At the Bar with Montreal’s blues maven Meghan Maike

Montreal singer/songwriter Meghan Maike’s debut album Dead Horse Creek traverses a soundscape she holds close – think a rollicking blues stomp, a smattering of electric guitars, acapella and songwriting that rests on the personal with a sepia toned nostalgia for the past.

The Write Drop speaks to Maike about her time living in Melbourne, and how it has inspired what happens next.

MY CITY

That is a complicated question for me! I have always moved around a lot, so I have several “hometowns”. I have just come back from a loop around North America, and visited many of my homes – a bit of a Goldilocks tour. Each of my homes has a different feel – Montreal for its vibrancy and culture, Melbourne is special for similar reasons with its unique flair, and Clarksdale is special for the stillness, the history, and open skies. I suppose the through-line for all of these places, when you really shake it out – is the people. Real, clever, creative people with an electric lust for life.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

You’re tough! Most of my favourite memories are food-related, haha, so I’ll go with the most recent. Picture it: Modesto, California, late summer, a lovely town out in dusty farm land. By the railroad tracks there were a series of taco trucks – it’s the best way to go. There must be railroad tracks involved, haha. But how do you choose? We got a mess o’ food from Jessica’s Tacos, and Nonato’s Super Taqueria (tacos, a chalupa, fried tacos with consommé) and Mexican Cokes (cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup). The kind of meal where you use every paper napkin in sight and are positively high with delight for hours.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

Single malt scotch – full of stories and tests well with older men.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

Fried chicken and ice cream. Not together, but once quickly followed by the other.

BEST OVERSEAS BAR

Down in New Orleans, LA, there is a lil’ dive bar in the French Quarter that most folks would walk right past called Harry’s Corner. In order of importance, the reasons why I love the place are: the country-heavy jukebox, $3 PBR beers, and the pattern of the tile flooring. I have been an infrequent regular at this bar for over a decade, and none of the above have changed. Whenever I’m wandering around NOLA, I seem to have an internal homing device set for Harry’s.

FAVOURITE WINE

Red, a deck of cards, and in good company.

FAVOURITE WINERY

I’d like to turn this question on y’all! The last winery I visited was somewhere in the hills of Adelaide, four years ago. Now that life has smoothed out some, where should I go this summer? Bonus points if it’s a beautiful motorcycle ride to get there.

BEST NEWCOMER

I like my drinks the way I like my country music – classic. So, no, I am not going bonkers over White Claw and the like. The hottest bar this summer will be my picnic blanket in a park with a bottle of French rose and a good friend.

NEXT DESTINATION

Don’t laugh at the proximity, but: Ballan, Victoria, in Feb 2024. Yes, just an hour from home. But it’s about the why.  It’s my favourite weekend of the year – Sheila’s Shakedown, an annual women’s motorcycle campout. It is ridiculous fun, with the best, most supportive, hilarious, welcoming community of any event I’ve been to. Group rides, dance parties, bands, sheilas Olympics – and not to brag, but I am moderately okay at the slow-ride.

TELL US ABOUT MAKING YOUR NEW ALBUM GOODBYE I LOVE YOU

We recorded it in six in my friend Ralph’s backyard studio in Ventura, California; me, Ralph, Cary Hudson from Hattisburg, Mississippi, and Gary Mallaber – a longtime friend of Ralph’s. It was a beg/borrow/steal scenario, calling in favours and keeping it simple. The ensemble approach really made the sound, and in the end held the integrity of the raw feel of the songs themselves, written so far away in rural Mississippi. We had never played together as a band before, but knew one another enough to know the recipe was right. The idea was just to get the album down, to make the songs real. It has come a long way since then, in every sense, and yet I still feel the same connection and intimacy that I did when recording and writing them, so I would say – mission accomplished.

HOW HAS MELBOURNE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING

I think the cityscape vs. landscape has shifted my writing somewhat. I have started to write more from up in my head rather than about my surroundings – internal vs external. The best part about Melbourne is how big and healthy the music scene is – so many folks to play with, and play for. There is not a moment wasted in this town, no shortage of ideas and like-minded players to create with.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST MOVE TO MELBOURNE FROM MONTREAL

The first time was in January 2010, and it was for a couple of reasons; firstly, to escape winter, and secondly to prove to myself that I could leave the womb of radness that is Montreal and survive outside the bubble. Well, the joke’s on me, because I found myself in the same life here as I did in Montreal, given they are cities of a similar flavour. I suppose that it reinforces the old “no matter where you go, there you are”. Had Montreal not been frozen half the year, I never would have left, and while I miss it, I am fully thoroughly satisfied at where I’ve landed, but most importantly – the wonderful people I’m surrounded by.

THREE NEW SONGS ON THE ALBUM – GO!

Never Again – I lived in the buckle of the bible belt in the South. The oppression of religion as a weapon was weighing heavy on me, and I felt I had to defend myself against condemnation from a few key people in my life. This song was about setting the record straight, saying, “Hold on a minute – while I may not use your terms, I am a decent person, trying to live life as best and true as I can.” Musically, I wanted to invoke a slight gospel feel, to reinforce the spiritual as personally defined, and not damned by finger-pointing pretenders.

Redbird – This is a song for my friend Jimmy. He was a man of simple tastes: the outdoors, baseball (the St. Louis Cardinals), and The Beatles. He used to kayak down the riverways from NW Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama, to spend the winters there, and then return to our little town come springtime. I wrote it on his bridge just outside of Clarksdale, MS, the one over which we scattered some of his ashes after he passed away. I wanted the song to chronicle his life, and carry his energy on. I got to play it back in Clarksdale recently, while looking at his bicycle, affixed to the wall of the venue, and looking out into the venue at some of our dearest friends. I dare say, he was there, and he enjoyed it.

La Paloma – This is an imaginary wild west sort of town, pause for the wanderers, kind of a place. I wrote it while living in Australia, played it a lot in Mississippi, and have spotted the very landscape described while traveling in northern California. As it turns out, it’s more everywhere than I thought, someplace we can all drift off to at times.

 

https://cheersquadrecordstapes.bandcamp.com/album/dead-horse-creek

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