Yellowknife violinist and vocalist Andrea Bettger is set to release her second album, Bush Chords, on Friday at a pandemic-safe concert.
Bettger, who first moved to Hay River in 2003 before relocating to Yellowknife in 2008, says the album’s tracks are based on her adventures in the North.
“The inspiration for these tunes comes from the stories that I’ve gathered over my years of living in the Northwest Territories,” she told Cabin Radio.
“Everything from the creatures that live here to the birch season that my family participates in every spring, sunsets that I see from Jolliffe Island, and stories from travelling on the road when I used to teach youth fiddling programs in the communities.”
Bettger said the word “chords” has a double meaning in the album’s title, referring both to music made in the bush and the cords by which wood is measured.
All songs on the album are composed by Bettger, with one co-composed by Pat Braden and two co-composed by Tracy Riley.
Bettger released her first album, Snappy Days, in 2018.
“You work on it with your band, develop all kinds of different layers and intricacies within the tunes themselves, and they come alive with your group,” she said.
“Then you can capture that and share it with other people. I think I felt like my storytelling through music needed to continue.
“Once you get through the process once, it’s a really wonderful experience. It’s a lot of work, but the rewards are great.”
Most tracks on Bush Chords were written during Bettger’s Banff residency in September 2019.
The album was recorded in Lady Smith, BC and features Yellowknifers Ben Russo, Al Bee, and Pat Braden, along with musicians Kinji Fusé on viola, Eli Bender on cello, Shanti Bremner on banjo, and Adrian Dolan – who also produced Bettger’s two albums.
“This time around, we were together just doing this project for 12 days,” Bettger said.
“So in that way, I think we really gelled as a group. We lived together, we played music together, we shared, you know, even just getting to know each other in the band a little bit better.
“The fondest memory – and why this concert is pretty special to me – is the inclusion of a bigger sound like all these strings. That was kind-of emotional for me because it’s sort-of like this thing from my past that was super important to me.
“I always loved chamber music, playing with other strings. Bringing that into my sound and into my band was really thrilling and emotional for me.”
Bettger said Friday’s album release concert, starting at 8pm, can only be attended by watercraft. Saturday or Sunday are standby nights in case of bad weather. Ropes will be set up to help paddlers and boaters maintain their position and stay six feet from others.
“I’m feeling great about it. The music is ready. We’re pumped. We’re excited,” said Bettger.
“When Covid first started, there were a couple months there where it was hard to find motivation to get that violin out of the case and keep playing – feeling kind-of lost and not knowing where anything was going, what sort of direction artists should take.
“So now having this project and having the CD release, it’s forced me to get back into it and it really feels great.”
The album is available on all major streaming platforms, while hard copies can be found at Yellowknife’s Down to Earth Gallery, Gallery of the Midnight Sun, and Weaver and Devore.