We're very happy to bring you an interview with Sarah Harmer this month. She's an artist I've been enjoying and actually pursuing for some time. While she's not exactly a household name yet in the States, she enjoys a wide popularity in her native Canada. There she won a Juno in 2005, in the Best Adult Alternative CD category, for her superb work All Of Our Names. She first came to light nationally with a group that sometimes included her sister Mary on bass, called Weeping Tile. Sarah grew up on a farm on what's called the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario, which has everything to do with this record.
Although it is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the escarpment is lethally threatened by the interests of the aggregate industry (sand, gravel, and shale). Sarah and her cohorts set off in June of 2005 on an "I Love The Escarpment" Tour. They hiked, climbed, and caved their way through the land, and played all of the communities along the way. The group donated all the proceeds from the shows to a volunteer research and advocacy organization that the artist helped to form, PERL, Protecting Escarpment Rural Land. At the end of that tour, they went into the studio and recorded I'm a Mountain.
Solo and with Weeping Tile (for which she was the principal writer and lead vocalist), Sarah's music has included folk and jazz, country, alternative rock and pop. The JUNO record, All of Our Names, was a masterful folk pop record that rang with greatness on first exposure. I'm a Mountain is impressive in a different domain. It is decidedly more folk, country, and bluegrass inflected. She's equally convincing electric or acoustic in a way that is reserved for the few. The album is, coincidentally, musically timely and should widen the inroads she has steadily been making throughout the States and abroad.
As I mentioned, I have been pursuing the artist for quite a while. But, understandably, her high-powered NYC publicity firm wasn't turning any cartwheels in our direction. Truth be told, I'd never received any response whatsoever from numerous requests for an interview. Undaunted, I went to see her play recently in Nashville. I'd dropped by the club to purchase tickets in advance, in case the show sold out, but the box office wasn't open. I was too early for a dinner date, so I sat in the car listening to a song. Just then I looked out the window and Sarah was walking by with a band mate. I hopped out and introduced myself, and told my story, such as it was. She was very nice, and took a card, said she'd check it out and drop me a line. Luckily, I was to see the band soon again, at SXSW in Austin. She and I said hello sidestage while she was tuning up, and I shot better video that night than in Nashville, which I hope we can share with you here (if I can find it in the SXSW footage).
The happy ending is that Sarah did get in touch later, and we had a conversation right before this issue went up. Check out the audio clips when you're done, she is a class act. After you buy I'm a Mountain, we recommend circling back for All of Our Names. continue to interview