Distant Cousins

Halifax singer-songwriter Rose Cousins is having a busy year away from home

  • Rose Cousins leaves her homes just to play songs for you. She’s at the WECC on Wednesday, March 28. – Supplied

Rose Cousins may be an award-winning singer-songwriter, but she still cleans her own bathroom.

“I haven’t been here for five weeks, and then I came home and several people have stayed in my house, so I’m cleaning my bathroom, frankly, because I need it,” Cousins says by phone from Halifax.

However, she won’t be using it for long.

The P.E.I.-born, Halifax-based artist is heading out once again to promote her latest disc, We Have Made a Spark. Her travels bring her to Winnipeg on Wednesday, March 28 for a performance at the West End Cultural Centre.

Cousins is an artist who likes to work with friends. Whether it’s opening for John Gorka, touring with Joel Plaskett, or recording with fellow Canadian songstresses Jill Barber and Meaghan Smith, Cousins surrounds herself with a talented group.

She has also been traveling between her home in Halifax to Boston for the past eight years, where she has been accepted into the music scene there with open arms.

“I was drawn (to Boston) because of the people I was listening to,” Cousins says. “John Gorka is one of them. Everyone I seemed to really love was filtering to this place called Club Passim, which is in Harvard Square.

“It was a gut impulse. I played an open mic night one time when I was in town, and I left my CD, and eventually got invited to do a benefit festival that the club holds, now, three times a year during holiday weekends to raise money for the club.

“That’s where my family kind of started to grow, and that started back in 2003.”

This crew was the inspiration behind her new short film, If I Should Fall Behind, named after the Bruce Springsteen cover that closes her new disc.

“(The song) perfectly summarizes the album in a sense of the way that I made it.

“What influenced me to make the record like I did was being a part of my friend Rose Polenzani’s record, which was made with this exact group of people, all in one room, recording together.”

Cousins was also a part of the same group on her friend Kris Delmhorst’s album.

“I just asked everybody if they would do the same for me, and that’s how the actual recording of it came about.”

Members of her band included Zachariah Hickman (producer) and Austin Nevins - who both play in Josh Ritter’s Royal City Band - and multi-instrumentalists Sean Staples and Charlie Rose.

The film came out of Cousins’s desire to capture the essence of the group at work.

“I think it’s really unique. I think that in every community (there is a group like this), where people play in several bands and there’s lots of collaboration.

“In Boston there seems to be this group of people that plays almost every day of the week. They’ve been playing with each other for so long that the musical conversation is strong and people have really valuable contributions to make.”

Regarding whether or not she would ever move to Boston permanently, Cousins has a theory.

“I consider it every time I’m there. So far the philosophy I’ve had is, wherever I live, wherever I have a ‘home’ that I have my stuff in, I’m probably going to be away from it for most of the time, as in the case with my house in Halifax.

“So my thought is, if I’m traveling to Boston, I’m most likely going to be there more often.”

Published in Volume 66, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 21, 2012)

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