My "Lane List" (Musical Influences)
Updated March 2014 (ongoing)
NB: If you came here from my solo harp page looking for more info on wedding music, this page won't be of much use to you; want you want is my harp music section, or you can go back to the main solo harp site.
What It's All About
This is my Lane List, a comprehensive guide to my musical influences over the years (fans of the Gilmore Girls will get the reference). All of these bands and artists have helped shape my understanding of music in some way or another, and to all of them, and to the many bands yet to come, I am infinitely indebted. I'm grateful beyond measure that if nothing else, there will always be good music in the world - all you have to do is find it.

People coming here from the Celtic Harp Page might be surprised that Celtic, Folk & Classical aren't at the top of the list, but they're here if you scroll down the page a bit. This list is by no means complete and probably never will be, and I'm sure there are things I've forgotten to include, but you get the general gist.
Getting to Know You [Newly (re)Discovered]     Albums I'd Rescue from the Fire     Old Friends

Alternative/Indie/Pop/Rock/Misc      Progressive/Trance/Ambient      Popcorn (fluffy pop)
Jazz/Blues/Big Band/Swing    The Classics (all genres)    Soundtracks/Singles/Compilations
Celtic/Folk/Acoustic/World     Classical     Early Music     General (themes, eras & ages)

Getting to Know You: Newly (re)Discovered Music
Forever falling in love all over again. How empty the world would be without new music in it! Some of these artists have been around for a while, but they're new to me.
Bill Laswell (incredibly prolific broad-reaching scope; I've just started dipping my toes into his ambient stuff), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (is that not the best name ever?), Yasmine Hamdan (if you haven't heard Yasmine sing, drop everything & go listen to her, right now), The National (how were these guys not in my life before this?), Tom Odell (you know how you subconsciously avoid someone because they're the newest hot thing? silly me; fixed now); Parov Stelar (tied with Sigur Ros as my new favourite chill-out music), Sigur Ros (nifty Scandinavian Viking chill), Soap and Skin (strange & intriguing), White Hills (I could listen to these guys for days on end without sleeping)
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Old Friends
Albums I'd Rescue From the Fire (ongoing, started Jan. 2013)
(in no particular order)
  • Elbow: Leaders of the Free World, Cast of Thousands, The Seldom Seen Kid, Build a Rocket Boys. Okay, pretty much all their albums. If I were forced to pick my five favourite bands of all time, Elbow would be near (if not at) the top of the list. From Manchester, England, Elbow is Guy Garvey (lead vocals, guitar, lyrics), Mark Potter (guitar, backing vocals), Craig Potter (keyboards, organ, backing vocals), Pete Turner (bass guitar), and Richard Jupp (drums).
  • Carol King: Tapestry. What can I say. This album has been in my bones since childhood, and it never grows old.
  • Counting Crows: August and Everything After, Recovering the Sattelites, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings. Hard to pick just one, but August and Everything After still reigns as one of my favourite albums, even after all these years. The underlying angst and yearning may have appealed to my twenty-something self, but their versatility, stellar lyric-writing, deep musical undertanding, moments of true beauty, and kick-ass live performances have kept them in my top five ever since.
  • The Rheostatics: Whale Music (both versions), 2067. Perimeter Records. One of the most unique bands in the history of alternative music, these guys are especially dear to my northern heart. Every album is different and unexpected, and their energy and creativity seems to know no bounds. To say they cover a lot of territory would be an understatement. Worth listening to every album as an album; don't sell yourself short with a jumble of single tracks from your iPod mix. Also brilliant live. As a side note, 2067 makes a great road trip companion.
  • CSNY: Deja Vu. Another bit of unforgettable musical history. Sometimes everything comes together in a perfect alchemical mix. This album did that. It will stand the test of time, when many others are forgotten.
  • Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat. The Emperor Concerto is so much a part of my soul now, that it keeps cropping up in the oddest places (the latest being a co-starring role in my novel "Fractal Theory"). I can't pick just one version of this; it's too much of a personal thing, anyhow. Listen to it live, on LP, in digital rips, wherever you can find it, and pick your own.
  • Aimee Mann: The Forgotten Arm. 2005, SuperEgo Records. Bittersweet songs that get straight to the heart of the matter. Aimee puts into words the things I can't always figure out how to say.
  • Deathcab for Cutie: Plans, Something About Airplanes. Elsinor Records. Hailing from Washington, Deathcab members are Ben Gibbard (founder), Chris Walla (guitar), Nicholas Harmer (bass), and Jason McGerr (drums). Ben Gibbard has a certain extra something that's impossible to pin down. You always know it's him (whatever project he's working on), and yet you can never predict what he's going to do next.
  • The Shins: Chutes Too Narrow. 2005, Sub Pop Records. I liked them even before I saw Garden State, when they were still just a band making the rounds on M.'s MP3 player. Chutes Too Narrow is short and sweet - too short, really. I wished it could go on much longer (although that could be said for every Shins album). Then again, maybe a little of a good thing is just what's needed. Never any wasted notes with these guys.
  • King Crimson: Lizard. Maybe because it was the first King Crimson album I ever listened to. Never before or since has a band covered as much ground between achingly sweet, haunting tunes and ear-bleeding, mind-bending discord (often within the same song). Listen to their albums whole and unsullied - each tells a story, and it would be a shame to miss it.
  • Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. My childhood would not have been the same without it. I had every song memorized by the time I was eight. It still has the power to bring back my eight-year-old-self whenever I hear it.
  • Simon & Garfunkle: Bridge Over Troubled Water. This doesn't have all the iconic timeless songs I've sung more times than I can count, but it's a pretty good start.
  • Sarah Slean: Day One (2004), Warner Music. She makes me smile. I love her huge symphonic arrangements and her pared-down minimalist ballads, her quirky, often subtly harsh lyrics and that odd little-girl voice. I have trouble listening to Kate Bush for more than a song or two in a row, but Sarah treads just the other side of the line so that I find her voice charming, rather than irritating. Kate Bush fans would probably like Sarah, though, as her handling of the musical form is equally impressive and diverse.
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Alternative & Indie Bands, International Artists, & the generally indefinable

Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys (great energy, tight instrumentals, edgy-yet-tongue-in-cheek lyrics, still evolving), Beck, Belle and Sebastian, The Beta Band, Bjork, Coldplay (don't judge them based solely on the radio-play singles; listen to them live, & check out the more obscure album tracks; there are moments of genius in there), Counting Crows, Eisley, First Aid Kit, Fleet Foxes, Garbage, Jets to Brazil (Four Cornered Night, Orange Rhyming Dictionary, Perfecting Loneliness), The Impossible Shapes (Horus, We Like It Wild; excellent stuff; hard to find in a regular record store.), The Last Shadow Puppets, Lilys (Everything Wrong is Imaginary, Selected, Zero Population Growth), Lau Nau, Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Portishead, The Postal Service, REM, The Rheostatics, Shudder to Think, Spirit of the West, Silkworm (not a band to play for your grandmother; I have to be in the right mood to listen to some of their louder stuff, as it can stray into the teeth-shaking range), Stars, Troubled Hubble (Making Beds in a Burning House, Penturbia), The Walkmen, The White Stripes, Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts (there's nothing these folks can't do)
  And in the Singer/Songwriter category:
  Tori Amos, Tracy Chapman, Indigo Girls, Nedelle (sweet voice, feel-good music, lovely singing-with-yourself harmonies), Sarah McLaughlin, Natalie Merchant, Alina Simone (sort of Bjork fused with Patti Smith; the harder edge of indie girl stuff)

Progressive / Trance / Ambient / Atmospheric

Café del mar, Califone (sorta Beck-meets-Jeff Beal, but also very much its own thing; languid instrumental layering, with banjo pickin'), The Changelings (kind of a Dead Can Dance clone, but still cool), Dead Can Dance, Departure Lounge, ELP, Genesis (the early years), Jethro Tull, King Crimson, The Microphones, Moby, Ozrick Tentacles, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Yes (mostly the stuff they did before 90215), Sheila Chandra, Kid Loco (the king of sampling), Magnolia Electric Company

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Popcorn (Good fluffy pop)

B52's, Depeche Mode (some would argue about this band being in this category; it seemed pretty dark at the time, but c'mon, it was the 80's), Heikki (Fluffy Norwegian punk pop), Human Radio (an anti-80's 80's band), Men at Work, Pearl and the Puppets (a one-girl act), Presidents of the United States of America (great energy, goofy lyrics), Spin Doctors, Tears for Fears (Songs from the Big Chair = classic)

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The Classics...

The Band, Barenaked Ladies, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, CCR, Eric Clapton, Crash Test Dummies, CSNY, The Cure, David Bowie, Dire Straits, The Doors, Dream Warriors (Canadian rap, yo), Elton John, Everclear (I know, their songs pretty much all sound the same, but it's feel good music, in a depressing kind of way), Carol King, Peter Gabriel, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Midnight Oil, Moxy Fruvous (the early years, when they had potential), Nirvana (Nevermind), Queen, The Rolling Stones, Rush, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (faux-surf instrumental genius), Sinead O'Connor, Paul Simon, Simon & Garfunkle, Tom Petty, The Pogues, The Police, Lou Reed, Santana, Steppenwolf, The Steve Miller Band, Sting, The Stone Roses, They Might Be Giants (spent one whole summer listening to Flood), U2 (this band more or less defined everything important to me for a long stretch during my teenage years), Van Morrison, Violent Femmes (we screamed, rather than sang, along with the Femmes, and revelled in the lyrics we were sure would horrify our parents), Kurt Weil (one of a kind), The Who, XTC (Skylarking), Neil Young

...and all the stuff that seeped in despite itself, altering my perception and informing my idea of music whether I liked it or not, from such diverse sources as Leonard Cohen, Stevie Wonder, Kate Bush, Iron Butterfly, The Byrds & The Kinks, to old-time country singers like Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash.

...& The Classical (see Soundtracks for more)
Mozart (fav. works include Requiem, Mass in C Minor, Clarinet Concerto, Don Giovanni), Beethoven (see Emperor Concerto above), Bach, Handel, Holst, Tchaikowsky, Chopin, Vivaldi, Liszt, Elgar // Contemporary artists: Yo Yo Ma (the cello king), Canadian Brass (you can do that with a tuba?), The East Village Opera Company // Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, Smetena's "The Moldau", Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" & "Night on Bald Mountain", Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite", Holst's "The Planets", Vivaldi's "The Seasons", Satie's "Gymnopedies"

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Celtic/Folk/Trad / Acoustic / Folk Fusion / World/New Age

Solas (often compared to Capercaillie, I get a similar vibe from them. Good, solid, Celtic fusion, drawing on trad and modern elements), Rudiger Opperman, Afro-Celt Sound System, The Paperboys, Simon & Garfunkle, The Chieftains, Tannahill Weavers, Jez Lowe, Alain Stivelle, Allison Krauss, Natalie McMaster, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Silly Wizard, Anuna, Clannad, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, SteelEye Span, Kitaro, Mike Oldfield, Enya, J.M. Jarre, Enigma, Outback, Malicorne, Lothlorien, Ashley McIssac (the good early stuff that mixed trad and rock; before he thought he should sing on his albums), Loreena McKennit, Scartaglen; harpists like Grainne Yeats, Grainne Hambly, Emma Christian, Mary O'Hara & Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, Konono (gripping, raw, trance-like music; electric likembés equipped with hand-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts, and plugged into amplifiers; a rhythm section using traditional and makeshift percussion, three singers, three dancers and a sound system featuring megaphones.), Ladysmith Black Mambazo

...and all the old campfire and protest songs that were transmitted orally over the years (originally written by folks like Cat Stevens, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, the Weavers, Stephen Foster, Harry Chapin... you get the idea)

Jazz / Blues / Big Band / Swing

Nina Simone, Greg Brown, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, the Marsalis brothers, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gilespie, Joni Mitchell, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Louis Armstrong, Glen Gould (definitely an alien), Scott Joplin, Glen Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson, Pat Metheny, Holly Cole, B.B. King, Jay Bennett

...and all the Classic Blues artists who recorded onto wax and vinyl, got paid next to nothing, and forever changed the way the world listened to music, like Robert Johnson, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Blind Lemon, Leadbelly, & Howlin' Wolf

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Soundtracks / Singles / Collections
These bands or musicians may not always spin my plate, but sometimes a particular song or album makes you do a double take. The songs have a habit of sticking, and the soundtracks are the kind that bear re-listening.
Modern Composers: Jeff Beal (did the soundtracks for Rome and Carnivale, two excellent and disturbing HBO series), Howard Shore (LOTR, The Hobbit), Bryan Tyler (currently defines the word "epic" in my mind), Patrick Doyle (scored a lot of Ken Branagh's movies), Michael Andrews (Donnie Darko), Murray Gold (composer for the new Doctor Who), Hans Zimmer, Christopher Gordon (Master & Commander), Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Ennio Morricone (needs no introduction), David Arnold & Michael Price (composers for the Sherlock series), Gilbert & Sullivan (what can I say, I was crazy about musicals when I was a kid)
Soundtracks to: Only Lovers Left Alive, Cowboy Bebop, O Brother Where Art Thou, In the Name of the Father, Last Temptation of Christ (P. Gabriel), The Mission (E. Morricone), Until the End of the World, Chess, Bladerunner (Vangelis), The Blues Brothers, Twin Peaks, Due South, Northern Exposure, Romeo + Juliet, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (truly trippy movie, surprisingly good music)
Singles: Joan Osborne's "One of Us", The Devlins "Waiting", "Calling All Angels" (Siberry/Lang)
Compilations: Music for Our Mother Ocean, Alternative NRG, Passengers

Early Music (incl. Composers & Performers)

Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738), The Baltimore Consort (for showing us how much fun early music can be) (...& Lots more to come)
  • 12th - 13th Century music for plainchant and deceptively simple yet seriously spooky medieval harmonies
  • 14th C. - early 15th C. for amazing vocal arrangements, and the Llibre Vermell
  • 15th C. music for maddening polyphony and complex rhythms that make your brain leak out your ears (makes for a good musical workout)
  • 16th C. music for the madrigals, which are good for keeping your sight-singing skills in shape and can have a wicked sense of humour (even if you are singing "hey nonny nonny" and "fa la la" an awful lot), and for great dance tunes
  • ...and all the excellent monks who keep up the tradition of Gregorian Chant (even though the actual medieval chant may have been done quite differently), and all the countless varieties of ancient trad music that's been around absolutely forever, in places like India, Hungary, Russia, and Buddhist monasteries around the world

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  • Baroque and Elizabethan music, because you can feel really classy playing it even if you're in jeans and a T-shirt picking at an old acoustic guitar.
  • Celtic music for reminding me that the oral tradition still lives and that music should primarily be fun and shared with others; and for introducing me to the magical Celtic languages (Gaelic, Welsh, Irish), and the traditional singing styles of Puirt-a-beul and Sean-nós
  • 50's & 60's rock 'n' roll (Roy Orbison, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker, etc.), 60's & 70's soul & funk (get your groove on baby), & real old time gospel music (the kind that makes you want to jump to your feet and sway and clap your hands, even if you don't believe a word of that g*d stuff)
  • All the classic musicals that I loved as a kid, both the stage and screen varieties
  • And finally, all the music that I liked at some point and either can't stand now or roll my eyes whenever I hear it, stuff that was cool and is now cheesy, stuff that was brand new but got old really quickly. From Stan Rogers, The Go-Go's, Katrina and the Waves and James Galway to the ubiquitous 1980's bands and artists that surrounded me as I was struggling through school as a teen, to countless other songs pumped out over the airways via commercial radio stations across North America from 1972 to the present

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