"Essig Taylor Gifford Miron"

                                                 a collection of 4 musicians brought together by serendipity and musical goodwill and it was a chance for Ian Gifford and David Essig to fulfill a promise of producing an album together. A random comment on social media in late October 2014 planted the seed and in the spring of 2015 Ian and David revisited the idea while booking summer festivals in Ontario and a potential new band was born.

David and Ian had been friends since the late 90s when they met at Home County Folk Festival, where Gifford was a stage manager that also hosted a folk radio show, while Essig was a veteran performer of the festival since its earliest days. Gifford eventually set up a number of local concerts with David and was the art designer for the Essig-produced “Everything that Shined” by Allison Brown.

Flash back about 20 odd years before that to 1971 where David Essig and Rick Taylor first met as fellow performers on the New Songwriters’ Stage at Toronto's legendary Mariposa Folk Festival. The two crossed paths frequently and in 1977 David produced “Hobo's Taunt” for Willie P Bennett. This project featured Taylor’s lead guitar and led to Rick’s long friendship with Willie P, including many years on the road together in Willie’s band.

Back to present times and Ian and bassist Richard Miron have been friends for about a decade often crossing paths within the London Roots and Blues scenes. Miron brought Gifford in to drum on a project with Singer Songwriter, Sarah Halabecki. Ian then went on to produce Halabecki’s 2015 released album “In a Balanced World”. Miron was also previously acquainted with Rick Taylor, having accompanied the popular Blues guitarist on various gigs over the past couple of years.

This is a band born of collective experience, with very few degrees of separation between each member before they finally met in the studio in August of 2015. When asked what surprised him the most about getting into the studio with these 3 other musicians, Essig replies...

“...How quickly we came together as a band, working right in the pocket of the great SW Ontario roots music tradition. Within a song or two at the first rehearsal, we were playing off each other’s nuances and making art with an intense emotion and musicality, I've come to realize now, is a gift only rarely received. We were so blessed.”

Meeting at “the Sugar Shack” in London with engineer Simon Larochette and armed with 25 songs between them, they rehearsed them all on the Tuesday. They started tracking a pared-down list on Wednesday and continued for 4 days total, culminating with a live concert on the Sunday. That show was also recorded and eventually lent one of its performances to the album.

From the first day it was apparent the band had a strong chemistry and that they should work completely live off the floor together “I originally saw it going a little more raucous and experimental but it was evident right away that it needed to be more intimate and 'old timey' in approach. All of us embraced that idea pretty quick and what we got was magic to me.” says Gifford, who is also the executive producer on the project.

“I was thinking maybe we'd jam a few tunes with 'tape rolling' as we used to say.” Essig chimes in. “When I first arrived in London for the sessions, I could feel the excitement in the air, but I was astonished when, at the end of the first day, we looked around at each other and said, 'we're making a record, aren't we?' And a very fine record!”

Rick Taylor adds "I had no idea where this project would go, but I was pretty sure that we were going to rock out a little, and cry a few tears."

His last statement refers to a moment on the second day when the four were tracking David Essig's tribute song “Willie P” for the late Willie P Bennett, with whom Gifford and Miron were also acquainted.

Taylor continues "At the end of the recording of 'Willie P', there was a long silence between us all … and then the tears."

Gifford adds “It wasn't just that the take was a good one. It was that we all felt as if there was a presence in the room with us when we finished it. We were haunted and knew that Willie P was nodding in approval over our shoulders.”

Richard concurs saying “The song about Willie P just hit us all hard. Not a dry eye on the floor.” and reflecting further on the week adds “The intimacy and intensity of the songs was sometimes overwhelming.”

This is not an “easy listening” album to be sure. While it has its light and melancholy moments as witnessed in “Sunday Afternoon” or “Watchin' Ma Go 'round”, there are deeply personal stories shared in songs like “Falls Church '65”, “Jacqueline” and “Walking in the Rain,” and then into even darker territory with “Walk Back into Town” and “Mother Theresa” both written by David Essig.

“'Mother Theresa' really hit me hard.” says Gifford “I know that David struggles with it a little too and we both had to go for head clearing walks after the take, since it is such a heavy song. The stories are so vividly lyricized and so personal to the 2 individuals portrayed in the text that you can't help but empathize with them in the lives they chose for themselves. It's some pretty heavy subject matter but it's a portrait of life that I have come to expect from an artist like David Essig and it's a true honour to accompany him on this piece.”

This kind of feeling runs throughout the quartet. On that 6th day, at the end of a very creative and productive week, at the end of a hastily put together and well attended concert, after that final bow when all 4 men embraced one another, they knew they had created a brotherhood between them - the type of brotherhood that usually only manifests when four musicians have been playing in the garage since their teenage years. This brotherhood took 6 days total to build, and with the record of events that “Essig Taylor Gifford Miron” has come to be, we are assured that it will last more than a lifetime.