The MusicNerd Files Edition #18

Ben CaplanIf music could somehow make our winter disappear, we would be basking in summer-like weather in February instead of wearily anticipating when we’ll be pummeled by a snowstorm.

Sloan, The  Tenors, Collin Raye, Nova Scotia’s Acres & Acres and the Cancer Bats are but five of the varied acts that will pass through an atypically busy February in Metro Moncton.

Here are a few highlights that I recommend checking out:

■ Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers perform at Plan B Lounge, located at 212 St. George Street, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 9 p.m.

2012 was a banner year for Ben Caplan and his band The Casual Smokers. The group racked up seven Music Nova Scotia Award nominations for their latest record In The Time of the Great Remembering while also undertaking a seemingly ceaseless tour schedule that brought him across Canada and Europe.

“2012 was a breakthrough year for me. I did five trips to Europe and played countless Canadian shows, not to mention going to Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Music Festival,” Caplan says. “I got to play at the top of the CN Tower in Toronto with Joel Plaskett and got to appear on the CBC program Q with Jian Ghomeshi.”

“If I had to pick one experience that stands out over the rest though, it would be a gig I played on an island in the North Atlantic called Vlieland, which is located just off the coast of the Netherlands. I was playing a festival called Into the Great Wide Open. It is kind of like Europe’s answer to (Sackville music festival) SappyFest. The stage I was playing on was an art installation in and of itself. It was a little stage in the middle of the forest with a clearing that fit about 300 people. About a thousand people showed up though, giving us one of the buzziest shows of the festival. The crowd went nuts for the set, and the rest of the time we were on the island, the rest of the band and I were treated like royalty. It was the best.”

Caplan notes that his tour schedule is already rather full for 2013. He anticipates being on the road from now until the end of April after which time he will begin recording his next record. While he is looking forward to getting back into the studio to record the highly anticipated follow-up to In The Time of the Great Remembering, he is also anxious to continue bringing his music to audiences everywhere.

“I am already booked in 12 different countries this year with more bookings continuously coming in. It’s going to be a battle to get some time off on the east coast, but I am looking forward to continuing to put my music in front of people, as well as release some new material and work on some new collaborations.”

■ On Monday Feb. 11, The Blind Boys of Alabama will be performing at Casino New Brunswick. Tickets start at $49.50 plus taxes and service charges. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 and online at www.casinonb.ca.

The Blind Boys of Alabama were formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. The vocal group got their start on the gospel circuit playing churches and auditoriums right across the United States. They made their recording debut in 1948 and have since gone on to perform with a diverse range of talent including Ben Harper, Peter Gabriel and Prince.

The group’s most recent record, Take The High Road, was overseen by rising country music star Jamey Johnson and features the talent of Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys and more.

“Out of all the records that we have done together, this has been the most natural,” Blind Boys producer Chris Goldsmith begins. “The connection between the material, the Nashville guests and the Blind Boys felt like destiny. Somewhere in history, these two almost identical styles of music — country and gospel — went their separate way. This record brings them back together.”

Although I do not anticipate any unannounced guests joining the Blind Boys on stage at Casino New Brunswick later this month, the group’s dynamic and varied catalogue of music should make for an unforgettable evening of entertainment.

■ Ian Gosbee’s newest record is entitled Life Gets In The Way. For information on the artist or to hear song samples, check out Ian’s home on the internet at www.iangosbee.com.

Ian Gosbee is nothing if not prolific. In the past two years, the singer-songwriter has released three full-length albums. The first record, Music, was released in June 2010, followed by Invisible in January 2011. The end of 2012 saw Gosbee release his latest effort, Life Gets In The Way.

A former member of Moncton-based bands Sproll and Old School, Gosbee shares that his more than 180 shows he had played in the previous year helped shape the material on Life Gets In The Way.

“With my most recent record, the project was based around acoustic guitar and piano,” he says. “Having played 180 shows per year that really help me to develop my own style in the singer-songwriter realm.”

Gosbee has no Moncton dates set at the moment, but keep tabs on him at www.iangosbee.com.

Article published in the February 1, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript