A sensible reaction to growing up and growing older usually requires a job, a routine and, to at least some extent, the loss of a dream for the average independent musician.
For Amanda Rheaume, thankfully, it only demands an adjustment in musical taste as she turns that frown upside down, as it were, to pen a call-to-arms for aspiring musicians who might be contemplating caving in to the pressures of turning 30.
Better Days Ahead, which appears on her first album, is an effort to inspire and provide a ray of hope to those who love to play. Setting aside the apathy and self-doubt that often plagues those struggling to carve out a living as an artist, Rheaume manages to describe the landscape of her musical friendships from the down and out to the totally content in a foot-stomping anthem that should form the centrepiece of her September show at the Minstrel in Kelowna.
“A lot of my friends were starting to have to get jobs and it was getting harder and harder to do music,” she said. “So the song is really just to remind them to stick with it and stick by it and that we can all help each other out.”
Rheaume underwent a musical metamorphosis in order to realize her dream of creating a full-length album, which took half her lifetime to achieve. Pushing herself out of the rock and pop that took her from her early acoustic sound back to a more folk roots feel, she says the resulting artistic statement is one she can present on the road anytime, anywhere, with consistent results.
“There is a band on it, but because it’s acoustic-based, it’s still a very good representation of what’s actually on the album,” she said.
Combine her efforts with fellow singer/songwriter Marc Charron and they should make for an interesting musical experience when they arrive at the Minstrel Café next month.
“Marc plays drums with his feet, plays guitar and sings all at the same time, so he’s a groovy dude,” said Rheaume.
True to her message in Better Days Ahead, Charron and Rheaume are not only sharing tour expenses, they’ve learned each other’s music to back each other’s act on the road. It means they each get to play a little lead guitar and test their limits with someone else’s turn of phrase.
“It’s a really fun show. We work really hard at putting together a really fun time. We’ve got great harmony and you’re getting two singer/songwriters in one evening,” said Rheaume, slipping into a little salesmanship.
The songstress says she believes making a living off music is all about opening your mind, making the odd compromise and, yes, at the end of the day sucking it up and selling your product. It means there needs to be a few loud bars as anchor dates where that artistic message she struggled so hard to work out may be lost to the sheer volume of the shooter-slamming audience. And it means sometimes adding in a sideline gig—she does graphic design on albums for other artists.
Most of all, it means she gets to earn a living doing something she absolutely loves. Rheaume’s next musical venture will be an exploration of her Métis roots.
Amanda Rheaume plays the Minstrel Café with Marc Charron on Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. There’s a $5 cover at the door.