In summer of 2009, I attended a four-day songwriting workshop in Wells, BC offered by the Island Mountain Arts Society, the same folks who host the annual Artswells Festival each summer. An old friend Ken Hamm, who performed on my first album, Roll Me a Dream… was also delivering a guitar workshop and this was a great time for us to catch up. Wells is the nearest community to Barkerville, home of the Cariboo gold-rush and close to the world-famous Bowron Lakes canoe route.
My first visit to Wells was in 1980 when I was living on road and traveling throughout western Canada performing. I performed at the Jack of Clubs Hotel in the pub and met a number of interesting folks including an old miner named Lucky Swede. The Jack of Clubs burned down in a spectacular fire several years ago.
In the thirty years since, Wells has blossomed into an alternative community of artists and musicians. Many of the old buildings have been restored and painted in bright colours. Several artisans display their works throughout the town in a number of galleries, including one that was once an old church.
The workshop was hosted by David Francey and Craig Werth, a great tunesmith and guitarist who often accompanies him and held in the local school. A wonderful group of songwriters met each day to showcase their songs, and under David and Craig’s direction, paired off to collaborate on new material. Each person work with two others and several great new compositions resulted. I worked with Scott Cook from Edmonton, and also with Carl Johnson — a non-musician from Quesnel who had never attempted to write a song or lyrics before. The song Carl and I wrote, called Just One Note was one of the pieces one this compilation.
Cameron Catalano recorded most of the sessions and, with everyone’s approval, worked on re-recording and collecting the pieces for Hearts Swells. He released the CD in 2010 on his own Gladgnome record label and is now available for purchase or digital download from iTunes.
The recording is special to all of us, in part, because two of the participants Tempest Gale and Mike Webb have both since passed away and some of their songs are on the album. A portion of the proceeds from the sales go to the Artswells festival in appreciation for their efforts to bring great music to everyone.