Ann Vriend (Canada) is a very regular and very welcome visitor to Australia and this week she’s touched down in Sydney to kick off a month of shows that will take her south to Tasmania and north to Queensland — with appropriate stops along the way.
In between set-list writing, sound-checking and dress-up* for the show, Ann took some time out to talk with me about weather, Aus-stray-lee-an pronunciation, more weather and suburb names. And music.
* When Ann came back in for the show, I dead-set wondered who was this elegant woman who looked like she was off to the races. And why was she waving at me from across the room?
I’m blaming it on jet lag.
*** Audio file will be removed at end February 2020 ***
Bill Quinn: When we have people who tour here from overseas, we have some who come here once and then we never see them again. And then we have others who tour here and they keep coming back, and back, and back again.
As a pundit and a punter, I’m totally OK with that. I’m sitting here with one who keeps doing that, and we’re very happy for that: Ann Vriend from Canada, hello and welcome?
Ann Vriend: Helloooo, and thanks for having me.
BQ: So, this would be something like trip number six, or something like that?
AV: No, it’s… well, I have to do math… but it would be eight, because my first was 2005 and I’ve come every year.
BQ: Every single year?
AV: Yeah. In your summer – that’s not by accident!
BQ: I tend to talk about weather, but what have you left behind you in Edmonton?
AV: Just before I left, we got about a foot of snow in one night. By the time it’s March, I’m a little bit over snow. So, if you go to my Facebook page, you can see the ‘before I left’ snow pictures, and the ‘after I left’ view of Sydney Harbour with palm trees.
BQ: So for the next few weeks, there’s going to be lots of pictures you’re sending back home in strapless numbers…
AV: Oh, I already posted a picture at the beach, like “Ha ha! I might not be rich, but there’s some perks to my job!”
BQ: Before we get off weather, you were talking about maybe leaving the boots and the coat behind. You’re going to be finishing up in Mt Beauty in April; I’m going to suggest that it may getting a little bit chilly.
AV: Well, I think it’s a bit humorous what Australians think is ‘chilly’, because in my city it got to minus 40 [degrees Centigrade] this year. That’s chilly. But I’ve got these cowboy boots; they function as winter boots when it’s not too crazy.
BQ: Everything is relative!
Now, let’s talk about your music. When you left us last time, Love And Other Messes was out. How’s that been going?
AV: Really good.
I’ve toured it a lot to lots of places around the world in the last almost-two-years now. In the meantime, I’ve been working on another album I’ve started working on this past June, doing little bits here and there between tours. And it’s about 60% finished now. So it’s going to be out in September, but we’re doing pre-sales of it on this tour, with bonus tracks for people who buy the pre-sale, so they will have music that won’t even be on the album. So if you get in on the pre-sale, you get extra-special stuff.
BQ: Name of the album is?
AV: Don’t know yet. That’s not the name of the album! I don’t know yet.
BQ: Will you be taking suggestions throughout the tour?
AV: Um, yeah, maybe. I’ve got a couple of ideas. I’ve got a title in mind, but now I’m not quite sure if the song that title is from is going to make the cut of the album, so it remains to be seen.
BQ: You’re doing about a month here; are there places you’re going to on this tour that you haven’t been before?
AV: Let me just think about that for a second.
I’m going to Sandgate up in Brisbane. Maleny, I’ve never been to Maleny.
BQ: Oh, beautiful spot.
AV: I’ve been to Woodford, but is Maleny in Woodford, or vice versa?
BQ: It’s sort of due north.
AV: And Sheffield in Tasmanina.
BQ: You’re doing a lot in Tasmania, aren’t you?
AV: Yeah, actually I was lucky enough to get hooked up. Do you know David Ross Macdonald from the Wa… the Waifs? [Ann pronounces it on a second grab in a perfect Australian accent.]
BQ: I definitely know the name. And well done! [on the pronunciation]. Do that again!
AV: You know how I know how to say that in Australian? You say ‘wife’, like as in ‘husband and wife’, and you just put an S on it. “The Waifs [Way-iifs]”!
BQ: That’s brilliant!
AV: Corb Lund taught me how to do that. Do you know Corb Lund from Canada? So, David Ross Macdonald is the drummer from The Waifs, and he is also a brilliant finger-style guitar player, a brilliant guitarist and singer-songwriter. And a good friend of mine.
And he put me on to this guy who is from the band called the Violent Femmes: Brian Ritchie, the bass player and founder of the band. He hosts this thing called ‘Jazz At MONA’ in Hobart, Tasmania. So I’m doing two gigs there. And I get to meet Brian Ritchie.
BQ: You may need your coat: it’s either droughts or flooding rains down there. Or horrendous bushfires.
AV: Kind of sounds like the end of the world a little bit. It’s the edge of the world, maybe.
BQ: I should stop talking about weather in interviews, because there’s so many more interesting things to be talking about.
Over the thirty days, do you get a bit of time off? Are you going to be able to enjoy the tour as well?
AV: Here and there, like a day here or a day there. And my sister’s coming. My sister lives in Malaysia at the moment – she’s a teacher there – and she’s coming in her school’s Easter break to Australia to accompany me on part of the tour, so we have a couple of days off in Tasmania. ‘Tassie’.
BQ: Tassie [with a slightly more Australian twang]. The trick is to keep your mouth just a bit open. It’s so the flies don’t get in.
AV: Tassie. Taaah-sie. Taaaaaah-sie.
BQ: A big hello to all our listeners and readers in Tasmania!
In previous tours, you’ve kept us well-entertained with a series of, shall we say, misadventures. Do you have backups? Do you have spare sets of keys? Do you have triple road insurance? What mitigation steps have you taken?
AV: I’ve tried to stay as organised as possible! I’ve already had one misadventure in the two and a half days I’ve been here. I went to the wrong train station for my rehearsal, and my rehearsal wasn’t at that train station that I went to. It was at the one that the address said!
But in my defence, I had jet lag. The address was in the neighbourhood of Marrickville, and the address was Sydenham Road, so I went to Marrickville Station when I was supposed to go to Sydenham Station.
BQ: That’s the sort of mistake I’d make.
AV: So then I got out at Marrickville Station and according to map, I was supposed to see Sydnenhak Road right there. And I asked four or five people where Sydnenham Road was, and they all said, “I don’t know”. And I thought, “How would you not? Aren’t you walking on it?”
BQ: Once again, you’re opening your mouth too much. If you had have said, “Sydn’m Rd”, they probably would have gotten that.
AV: Oh! Right.
I guess that’s right I didn’t pronounce it “Synum Rd”.
BQ: Yep. Swallow it.
AV: Mark told me it’s two syllables: Syd-Num.
AV: And I said, “Sigh-den-ham”.
BQ: Ann, it’s an absolute pleasure to see here again. Now, if you come to Ann’s gigs, not only does she have the CDs, the pre-sales for the next album, she’s doing a line in merch: you can actually buy jet lag. It’s got… no, I’m just making that up.
AV: No, but it’s kind of like, ‘My cat ate my homework’.
BQ: Ann, good luck on the tour, and thanks for joining us.
AV: Thanks for having me!
*** Audio file will be removed at end February 2020 ***
Ann Vriend’s 2013 Australian tour dates
Friday 22nd March 2013 – Private concert, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 23rd March 2013 – French’s Forest, NSW (house concert) SOLD OUT
Sunday 24th March 2013 – Sebel Harbourside, Kiama, NSW
Wednesday 27th March 2013 – Bulli Heritage Hotel, NSW
Saturday 30th March 2013 – The Stage, Hobart, Tas
Sunday 31st March 2013 – Jazz at Mona, Hobart, Tas
Monday 1st April 2013 – private rural house concert, Tas
Tuesday 2nd April 2013 – Skwiz Cafe Gallery, Sheffield, Tas
Friday 5th April 2013 – The Upfront Club, Maleny, Qld
Saturday 6th April 2013 – Music by the Sea, Sandgate, Qld
Friday 12th April 2013 – Albert Park Yacht Club, Vic
Saturday 13th April 2013 – Candelo Music Festival, NSW
Monday 15th April 2013 – venue TBA, Wagga Wagga, NSW
Wednesday 17th April 2013 – private concert, Jan Juc, Vic
Thursday 18th April 2013 – private concert, Geelong, Vic
19th to 21st April 2013 – Mt Beauty Music Festival, Vic