Sunday Wilde (from the album He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown) - Sunday Wilde is a blues woman. Her latest album, He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown, paints Country, Americana and Roots music with a Blues brush. That choice gives He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown the sound of an album similar to 1920’s/30’s Blues women such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.
Sunday Wilde keeps the power of their delivery in place; the style diversity is a throwback to those women making Blues filtered through the personal music influences, some outside of their chosen form of words and music. Sunday’s decision to stay on home turf for the recording process, away from the sterile safety of previous times recording in Toronto studios. He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown was recorded in hunting lodge cabins near her Northern Ontario home-- the results again, harkening back to the scratchy quality that we hear today from the blues greats of the 20’s and 30’s.
It is nearly impossible for me to stay away from obvious phrase references, so let me get this out of the way. For Sunday, she is one Wilde woman who gets the Blues. In her words, here is how that happens:
Sunday Wilde: I live about two hours west of Thunder Bay, Ontario. A town with 3,000 people named Atikokan. …. money, certainly, and it is a good place to raise my two kids, and I love the wilderness.
We recorded He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown at the Branches Seine River Lodge. It is an old hunting lodge, the site of the last hanging in this part of Ontario. The hanging story revolves around this woman, a bootlegger and a single mom. It gave a very cool back story to what we were doing.
We set up the studio, building it took three days. We had one cabin with the recording gear for the producer and engineer. We put snakes of wires through the windows and set up the instruments and equipment in the next cabin for us to record. I would really encourage other artists to set up in the wilderness like this. There are no distractions since there is nothing at all around to distract you.
I really wanted to do this album and have my friends and kids witness the process. People, many of the musicians, wanted me to go down to Toronto. I am so happy we stayed here to record. The production is brilliant.
Living at the edge of nowhere, I do everything for myself in my career. My own promo, etc. I recently was a part of a great gathering that allowed me to be a piece of something larger rather than doing it all myself. We traveled to Clarksdale, Mississippi to record with sixteen other blues women. It was an incredible experience.
It was set up by the Hopson Commisary and happened prior to the Memphis Blues Challenge so that many of the women traveling from overseas could make it down to record in Mississippi. It took me two days to get down and two days back, but it was worth the effort. We recorded at the intersection of I-55 and Route 61, where Bessie Smith died.”
Sunday Wilde captures the beauty of the remote region where she dwells on the first track in He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown with “Down the Road Alone”. The song is a slow blues that mirrors the remote sadness of living so far north. “Shaken Down” does what it says and shakes things up with a story that was old when Blues was young, that of a woman deceived by her lover, and “There was a Time” is uptown blues telling the story of a traveling woman who wishes she had stayed home. Long distance and love connect on He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown in the song, “No Matter How Far”.
For Sunday Wilde, the Blues needs no particular place to grow. From its birthplace in the Mississippi delta, the sound followed Highway 61 north to its final end in Thunder Bay. The sound caught air and went further on the wind to connect with another soul mate, Sunday Wilde. DANNY McCLOSKEY/RA