Sarah Harmer


http://www.sarahharmer.com/
My friend gave me a Tarot card reading over the phone one night as I was watching TV with a guitar in my lap.

"I've drawn a mountain," she said. "I'm a mountain," I said.

So began a song that became the title track of my new record. Most of these songs have been milling about in my mind for a while now, some I started writing back when I put down the electric guitar and ding-digga-dinged my way through summer on the back porch. All of them live in the same wide frame and seem to belong together.

I am Aglow, the Ring, I'm a Mountain, these are tunes inspired by country music and bluegrass bands, singing for the joy of it, and telling new versions of old stories in song. The Phoenix builds on the themes of courage and regeneration and the inspirational How Deep in the Valley came from somewhere deep in the hymnbook of my memory. Down low in the picture frame (under a log) is Salamandre, a children's song written by my friends Kate Fenner and Chris Brown. I am thrilled that this modern classic can be part of this collection as it expresses my own love for the magical and precious amphibian and the time-honoured relationship between nature and imagination.

Luther's got the Blues is my old pal Luther Wright's enduring scruffy sidewalk lament, and Dolly Parton's Will He Be Waiting For Me lives in the world of lost love and yearning that I, too, know something about. I wrote Goin' Out for an AIDS vigil and I am so happy to have my dad singing it with me. He also lends his warm and wise timber to Oleander.

And finally, casting its glow over the entire record is the new folk song Escarpment Blues. Escarpment Blues tells the story of a current land-use conflict in Southern Ontario on the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. I grew up on the escarpment on the farm where my family still lives, within a long green corridor that is prized for its fresh water resources, its endangered species habitats, its prime agricultural soils and its wetlands and forests. These lands are under serious threat from the aggregate (sand, gravel, shale) industry. The problem is that large multinationals companies want to open new quarries on top of the escarpment and extract the rock below these ecosystems, thereby removing and destroying them. So, after writing the song, I got the idea for the "I Love the Escarpment" Tour and set out in June 2005 with some of my best musical mates to hike the escarpment and make music along the way.

Julie Fader (vocals, keys), Jason Euringer (vocals, stand-up bass), Spencer Evans (clarinet, accordion), Joey Wright (mandolin, guitar) and I hit the Bruce Trail (the continuous hiking trail that goes from one end of the escarpment to the other) and spent two weeks rock climbing, caving, hiking, and performing in theatres and community halls along Southern Ontario's spine. All proceeds of the tour went to help finance the research and advocacy work of Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (PERL), a volunteer organization that I helped form last winter when the new quarry proposal came to light in my old stomping grounds of North Burlington. After a wonderful tour we put away our hiking boots and we went into reaction studio in Toronto to capture these songs, all wrapped in up our camaraderie.

This record was made for everyone, everywhere. Like the smiles we had on our faces when we made it, we hope it spreads far-and-wide.

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