Ann Vriend is always a popular visitor to Australia at about this time every year.
The contrasts between frozen Alberta, Canada and sizzling Australia are rarely more stark than in January/February. So Ann can hopefully leave the tissues and cough syrup behind, and look forward to sandy beaches, dazzling coral reefs, and the inside of a string of popular Australian venues on her ‘For The People In The Mean Time’ tour.
On an afternoon when frying eggs on the pavement in rural Queensland was definitely an option, Bill Quinn spoke with Ann from her sick bed in Edmonton, as she was putting the final touches on her tour, and readying to hop on a plane the following week.
It was a baking hot day in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland, and the only place to get a half-decent phone signal was from the front deck at Maleny Hotel, battling the sound spill from rumbling trucks and other traffic on the main road through town.
*** Audio file will be removed be the end of March 2020 ***
*** Audio file will be removed be the end of March 2020 ***
Text of the interview with Ann Vriend:
Bill Quinn: I’m standing in Queensland. That’s where Ann Vriend is going to be in the not too distant future. It’s currently 30C but feels like 35C, and tonight it’s going to get down to a very chilly 22C. This is what Ann has got to look forward to when she heads to Queensland by way of Adelaide.
Let’s say hello, all the way from Edmonton, to Ann Vriend.
Ann Vriend: Hello, people of Overheard Productions.
BQ: And Australia!
AV: And Australia, yeah. I’m very excited about the weather, I’ve gotta say.
BQ: Ann, it’s been quite a year for you, hasn’t it? A lot of recording for one thing.
AV: Yeah, I released an album in March  which I was completing over two years up until March. Not two years straight, but two years between when I started it and when I completed it.
And then I was in the studio with another band, and then I was in the studio last week with an amazing producer who taught me a lot, taught all of us a lot, actually. And then I was in the studio in Germany in the fall as well.
So yes. The answer is ‘yes’!
BQ: So a lot of recording and, as you mentioned, Europe. You’re spending more and more time over in Europe.
AV: I am. I was there four times in 2014. That’s a lot of being on airplanes, but yeah, it’s going good. I like it there a lot.
BQ: How’s the Dutch coming on?
AV: Um, weeeell, it’s funny because I’m spending a lot more time in Germany than I am in the Netherlands, even though my heritage is Dutch. My parents both speak Dutch and I have a Dutch last name and passport, but I don’t really speak any Dutch. I’m getting to know more and more German, which is funny in a way. But that’s how it’s going.
BQ: That’s not a bad thing because they are rather receptive to your music, aren’t they?
AV: Well, so far, yeah.
BQ: People from Australia and elsewhere notice that you can go to Europe and tour, and you can go very short distances and cover a lot of ears and CD-buying audiences, rather than Australia where you have to cover some mighty distances as you are, between Brisbane and Cairns and back again.
AV: Yep, exactly. When people decided to make Canada and Australia what they are, they did not talk to touring musicians. That obviously wasn’t a major concern, because it would have to have been, “You have to have the cities spread far apart”.
BQ: Have you been to Cairns before?
AV: I never have. I’m excited about it. The furthest north in Queensland – in Australia – that I’ve been is Mackay, to a little festival they have outside of there.
AV: Ah, yes, Wintermoon. So, Cairns is quite a bit further than that and I’m excited about that. I’m going to see the Great Barrier Reef, which I know is a very touristy thing to do but I’ve never done it.
BQ: It’s a wonderful thing, and at the rate things are going, it’d be a good time to go and see it now.
AV: That’s what they’re saying, being an opportunist, I guess.
BQ: But apart from that, you’ll get a lovely reception in Cairns because it is far-flung to the north, but it is also extremely well-populated by discerning music and arty types, so you’ll go down a treat.
AV: Really? Oh good, I didn’t know that at all.
BQ: It’s got a really, really healthy arts scene going up there, and a lot of people are adding it to their tour lists which is great.
AV: Oh, Ok, cool. That’s exciting to hear. I’d heard there were crocodiles, I didn’t know there were artists.
BQ: And on this tour, you’re going to have some extra assistance on the ground here in Australia too.
AV: Yes, that is exactly true. David Hand Productions; they’ve been great. So we signed a contract to work together. [Coughs loudly.] I am a little bit allergic to contracts. No, I have a bad head cold that will hopefully be fine by this time next week.
So they’re helping me out on the ground with tons of stuff and, in theory, that means that I don’t have any typical Ann Vriend misadventures.
BQ: You realise that, in Australia, we call that ‘putting the mockers on yourself’. You really are asking for trouble by saying that!
AV: Yeah, right; I’m knocking on wood as I’m saying that.
BQ: Ann, you’re going to be here for a bit over a month, starting in – I never know how to pronounce this – Thebarton down in Adelaide.
AV: I don’t know either. When I get there, I’ll ask.
BQ: That place. It’s actually pronounced ‘Sydnenham’*. No, it’s not.
And then finishing up at the Cobargo Folk Festival, so it’s a fairly hectic itinerary you’ve got.
AV: Yeah, I’m going to Perth as well. I’ve never been to Western Australia either, so I’m covering some distance on this tour. I’m only in WA for three days.
BQ: You’ll make a lot of people very happy because unfortunately Perth is one of the forgotten places on many international tours, and they get very excited when visiting artists add Perth to their itineraries.
AV: Yeah, I wanted to every time but it was never financially possible until reasonably recently, so I’m excited. I’m staying with somebody who lives five minutes from the Indian Ocean, and when he wrote that I went, “Oh yeah, a different ocean! I’ve never been on that side; that’s amazing.”
So, I don’t know; I’ll see if the water looks any different.
BQ: You may be more familiar with this living on the western side of Canada, but when I went to Perth, seeing the sun set into the sea in Australia was a bit of a new thing. It’s good to get different perspectives.
AV: Oh right! I hadn’t thought of that.
BQ: Ann, as the traffic builds up here on Maple Street, as my schooner of XXXX heats up in the sun, and with Happy Hour about to finish, it’s time to say looking very much forward to seeing you here. Enjoy the cold, and look forward to getting rid of that head cold when you get out to Australia.
AV: Yeah, exactly. Happy ‘Happy Hour’ to you.
Tour dates for Ann Vriend in Australia in 2015:
Saturday 24 January – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 29 January – The Reef Casino, Cairns, Qld
Friday 30 January – Sovereign Resort Hotel, Cooktown, Qld
Saturday 31 January – The Reef Casino, Cairns, Qld
Sunday 1 February – Brisbane Jazz Club, Fortitude Valley, Qld
Thursday 5 February – Tallai, Qld (house concert)
Friday 6 February – Mother’s Milk, Sawtell, NSW
Saturday 7 February – Sunset Studio, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 8 February – Ellington Jazz Club, Perth (WA)
Tuesday 10 February – Fremantle, WA (house concert)
Thursday 12 February – Paris Cat Jazz Club, Melbourne, Vic
Friday 13 February – Dodges Ferry, Tas
Saturday 14 February – Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tas
Saturday 14 February – Mountain Mumma, Sheffield, Tas
Sunday 15 February – Old Hepburn Hotel, Hepburn Springs, Vic
Monday 16 February – Bendigo, Vic (school concert)
Thursday 19 February – Django Bar, Marrickville, NSW
Friday 20 February – Smith’s Alternative Bookshop, Canberra, ACT
27 February to 1 March – Cobargo Folk Festival, NSW
Keep tabs on any changes and additions at Ann’s gig page.
Oh, and if you missed last year’s ‘Ann And The Epic Passport Saga’, you can relive it here.