Bush Chords, Andrea Bettger’s new album, premiered in Yellowknife’s Back Bay in perhaps the most Northern fashion possible with a paddle-in concert launch earlier this month.
The album, a mix of instrumental and vocals, is inspired by the stories of Bettger’s own Northern experiences.
“Animals that live here, the sunsets that I experienced out on the lake, the birch syrup season in the spring, all stories from my experiences through music,” she said.
Most of the songs on the album were written while Bettger completed an artists in residence program at the Banff Centre for the Arts, she said. When she returned to Yellowknife in the fall, Bettger and the band rehearsed and traveled to Ladysmith, B.C. in January to record.
While Bettger says her favourite track on the album depends on the day, one highlight from Bush Chords was playing with a string quartet.
Since she played a lot of chamber music growing up, a form of classical music often involving a string quartet, Bettger says it’s a kind of marriage of two worlds.
“This one from the past playing classical music with a string group, and then now, having a band and and having those two things exist together, being able to write the transcriptions for the string group, and then have that join in with what I’ve been working hard on in the past bunch of years with the group here in Yellowknife.”
A string group joined Bettger and band at the Back Bay concert on Aug. 10 as well, so they could recreate for a live audience what had been recorded in the studio.
Even though the idea for a paddle-in concert was a way to maintain a proper socially distant audience while having a live performance, Bettger says that they hope to make it an annual event, “Covid or not.”
“It’s just a beautiful way to play outside,” she said. “The way the sound carries across the water and sitting in a canoe, if I were in the audience I’d love to do that too. Sit in the water and watch people up on the dock play.”
Between her Bush Chords concert, Buskers in the Bush, and playing for Leela Gilday at the Wiliideh site on the Yellowknife River, Bettger has been able to play three live shows in the last few weeks.
“It’s given me a lift, for sure,” she said. “You can’t compare playing online stuff. Actually having reactions and seeing people’s faces brings energy to what you’re doing.”
Bettger will be performing again at a livestream concert featuring Carmen Braden hosted by the Northern Arts and Culture Centre on Aug. 29.
Bush Chords is a 13 track album, but the band recorded 15 tracks and two will be released in the fall as singles. One song, called Getting the Kids to School on Time, Bettger hopes to release on the first day of school. The other she anticipates will come out sometime in October.
Bush Chords is available on all major streaming platforms and albums can be bought at Weaver and Devore, the Down to Earth Gallery, and the Gallery of the Midnight Sun.