By Will Yannacoulias
It’s rewarding for both the audience and the artists when two like-minded songwriters creatively connect. Examples such as Willie & Waylon have resulted in truly memorable performances as friendships intersect with art. Closer to home, Will Ardell and Berk Jodoin are a similar duo, gritty candid country storytellers who are the best of friends. Ardell and Jodoin are currently working together on “The Black Bird Sessions”, an intimate, honest night of storytelling and song. We spoke with Ardell and Jodoin about their friendship, their songwriting and their plans for the next Black Bird Session.
Ardell and Jodoin first met at the Dog Patch Music Festival last July, a fun weekend event known for spotlighting singer/songwriter, roots and bluegrass artists. Both were headlining the festival and they hit it off immediately. “We gelled pretty quickly, we get along great and have become really good friends over the course of the last year” Ardell explained. “We have similar styles and like writing songs that are brutally honest, that tell the real-life stories of our experiences, as well as the real life stories of others.” Jodoin added that “I love playing with Will. We have similar styles of storytelling in our songs. We write and sing about things that a lot of people avoid due to fear of ruffling feathers. Neither one of us are trying to be something we’re not; both genuine guys, singing genuine songs.”
Ardell and Jodoin’s collaborative project has been dubbed “The Black Bird Sessions”, a powerful, raw experience where the the two share a night of music and storytelling. Ardell shared his vision for the performance, explaining that “The Black Bird Sessions are basically an evening of stories and songs we started doing this year as a way to play some of our songs with a few of our favourite covers thrown in. It’s a very intimate storytelling event.” Jodoin succinctly added ”You get a few hours of honesty at a Black Bird Session.”
The debut session and the follow up on April 9th both took place at Hank’s Tavern in Bradwell SK, a small town watering hole that has emerged as one of the premier live music venues in Saskatchewan. Jodoin praised the unique venue, sharing that “the last show at Hanks we had a very attentive audience, they were listening to the songs and the stories in the songs. Hank’s is one of the great venues in the province that is really keeping all types of live music alive.” Ardell also heaped praise on Hank’s, saying that “Our first show together at Hanks Tavern was a great success with a really great crowd , and we are really looking forward to our return visit.”
Ardell and Jodoin are bringing The Black Bird Sessions back to Hank’s Tavern on Saturday April 9th. Berk Jodoin’s new album, Half Breed, is scheduled to be released this spring. Will Ardell’s next release, titled The Truth, is currently in production and will be out this summer.