A Gardening Club Project is the latest project by Canadian Progressive Singer-songwriter Martin Springett. A Gardening Club Project features Kevin Laliberte on Flamenco Guitar and Electric Guitar, Drew Birston – Fretless Electric Bass and Acoustic Bass, Martin Springett – Guitars and Vocals with special guest Sari Alesh – Violin on Part 2 Sister Of Theft.
“I had always wanted to work with guitarist Kevin Laliberte and bassist Drew Birston of the Sultans Of String. The new song that I was working on, Forever Leaving Home, with lyrics by Terry Findlay that inspired me to go to a new place musically and emotionally, seemed to fit Kevins’ Flamenco stylings. When Drew added his acoustic arco bass and then fretless bass into the proceedings, the dark drama of the song went through the roof. I was amazed at this musical and emotional response, so I knew we had to do more. Kevin’s stellar guitar playing is matched by his production abilities, and when the next song, Woman In the Waves, was taken to a finish I longed to find another piece that would make this project a trilogy of songs. Well over a year ago I had recorded Sister Of Theft at Kevin’s home studio, and after asking my good friend Sari Alesh to add violin, it had remained ‘dormant’ as it didn’t quite fit into the musical realm of The Gardening Club work I was doing with Norm MacPherson. The eastern rhythmic and tonal influences that were coming into the music connected all three songs beautifully. For Kevin and Drew, this is home territory! This is nothing I could have planned! Serendipity played its part once again, in life as in music.” Martin Springett
1. Part 1 Forever Leaving Home / Lyrics by Terry Findlay Kevin Laliberte – Flamenco Guitar and Electric Guitar Drew Birston – Fretless Electric Bass and Acoustic Bass Martin Springett – Guitars and Vocals
2. Part 2 Sister Of Theft / Lyrics from A Poem by Sandra Kasturi Sari Alesh – Violin Kevin Laliberte – Flamenco Guitar – Electric Bass Martin Springett – Guitars and Vocals
3. Part 3 Woman In the Waves Martin Springett – Guitars Bass and Vocals
Tracks based on Martin Springett’s demos recorded at Studio Spong Toronto Track 2 recorded at Kevin Laliberte’s studio in Toronto Bass parts recorded at Drew Birston’s studio Toronto Sari Alesh recorded his violin at his studio in Victoria BC
Mixing, sound design, string arrangements, drum programming, and production by Kevin Laliberte Arrangements by Drew Birston, Kevin Laliberte, and Martin Springett Artwork by Martin Springett
Martin Springett of The Gardening Club talks about the making of the new single “Strange Kingdom” due out this Friday, the single is from the upcoming album of the same name due out sometime in 2020
The Gardening Club is a Canadian progressive rock band that infuses many other styles of music and to create a one of a kind sound, led by UK-born and founding member Martin Springett an accomplished musician and illustrator..
The Gardening Club Martin Springett – Vocals & guitars Norm MacPherson – Guitars, keyboards & bassoon James MacPherson – Drums & keyboards
Given the way Martin has been recording in the last few years it is hard to imagine that he had basically given up in the musical area and was instead concentrating totally on his artwork. Since the reissue and success of the original ‘The Gardening Club’ a few years ago, he has been working at pace and to date there have been two albums under that band name, and he has now signed with Melodic Revolution Records for the next one, ‘Strange Kingdom’. As a taster here we have the title cut, plus “The Owl”, as a two-track single. The first song features Martin Springett on vocals, Norm MacPherson on slide guitar and James MacPherson on drums with Morry Stearns (keyboards), Peter Dowse (bass) and Wayne Kozak (saxophone) while “The Owl” is Martin, Norm and Peter.I have been a fan of Martin’s work since I first came across it at the time of the reissue, and over the last few years we have been in constant contact, and of course he kindly provided the artwork for my series of books (and has already designed the cover for Volume 4 even though I haven’t even finished collating the material yet!). That to one side, our friendship is also in a place where I can say exactly what I want about his music and know he will not be upset by it if it is negative, although given the strength of everything I have heard to date I feel that will be incredibly unlikely. Martin has a knack for bringing together Camel and Roy Harper in a way that makes total logical sense, and although he moves through different styles (these two songs are very different with sax playing a very important part in the first and being totally absent in the second), his material has a lived in style which is relaxing like a favourite armchair. In Norm MacPherson he has the perfect musical foil, someone who understands what they are looking to achieve, and together they create music which is rooted in the Seventies when it had a power and presence, far removed from the plastic celebrity of today. I am so looking forward to the full album.
London – Due to the tremendous response UK prog ensemble The Gardening Club received for the reissue of their 1983 self-titled album last year, the band has released a brand new album! The new Gardening Club album, “The Riddle” was recorded at producer/guitarist Norm Macpherson’s Garry Oak Studios in Metchosin British Columbia. This location surrounded by forest and close to the Pacific Ocean, was ideal for writing and recording the new record.
Martin Springett and Norm had known each other as young players while living in Victoria many years ago, both were drawn to the music the other was making; Norm was a phenomenal blues player even at the age of 17. Martin as a new immigrant from England, was setting Tolkien’s words to music. Two very different worlds! The connection that started the new project, was a mutual friend, a poet named Cyril McColgan. Martin had been setting Cyril’s poems to music for many years, and so after meeting up again, Norm and Martin decided it would be fun to ‘do something’ together, and Cyril’s words were the connection for them both, and a starting point for recording together. There was no thought of an album, just an exploration of Martin’s songs, old and new, with Cyril’s words. The tale grew in the telling, to quote somebody or other, and when Gonzo Multimedia re-released the original “Gardening Club” album from 1983 in October of 2017, this inspired the recording sessions with a new hope that perhaps Gonzo might well be interested in this new Gardening Club project.
The shape of the album grew and changed as players appeared, miraculously you might say, that seemed to be a perfect fit for Martin’s music. Norm’s son, James MacPherson brought in his phenomenal drum programming skills, as well as some very effective synth solos. Sean Drabitt, a highly respected jazz bassist, came in with fretless electric bass, to provide a unique underpinning to the songs, Sean’s first love being bands like Rush and King Crimson. Wayne Kozak, with a wealth of studio experience over the decades, provided beautiful soprano sax solos. Finally, Norm Macpherson, an award winning guitarist gave the album it’s ‘second voice’, after Martin’s heartfelt vocals, his signature soaring, slide guitar. Norm also produced and engineered the album, giving it a shape and focus sound wise that again complemented Martin’s songs perfectly.
The art that Martin Springett created for the album was actually a compilation of images created over a year prior to the recording. Inspired by the very positive reaction to his Gardening Club album’s re-release, Martin explored as many aspects of The Garden as he could, and The Three Riddles came out of this fertile creative period. The 24 page illustrated lyric booklet that accompanies “The Riddle”, was the next visual challenge. Martin has always felt that the link between the visual and the musical exemplified the best of the Prog rock releases of his youth, and wished to emulate that particular specific synergy with “The Riddle”.
The band is deep in the recording of the next Gardening Cub album, “Boy On A Bike”. All the songs are written, two thirds of the album recorded. This a very different experience to “The Riddle”, where the band was learning to work together. In the new one, Norm and Martin can afford to experiment just a little more, the songs are all connected together sonically, making this something of a rock concerto. The same team has assembled plus some very cool guests, which of course changes things yet again.
Martin will be putting together videos with his art and music from “The Riddle” very soon, as well as for “Boy On A Bike”.
In closing Martin has this to impart, “Life is full of beautiful melancholy, moody mysteries, shadows and light, grand gestures, tiny life-changing moments, exploding super novas, cosmic light shows, stalled cars, love, seven year old poets, thoughts on surviving heart surgery, an homage to a brilliant female artist, the original sleep; you know the usual stuff.”
The Gardening Club features:
SEAN DRABITT – FRETLESS ELECTRIC BASS – Sean Drabitt left Victoria, Canada, in early 90’s to study Jazz bass in Los Angeles with mentor John Clayton. The next decade he spent first in New Orleans, where he worked with all members of the Marsalis family, then in New York, working with the best young players on the modern jazz scene, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner, Eric Harland and Ari Honig among them. Specializing in a hard driving hard bop informed style of bass playing. Sean recently gave several performances on the West coast of Canada on fretless electric bass with his quartet, A Tribute To Jaco Pastorious! https://www.seandrabitt.com
WAYNE KOZAK – SOPRANO SAXOPHONE – Wayne is one of the most respected sax players on the West Coast of Canada. At home in any genre of music, his improvisations are intense and melodic explorations that add immeasurably to any song he is asked to play on. Wayne ran his own studio for many years in Vancouver, Wayne Kozak Audio Productions, involved in music production, advertising jingles and soundtracks.
JAMES MACPHERSON – James began playing different instruments when he was very young, including woodwinds in a variety of orchestras, then went on to play guitar, bass, drums and keyboards in many bands. Teaching these instruments professionally, he also became involved with audio production, recording and producing albums for local bands. James brings a fresh and young energy to the music that has become an essential ingredient in The Gardening Club sound.
NORM MACPHERSON – Victoria (BC) Canada Music Hall Of Fame Inductee 2010 / Lifetime Achievement Award. Norm’s reputation as an outstanding guitarist began with his lead playing in local Victoria bands like Blues By Five and Moxie. His recording and touring credits include The Poppy Family (Terry and Susan Jacks) Skylark (with founding member producer David Foster), Burton Cummings, Roy Forbes, Connie Kaldor, The Sample Stearns Band and many years with Canadian troubadour, Valdy. Norm is also an active bassoon player with the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra, Victoria Chamber Orchestra, and The Victoria Civic Orchestra. http://normmacpherson.com
MARTIN SPRINGETT – Martin Springett is an artist, author and musician. He recorded his first album in 1969, settings of JRR Tolkien’s poems. The album was never released, but this experience set Martin on a path to combine his art and music as one effective statement. The early days of the progressive rock movement were a huge influence, especially the combined effect of art and music, as in Roger Dean’s covers for Yes. “The Gardening Club” LP, originally released in 1983, now considered a ‘lost prog classic’ by some, was the first mature linking of his art and music. After many years in the publishing industry, Martin is now committed full time to creating music and art that reflect his connection to this wondrous and terrifying place we call home. Planet Earth.
One of the highlight reissues for me last year was ‘The Gardening Club’ by Martin Springett. It had been released in 1983, but last year was picked up and reissued by Gonzo Media, and I was fortunate enough to get a copy. I reviewed it at the beginning of 2018 and really thought that would be the end of it, as I knew that Martin had become a well-known and sought-after artist. What I didn’t realize was that in the intervening years he had kept recording and writing songs, and he read my review on one site and tracked me down through another and got in touch. The result is I am now listening to the new album, which is now by a band named after the original release. Martin Springett still provides all vocals plus acoustic guitar, and he is joined by Sean Drabbit, Wayne Kozak, James MacPherson and Norm MacPherson.
As one would expect, the CD itself is visually very appealing with wonderful artwork throughout the booklet, tray card and even the CD itself. It fits perfectly with the music as well, which still has strong elements of ‘Breathless’ era Camel and Anthony Phillips (as did the earlier release), but here there are also strong elements of Roy Harper (particularly), Rog Patterson and the Strawbs. Nothing is rushed, and there is no feeling of constraint as the guys go where the music takes them, which is sometimes acoustic and sometimes electric, sometimes pastoral and at others more electric or driving. The result is yet another album that is full of melody and stylings that is more progressive in attitude than it is in sound. Although the version I have has been self-released, I am convinced that this will soon be picked up by a label which can provide the support it needs, as this needs to be heard by those who enjoy good music. There is a naivety within it that hearkens back to the Seventies, a fretless bass that provides warmth with the dexterity, acoustic stringed instruments that all strive to be heard while over the top are Harper-esque vocals that are so perfectly in keeping with it all. These are songs, real songs, not extended workouts and the album is a total delight throughout. The Gardening Club is already recording new songs for their next release, yet this has only just come out. Martin is certainly making up for lost time.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.