Glasgow Square holding songwriters’ circle with Wempe, Mikol and Mae

Amanda Jess
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NEW GLASGOW – Getting thrown into a room with a bunch of strangers to write together can be a strange experience for musicians, unless they already know, love and respect each other’s work. 

That’s the case for Kim Wempe, Carmel Mikol and Ria Mae.

“It’s fun because it’s different every time, depending on who you’re playing with,” Mikol says.

Wempe, Mikol and Mae are all part of a songwriters’ circle at Glasgow Square this week.

Although none of them are unfamiliar with intimate performances, it is a first for the trio to perform together.

“Songwriter circles kind of come with the genre,” Mikol said.

It is not only a chance for New Glasgow to experience talented writers. It’s also a great opportunity for three friends to catch up.

“I am a genuine fan of them both. They are both hilarious and I'm excited to have a great excuse to spend more time with them,” said Mae. “It's hard being touring musicians and trying to get solid friend time in sometimes.”

They plan to do a lot of harmonies on each other’s songs, as well as collaborate beforehand over sleepovers and wine, Wempe said.

Each musician brings something different to the table: Wempe, a one-of-a-kind East Coast meets deep-south voice; Mae, an unmatched dry and self-deprecating wit combined with relatable lyrics; and Mikol, the ability to make a song sound like the world’s next greatest classic novel.

“We’re all really individual in our approach,” Mikol said.

The two-show collaboration, the other being in Windsor on Saturday night, is only one small part in a busy year for all three.

Wempe, based in Antigonish, has spent seven months on the road, promoting her latest, “Coalition.”

So far, it’s working. She earned herself two ECMA nominations, one for Fan’s Choice Video of the Year for “Never Promised You Nothing,” and the other for Pop Recording of the Year.

She describes the album as having a “white horse sound.”

Her first two records, “Where I Need to Be” and “Painting With the Tides," were folk and East Coast inspired, she said.

“Coalition” doesn’t come from a particular place. It’s different, and a reflection of recent musical trends.

“There’s a huge Americano rootsy vide on CBC, and that’s what I was listening to.”

Wempe is modest about what makes the album worthy of an ECMA nomination, but she’s happy to see her work with producer Chris Kirby is getting recognized.

“All I can say is we did the best we could. I really love the sound of it.”

Although she’s has been nominated and won in the past, it is new territory in terms of the categories.

Mae is also familiar with the ECMA scene.

She won for best Pop Recording of the Year with “Under Your Skin” in 2012.

The Halifax-based singer-songwriter has been working with Classified for several months on a new album, including the single “Leaving Today,” which was nominated for a Music Nova Scotia award.

“We recorded a new project and will be announcing the release of it very soon. I'm really excited about the new songs and can't wait to play some of them at Glasgow Square.”

Mae spent some time in the United States touring in the fall, and did an Eastern Canadian tour for Chris Velan’s album release.

“The whole thing was a lot of fun. I am, however, always happiest at home,” she said

Mikol is halfway done her third album, a mixture of folk, traditional Celtic, and Neil Young-like contemporary songs. 

“I’m looking forward to getting it done and out there,” said Mikol.

The half Cape Bretoner, half Haligonian is a three-time ECMA nominee as well as the 2011 grand prize winner in the John Lennon International Songwriting Contest.

She’s also spent a fair amount of time touring in the past year, including shows with Wempe in the Maritimes and the U.S.

Tickets for Wempe, Mae and Mikol’s show in the intimate Green Room on Feb. 28 are $18 for members, and $20 general admission.

They can be purchased at the Glasgow Square box office from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, at or by calling 1-888-311-9090.

The show begins at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: East Coast, New Glasgow, Windsor Antigonish United States Cape Bretoner

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