Carmen Townsend hits Moncton stage tonight

It has been a long, hard road for Cape Breton rocker Carmen Townsend, but when you talk to the musician, she doesn’t sound the least bit bothered.

Townsend has been making music her entire life, though that responsibility has taken a couple of turns for the better over the course of the past couple of years.

Not only is her debut effort Waitin’ & Seein’ (released nationally on Jan. 25) among one of the most highly anticipated rock releases from the east coast in recent times, she has also been fortunate enough to be hand-picked to open for legendary band Heart during their upcoming Canadian tour.

Oh and did we mention she spent her Christmas holidays touring Australia, which is effectively their summer season?

“Our tour of Australia was great,” she tells the Times & Transcript from Toronto. “We had been there for the first time this past June but the major difference heading there this time was the fact that our record was done and released!”

The enthusiasm in Townsend’s voice is evident in that last statement and for good reason. Her new album can certainly rock with the best of them these days yet for all of the loud guitars and confidence found in these new songs, there is a vulnerability to Townsend’s vocals to remind you that she is human after all.

“Some of these songs were born in my brain and heart when I was living in Toronto five years ago. I was playing in another band at the time but I wasn’t really feeling it and knew that I would eventually go on my own and make a solo record.

“It’s funny – it actually seems like a surreal thing to me to actually have my record coming out. This record has kind of been a Snuffleupagus-type of scenario for me,” she laughs. “I have been telling people that the record has been coming but I never had proof until now!”

When talk turns to Townsend’s upcoming tour dates supporting Heart throughout Canada, you can’t help but get the impression that the opportunity Townsend is being presented with just hasn’t sunk in yet.

“EMI Music distributes the label I am signed to for Canada and various people at the label have been following my career to date. It turns out that they had pitched me to Heart’s team as a potential opener for their tour. I’d check in with my manager every once in awhile to see if he had heard anything and then eventually kind of forgot about it,” she recalls.

“Then we were in Vancouver just a few days ago, trying to get over our jet lag and sleep at 4 in the afternoon and I got a phone call from my manager and he said ‘You got it – you got the Heart gig!’ And after a few choice swear words that I’m sure aren’t fit to print, I cried, laughed and screamed about it,” she laughs.

“But then he told me that Ann and Nancy had copies of my record and were actually the ones who made the final decision. Digesting that alone is hard enough!

“I’ve been on the road a long time, had a lot of ups and downs and not knowing when and where this record was ever going to come from but to be going on tour with Heart is totally insane and awesome. Everything has just come full circle for me.”

Catch Carmen Townsend in the relatively cozy confines of the Manhattan in downtown Moncton tonight before she returns to the Hub City opening for Heart at the Moncton Coliseum on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

Article published in January 21, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript