About the video
On April 30th 2009 a massive forest fire found its way to a quiet secluded neighborhood. Onlookers and homeowners couldn't believe how swift their lives were threatened, their safety uncertain. Brett Ryan and his family were oblivious as the fire was mere feet from their home, as they were inside cheering on Team Canada at the 2009 World Hockey Championships. Realizing the firestorm was ACTUALLY at their doorstep, they had to move quickly, leaving no time to gather much of anything. With no time to lose, as the wall of flames were thickening they rushed out of their home to rescue units in the area. Luckily no one was harmed.
A year later we have assembled a video that Brett wanted to create to give his spin on how it has affected the life around him and his family. Finding the strength to keep it all in perspective is what "Good Times" is all about.
Addition thanks to the following in no particular order.
Brett, Laura, and family. - You are all very awesome people.
Arthur Canning - Thanks for your company during the 5am sunrise.
Graham Saywell - Always there to answer my tech questions. And the HDMI converter....saweet.
Jeremy Hull - All I have to say is "what a way to hit open water early in the day, hey?". Thanks for coming out for a day. Good Luck at the Canadian Film Centre.
Karen, and Nahze' - again...thanks for the support and healthy snacks. why not?!
And Andrew (Mr. Zodiac) for carrying us out to sea! -
A very fun morning. cheers.
Mom for the Turkey Pies mid-way through the editing. You rock!
And Julian Beverage - my good friend - thanks for the foam-core.... even though I never used it.
And everyone else who pitched in with an idea and an eye.
About the album
It was the last day of April, 2009 and dark smoke was growing ominously behind the dry hills surrounding Brett Ryan's home on the outskirts of Halifax. In the late afternoon, the musician pulled open his front door to check the progress of the smoke and was horrified to see a racing 50-foot wall of fire roaring through his neighborhood, a tidal wave of flame.
It took just a few moments to bundle his wife and kids into a car to escape the advancing forest fire. Ryan stayed behind to gather a few precious keepsakes, then clambered into his truck, driving blind through the black smoke and flames to narrowly escape the devastating fire.
Hours later, his beautiful home, musical instruments, artwork and years of precious memories lay in smoldering ashes. The fire that roared through the wooded neighborhood had burned eight homes down to the concrete slab. Ryan's dash from the fire with just his rescued wedding ring, an armload of photos, his son's hockey gear and the family pets made the front newspages and nightly TV news across the country.
Now a year later, the acclaimed musician and songwriter is still coming to grips with the aftermath. Also a self-employed businessman who has enjoyed success outside his music career, Ryan now realizes how quickly life can turn upside down.
On the first anniversary of the fire, he released Salvation Radio (Bratt Records/indie), a collection of surprisingly joyful and spiritually uplifting songs that explore his soul-searching journey through the upheaval of this life-altering event. What the fire couldn't raze is the strength of love and faith in a chaotic world.
"It was always in the back of my mind to record a new album before the fire," says Ryan. "Ironically, I'd been working on songs with a spiritual theme. These songs were just waiting for the right time to present themselves."
He had made some songwriting trips to Tennessee in the preceding months, collaborating with guitarist and studio ace Chris Leuzinger, who has worked extensively with Garth Brooks and scores of hit makers in Nashville.
Ryan brought along a sheaf of new songs written with his long-time lyrical collaborator Ron Foley Macdonald. The fresh gospel-soul sound and spiritual energy behind the music got Leuzinger excited about the songs. Then the fire struck.
"So Chris pushed me to record the album, thinking the process might be therapeutic in some way. We spent a couple of days working out arrangements and Chris pulled together this great band." The bed tracks were all recorded in four intense sessions in just two days.
"This whole album, all the themes and messages, was the result of the fire. Though a lot of the songs were started before, the album became more poignant."
Salvation Radio continues to explore the joyful exuberance where soul, R&B, pop and gospel coalesce into a great uplifting life-affirming sound - the timeless music that rose out of Memphis and Muscle Shoals in the late '60s. Ryan's last studio album St. Cecilia's Soulwas released in 2007, highlighted by the regional radio hit Sound of the Rain.
Ryan credits his own St. Cecilia Studios, his musical sanctuary, for helping him through the emotional turmoil. The studio is built on hallowed ground in a former church overlooking the blue Atlantic Ocean, and is a spiritual place that breathes music. It's a safe harbour in times of need.
"The whole concept of the new album is a celebration of music, about how the music can help you along the right path. It's been a constant companion for me all through the years."
The new album revisits the big soul band sound - tight horns, shimmering guitars, churning Hammond B-3 organ, a crack rhythm section and backup vocals that sound plucked from a southern Baptist church. Most of the album was tracked at Omnisound Studios in Nashville, with back-up vocals recorded in Toronto and additional recording in Ryan's own St. Cecilia Studios, in Halifax.
Ryan calls the title track, "Salvation Radio" "an homage to Van 'the man' Morrison", who many times dipped in the same well of soul and gospel music in his storied career.
"Leave the Light On" is about a man's yearning for some sort of spiritual insight, any sign that there's some order to the worldly chaos. Ryan explores a similar theme in "Peaceful Kind of Love".
One of the key tracks is "Dr. Music", written about close friend and keyboard legend Doug Riley who played on Ryan's last album St. Cecilia's Soul. The song, a tribute to Riley's glorious career performing with the royalty of soul music, including Ray Charles, was written shortly before Riley died in August 2007.
"I started pre-production on that tune with Doug in his music room in PEI. " The Hammond organ parts are played on the new album by Reese Wynans, who has worked with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brooks & Dunn and Martina McBride.
The album winds up with the self-answering "Did The Music Make It Better (Yes It Did)", a pumping testament to Ryan's unerring faith in the healing powers of music.
In the troubling days through the past year, Ryan has often turned to music to find some order in the chaos. Always the music provides both the sanctuary and the salvation for dealing with adversity.
"Music can really let you soar - through the good times and the bad times," says Ryan. Salvation Radio is about closure, bringing this year of upheaval to some kind of end. Now we can move on to better times."
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