Latest Facebook PostTanis McPhail: Mike Butler wrote about her, Claire Colville photographed her. Read The Grapevine's Who's Who here: http://grapevinepublishing.ca
The bare facts I knew about Tanis McPhail before writing this article were: She has a beautiful voice, long flowing hair and dresses, a great laugh, a beautiful smile, a quick wit and a beautiful soul. I knew that there was nothing negative, nothing unpleasant and nothing unkind about her. This was a pretty good start, but—I’m nosey, so here’s more!
Tanis McPhail is originally from PEI, where the mud is as red as her locks. But with a dad in the military and a mother with wanderlust, she didn’t have a place to call home until she settled in Wolfville a while back. Tanis refers to Wolfville as her “heartland” and says (speaking for many) that it’s a “special place that keeps calling me back and nourishing my soul.”
Tanis has a checkerboard educational background, complete with stints in public and private schools and a healthy dose of home schooling. Her love of music took her to the Canadian Mennonite University (she’s not Mennonite but attended because they had the best program) and at the age of 16 she thought she was on her way to a career in music. Her double major in Music and Theology dropped to a single major, then a move to Acadia. Then she realized that no matter how much she loved music, it was just not her true calling. After much searching, three years ago Tanis found her passion: HERBS!
Tanis McPhail is now the proud owner of Dragonsister Herbals. She is a Certified Practicing Herbalist (CPH), which means that she’s a “general practitioner” of herbalism. She endeavors to support individuals in their journey to balance and become whole. And yes, even I need more explanation than that, so…here we go!
Tanis provides herbal consultations. She will sit down with a client for a minimum of an hour (an intake session often takes 1.5-2 hours) and take a detailed history of their health and any past and current challenges or imbalances. After chatting with the client about the details of any imbalances present, she will either select a natural remedy from the product line Pumpkin Moon Farms, which she keeps in stock, or compound a personalized remedy. You can find Tanis at the Farmers’ Market or at pumpkinmoonherbals.com. If you’d like to book a consultation with her, you can reach her at 678-0911 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or browse her website at dragonsisterherbals.weebly.com.
Tanis is also offering herbal workshops, including an Herbal Crafts for Christmas workshop series on Tuesday nights from November 19 to December 10. The group will be creating some lovely natural gifts with herbs and spices, and Tanis will share some knowledge of how the herbs can be used both internally and externally to aid your journey to whole health.
So how does one go from music to herbs? Well, Tanis’s mother was an aromatherapist and a massage therapist, and her father was a reflexologist and an allergy specialist, so Tanis was familiar with the idea that there were myriad paths to health. Herbalism, or more accurately the use of herbs and plants as medicine, was something that always had her attention, and she had been self-educating on the subject for over 10 years before an influential series of strong women and epiphanies visited her life.
And why does she love what she does? “Because it’s both simple and complex,” she says. “And being able to help people achieve wellness, and to empower them in their own lives, is a blessing and a privilege. I love how aware our community is, and how engaged we are as a whole. The focus on local, sustainable and ecologically responsible living has been a blessing and an education since I joined the community 10 years ago.
Outside of spreading wellness, Tanis loves to knit, read, spin, sing and play music. And she’s also exploring how to build her community, so, with her business, she’s reaching out to people in a way she never had before. It’s a beautiful, humbling experience to learn about the people she sees and smiles at every day.
Thank you, Tanis, for helping to improve the world with herbs, smiles, love and healing. All my best!
Well, this makes THREE musicians in a row for my Who’s Who column. I hope my readers don’t feel this is something I chose to do: trust me, I didn’t. But it just so happens that three very talented musicians had lots to say to me these past few weeks. These three come from different backgrounds and have different ambitions, different music styles and very different personalities. They do, however, share a common talent: creating music and entertaining audiences. I am very pleased to complete my trifecta with this great guy. Caleb Miles is his name and playing music is his game.
Caleb is a very recognized name and face in this area and beyond. I could not believe he hadn’t graced a Who’s Who profile before. Born in California but raised in New Mexico, Caleb started playing in bands when he was 15. He was a straight-A geek, but school was uninspiring, so Caleb dropped out after a year in university and devoted his life to playing rock ’n’ roll guitar. He is a 100% self-taught musician, never taking a lesson in his life (unless you count the hours and hours of tracking along to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd albums).
Caleb says, “I was lucky to have had some really cool records around the house growing up, everything from Miles Davis to Moondog to Gershwin and the Carmina Burana, as well as a few rock LPs (The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Dylan, and later-era Beatles). Throughout my life I’ve sought out new music—”new” to me, not necessarily “new” on the charts—so by the time I started working in record stores when I was 24, I already had a pretty good grasp on the broad range of styles that fed into the great explosion of art and commerce that defined the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. And I just kept feeding anything I found useful into my playing.”
After a zig-zag of events, Caleb ended up moving to Nova Scotia in 2005. He expected to retire somewhat from playing in bands and concentrate on recording, but it didn’t quite work out that way, and he ended up playing with many cool and talented musicians, including the Hupman Brothers. With that band, he got to play all over the Maritimes, record an album, win some awards, and rock the Dutch Mason Blues Festival a few times.
Earlier this year, Caleb put the finishing touches on a CD he produced for his fellow Bridgetown comrade Mark Bezanson. Now he is concentrating on putting together a Tribute To The Last Waltz concert, which will be at The Al Whittle Theatre in Wolfville on Saturday, November 23 (two shows, 5 and 8pm). This concert will feature many local luminaries, each singing a tune from the film backed by a stellar band.
The Last Waltz was a concert by the rock group The Band, held on American Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Advertised as The Band’s “farewell concert appearance”, the concert saw The Band joined by more than a dozen special guests, including Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood, Neil Diamond, Bobby Charles, The Staple Singers, and Eric Clapton. Director Martin Scorsese filmed the event and made it into a documentary of the same name, released in 1978. If you’ve seen it, you know it’s one of the greatest concert films of all time and seeing this show would be a nice companion to it. If you haven’t seen it, then skip it and see this concert first!
Rehearsals are now in progress, and Caleb is pleased to the point of smugness at how things are shaping up. Tickets are available at Box of Delights, $20 in advance and $25 at the door. And keep an eye out for future CALEB shows. Someone this talented is well worth hunting down to see live in concert. I know I would walk MILES to see him, and so should you!
Mark Riley was born into a very musical family, just outside of Dartmouth, in Lake Loon. Mark’s dad, now almost 80, has been singing and playing guitar in church and gospel groups since he was a young man. Mark, along with his nine brothers and sisters, grew up singing in choirs, gospel groups, and family sing-songs. Those musical roots eventually took him and his talent to Toronto, where he played music with a few bands and was featured in a film for the Department of Education call Know Your Rights.
Mark returned to Nova Scotia and joined the EMCA–winning Nova Scotia Mass Choir as a soloist and a tenor. About seven years ago, Mark connected with the band Shoulder to Shoulder and filled in as a drummer. He sang one song with them, and the rest is history.
Mark formed the Mark Riley Band about six years ago, and even though he’s gone through various members, it still remains one of the busiest bands in the area. P.M. Blues is another one of Mark’s bands, playing primarily blues music. The 15-piece Bluesmobile was formed in 2012 as a project band with local musician Bernie Zinck. I have seen Bluesmobile put on a show, and it is really quite incredible, folks!
You can find information about all of Mark’s upcoming gigs on Facebook. Each group has its own page. And keep an eye out for The Mark Riley Band website, which will soon be released. A CD is also in the works. For now, here’s a little date to MARK on your calendars… Join Bluesmobile on Saturday, November 9, 9pm to 12am, at The Cornwallis Inn Ballroom. PLEASE NOTE this WILL be a licensed event! Tickets are $15 and are available Long & McQuade in New Minas.
Music is not Mark’s only talent, though. He has also trained as both an electrician and an appliance-repair technician, and he ran his own business for many years. In the past Mark has also coached and played basketball, as well as played and coached his childhood passion: hockey. These days, despite loving his time working with teams at Horton High, North East Kings, King’s Minor and Valley East Basketball Association, it’s all about the music for Mark.
After making the move to Wolfville while his wife attended university here, Mark made the decision to concentrate on music on a full-time basis. He took employment with Long & McQuade, the go-to place for music supplies, and this allows him to feed his passion for music and meet others in the music community of the valley.
Mark says, “Since I have been in the Valley, I have had many opportunities to perform in different settings and genres. The variety of talent and venues here is really great. From soft Jazz at the Blomidon Inn, to R&B at the Kings Arms Pub, to gospel at Acadia, it is all here! There are also festivals and celebrations, many of which I have been a part of in Nova Scotia including the Wharf Rat Bike Rally, Heart of the Valley, New Minas Days, Halifax Natal Day and Canada Day Celebrations to name a few.”
The road ahead is paved with many shows and concerts. Mark plans to continue with Shoulder to Shoulder and the Bluesmobile Band, as well as gospel events whenever possible. Mark’s heart remains with the church and his faith, and he will always put those loves into his music. And in all of the talents, hobbies, and occupations I’ve mentioned, I almost forgot to mention the best job Mark has: being husband to wife Rev. Jennifer and father to his two beautiful daughters, Jasmin, 24, a fashion designer in Toronto and Olivia, 22, a nursing student at Dalhousie.
He is a father, husband, singer, musician, and so much more. He has truly left his MARK! Thank you!
~ Mike Butler
How do you sum up a person and their amazing talents in a small article like this? This is the question I ask myself every time I sit down to write a profile. The answer is, I can’t! All I can do is pique some interest in, paint half a picture of, and offer a small taste of the people I write about. Johanne McInnis is a very talented musician and promoter of the arts. Let’s see if I hit the right notes with her profile.
Johanne J. McInnis was born and raised in Quebec, 10 minutes from the Old Quebec where the arts are at their best with the likes of Cirque du Soleil and an infinite number of musicians roam the streets. Johanne studied music in Quebec and studied further in Ontario and Europe, but she has called Nova Scotia home for nine years now. She loves being surrounded by the warm souls she has found here.
When I first met Johanne, it was evident within minutes that she was a woman passionate about the arts in all forms. She has practiced music, drama and creative dance for the past 25 years and is thrilled to share her passion with the Annapolis Valley population. She says, “I see so many young people that have the potential of having a wonderful career as acrobats in the Cirque du Soleil, and would love to see one of those artistic/acrobatic schools in the Valley someday. It would allow our kinesthetic students to pursue their talents and dreams in creative ways.”
I have always wondered, not being a musician, how a person discovers their talent. Johanne immediately fell in love with the history, the evolution and the sounds of the instruments and was quick to transfer that knowledge and love into sounds and music. Johanne says, “ Playing harp music has brought me to places/regions/parts of the world I never imagined I would visit someday. Also, I often am called to play harp at the bedside of fellow human beings transitioning from caterpillar to butterfly. I recently lost a precious friend, in the Valley, and I was touched to be called by the family to go and soothe the soul of their beloved by playing harp by her bedside. These experiences are in my memory for a lifetime.”
I said that Johanne is a musician, but this is an understatement. She is a wonderful Celtic, classical and jazz harpist. Her unique style and approach to the music she plays, which incorporates nature and the visual arts, is a revelation. She is a musician during the summer months, performing for special holidays, corporate parties, VIP events, and private concerts, and she is a teacher of music throughout the year. Her career has taken her all over Canada and Europe, but she says being the main harpist at the Le Chateau Frontenac castle in Quebec was one of the strong highlights of her career. Two years ago, Johanne was able to travel through Greece for almost three weeks and she attended a world-music conference where music educators from 66 different countries were represented. She says it was incredibly rewarding. For all upcoming performances, videos, biography and more, visit Johanne’s website at www.johannemcinnis.ca.
And besides playing for private venues, she is currently rehearsing with a new team of musicians in Halifax, bass and percussion, and planning to start presenting the Environmental Eclectic Show called Nature Speaks…Beyond Appearances. This is a very exciting venture and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Johanne’s future goals include experimenting with playing the harp on a cruise boat all over the world for her next sabbatical. She plans to do more touring with the show Nature Speaks…Beyond Appearances and continue to bring awareness about nature and our involvement in it. Take the time to explore this very talented musician and her efforts. It will be music to your ears.
~ Mike Butler