Jarrett here! The dog days of summer are upon us, we’ve just returned from Revelstoke where for the second summer in a row we were lucky enough to perform to an incredibly receptive crowd at The Revelstoke Street Festival. Thanks to those who came out and to the Revelstoke Arts Council for bringing an unique mountainside town free music all summer long. We sincerely appreciate being a part of it, it's a hard place to watch fade in your rear-view. But all things must pass and home was calling.
And thusly, we drove back to Vancouver after a bit of sight seeing and probably the best breakfast I've ever had. It was a surreal journey that found us weaving in and out of a thick haze of smoke. We rode on beneath the watchful eye of a strange, orange moon/sun cautiously mystified by the thing in the sky. It was striking and worrying all at the same time, another August and the west coast once again swallowed by fire, blanketed in its cloud, under the spell of climate change. Our hearts go out to those who have experienced evacuation and loss - but I digress.
As the band gears up for a couple big upcoming shows, one at The Imperial in Vancouver Saturday, September 1st the other Friday September 14th at the Kaleido Festival in Edmonton, we want to share our first Fun Fact Friday! And like a debut should be, this one is special. It goes out to someone very close to me who we all admire deeply. Someone who flies with the birds and swims with the salmon. August 19th was my sister and our bandmate Jess Lee’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIS, WE LOVE YOU! And may that love long outlive this blog, and the internet, and so on and so forth...
Jess’ first gig with The Long War came when we opened up the Q Stage at CBC Music Festival 2017 in Toronto. We were fresh off winning the CBC Searchlight competition, had just returned from Banff after recording some songs off our debut album Landscapes as well as writing a tune commissioned by The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity with Royal Wood for Canada's 150th. To set the stage, we we're opening for some big acts like Iskwe, Sarah Harmer and Serena Ryder. The great Tom Power was playing host, with his blundstones stones strapped tight and Canadian tuxedo resting cooly atop his plaid shirt - he could have stepped to the mic with a banjo and easily been mistaken for one of us. Yes, he's that cool. We were nervous. It was a beautiful sunny day, there were new fans, old friends and family anxiously waiting, we were being filmed and interviewed. There was even a t-shirt cannon! The first cannon fired sent a piece of our precious merch that we could barely afford, tightly hand rolled by Chad himself, flying far over the crowd's heads and into the depths of Lake Ontario forever lost in the weeds. "No free shirts today folks" I remember Tom possibly saying. They were only to shoot one. Bad luck... I recall the pressure too well, we had played around six shows up until this point as a four piece and zero as a five. We were in the Big Smoke, far from our familiar vibes and with wide eyes and foolish hearts we stepped to our respective instruments and gave it all we had. It's a bit of a blur but somehow having Jess up there calmed things. She brings us together musically and spiritually. Our sound has grown to depend on her in many ways but its her integrity and strength we all know and admire. And ever since that fateful, premiere Jessica performance with The Long War, we knew we had found the missing piece (side note, during Searchlight one of the judges Dan Kanter advised us to get someone on keys - we listened. Thanks for the pro tip Dan!) Since Jess joined the band we’ve never looked back and we never will. After finally stepping off the Q stage at the CBC Music Festival in 2017, after the adrenalin wore off and the dust settled we all agreed something special lay ahead. Jess always reminds us of that, keeps us the course. She's a special person.
I never thought I’d play in a band with my sister. Looking back I was always intimidated by her talent. But I now feel safe and empowered with her around and I think we all have learned something from her in one way or another. Jess connects with people, looks into their soul, listens with great intent and teaches in such an easy, captivating way how to be open. How listen. She waves at birds and speaks to trees. I love that about her. She’s overcome a lot in her life. I’m very proud of her for that. She makes me want to be a better person and reminds me to embrace that I'm an artist, the thing I've struggled the most with in my life. She is the glue, the protector, the magic in The Long War's sound. So again, happy birthday Jessica Newton Lee. Thank you for putting up with all of us (especially me) and for leading by example and constantly being there for us all. Here's to my closest friend, The Long War's coolest band member and my little sister so wise beyond her years. I’m lucky to have you along on this musical journey. See you at the next show. Love always, your Brother.
PS - if anyone has a lead on a t-shirt cannon, please let me know. I have unfinished business.
Stay connected with The Long War for more FUN FACT FRIDAYS by following us on our Facebook Page and Instagram at @thelongwarband. We will be in Vancouver September 1st to perform and celebrate at the Small Town Artillery's Album Release Party! Hope to see you there to connect and have a great night together in person! Tickets here.