Lori Yates passing on her songwriting skills At the Creative Genius workshop, she’s there to teach not sing, writes Graham Rockingham. WHATSON Feb 15, 2019 by Graham Rockingham  The Hamilton Spectator Lori Yates opens the class with breathing exercises. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator     Lori Yates has a singing and songwriting career that includes album recordings in Nashville for Columbia Records. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator     Lori Yates has taught more than 100 budding songwriters in her Creative Genius workshop. This session, held at Hotel Hamilton, is her 21st. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator     Gavin O’Sullivan performs his song “Highway Home” for the class. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator     Lori Yates has been running Creative Genius Songwriting Workshops for three years. Here she adjusts the microphone stand for Gina Monaco. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator     Lori Yates moved to Hamilton in 2002 after a solo recording career in Nashville and working in Toronto with bands Rang Tango and Hey Stella. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator     Lori Yates gives some pointers to Gavin O’Sullivan. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator  1 / 7 Don't enrol in Lori Yates's Creative Genius songwriting workshop expecting to hear her sing. It doesn't work that way. Yates possesses one of the best voices in Canadian country music and she can probably make any song sound sweet, even yours. But she's there to teach, not sing. She possesses more than 30 years of recording and performing experience, signing her first recording contract with Columbia Nashville back in the late '80s.  She's recorded with Gregg Allman, Jim Cuddy and Rick Danko; toured with Dwight Yoakam, Faith Hill and Steve Earle; and written with Hall of Famers and Grammy winners — Guy Clark, Don Schlitz and Matraca Berg. Yates knows what she's doing. Which is why no one feels embarrassed when she starts class off with a series of limbering-up and breathing exercises. Breathing is your friend," Yates says. "If you're going to sing, you need to have your diaphragm working. It also controls your fear. So let's shake off some fear. So starts the third class of the 21st Creative Genius workshop.  The entire course covers six weeks. The goal is for each participant to have two songs recorded at Downtown Sound Recording Studios on Barton Street and then performed before a live audience Thursday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m., at Zylas, 229 James St. N. (the public is invited). Yates limits the size of each six-week session. There are only four people in the current class. She's been holding these classes for more than three years. So far, more than a hundred people have graduated from her course.   YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN... OPINION Arkells smash it at sold out Scotiabank Arena show... TELEVISION Alec Baldwin’s Trump declares a national emergency... ARTSENTERTAINMENT Glass-conscious at the Carnegie This class is being held at the boardroom of the Hotel Hamilton, an artist enclave on James Street North above the Mulberry Coffeehouse. The participants are a diverse group.  Gina Monaco is a marketing director for a local mortgage company. She's also got a background in journalism and has taken music courses at Mohawk College. Monaco loves singing, but admits she needs help writing the songs. The week before, Yates was helping Monaco on chord progression. It helped. Now she's having a tough time with melody. I'm a professional writer and I write every day, but this confounds me," Monaco says. She's frustrated, but a run-through of her song shows she's making progress. You have to have a beginner's mind," Yates tells her. "It's not about thinking, it's always about feeling. Fern Fresco, who works in the engineering department of a local stair company, has come back for his second workshop, having also taken the course last year.  Fresco admits to not completing last week's homework assignment, but wants to try out something that came to him while walking his dog that morning. He hasn't brought his guitar, so he uses Yates's. He offers up two verses that contain some vivid imagery. Applause all around. Yates reminds him he must now finish it. Lori kicks me in the butt to get the songs going," Fresco says when asked later why he signed up for the course a second time. "She's awesome. Gavin O'Sullivan is probably the most experienced of the class. He has played drums, guitar and sung in local bands dating back to the '90s, including The Rayburns and All Good Children. O'Sullivan offers up a song that had its genesis driving home from the West Coast. It only needs a few tweaks. He's taken some advice from Yates and dropped into a lower key. It seems to work. This workshop keeps you on track," O'Sullivan says. "It makes you more accountable. There are tips on registering songs with SOCAN and working with the Songwriters Association of Canada. Yates also gives the group some practical advice about live performance. It's a matter of confidence, she explains. Don't get worried if you make a mistake. The audience won't likely notice. Yates moved to Hamilton in 2002 after a solo recording career in Nashville and working in Toronto with bands Rang Tango and Hey Stella. She still performs regularly in clubs in Hamilton and Toronto. Creative Genius is a business for Yates — the fee is $425 for the course, including the recording studio time. But it's also a labour of love and a lot of fun. It's an honour for me to be able to foster people's creativity," she says after class. "I love being involved with creativity. 905-526-3331 | @RockatTheSpec by Graham Rockingham Graham Rockingham has been The Spectator's music editor since 2002. He has an Ontario Newspaper Award for entertainment writing, and has been media person of the year five times at the Hamilton Music Awards. In 2015, he was presented with a special HMA lifetime achievement award. During his 40-year career, Rockingham has been a reporter and editor with the Vancouver Sun, The Vancouver Province and United Press International. Email: Twitter Tags:  Arts & Entertainment,   WhatsOn - Music,   WhatsOn ” - Graham Rockingham

The Hamilton Spectator

Lori Yates is from Toronto and, well, she's not new. If you were trawling around Toronto in the late ‘80s when Blue Rodeo was packing bars playing country music, Yates was packing them in, too. And then she went down to Nashville, got nominated for a Juno, toured with Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam. But the success that came to her friends never necessarily arrived at Yates’s doorstep. It’s never stopped her, though, and when you listen to Yates it’s as if you've been flipping through the channels and finally something strikes you — a line of dialogue — and you just stay with it the whole time. It's time Lori Yates got the attention she deserves: take a listen to this. — Tom Power (@tompowercbc)  ” - Tom Power

CBC Music

Roots time Be - France Freddy Celis
CD Reviews & downloads LORI YATES Sweetheart Of The Valley See Who I Am / Ghost of Josephine / Sweetheart of the Valley / Laugh Till We Cry/ The Stray / Trouble In The Country / Shiloh / Call My Name / Angels With Bloody Knee s/ Corktown / What The Heart Wants / Whatcha Gonna Do? Producer: Lori Yates and David Gavin Baxter Self Released 47:36 5 out of 5 stars Canadian Lori Yates has by her own admission been around the musical block a few times; starting off honing her talents in the clubs and dive bars of Hamilton, dabbling with folk, roots and punk before being signed by Sony Nashville as pure country in the late 1980s. Her debut album Can’t Stop The Girl won some serious acclaim and she worked alongside some of the best, but important parts of Music City never really warmed to her at that time as is illustrated by legendary producer Billy Sherill’s comment “There’s only one redhead in Nashville, and that’s Reba.” A meeting which in no small part inspired Trouble In The Country. She has a remarkable voice and writes strong, frequently autobiographical, songs and for this album has brought back together Hey Stella!, the band she fronted ten years or more ago and the combination works really well. The album gives us a combination of retro sounding country ballads and some seriously good up- tempo rockers, including the aforementioned homage to Mr Sherill. My personal preference is for those tracks which chug along a bit, especially Corktown which recalls early days performing as a support act in the popular Hamilton Tavern and enjoys the benefits of backing vocals from the interestingly named Bad Girl Choir; and the finale of Whatcha Gonna Do? would probably work really well as the last song in a live set too. The title track is a clever little song enhanced by some simple but effective twang guitar work from co-producer David Gavin Baxter and the more I listen to Shiloh the more I want to play it again one more time. What I feel we have here is an album which will most certainly put Lori Yates in the frame to pick up another Juno Award to add to her collection but without a UK tour or significant airplay I can’t see it being spectacularly successful over here, which is a shame because the quality really shines through and those who do make the time.   - Chris Smith, Country Music People UK   44 COUNTRY MUSIC PEOPLE - DECEMBER 2015 ” - Chris Smith

— Country Music People UK

Americana Music Show Calvin Power
Yates has had quite a career, and you can hear about some of the most interesting parts on this grand alt-country outing, a career highlight. It's her first since 2007's The Book Of Minerva, and a big reminder that she's one of the country's best singers and writers.Out of the same Toronto cowpunk scene that coalesced around Handsome Ned. Blue Rodeo and Cowboy Junkies, Yates was lead singer for Rang Tango, and swept up to Nashville, Sony Music there looking (rightly) for the next big thing. The conservative town never likes rebels, and after a debut solo album, Yates was back in Canada for a couple of albums for Virgin in the '90's. Next came the sorta-supergroup Hey Stella!, with ace roots guitarist producer David Gavan Baxter, Prairie Oyster drummer Michelle Josef, and Blue Rodeo's Bazil Donovan for an album in the 2001's. She's also become an integral part of the powerful Hamilton music scene.A gifted storyteller, Yates offers a mix of cautionary tales, life lessons and colourful people and places. Hamilton's full of them you know, and several show up in Corktown, a number about the legendary tavern (Canada's oldest), where you have to prove yourself, something Yates certainly did. Trouble In The Country is about the situation Yates found herself in arriving in Nashville, especially a run-in with the famous producer Billy Sherrill. Oh, back to Hey Stella!, the band got back together for this one, and they sparkle throughout, with tasty licks from Baxter and a solid country groove to match Yates' natural twang. There's still lots of the punk in her as well. She might be a sweetheart, but she'll kick your ass too. It's a kick-ass record in fact. ” - Bob Mersereau

Top100Canadian Blog

Lori Yates could be crowned Canada's Best Kept Secret in the Roots Music category.With eight years separating the release of her last album (Minerva) and her long-awaited "Sweetheart Of the Valley", you can't exactly call Lori prolific. The upside of that is that she doesn't need to be. When you can write 12 well-crafted songs and deliver them flawlessly you don't need to be churning out mediocre music just to fill the gaps. With the (also flawless) musical backing of her Hey Stella! bandmates: Bazil Donovan, David Gavan Baxter (who also co-produces with Lori) and Michelle Josef, Lori's vocals are equally comfortable on what should become a classic country ballad, "Call My Name" to the more upbeat "Whatcha Gonna Do".Lori Yates IS a country singer but the lyrics and honky-tonk brashness of "Trouble In The Country" ensures that you won't be hearing her on a top 40 "country" radio station. She's WAY too good for their "all filler, no killer" format anyway. Lori is exactly the opposite of that and "Sweetheart Of the Valley" backs me up in spades. Allison Brock. Wide Cut Country. CKUA Radio Network in Alberta ” - Allison Brock

— CKUA - Edmonton

When people ask why I love country music, I mention Lori Yates. Sweetheart of the Valley is honest, uncompromising, and a hell of a listen. Yates' best album yet!"Brian Saunderson Hurtin' For Real - CFBX - Kamloops, BC” - Brian Saunderson

— CFBX - Kamloops BC

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