A few weeks ago, I got to have a Saturday night out to attend my friends' (Jason and Katie Leussink, aka "Midnight Lights") new EP release party. The opening act was another local artist I'd never met, Brendan Dickson (aka "The Honey Cowboy"). I had a total blast, and loved all the new music!
Anyone who knows me realizes I have a bit of a honey addiction. Well, our family does. We LUUUURVES our honey, typically going through a 7 kg bucket per month.
Believe it or not, Brendan Dickson might love it even more than I do. But I guess that's understandable, considering he grew up on the Mighty Peace Honey farm (the dealers for our family's collective addiction). :-)
At the EP release concert, Brendan led his set with a soulful ballad that asked--and answered in unironic detail--the simple question, "Where does my honey come from?" Having never heard his music before, I spent most of that song trying to figure out what exactly was going on. By the time he was into his second song ("Beer Wagon"--about a man who prefers drinking beer to mowing the lawn his wife insists on having done, so he compromises) I was chuckling, and didn't stop almost throughout his set.
The Honey Cowboy - "Unpasteurized"
Brendan "writes serious songs about serious subjects," according to what he told his mom, Carrie Dickson. I'm pretty sure he said that with his tongue as firmly in his cheek as it was when he wrote some of the lyrics on his debut project. With songs about the hardships of being a rural hobo (nobody likes it when you eat all their peas and carrots), to a lament about how an ex-lover needs to come back so that he can actually eat again (apparently unable to feed himself), to the woes of being a misunderstood country boy (from Grimshaw!) in the city, you'll find yourself moving to the rhythm as you chuckle at the lyrics.
There are some more sentimental moments, also, showing that Brendan can reach his emotional side without losing his sense of humour. His pared-down guitar-led arrangements give the album an intimate feel that leaves nothing wanting.
At the concert, when Brendan played the song "Honey", about how practically every problem in your life can be solved by eating more honey, my jaw dropped. "It's my song!" I breathed. You can hear it here:
The Honey Cowboy - "Where Does Your Honey Come From?"
In his second album, Brendan tackles the hard questions. Like "Where Does Your Honey Come From?", "How is my head supposed to stay warm during winter?" (in "Bald"), and "What could be worse--carrying a guitar or carrying a purse?" (in "Girls and Guitars"). "Never Go", where he sings a male/female duet by himself, epitomizes the eclectic and humorous creativity of his style. But it's not all tongue-in-cheek. He also has some nice introspective and emotional lyrics in "Rope Ladder", "Song I Wrote", "Tender Eyes", and "Man Outstanding".
He keeps the pared-down, guitar-driven intimate feel that characterized his first album. All in all, this album is a fun ride (on your ride-on lawnmower--"Beer Wagon").
Jason and Katie Leussink (of Midnight Lights) are my friends, neighbours, fellow worship leaders, and they've even been known to feed my pets while we're on holidays. But they are also some of the most authentic and talented musicians I know. Their music is always positive, and they give of themselves over and over with their art (and in life.)
A couple of years ago, they toured with Tenille on a school tour bringing education and awareness about bullying. Last year, they put together their own "Love Your Neighbour" tour that benefited local charities in all the communities they played.
Jason and Katie's debut album, "Keep It Simple" (released under the artist name "Katie and Jason") is on practically every playlist I make, and this second one promises to have the same enduring playability.
The track list includes the whimsical and nostalgic "Good Old Days". With shout-outs to George Strait and Patsy Cline, it yearns for the old-fashioned country music that told stories from the heart, before every song became about drinking and skinny-dipping and cliches.
"Let's Get Outta Here", their first single (released 2015) celebrates a wild and carefree romance that just makes you wanna smile and dance.
Both of these songs have been released to radio, and (at least locally) are getting some decent air time. (Request them where you are, okay?)
One of my favourite songs on the new album is "Right Beside Me", which the Leussinks wrote after God brought them through some pretty tough trials in the past year. Since my year has also been pretty rough, the song spoke to me right away the first time I heard it (at a good old-fashioned barn concert at another neighbour's place last fall.) They have also decided to donate all proceeds from this one song to Faith Children Home, the Indian orphanage I advocate for through Heart4Children Canada. (Thanks, guys!)
One day, I'm going to be able to say "I knew them when..." (I'm sure glad to know them now, too.)
Find them on the web at www.midnightlightsmusic.com. They link to all their social media channels from there, but the direct link to their Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/Midnight-Lights-134286866650713/.
Here's the best part...
All of these albums are currently up for grabs in the Online Auction Fundraiser I am running on Facebook. The fundraiser is for Heart4Children Canada, and proceeds will benefit both of our projects in Ukraine and India. Come check it out, join the event, and place a bid--you can satisfy your honey craving (because there is some Mighty Peace Honey in the auction, too!) and your music craving while supporting a great cause!
The auction runs until the evening of May 16--come join the fun!