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December 2008, Year in Review

Hello!

December is a busy time of year for everyone, but it's also a time to take pause to reflect on the previous twelve months, look at what lies in the year ahead and reach out to friends and family.

For me, 2008 has been an incredible year in music!

This year started with a visit from my Norwegian bassist and right-hand man Arthur Holoien who joined my drummer Derek Loewen and I at Little Bullhorn Studios to record all the bed tracks for my newest album. Hence, 'Monsters' was born! For the following six months, I traveled across Ontario for a series of mini-tours where I met a variety of wonderful people and shared the stage with amazing musicians, and played a few weddings and local corporate events!

In early July, Arthur accompanied me for what turned out to be a grueling two-week summer tour in Canada that was kicked off by a show at Raputin's Folk Café in Ottawa. Little did I know that I'd be the last person to play that well-known folk music institution before it was destroyed by arsonists within an hour of us leaving. What a loss for the Canadian Folk Music scene! My heart goes out to Dean Verger who invested decades of blood, sweat and tears to provide people with a place to perform and enjoy live music.

As soon as we returned from the tour, I flew to Paris, France to visit my good friend Mélissa Laveaux and get some much-needed r'n'r. I then joined Arthur in Oslo, Norway for a few weeks where we played a few shows with cellist Eirik Roald, finished the album with producer Marius Gengenbach and spent time with old friends and new. Norway will always be a very special place for me, personally and professionally. I miss it greatly and can't wait to get back, whenever that may be!

The fall was insanely busy with a quick visit with my family in Alberta, and four days in Ottawa to iron out logistics for my CD release and play the Golden Cherry Awards before heading to Toronto for a week to sit on Ontario Arts Council Popular Music Grant jury and play a few shows in Southern Ontario.

After receiving the multiple boxes containing copies of my CD 'Monsters' that loaded down my car for a few weeks, I sent hundreds of copies to community and college radio stations across Canada, the United States, France, Britain, Belgium, Germany and Sweden before heading back to Alberta for a quick CD release tour and Thanksgiving dinner with my family (sadly missing the birth of my first niece by four days), and returning to Ottawa with an hour to spare before playing a friend's wedding!

A major highlight for me was the big CD release show on October 16 in Ottawa at the prestigious National Arts Centre 4th Stage where Jupiter Ray Project opened and I was backed by a full band (featuring Derek Loewen on drums, Steve Tippet on piano, guitar and clarinet, Ken Kanwisher on cello and Chris Breitner on double bass)! When I moved to Ottawa five years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would one day play there, nevermind backed by such a stellar group of players!! I was so nervous before the show (I play over 50 shows/year - I never get nervous for shows anymore), that while getting ready I couldn't understand why my fake lashes wouldn't stick to my eye lids! Only when I looked down did I realize that I was not using glue, but rather my cat's eye infection ointment by mistake! Luckily, my eye did not turn purple and fall out of my head! And once we started playing, the nerves subsided and we put on a spectacular show. I was over the moon! (It also helped that moments before I stepped onto stage, I was informed that 'Monsters' had just received a nomination for Best Folk Album of 2008 by the Ottawa XPress.)

The past two months saw me accompany a 6-day run of a new play produced and performed by the Ottawa Chamber Theatre Company, do some studio work for local musicians, perform more shows in Ottawa, continue to liaise with print and television media nationally and internationally, flirt with music labels and distribution companies (I signed a non-exclusive distribution deal with Record Runner two weeks ago!), apply for grants and music festivals, write new music and get ready for 2009.

I'll be ending the year with a bang as I'm sharing a double bill with Mélissa Laveaux (http://www.myspace.com/melissalaveaux) at Zaphod's in Ottawa on December 28 to celebrate her homecoming! Tune in to CKCU and CHUO as we'll be doing a series of radio interviews next week!

So far, 2009 promises more amazing adventures! I'm set to record with a few more local projects in January and will fly to Austria to play the International Accordion Festival in Vienna on March 8th. I am hoping to record the bed tracks for another album in June so I have something new to release in late fall or early 2010. In the meantime, I plan on touring as much as possible to support the release of 'Monsters,' with monthly weekend tours of Ontario and Quebec (I've already started booking dates all the way into May) and hopefully a couple of major tours across Canada and in Europe.

Phew! Life is never, ever boring, and I'd never have it any other way!

I just wanted to personally thank you all for your kindness, love, friendship and support of my music. I wouldn't be able to do this without you. I look forward to sharing more musical moments with you in the new year!

Happy holidays,

Marie-Josée xx

PS: For those of you still searching for Christmas gifts, CDs make excellent stocking stuffers!

'Monsters' is being distributed to 14 locations across the Capital Region through the Ottawa Bluesfest Collective. Copies are now available at the following stores:

Ottawa Folklore Center
(1111 Bank St.)

Compact Music
(190 Bank St. & 785 1/2 Bank St.)

CD Warehouse
(499 Terry Fox Dr. / 1383 Clyde Ave. / 1717 St. Laurent Blvd.)

End Hits
(407 Dalhousie St.)

Sounds Unlikely
(5 Arlington Ave.)

For those of you not living in Ottawa, both of my CDs are available online via CD Baby (http://cdbaby.com/cd/mariejoseehoule and http://cdbaby.com/cd/mariejoseehoule2) and via Record Runner at select independent CD stores across Canada.

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