May 10, 2022: 90.9 CJSW Radio in Calgary Spinning 'Snow'

The popular University of Calgary radio station 90.9 CJSW has been kind to ether and bones in April and May, spinning tracks from the new album Snow and the Apple Tree on their programs Alternative To What, The Good Medicine Show, and At The Crossroads.  All of these shows are purveyors of Canadian and worldwide roots music, and they can all be heard at cjsw.com  Please support them the way they support emerging roots artists like ether and bones!

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Album Review of Snow and the Apple Tree by Canadian Beats Media

Writer: Cory Stumpf, April 25, 2022

canadianbeats.ca

 "Here is a rather poignant concept release from BC artist ether and bones. Snow and the Apple Tree is somewhat stripped down in style, but charmingly so, its soft-spoken vocals and folk cadences constructed in a way that accentuates the spirit of the story being told. And that story is truly heartbreaking. Based on the real-life experience of Linda Bishop and subsequent documentary God Knows Where I Am, it is a touching and tragic tale of dwindling physical and mental health in the context of homelessness, in this case, re-adapted to be set to music. 

Though the release is short, it sure is impactful. Only a few songs are fully realized in length and lyrical content, the highlights of those being the titular track for its initial presentation of the theme and sound, and “Hiding Away (Linda waits for Steve)” for its well-emoted vocals at a crucial point within the timeline and musical progression. Other tracks are tone-setting instrumentals like the orchestral-feeling “Running Out of Apples,” as well as interspersed, spoken journal entries written by the focal character that strikingly weave and advance the overall narrative. 

As a whole, Snow and the Apple Tree is terribly sad but powerful, and a thoughtful tribute to a woman whose end is but a variation of those encountered by many members of a marginalized population too regularly discounted and forgotten. It is a reminder that those who struggle most simply to survive are less fortunate versions of anyone, each with their own unique set of lived events characterized by complex thoughts, deep sensations, and individual trials that some are sadly given little opportunity to overcome. At the very least, they might be remembered with compassion, and ether and bones does well to do this by acknowledging and celebrating beautiful souls like Linda Bishop."

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BC songwriter shines light on New Hampshire woman’s heartbreaking true story 

When BC singer-songwriter Jamesy watched the 2016 documentary film God Knows Where I Am  (Wider Film Projects) on Netflix for the first time (and in the four or five viewings since then), he found it equally disturbing and fascinating. The film inspired him to write and record his new album Snow and the Apple Tree, which he releases this week under the musical moniker ether and bones. 

The film that provided the inspiration for the 2022 recording tells the heart-breaking true story of New Hampshire woman Linda Bishop.  

What happened to her?  

The short answer is that she starved to death in an abandoned house in Concord, New Hampshire in early 2008. The answer that does her more justice is much more complex and nuanced. Bishop was living in a mental health facility, struggling with bipolar disorder with psychosis, but she adamantly insisted she did not have a mental illness. In addition, she did not want any of her relatives on her notification protocols, so when she was released in October of 2007, none of her relatives or friends knew. Upon release, Bishop wandered through a semi-rural area of Concord until coming upon an empty house. She gained entry through an unlocked window, and stayed at the house for months through a particularly unforgiving New Hampshire winter. She survived on apples from the nearby apple tree, rain water, and water from the melted snow. Every day she wrote in her journal. 

After Jamesy let the story brew in his mind for a few years, the catalyst for writing music about it was an unexpected one. From the summer of 2020 to the autumn of 2021, Jamesy went through the most difficult period of his own life - first enduring severe harassment which put his entire family through hell, and then months later being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

It’s amazing what the most challenging life circumstances can do to inspire the artistically-inclined.  

After revisiting God Knows Where I Am, almost as a way of healing from his own difficult times, and pondering Linda Bishop’s story once again, Jamesy’s creative juices started flowing, and out came the song “Snow and the Apple Tree,” which would later become the title track for the album of music inspired by the documentary film and Linda Bishop’s story. 

In addition to Jamesy’s ethereal vocals, eclectic songwriting, minimalist guitar strumming, and outside-the-box harmonica texturing, the 12-track, 24-minute album also features musical friends from across BC and Alberta, including cellist Larry Burke from Victoria, steel guitarist Ted Pilkington from Chilliwack, fiddler Terry Lawson from Edmonton, lead guitarist Michael Huston from Calgary, and bassist Tony Horlor from Parksville. Musically, the album tells Linda Bishop’s story across a kind of tapestry, through descriptive lyrics, empathetic vocals, cinematic instrumentals, and even a few short audio clips from the film, delivered by voice actor Lori Singer, who emotively reads Linda Bishop’s journals in the documentary. 

Some may say that, despite the heartbreaking challenges we all endure, everything happens for a reason, and God - somehow - has a plan for us all. And sometimes that plan snowballs all the way into someone else’s path.