compliment, yes? Definitely anytime you experience a live performance of poetry or music, as a collective you share an awareness that a script (the poems/songs) exists, which is a vehicle for the improvisations or accidents that can and often do emerge during the show. "The talent" might start a conversation with the crowd, a phone could ring in someone's immediate embarrassment, the heckler may refuse an anecdote. Surprises abound.
Give an example of a time you met with conflict in the workplace, and how you worked to resolve the issue at hand.
Disregarding my obvious discomfort with the practice, my boss insisted on referring to me as "boss." One day I finally got up the nerve to tell them that I was fired.
How is your cat? I can't recall his name, but I do so fondly recall him hassling you as you tried to set up the DVD player on our last friend-date.
Louis never did manage to accept that I had non-feline friends, nor did he ever adjust to cohabitating with two ginger cats. As a result, I had to find a new home for him last month. Though I already miss him very much, thankfully I am moving in with a tabby named Herman in September. I am confident that he will be more amendable to our friendship. As an added bonus for you and me, he loves documentaries.
Would you share a piece of poetry of your's that has yet to find a home? Even the tiniest morsel will do.
STATE OF NATURE
Show some thinking,
as the stand-up does another
dick joke about his dick
It satisfies no one
to be gathered here
at the altar of the unserious
eager to take sides
in the war of all against all
She writes some of this in her notebook
an archive of atrocity and
nasty, brutish, and short.
I know you're a big sports fan. Could you offer some informed commentary on the hypothetical, prospective baseball game that is set to take place at this year's Sappyfest.
It better not be hypothetical! I'm packing my glove. Participating in the game over the past few years, I am qualified to comment that the game will likely feature the following: several swings, many misses, inside jokes, dugout potato chips, aggressive base coaching, passive umpires...it's basically Field of Dreams, but no one has to be Kevin Costner. Everyone gets to be a ghost.
Can you give us a rough breakdown of your gains and losses as a poet in the last year and a half?
I hesitate to include a balance sheet, despite having excelled at Accounting in high school. The biggest gain has been opportunities (like this one) to chat about poetics. To travel and talk to people about poetry and through poetry. Such conversations inculcate a self-awareness that I think will enrich my future writing i.e. I get to sound myself out, hear how others are hearing me, and confront what I don't know, but wanna learn how to do, ya'know? This education derives from some of the poetic luminaries I've been introduced to, read with, or had recommended to me over the past year and a half. The losses I will save for cataloguing in/between the lines of my next collection. Evasive is my exit strategy.
The final schedule is up and out. It's still subject to change (let's hope it doesn't).
There are also less than 100 full festival passes left! Plan accordingly lovers.
Sarah Burwash grew in up in Rossland, B.C., and graduated from the University of British Columbia Okanagan in 2009 with an interdisciplinary BFA. Working in a variety of media from collage and animation to ceramics and installation, Burwash’s work most often takes form in narrative watercolour drawings. Her work is included in private and public collections internationally and has been shown in Canada, USA, and Europe.
Burwash has been in Sackville for the past month as Struts & Faucet's Artist in Residence. Check out her Artist Talk and Ceramics Workshop this Thursday at 10:00AM. Her exhibition will also be up over the weekend!
How has your experience been in Sackville over the last few weeks?
It's been great! I grew up in a small town and I forgot how much I missed it. It reminds of me a lot of my hometown. Your buds are just around the corner. There's something so simple about running into people and being able to walk everywhere you need to go.
Struts is a super awesome centre that is really supportive and is here to help me out. It's also a great time of year.
You've moved from coast to coast, what're the main differences for you out here in the East compared to the West?
I came out here for a change and it really is quite different. I grew up doing a lot of activities in the mountains, like snowboarding and hiking, so I miss that stuff... and my family.
Though I totally love being on the East Coast. I think there's a different mentality here, from my experience. People really value their goals and quality of life over money and commercial possessions.
At least that's true for the people I've met. Humans are resourceful. It's nice getting to know the ocean, too, because I grew up in interior BC.
You work with many different mediums. Do you have a favourite? How do you choose which to do?
I mostly draw, I call it drawing. I draw with water colours so maybe it's painting?
A friend convinced me to take a ceramics course a while back and it was really fun. It felt awesome to switch mediums and do something that you don't take so seriously. It was a reminder that maybe I didn't have to take my drawing as seriously. It was a freeing thing to do and encouraged me to experiment with other things and have fun with it.
I grew up in a family that was very 'do-it-yourself' too. Whenever you wanted or needed something my parents were like “we can do it, we can just make it!” I would see a shirt at the mall that I liked and my mom would say “we can sew it!”
I used to think it was so lame. But if I like something, I’m going to try and make it. I feel like I can do it all.
What do they say? A Jack of all trades, a master of none.
You've done a fairly long string of residencies over the past year in many different places. Tell me about some of your experiences.
I went to Suldal, Norway, at the end of September. The lady who ran the residency would drop me off on the side of the highway and then I'd have to hike for 30 minutes up hill on a path that wasn't very clearly marked. I'd eventually get up to the little farm house and then it was just me and the sheep. I would only come down once a week to get groceries, maybe a can of beer.
I guess I like to seek out rural and off grid situations. I feel like I work well in that way. Without internet or a phone you don't get so distracted. It forced me to do the stuff I love to do like hike around and read.
I was at the Banff Arts Centre and that was a totally different atmosphere. I was with 13 other artists and 3 mentors. It was more of a critical environment rather than an isolating one and that really affected my work in a big way by reminding me how important it is to talk about what you're doing with other people.
I did a three month residency in Point Pleasant Park after that. It was in a big stone building that looked like a castle and I could use the park for whatever I wanted like installations and projections.
Now I'm here!
What's your involvement been with SappyFest in past years?
Well, I've done the Zine Fair for the last 4 years. I vended (at the Sappy Market) my first year when it was a little smaller and there wasn't as much going on. I had just moved to Halifax and I thought I should come and sell my artwork. It was the most magical time as a new person to the Maritimes.
You know, to be new somewhere and have it be such a warm and relaxed environment?
So I sold some prints and met a lot of people that way. I also tried to sell popcorn and that was an interesting combo when handling art prints... I popped two garbage bags full before I left and melted the butter on my Toyota Tercel, Janet. If I wasn't an artist I'd own a popcorn business. I'd be a Kernels rival.
It's safe to say you won't be selling popcorn this year. What do you plan on selling?
I had a booked published by Conundrum Press last summer called The Far Woods. Conundrum will be coming so I'll have those to sell. Maybe it's a bit over ambitious but I'm hoping to make a little zine that includes some of the drawings I've done during my time here. There'll be some newer prints, older work, and post cards. Maybe some little ceramic trophies?
What are you most excited to see at this year's festival?
Andrew Patterson was talking about some of the readings at Universal Dawn and it sounds really interesting. I also really like the Weather Station. I saw her play in Halifax and during every song I thought she was going to cry. She put so much emotion into it. I'm really excited to see her. And Duzheknew.
What do you recommend people do while in Sackville?
Go on the marsh trail. Take a time out.
SACKVILLE BIKE CO-OP VALET AND RENTALS
Friday: 6 PM 12 AM
Saturday: 9 PM 12 AM
Sunday: 12 PM 12 AM
A bicycle Valet service will be offered close to the main stage on Bridge St. Leave your bikes with us and they will be kept safe and sound. We'll even do some minor tune ups, or if you have a moment, show you how to do them yourself.
Free rentals will also be available throughout the day from the Sackville Bike Co-op. Take a chance to get out of town, hit the marsh, or have a quick dip at Silver Lake.
Any bikes left over night will be stored and returned to the valet racks the following day.
For more information email email@example.com
We're just a few digits away from selling out of our Day Passes. We still have a limited amount of Full Festival Passes available and encourage you to take advantage of such a deal and hang out with us here in the Swamp all weekend.
It's fast approaching, we can't wait. We'll see you soon.
Purchase Passes online here, via TicketPro or at any TicketPro location. Or in Sackville at Ducky's Pub, The Black Duck Cafe, and our office located on the second floor of 131 Main Street.
Paul Saulnier and Benjamin Nelson raised their band from Kingston’s lowest places, from bars and basements and late-night pits of the heart, above the swirling fug of death dreams and depression, until this two-piece rock’n’roll act was like a black and red corona setting St George’s aglow. And then while Nelson minded the fort(s), Paul left home – to Toronto, following his heart.
‘For Those Who Stay’ is PS I Love You’s third album, and it was made after Paul quit Kingston for a different big smoke. Of course the band had to go back to Kingston to record it – working at a place called the Bathouse, the duo’s first time in “a proper studio”.
“We basically grew our band and did live takes and then I added 100 guitars to each song,” Saulnier says. It was he (legion of guitars, lead vocals) and Nelson (drums, secondary vocals), plus help from friends Tim Bruton (keyboards) and Matt Rogalsky (production, synth bass). The pro studio added another dimension to these recordings: beside the shrieking mountains of riff there are quiet moments and cosmic moments, moments soft-sung or jangly. There’s a little more Iggy Pop, post-Stooges; some Bowie and a jolt of weird Canada. The title track tells its plot-twists in seven minutes of bending riffs and pan-galactic spin. “Limestone Radio” is a song of ghosts.
‘For Those Who Stay’ was encouraged by the girding strength of love but of course it’s still dredging and confused, of course it’s still resplendent in its churn. Maybe it’s the sound of leaving home and still hearing it calling.
You can buy the new record at www.paperbagrecords.com and catch them on the SappyFest on Friday, August 1.
We called up Steve on a stormy day last week and took up some of his tennis-watching time to talk Sappy, poetry, the mechanics of a “Big Deal” reunion, and how it feels to come back home.
In a lot of ways, we’re going back to our roots this year. Sappy’s always been a family gathering, but this year features a lot of big reunions and returns. What do you think about the theme, Bring it on Home: does it feel like more of a homecoming than usual?
I’m glad to be included in those roots and to be thought of in that way. I’ve been to every SappyFest and volunteered a lot when I was in Sackville, I was on the Sappy board, and I’ve played a bunch of shows. I’m glad to be thought of as part of the theme: that’s how Sappy feels, like going home.
I remember we [The Constantines] played Sappy 2 way back when. We played at George's, and there was no big mainstage then. Things have changed a lot in the interim, but Sappy’s up for grabs in the sense that you can do whatever you want with it. It’s good to know the history and roots, and traditions are empowering, but traditions shouldn’t be burdens, they should be empowering.
Best Sappy memory or favourite Sappy year?
I’ve been to all of them, and loved them all in their own peculiar ways. I don’t know if I feel comfortable choosing a favourite. Well, actually, Charles Bradley and Arcade Fire: that was maybe the best festival that’s happened anywhere, ever. There have been different charms every year, and they’ve all been undeniably magical, but they’ve blended in my mind a little.
I had the most fun at Sappy last year, because I didn’t pull my weight. I was just enjoying being there, and it was fucking awesome. There’s always a lot of stuff going on in the background of everybody’s life, but what’s beautiful and important is that we’re there and bring it together each year.
There’s obviously a lot of excitement surrounding the Constantines’ show and reunion. You’ve already played at Field Trip in Toronto, how was that? Why did you guys want to come all the way down here?
When we talked about doing shows again this year, we decided it would be fun to play Sappy. A lot of the other tour decisions were based around bus schedules and that weekend.
We actually did a kind-of-secret show in Guelph a couple days before Field Trip in Toronto. It was at Kazoo! Fest, a small grassroots festival. It was great, it was the kind of context we’re comfortable playing in, like Sappy. It’s neat to see other festivals following suit. Sappy’s a bit of a trailblazer for festivals like Arboretum and Field Trip.
What can you say about your book, which is a collection of your lyrics? Do you feel weird about seeing lyrics as poetry or poetics instead of as lyrics? They’re the same words, obviously, but putting them on the page separates from the context of music and live performance, and I imagine that affects how you and others read them.
It’s a collection from the past few records. It’s concrete and done, I’m looking at a box of them right now. It came about through a friend’s small press, and I’m incredibly nervous about the fact that I’ve done it. I was dragging my heels on finishing my manuscript. If I had to do it all by myself I wouldn’t have had the nerves; it’s liberating and necessary to have someone else believe in something enough for you to do it.
It was an interesting project and process to think about songs in that context of poetry. This was kind of a learning project, and it’s really exciting to have done it, even though it’s all work that’s come out before. The process of taking lyrics from a song and putting them on a page is an interesting one: even though they’ve already existed as songs, they’re also poetry when you write them down.
In some ways the idea and structure of a song gives you a framework that’s easier to work with. When I write poems it’s hard to know when it’s done or finished, but with songs it’s done when it’s over, you know? Whereas on the page, obviously there are forms and structures to consider, it seems like it’s a lot more concrete. Playing with form, whether with music or art or writing, seems to be popular these days. It’s like, is that all there is? Only form? I don’t get it, I’m way too invested in living in the world and talking with people and stuff. Exciting things happened when we talk to each other. Communication is not isolated. And with songs in particular, I can use as many specific things from my life as I want, but at a certain point the only thing that matters is finishing is the song… It doesn’t matter if it’s a perfect reflection of my life or what I’m doing. Maybe 90 percent of the lyrics are from my life, but sometimes the voice of the song arrives at a conclusion or ending that I didn’t have or didn’t actually happen to me. I think songs have to have their own integrity separate from life.
Playing songs as musicians, we get to do it over and over again. Poetry doesn’t have the same frequency in my experience. I really like the idea of live performance and creating a work that can be reinterpreted and be a kind of living thing that you get to revisit and re-enact. And there’s not those apparent equivalences of being a folk singer or being punk rock if you’re a poet, it’s harder to do it on your own.
All this to say, I’m terrified of putting the book out.
What show are you most excited to see this year?
COOL. I put out a record for Apollo Ghosts, and I’m super excited to see them play. They don’t leave Vancouver very often. I also want to see Ought, who I haven’t seen before. And then there’s the usual faves: getting to see pals and stuff.
Steve hits the Vogue as Baby Eagle, Sunday at 5:00PM, and again with the Constantines on the mainstage at 11:00PM.
Baby Eagle performing Rebel Crimes in St. Johns, NL.
We're slowly updating our Satellite Activities page with exciting things to check out during your time at SappyFest. We're happy to have Sean Michaels back for another year to recap the festival with the Sappy Times, City Mail out hand delivering your letters of love, Universal Dawn, the Kids Corner Power Jam, and Outlier Film Festival presenting the animated feature, Asphalt Watches.
More to come!
Our favourite weekend of the year is fast approaching and it's shaping up to be the one to beat. Tickets are moving very quickly and many side stages have a limited capacity (as does our mainstage) and there will be a cap on how many passes we can sell. We strongly recommend snatching them up!
We can't wait to see you all. xo.
Weekend and Day Passes are available here, via TicketPro.
Julie Doiron needs no introduction for anyone familiar with SappyFest, Sackville, or the last decade of the Canadian music scene. Doiron cofounded SappyFest in 2006 as an offshoot of the Moncton label Sappy Records. Since then, she has played nearly every year of the festival, appearing as a solo act and as a member in many other bands and collaborations. This year Julie plays with her newest Sackville supergroup Weird Lines. The band features a slew of both Sackville staples and recent imports. Weird Lines is symbol for Sappy’s own mantra: get all your friends together in one place, play music, have fun, and repeat next summer.
We sat down with Julie at the Black Duck Café last week to chat about Sappy's history, songwriting, and how to have a perfect Sunday.
SappyFest has always been a giant family reunion, even for newcomers. This year’s theme is “Bring it On Home,” which is suitable as it features many Sappy Record originals such as yourself and Michael Feuerstack, and reunion shows from the Constantines and Shotgun & Jaybird. What do you think this year will have to add to the family reunion kind of feel that Sappy is all about?
Last year had gotten big, and maybe it wasn’t going to happen this year. The first couple years were really small, and it doesn’t have to be big to be fun. In some ways we’re going back to the beginning, scaling back, returning to the original idea. And it’s always good to have a rebirth.
It’s good to do whatever feels right, to scale it back if it’s getting too big or out of hand. Sappy has always had a good gut instinct, and is good at doing what feels right.
You’ve always been very involved in Sappy, how has your relationship to the festival changed over the years?
I was more of a contact or ambassador at first. In the early years I didn’t even have a computer! I’ve played every year of the festival, except for last year, because Elsie [my daughter] was born a couple days before the weekend. I’m playing twice this year. I’m excited, I like performing.
Sometimes interviewers associate lyrics with artist’s lives in a way that can seem intrusive or assumptive. Do you ever feel that people are making assumptions about your lyrics?
I don’t know if guys get asked those things too. People have had that idea about me, because a lot of my songs are personal, though some that are in the first person are not necessarily about me, they’re about friends of mine. And I think it’s normal for people to ask about that, to want to know what songs are about. Usually if the artist writes about it they’re willing to talk about it. Maybe they write about it to talk about it more.
I tend to write in a very personal way, but I rely heavily on melody [to write lyrics]. I come up with a melody first, base lyrics off of the melody, and go from there. I choose the words somewhat carefully. I try to use simple language that people can identify with. I don’t want to make it too complex. Lyrics are there so there can be a melody.
There’s no particular formula. I feel lucky for being able to write songs at all, it’s a pretty natural thing for me to do.
What’s your ideal Sunday in Sackville?
A good Sunday involves taking a walk and maybe swimming. I love being at my house and in my garden, and if I’m lucky I get to go for a swim. Even in the winter, we go to the pool and swim inside.
Who are you most excited to see this year?
The Constantines. I don’t like picking favourites, but The Constantines. That goes without saying.
Catch Julie at the mainstage on Saturday night at 10PM, and later at the Legion with Weird Lines at midnight.
Check out the latest iPhone ad featuring Doiron's track Life of Dreams.
We're back at it for another week, folks. We have Steve Haley of Banded Stilts performing an acoustic set on Bridge Street tomorrow morning at 11:00am in front of Thunder & Lightning Pub.
We'll be out in full force selling passes and offering information on all fronts.
A limited number of Day Passes are now available for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Snatch them up while you still can or grab a Full Weekend Pass.
Purchase them here via TicketPro or at our office located on the second floor of 131 Main Street in Sackville, NB.
Our headliners Cousins and the Constantines are teaming up to play a few shows this fall. Cousins recently released their Polaris Prize Nominated record The Halls of Wickwire, while the Cons are reuniting to tour across this great land. We've managed to score the only foreseeable Eastern date.
You can catch them both on the mainstage this year. Don't miss out.
The Kids Corner Power Jam is back for another year! The camp will run from July 28-August 1 and is led by some of our very own local talent including Steve Haley of Banded Stilts and Jon Mckiel. During the week the campers will form bands, write songs, make posters and t-shirts, record their songs, and perform on the mainstage.
The registration deadline is July 25th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 506 536 4878 for more information.