October 3rd, 2020

As we slip deeper into Autumn and the colours outside continue to change, I still wonder where the hell this year’s gone to (thanks a lot COVID-666, ya bastard). However, I’m not here to be negative—I’m here to provide you with some insanely useful, folk-related shit 😉

As such, I’m taking this opportunity to inaugurate something a bit different; a quarterly post about an up-and-coming folk artist that I think you should know about. With a Guinness to my right, and the achingly beautiful strains of Common Holly on the ear, I give you the first of my chosen “Seasonal Spotlight” artists. They are Anthony “Long Hair” Leclair and Marla “The Mouse” McHardy, better known as The Long & Short. And like the four heroes from my novel, they’re also Canadian:

In keeping with the duo’s name (and respective statures), I’ve been searching high and low for information to supplement their music. Anthony and Marla are a warm, fun couple based in North Bay, Ontario, playing some acoustic folk-rock that’ll kick your asses into gear. I was first introduced to them by a mutual friend, Mr. Cody Gene Meade, the man in charge of #LiveatCreativeCafe. And so, having donned my headphones and absorbed the demonym “Torontonian” from the band, I pressed play on their YouTube page. And trust me, what we have here ain’t bad. You’ll find a host of popular Irish folk covers on offer, with the obligatory tricolour (designed by Marla herself), but a handful of originals are also to be had. The finest of these, so far, is “A Prayer To Spirits”. I encourage you to feast your ears on it HERE.

“Spirits” is a catchy little number, one that rightly gives the nod to St. Patrick’s Day and, as such, has Leclair embracing a rather convincing Irish accent. The decadent humour and witty lyrics integral to many drinking songs are in abundant supply here; the track sits finely among the canon (before it proceeds to fall under the table), boasting quality lines such as “Jack Daniels can just fuck right off, I’d rather drink shite beer.” I hear ya, guys 😀 Sorry JD, but you’re talking to a Scotland afficionado who once visited nine single malt distilleries in a fortnight, so dinnae tell me aboot the origins of whisky, ye ken 😉 In case you’re wondering, “whisky” comes from the Scottish Gaelic uisge-beatha, so no-one makes it quite like the Scots.

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If “A Prayer To Spirits” is about holding a nosing glass up higher than The Holy Spirit, then this irreverent attitude sets us up nicely for the duo’s cover of “Mercedes-Benz“, the Janis Joplin classic. In the song, the protagonist asks God to prove his (sorry, His) love by buying them a flashy car, a colour TV (which these days would have to be at least 4K) and a “night on the town”. Now I’m no believer myself, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how religion works. God doesnae give a shit if you’re rich or poor—he loves you all the same, and will surely only give you what he deems necessary. Seriously, don’t even get me started on Premier League footballers raising their hands and eyes aloft every time they’ve just scored a goal. Dedicating it to someone you’ve lost? Fine. Praising God that you’re 1-0 up? Sorry, but no.

Pro-sports twattery aside…whatever you read into Joplin’s masterpiece becomes irrelevant once Marla unleashes her own inner Janis here. She does the song, and its writer, powerful justice as Anthony breaks up the verses with some good ol’ harmonica. The Long & Short recorded this tune as part of their Stream Team sessions on Twitch, which you can catch every Tuesday from 7pm (EST) HERE. Artists have been continuing to support one another and the world around them while COVID-bastard-19 maintains its vicious grip, and these guys are holding up their end of the bargain, so well done to them. Their “Swept Up” series is well worth a look too, with Anthony lending his exposure (not the indecent kind) to a catalogue of new talent out there.

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So all in all, why should you care about The Long & Short? The reasons, I feel, are these: Anthony and Marla both boast a strong vocal delivery that will be putting no-one to sleep anytime soon. Their covers are well-rendered, and there’s talent in their own songwriting that promises more to come. Perhaps best of all, when they sing a harmony together, you’ll know about it. Let me tell you—recently the duo did us the honour of recording a voices-only set up in the Laurentian Mountains, and I urge you to watch some of it, especially their take on Bedouin Soundclash at around 14 minutes in. If this ain’t what you want at your next campfire, I don’t know what is.

To support The Long & Short, they have a Patreon page that you can check them out and show some love on. They also have an impressive range of merch; I wanted the Crude Canadians coffee cup, but my wife keeps reminding me that our cupboard is already jam-packed with drinking vessels (which, to be fair, it is). If all else fails, the best free-of-charge way to support Anthony and Marla is to give them a like and sub on their YouTube. Slowly they’re growing in subscribers, and I remember how grateful I was when I finally cracked the 100 mark not so long ago, so go help them achieve that as well.

 

In the name of providing you with some “insanely useful, folk-related shit”, I hope you enjoyed this, and the music. Now tell me…what stood out for you above? What did I do well? And what are you dying to see me blog about next time? Drop me a comment.

Walk on, brothers and sisters

Andy x