Acoustic, roots, pop, twang: Q&A with singer/songwriter Amanda Rheaume

Photo Credit: Sandy Ziegler

Amanda Rheaume is a very talented singer/songwriter who has lived in Ottawa for 27 years. I first saw her perform several years ago at a wonderful show she put on with Ana Miura at Cafe Dekcuf. She has a couple of shows coming up this month, and we are so happy she made the time to have a quick chat with us!

For someone who has never heard your music, how would you describe your sound?

Acoustic, roots, pop! Sometimes there is a hint of twang in there too!

What is it like to be an Ottawa-based musician: how would you describe the scene?

Ottawa has a fantastic music scene, with a lot of amazing artists and musicians! There is a great sense of community but I can only hope for that to grow. There are little pockets all over the city that have amazing music happening, Umi Cafe, Irene’s Pub, Quinn’s Ale House, Rainbow Bistro etc….and all the Ottawa musicians know about them, but I’d really like to see a greater awareness of music LOVERS at all of these spots.

Looking back on your own career, would you say Ottawa is a supportive city for new artists?

Ottawa is an incredibly supportive city for local, rising talent! For me, Ottawa was an amazing place to start performing live and showcasing my songs. The city is very supportive and there are a great number of amazing venues. Also, because it is smaller than Toronto, it always felt friendlier!

You’ve toured across Canada and through the United States – what is special and unique about Ottawa?

Ottawa is beautiful in all seasons; spring, summer, fall, and winter. Whether I am playing on a patio in the summer or in a warm cozy club in the winter, I find all the shows are warm and friendly. Ottawa crowds are quiet yet appreciative, and even though sometimes it is hard to know if people are enjoying the show, when I speak with Ottawa folks post show I always get a great response.

In March 2009 you traveled to Kandahar, Afghanistan to perform for Canadian troops. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

I wanted to travel to Kandahar for many reasons, first and foremost to support our men and women over there. Bring them a piece of home and joy if I could. I also figured WOW what an opportunity to see a part of the world that not everyone gets to see and experience. I was greatly inspired and touched by the strength and commitment of the men and women posted at Kandahar Air Field. I would go back in a heartbeat.

You’re currently producing Bluebird North Ottawa – what’s that all about?

Bluebird North is an intimate, interactive musical showcase hosted by the Songwriters Association of Canada that brings together some of Canada’s most inspiring songwriters to share their songs and stories. During this acoustic, informal evening, each featured songwriter will perform their songs and share the ‘back story’ and inspiration about how each song was written.

Bluebird North is based on Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe, which opened in 1982. The venue is well known for helping launch the careers of Garth Brooks, Ashley Cleveland and Pam Tillis. Bluebird North is endorsed by the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.

Basically I book the artists and manage all the details for the show, aside from publicity!

Last December you recorded and released an Acoustic Christmas album with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa – how did that partnership come about?

Late summer 2009 I was approached by a man named Greg Waite, a friend/client of my father’s. Greg had some money in his late brother’s estate that he wanted to use for a good cause and to try and help people in some way. He had the idea of producing a Christmas CD and selling it for $5 at local retailers and having all money from the CD go to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa! Greg, through the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, funded the production of the entire record. He gave me full artistic control and away we went! December 2009 Acoustic Christmas was born!

You can get it online at  iTUNES and CD BABY, and in person at Bridgehead locations, Alfa DinerThe Morning OwlCompact MusicGreenfields Barrhaven,  and Studio B Hair Salon.

You have a big Christmas show coming up on December 8th at the Rainbow Bistro in the ByWard Market – what can the audience expect?

They can expect to hear all of the tunes off of Acoustic Christmas as well as a few others! My good friend John MacDonald will be opening the show up with some Christmas songs as well! It is going to be a great night of friends and music to get everyone into the spirit!

Also, a portion of ticket sales are going to be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. CDs will be available at the show as well! Local musicians in the band are: Ana Miura, Ross Murray (producer of the CD), Chris Brietner, Elise Von Teichman and Jeff Logan.

When can we expect a new album from you?

Summer 2011!!!!!!

Want to see Amanda Rheaume live? Check her out December 8th at her Christmas show at the Rainbow Bistro.

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