Betty Burke

AM signals from a parallel present

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Taking it All Back, Now (Austerity Measures): four free songs by Betty Burke

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Taking it All Back Now: photo by Jennifer Rowsom

“Taking it All Back, Now: Austerity Measures.” Four Free Songs by Betty Burke.

“No Drums No Masters!”

It’s not an ideological slogan- it’s a sign of the times. Musical austerity measures. Forgo the rehearsal space and cars that real drums require, and just lay it down with some cheap beats from a rented drum machine. As usual, the songs are all based on true stories. Low Budget- even lower than last time! But rich with imagination.

About the photograph: Jennifer Rowsom took this shot. I pitched it to her as a “feminist art project.” I’ve also re-enacted this shot with my theatrical collaborator Stephanie Markowitz. I love the musical genealogy of the original image by Daniel Kramer. In staging this version, I hoped to pay proper homage to the roots of each of the songs and to my artistic community, as well as to place the songs in historical context. Radioactive fallout is still a concern, but now the cover story on the magazine is about peak oil and climate change. On the mantle Bo Diddley, the originator, presides over all of the music that descended from his inspired playing. Beside Bo, there is a piece of art by Will Munro. Will passed away around the time I wrote “When the Wind Blows,” and the song reflects upon time spent with both him and with the writer Adam Gilders, as they were each dying of brain cancer (Adam died in 2007.) Will’s Vazaleen and Peroxide parties were the well from which my own musical community sprang. Among the records on the floor there is one anchor piece from the original album cover we’re aping (a special thanks to my father David for finding that, it’s rather rare!)

For more of Jennifer’s work:
jenniferrowsom.com

Songs (c) 2010, 2011 by Maggie MacDonald (SOCAN)
Recorded and Produced in 2011 by James Bunton at his home studio
Mastered by Matt Smith

The Players:
Jo Snyder: Guitars
Maggie MacDonald: vocals
Sheila Sampath: keyboard, shaker
Paul Mathew: Bass
with backing vocals by Jo Snyder, Sheila Sampath

Thank yous: Cribbing from Fugazi we’re going to leave it at a simple “Thank you.” Imagine how many friends Fugazi had? We probably don’t have as many, but, imagine?

1. The Man in The Middle

This is an imaginary duet. At our gigs Gentleman Reg often sings this with me.

2. No Sympathy

When I’m feeling down, I throw on Between the Buttons. Picture it, track one- Let’s Spend the Night Together. And it’s skipping. Then the phone rings…

3. When The Wind Blows

Every era has it’s plague. I knew a guy with a lot of friends, then pestilence came. Some friends became activists and caregivers, others walked away.

The lesson of the plague is that the person with the pamphlet doesn’t always “answer the call.” Very often it’s that seemingly apolitical person who, when called by thoughtless, selfless “brotherly love,” does the right thing at the right time.

I know a guy, he’s got a lot of friends
Now let me tell you about his Problems
pestilence comes and grabs him by the collar
Who will come running when he Hollers?

Guilt is a cargo with no value
Competing regrets shout and argue
I pull my weight in Guilt and I press on
Slowed by my doubts and questions

Caught at the crossroads, watching
My mistakes shake, resonate
Making waves until the bridge breaks
If I cross, will I be saved?

When the wind blows
When the wind blows
Then you will know
Only then you will know

I stop in my tracks to read me a letter
From 79, signed “Pliny the Elder”
Sayin’ “Things will get dark before they get better
Don’t look back, at your creator

He told of a hole where a servant died
With Caligula’s stamp by the seaside
Best laid plans dissolve in Messianic time
When the lava runs down the rock No one can hide

The song of the wind I mistook for wise laughter
The sound of the leaves, an accident of matter
The angel of history only sees looking back
The debris of catastrophe is piling up fast

When the wind blows
When the wind blows
Then we will know
Only then we will know

4. The Giver and The Taker

You can outrun punishment, but you can’t outrun the judge.

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Betty Burke EPs available at Soundscapes & Open Roof Fest tickets available online

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Just a quick note to let you know that the Betty Burke EP “Dirty Mouth of the St Lawrence River” (Blocks Recording Club) with zine is now available at Soundscapes, 572 College Street, Toronto.

And tickets for tomorrow’s Open Roof Festival show with the film “Trigger” are still available online! UPDATE: It was a great night- thanks to the organizers and everyone who shared it with us!

Thanks and xo
BB

Dirty Mouth of the St Lawrence River – review and release party

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Blocks Recording Club and Betty Burke are celebrating the release of our first EP, “Dirty Mouth of The St Lawrence River.” There is a great review of the release in NOW Magazine this week, which highlights the song “You Can’t Wear Suede in The Rain” (from our moviette) as the top track.

On Friday, we’ll be celebrating the release with a special show at Holy Oak Cafe in Toronto (1241 Bloor Street West.) Sylvie, Jonas and Tim will play an acoustic Evening Hymns set. BB will then take the stage with special guests Holly Andruchuk, Shaun Brodie and Jon Hynes joining us to play the songs they helped bring to life on the EP.

Last night, with the help of our friends Teresa, Lauren and Dana, the band took a time machine to 1995 to assemble and number the “Dirty Mouth” zines, and stuff the discs into silk screened vellum envelopes. The envelopes were printed by Cheryl Cheung, whom I recommend highly for your all silk screening needs.

For the curious, I will be posting some notes about the songs and the artwork shortly. Both elements are based on true and “epic true”* stories from the St Lawrence Seaway, and are part of a larger song and story cycle that will be revealed in due time, so stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting, and see you again soon!
BB

* By “epic true” I mean ‘true’ but not necessarily factual- elements of exaggeration, myth and metaphor may be used to deliver certain kinds of knowledge, difficult knowledge, wisdom, all the stuff that’s hard to express.

We made a moviette

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We made a short film for our song “You Can’t Wear Suede in The Rain,” which will be on the forthcoming EP Dirty Mouth of The St Lawrence River. The film was written and directed by Joseph Clement and Maggie in collaboration, and the song was produced by James Bunton with BB. Have a look!

On Saturday, February 5th, Canadian Dimension Magazine is throwing a little release party for the moviette, in Toronto. We’ll do a set around 11pm. (Send us an email at bettyburkeband (at) gmail.com if you’d like to come.)

“You Can’t Wear Suede in The Rain” is partly a homage to Marian Engel’s 1976 novel Bear, a forgotten feminist classic from the CanLit cannon. The film stars Shaun Brodie, John Power (in disguise), Keith Cole, Anthony Hill, Holly Andruchuk, and Maggie. On the track you’ll hear Holly Andruchuk’s guitar, Maggie singing with Holly, Shaun Brodie on the Farfisa organ (Sheila’s), and Jon Hynes on bass.

Thanks for visiting.
BB