By Paul Everest/London Community News/Twitter: @PaulEverest
Distressed at the prospect of not having a chance to see one of her favourite musicians perform live this summer, Elsie Richmond decided to take matters into her own hands.
The 17-year-old is leaving London Saturday (June 30) to take part in the Ontario Rangers program in the Northern Ontario community of Sioux Lookout for eight weeks.
While away, she’ll miss a performance of Nova Scotia troubadour Joel Plaskett at London’s Home County Folk Festival in Victoria Park on July 21.
But there is still hope Elsie could get to see Plaskett play, in an even more intimate setting, thanks to a contest the artist is running on his website.
Earlier this year, Plaskett, a Juno-award winning musician, released his seventh solo album, Scrappy Happiness, and as part of promotional activities surrounding the record, he launched a video-making contest where fans could make videos for any of the album’s 10 tracks.
The videos are posted on Plaskett’s website and on YouTube and the piece that receives the most “Likes” on YouTube will win the contest.
Plaskett will then play a private concert for the video’s creator and 25 of his or her friends.
When Elsie learned of this contest, she jumped at the opportunity.
“How awesome would it be if I had a private concert with Joel Plaskett at my house, with my friends?” she said.
A student in H.B. Beal Secondary School’s broadcasting program, Elsie borrowed the program’s camera, recruited seven friends and embarked on making a video for the song Tough Love.
With limited time to keep the camera and to come up with an idea, she decided to head out to some of the city’s parks and film herself and her friends having a great time dancing around the city.
“It was just going to be fun to be spontaneous,” Elsie said.
On June 18 and 19, she shot footage in Victoria Park, Harris Park, McMahon Park and by the Thames River and before long Elsie realized she wasn’t just making a video for the contest, she was showcasing the city’s “beautiful green spaces.”
“We have very beautiful parks,” she said. “They get overlooked.”
Summer weather meant the parks were brimming with people and activity, giving the video a perfect backdrop, Elsie added.
“The set was already there.”
After posting the video on YouTube after the shoot, Elsie said people from outside London viewing her submission were commenting on places around the city that they recognized.
“They said, ‘I’ve been there’.”
Elsie said she first became interested in Plaskett about two or three years ago when a friend of her mother’s showed her the video for the song Fashionable People off of Plaskett’s third solo record, Truthfully, Truthfully.
The track became a theme song for her family and she began collecting his records, picking up his 2009 album Three about a year-and-a-half ago and receiving Scrappy Happiness for her birthday in April.
A musician herself, Elsie said she fell in love with Plaskett’s shyly poetic writing style, his infectious melodies and raw energy.
“He’s just so inspiring,” she said, adding if she is successful in winning the contest, she has dreams of sharing the stage with Plaskett.
“I hope to play some of my songs with him and maybe get invited to go on tour with him.”
Elsie said she already knows which friends she would invite to the concert should her video receive the most likes and she has a vision for how the show would be staged in her backyard.
“It would be a very nice evening.”
As of Friday (June 29), Elsie’s video had 66 likes on YouTube and 980 people have viewed the piece.
So far, she’s up against 52 other videos and June 30 is the last day for submitting a video for the contest.
People have until July 15 to vote on the video they want to see win the contest.
“No matter what happens, I’m very happy I entered,” Elsie said, adding that even if her video helps introduce people to Plaskett, she’ll be satisfied.
You can view Elsie's video below: