The Winkler Times ?? Thursday, August 11, 2016 5
Plum Coulee My Home
By Greg Vandermeulen Homegrown musical phenom Rosemary Siemens is set to launch her first bluegrass album at Plum Fest. This will give fans a one-time opportunity to hear and purchase her new album before it hits store shelves in late September. Called Plum Coulee My Home, the album is put out by Rosemary & The Sweet Sound Revival. ?It?s a bluegrass album,? Siemens said from her home in Vancouver. ?It has a lot of gospel elements in it, some country elements in it. It?s all original music except there?s two hymns on there. The album, created with accomplished producer Dale Penner, another Plum Coulee native who?s producing credits include successful musical acts such as Nickelback, is a celebration of Plum Coulee and a glimpse into the exciting life of Rosemary Siemens. (Penner once worked on the Siemens farm as a teenager). Her favourite song, Barefoot ?n Bling, tells how she in many ways lives in two worlds. ?It?s the story of me and my life,? Siemens explained. ?It?s the mixup of two worlds, being from a farm and going to the city.? The chorus says it all. ?She likes to go barefoot, wear bling Singing on a tractor, that?s her thing. When walking the red carpet, she?s still a little green. She?s a prairie farm girl and a city queen.? Siemens wrote each of her songs for the album with different writers and said the experience was cathartic. ?We would just start talking about all my experiences and then it?s like you?re going back in time and revisiting all these things.? That process resulted in an album full of songs with subject matter she is passionate about. One of those is called Bring Back the Hymn. I?m really passionate about hymns in the church,? she said. ?I feel it?s such a beautiful thing that?s being lost in churches and you?re losing part singing, you?re losing reading music.? ?The next generation won?t have these hymns and it?s just such a huge part of us,? she added. ?It?s such a beautiful part of our heritage too.? She shared a taste of that song as well. ?Bring back the hymns the old fashioned gospel how sweet the sound of times long ago.? ?It?s an old school song that just talks about how we?re losing that beautiful thing in churches today and I hope it will come back,? she said. For Siemens, it?s only when the lyrics are penned, that the musical portion begins. She said they started recording her voice and the violin. Then they added in a band, including a guitar, drums and bass. ?After that everything is added on top,? she said. That included welcoming Joey Landreth to play dobro, sending the tracks to Nashville to get banjo added, and then adding a whistler and harmonica player. ?I didn?t know what it would sound like before hand,? Siemens said. ?I was just amazed with the final product.? She did have a certain sound in mind, but said that didn?t prove to be the end result. ?My goal was to have a vibe like Alison Krauss, but I think I really created my own thing,? she said. ?I don?t think it really sounds like anything else, which I?m really proud of.? The album?s songs also include one inspired by an event that saw her cousin hit by a vehicle. Called Have A Little Faith, Siemens said it?s about savouring every moment and having the faith to see things through. ?Have a little faith. Let?s be thankful for these tender moments of grace even when you can?t see past the darkest days. Have a little faith.? Siemens said she was also inspired by songs that have been around many years such as This Little Light of Mine and You Are My Sunshine. ?I wanted to take aspects of these beautiful songs and kind of capture those feelings,? she said. The album features three part harmony and Siemens described it as ?very singable?. Siemens is excited about the Plum Fest performance. ?We?ll have banjo, mandolin, dobro, bass, drums, guitar and two people doing harmony,? she said. So where did the now big city girl get the idea to tap into her roots, with a bluegrass album? It was actually while she and her boyfriend (award winning saxophonist Eli Bennett) were out for sushi the idea came out. ?He said, I think you should do a solo album and I think you should do a bluegrass album,? she said. Only two weeks later she was approached by Plum Coulee representatives who wanted to honour her with a sign. That?s when that idea, she?d been considering since the sushi date, began to germinate. But Siemens looked for community support, wanting to give them ownership of the album that celebrates their community. With major support from Golden West Broadcasting and other sponsors, the album was born. ?Instead of just doing a CD on my own, (I thought) it would be way better to get the whole community behind it,? she said. ?(Plum Coulee) has been so awesome and I just love where I?m from and I?m so proud to be from southern Manitoba.? Working with Dale Penner proved a blessing. ?He?s so proud to be from Plum Coulee too,? she said. ?The whole thing had such a cool vibe about it right from the beginning because we were both on the same page of what we wanted, and how we wanted to capture the essence of where we?re from.? The album also includes a song about Plum Coulee written by Orlando Sukkau. Those who don?t make the concert on Aug. 20 will have to wait for another month before getting their hands on the album. ?I?m so excited to share all this music with my hometown first and to be honest, I?m not going to release the rest of the music until later in September,? she said. ?This is an exclusive release just for my home.? The album also includes work from a pair of Nashville legends, including 78-year-old fiddler Buddy Spicher and Best Bluegrass Album Grammy Award Winner Carl Jackson. ?I?m just very, very honoured to have these guys on the album,? she said. Jackson and Siemens created the song about the theft of her violin, called Priceless. Siemens is hoping people will share their excitement about southern Manitoba and the album, using the hashtag #PlumCouleeMyHome. ?The album is really about all the beautiful things about being from a small town. That?s really what I tried to capture with it,? she said. ?I just hope that message will get spread as far as it can.? Learn more at rosemarysiemens.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @rosemarysiemens.