Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie with an opening performance by The Ollivanders

Friday 8 September

8:00 PM

Partridge Hall

Buffy Sainte-Marie Profile

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s bold new album, Power in the Blood, begins where it all started more than 50 years ago, with a contemporary version of “It’s My Way,” the title track of her 1964 debut. Its message, about the road to self-identity and the conviction to be oneself, still resonates with the Cree singer-songwriter, activist, educator, visual artist, and winner of countless awards (Oscar, Juno, and Golden Globe, among them).
Perhaps you know Sainte-Marie from her 1960s protest anthems (“Universal Soldier”), open-hearted love songs (“Until It’s Time for You to Go”), incendiary powwow rock (“Starwalker”), or the juggernaut pop hit “Up Where We Belong,” which Sainte-Marie co-wrote and Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes sang for the soundtrack to An Officer and a Gentleman.
One of her earliest classics, “Cod’ine,” a harrowing account of addiction well ahead of its time, was covered by everyone from Janis Joplin to Donovan to Courtney Love. Or maybe you remember Sainte-Marie from her five years on the television show “Sesame Street” beginning in the mid-’70s.
Whatever the case, every song and every era has revealed new and distinctive shades of an artist revered for her pioneering and chameleon ways. There was no mold from which Buffy Sainte-Marie emerged; she created her own, ripened from experiences in both her head and her heart.
Power in the Blood is a follow-up to 2008’s acclaimed Running for the Drum and only her fourth studio release in more than 20 years. Although just because you don’t hear from her for long stretches doesn’t mean she’s not playing. Quite the opposite. Sainte-Marie’s creativity is always in motion, and her passport’s always in hand, touring for lectures and performances around the world with her high-octane backing band. She records only when she feels like touring, and currently Sainte-Marie is taking center stage around the world, including North America, Europe and Australia.
Her latest record is an honest reflection of Sainte-Marie. The hallmarks of her catalog – the eclecticism and compassion she brings to each album, oblivious to genre boundaries and production trends – are in glorious bloom here. It’s the Buffy you know and love, and it’s geared for contemporary audiences.
Throbbing to a techno beat, the title track was originally written and performed by the British band Alabama 3, of whom she is a fan. It’s safe to say Sainte-Marie makes it her own. She wrote new lyrics, turning the song inside out and reconfiguring it as a potent antiwar statement: “When that call it comes/ I will say, no no no to war.”
“Sometimes people tell me, ‘Oh, you’re such a warrior for peace,’” Sainte-Marie says. “But I’m not a warrior at all. What I represent is new thinking about alternative conflict resolution. That’s quite different from the war racket and quite possibly a real step to a safe future.”
Power in the Blood also includes odes to the sanctity of life (“We Are Circling”) and the splendor of Mother Nature
(“Carry It On,” a song so euphoric and empowering that it should be taught in schools and performed at the Olympics). Hungry for songs of substance, Sainte-Marie also found inspiration in UB40’s “Sing Our Own Song,” which had been closely associated with Nelson Mandala and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and put her own powwow spin on it.
“Farm in the Middle of Nowhere” is her sweet confession of what her life is like these days, with a country spirit she describes as “rockabilly Hawaiian.” “Ke Sakihitin Awasis” is another love song, this one specifically for the Native culture Sainte-Marie has unflinchingly spotlighted as a humanitarian and world-renowned musician.

The Ollivanders

The Ollivanders are an original jam band from Six Nations of the Grand River and Caledonia, ON that formed during a contentious land claim dispute between their two communities. Band members include Martin Isaacs (Mohawk), lead guitar and vocals; Ryan Johnson (Oneida), bass; Ryan Mickeloff, percussion; and Roxanne Rendle, rhythm guitar and vocals. Choosing friendship, collaboration, and harmony over the discord, racism, and conflict that darkened their world they emerged as an authentic new generation voice in the Aboriginal and Canadian music scenes. With music that delivers a classic rock vibe featuring infectious hooks and melodies the band’s premier album Two Suns won the Native American Music Award for “Best Rock Recording.” Kenny Lee Lewis, virtuoso guitarist of the Steve Miller Band for 30 plus years, took notice, praising The Ollivanders’ debut, stating, “…the dry in your face vocals and honest delivery harkens back to the garage bands of the summer of love…and protest…and a new paradigm shift in social consciousness.”

The band’s music reflects an eclectic mix that ranges from rock, 55 Little Spiders (reached #1 on National Aboriginal Music Countdown) and Dear Mr. Murphy (licensed by DISNEY for ESPN|ABC for prime time television on Saturday Night Football), to funk, WMWB (licensed for the premiere episode of the breakout national TV series “Mohawk Girls” on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), to rhythm and blues, Real World, (licensed for the upcoming reality television show of the same name), to jazz, Mr. PC, (an audience favourite performed live as a rocked-up cover of John Coltrane’s classic). Kenny Kirkwood, JUNO Award Winner and four-time JUNO Nominee, says of the band: “The Ollivanders deliver a sweet mix of hard rock ‘n jazz beats, original streetwise lyrics, and confident musicianship.” 

Compelled by a firm grasp and understanding of their musical influences and yet driven by their own proclivities the band has been recognized for its confident originality. As such they’ve performed at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Pan Am Games, and on national APTN music variety shows Arbor Live and Derek Miller’s Guilt Free Zone. Rob Lamothe, acclaimed singer, songwriter, and producer of The Ollivanders’ award-winning album Two Suns has high praise for the band: “While honoring the icons of 70’s rock heaviness, The Ollivanders have created their own way forward and will surely save the world with ragged brilliant music and honest words.”

The Ollivanders have been touring to enthusiastic receptions across Ontario and Quebec in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Burlington, Windsor, Brantford, and in the United States in New York and Washington, DC delivering their unique brand of music and premiering new material from their upcoming EP Forest Moon.