I was supposed to have an email chat with legendary outsider music star B.J. Snowden earlier this week for the print edition of the Coast, but she was traveling and couldn't get to a library to check her email, so I didn't hear from her until mid-Wednesday.
Before she responded to my questions, she called me while I was at work and left a very long message explaining and sort of apologizing for not getting in touch sooner. During the message she introduced herself three times. "It's B.J. here. I'm B.J. Snowden," she said. "This is B.J. Snowden," she added closer to the end of the conversation, as if I had forgotten.
She then said "I'm driving through Maine. But I'm from Massachusetts. But I'm driving through Maine." Then she told my voice message inbox some more stuff about driving and traveling. She didn't seem to care that she was talking to an answering machine and spoke like she was having a back and forth conversation with a person, which is often how I feel when I leave messages on answering machines. She sounded really sweet and had a heavy New England accent. She then called Sue Carter Flinn. I'm not sure what they talked about.
You can read more about B.J. here and here. The things you should know are: 1) She really likes New Brunswick and Canada and wrote songs about both. 2) Fred Schneider likes her. 3) She's from Massachusetts but considers herself a spiritual Canadian. She says, "In Canada, folks treat you like a queen."
4) She's playing the Company House (8:30pm, $10) tonight and Sappyfest tomorrow. 5) She is rad. Question and answer exchange below.
The Coast: You have a song dedicated to New Brunswick. Many people from Halifax like to mock New Brunswick - they think the province is boring, or backwards, or not fun, hence the term "No Funswick." How would you defend New Brunswick to these people and why do you like it so much?
BJ: I think that each province in the country of Canada has its own special beauty and society has to think that each province, each human being and every area has the same. We do have problems in the world and we should try to look at good points.
At the same time, there are some places you don't like. You don't seem to like Newfoundland much in this song "Newfy" - it's a very disparaging song. Where did those sentiments come from?
I really do like Newfoundland but I was trying to be sarcastic?
I agree it was the least prettiest of all of the 10 provinces where I traveled but I haven't been through the whole province. So who am I to judge?
You will be performing in beautiful Sackville New Brunswick this weekend. Have you ever been there before?
I been through Sackville briefly but not really stayed. I stopped here for gas and then got back on the highway again.
I understand your son Andres accompanies you on guitar and your mom sings backup. Why is it important for you to have your family involved in your musical life?
Unfortunately 2 things have changed in my life, first my mother passed away on March 31st and secondly my son is grown up, married, has his own group with his wife and is going to get his doctorate's at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I am happy about him going for his doctorate, where he'll be majoring in Comparative Literature.
I miss my mother so much and it was a great experience for my family to perform with me and will definitely miss it all. I love my family and was glad to treasure their performances with me.
Above: B.J. performs "Judge Joe Brown" with her mother in January 2009.
On Youtube, there is a video of you giving an amazing performance to two people in Seattle. Can you ever predict how a crowd will respond to your music?
About Seattle, I felt that it was a small venue and there was not much publicity. Plus I am not from Seattle, I am from Massachusetts.
You work as a substitute teacher. Do your students ever inspire you, musically? Do they know what your occupation is when you're not teaching?
The students all know that I perform and at times want me to perform in their classes while they are doing their classwork and it works.