Singer returns to his roots in Olds

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Blake Reid celebrates film, music in town

Locally raised country-folk singer Blake Reid is coming to Olds this Thursday, Feb. 22, to show his band’s award-winning film, No Roads In.

After the showing, which takes place at the TransCanada Theatre at 7 p.m., the band will perform.

And after that, they’ll do a kitchen party-style performance during an after party at Tracks Pub.

The film, which depicts a five-day recording session in an abandoned farmhouse, won best documentary at the Las Cruces International Film Festival in New Mexico, best music at the Manchester Film Festival in England, and best cinematography at the Scruffy City Film & Music Festival in Knoxville, Tenn.

The film and album were made in late 2016 in an abandoned farmhouse near High River.

The house is located “in the middle of an ocean of wheat with the mountains in the background; a fantastic location,” he says.

“It was a very cool, old house that hadn’t been lived in since 1939. It was built in I think 1903. It had a short lifespan but it had been sitting empty for that long, so we were the new life in this old house,” Reid says.

“We didn’t even know what to expect. We just went into this old house. They put cameras on us and miked us for five days and did a music documentary.”

Reid got the idea for the project from an audio engineer while working down in Nashville.

He says he didn’t really look too hard for an abandoned farmhouse in Mountain View County.

“Because of where the film crew was from and the visuals with it being in the wheatfield I kind of defaulted to the film guys to have the setting,” Reid says. “I looked at the place from an acoustic standpoint and yeah, it fit the bill, so we did it there.”

The house was so deteriorated that in places, you could see the outside landscape from cracks or holes in the walls.

“That was the whole beauty of the project – that we fought the rain and hail and wind and storms, and all that ambient sound contributed to the recording. So there’s songs where you hear the crickets in the background as we’re playing,” Reid says.

“There’s one song we did – it’s called Last Harvest – and we actually put a microphone right in the middle of the wheatfield and we recorded it with the wheat.

“And that particular day, there was no wind and so we actually had the guys in the band – because it was an acoustic song – they played the wheat in the song. So they had their hands in the wheat to kind of mimic the wind.”

Reid describes the music in the film and on the album as “country-roots.”

In general, the songs are about his family, their history and their relationship to the land.

“It’s country-roots. It’s definitely a folk element, but has country. It’s storytelling through music,” Reid says.

“My grampa bought the farm from Wilf Carter in 1956, I believe. Just east of Cremona,” he adds. “Handshake deal, no paperwork, for 40 steers a year for seven years.”

The idea was a back-to-basics approach and a return to the old days.

They played acoustic instruments, processed what they recorded to tape and are releasing the songs on vinyl first.

Reid says that was a breath of fresh air – a departure from the “plastic” environment of the controlled recording studio.

“It was almost like a catharsis out there. You realize ‘oh, this is what I’ve been missing,'” he said. It’s like kitchen parties when we were kids. You just have fun.”

“We fought the rain and hail and wind and storms, and all that ambient sound contributed to the recording. So there’s songs where you hear the crickets in the background as we’re playing.”
BLAKE REID
LOCAL MUSICIAN

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.