Musician seeks what's extraordinary Glen Foster Group releases new album, Music Alchemy


Published - July 4, 2017

 Unexpected events can create magical moments when it comes to creating music. 

Nanaimo musician Glen Foster discovered the beauty of the unpredictable during the creation of the Glen Foster Group’s latest album Music Alchemy. The album features a number of brass instruments. Foster had never arranged for a brass section before, although he had collaborated with numbers brass instrument musicians, and had to discover the range of the instruments, the timbers and how they harmonize with other instruments. “The idea for the title is that I thought of all these different brass instruments coming into play … and the word I came up with was alchemy. It’s like a chemistry of things being put together,” said Foster. “The historical meaning of alchemy goes back to the ancient days where they tried to make gold out of things like lead.Foster said found a definition of alchemy as a process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, which fit with his album because he thought of it as a kind of musical chemistry and at times during the recording session “little magical things” begin to happen. ” You get this harmonization or blending of sounds or melodies that you are just not anticipating, you don’t plan out, but all of a sudden they appear and it’s just really neat,” he said. The Glen Foster Group is comprised of Foster, Marg Foster, Glenn Olsen, Pat Shonwise and Marty Steele. The group also collaborated with a number of special guests including Mark Crissinger, David Gogo, Paul Gogo, Dwight Gray, James McRae, Rick Salt and others. “Because I had so many people involved it really did create a kind of, I don’t know if I would use the word synergy, but that kind of thing where you share ideas and people come up with new concepts or like a little melody line that I wouldn’t have thought of, so it adds to the richness of the project having more collaborators,” said Foster. Foster said he needs to be inspired to write songs for the album. He can’t just sit down, pick up a guitar and start creating pieces. “There needs to be a seed and it moves to a simple instrument. It could be a piano or a cigar box guitar or something and then once I get the melody and rhythm happening on an instrument then the lyrics kind of follow,” he said. The Glen Foster Group performs during a album release event on July 14 and 15 at the Lighthouse Bistro and Pub, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. No cover. For more information about the Glen Foster Group, please visit 

GLEN FOSTER GROUP – “Music Alchemy” (Rescue Records)

By David Morrison (Fascinating Rhythm, Nanaimo /  Published - July 4, 2017

  A good look at the photograph adorning the sleeve of this new offering from Nanaimo stalwarts the Glen Foster Group reveals clues as to the music the CD within holds. In what appears to be a musical laboratory, a gentleman in bright yellow safety clothing and hardhat is lowering various brass instruments into a ‘radioactive’ hopper, the resultant alchemy producing a gleaming gold bar from the outlet beneath. Supervising the process, Foster, wearing a lanyard and holding a clipboard, is holding one of these bars, as if checking it for quality or purity. Simply put, the image is a metaphor for Foster’s new sonic direction on the excellent Music Alchemy. Interestingly, he has deemed it ‘an experiment,’ but I see it as such a successful one he should continue in this vein if resources allow! Powered along by a 7-piece brass section, this release is an all-star affair on which Foster has thrown absolutely everything into the pot for a most rewarding listen. Taking cues from classic Stax, Atlantic, the musical heritage of New Orleans, a touch of funk and even a little country, Music Alchemy is by far Foster’s most fully realized project to date. Aside from his regular band the singer-songwriter-guitarist has recruited a veritable who’s who of respected local rock, blues and jazz veteran talent, amounting (including the brass section) to 21 guest contributors in all.  At times reminiscent of such as Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes and their rock-soul ilk, Music Alchemy is most certainly all killer, no filler. Every song has been meticulously arranged and features one or more of the guest musicians, either soloing or making a telling rhythmic or melodic contribution, and it all adds up to a powerful collection. To this end there are some truly thrilling moments, such as the wonderful bridge in Blue Monkey; David Gogo’s searing solo on the fun Cactus Whiskey & Alligator Steak (the sleeve design also featuring an alligator, I might add); the honky-tonk vibe of Stepping Out on Saturday Night, and the all-hands-on-deck brilliance of the inventive instrumental closer, Groove Eleven. Lyrically, although there is a little introspection in the superior ballad Why in the World, Music Alchemy never gets too serious, a factor that greatly benefits the overall soul party mood. The aforementioned Cactus Whiskey… is a lighthearted look at survival in the bayou, and there is even a witty ode to the popular Italian liqueur, Sambuca. All in all everyone involved with this ambitious recording seems to be having a great time, and the consequence is quite simply a rock solid and natural sounding album that should see Foster’s stock rise even higher. Going back to that sleeve image and Foster’s apparent inspection of the product in his hands, it seems to me that the quality and purity of that gold bar in his hands are extremely high, perhaps even 24 karats!  

Lyrics lament leaving – Group Launches latest album with a party at The Vault

By Rachel Stern  THE NEWS BULLETIN     Published - Jan 20, 2016

 Sometimes leaving a comfortable place in a person’s life can cause pain. Occasionally it leads to adventure and a change for the better. The theme of leaving places or people behind is explored on the Glen Foster Group’s latest album, Leaving The Lagoon. Foster, lead vocalist and guitarist, was inspired by his canoe and kayak trips and travels on Cortes Island and Powell River. “A lot of the songs refer to being on the water” said Foster. The beauty of nature and being out there to find a place of inner peace is quite inspirational.” The flow of waves, rivers or the currents of lakes also inspire Foster’s lyrics. “You get the rhythm of the waves, which is like the music, it has a rhythm to it,” he said. Over his travels, Foster collected pieces of information, such as interesting place names that stuck out. Places like the Jail House Café, in Powell River, are some of the “funny little names of places’ Foster collected. When it came to writing the songs he used this information, picked up his guitar and came up with a melody to compose his lyrics. “The lyrics are an important aspect of my music. A lot of them tell stories and talk about situations and descriptions,” said Foster. Telling a story is an essential part of Foster’s art. The latest work is a concept album, an album that expresses a theme. “The lagoon kind of symbolizes your comfort zone or happy place and then leaving, you need to get out of the comfort zone or you’re forced to leave,” said Foster. Foster said leaving that comfortable place can allow people to find adventure and the results can be either good or bad. Foster is influenced by different musical styles. It’s reflected on the latest album. He collaborated with various musicians including Caleb McIntyre, who plays bagpipes; Marty Steele who plays piano and vocalists Susan Boland and Marg Foster. Other musicians he worked with on the album include Pat Shonwise, the Glen Foster Group bassist; Glenn Olsen on drums; Gerry Barnum, Steve Eakins and Dwight Gray. Foster said he loves collaborating with artists because they each bring a different perspective to the music he might not have thought of while creating it. He’s been a musician for more than 30 years. It’s the connection with people he enjoys, both fans and other musicians. Musical influences include Bob Dylan and Neil Young for their use of lyrical stories on their albums. Vocal influences include The Beach Boys. And one of Nanaimo’s great guitar players, David Gogo, influences his guitar skills. Foster actually taught Gogo guitar in the past. The Glen Foster Group is hosting a CD release party for Leaving The Lagoon with special guest Mark Crissinger this Saturday (Jan.23) 9pm to midnight at The Vault Café. Admission is $5. 

Local musician keeps politics a focus when penning lyrics

By  Julie Chadwick  THE STAR

Published - May 3, 2013 


"There's a city in flames, a flag on fire, the streets are occupied. Nations rage, war is waged, and access is denied." So begins the title track off The Reckoning, a new album from local singer/songwriter Glen Foster that he will debut at The Vault on Saturday.  One might be forgiven for thinking Foster refers nostalgically to some past era of political strife -- the late '60s perhaps -- but the song's 'reckoning' is about the exposure of the financial scandal perpetrated by U.S. banks that lead to the '08 stock market collapse.  Vietnam-era folk music used to be saturated in the political climate of the times, said Foster. He laments that though political expression has continued to flourish in environments like the Occupy movement, popular music hasn't followed suit.  "There's a lot of focus on dance and the rhythmic aspect of pop music that has extremely thin lyrical content, to put it mildly," said Foster with a chuckle. "It's a focus instead of the typical 'I love you, baby' love songs."  It is part of what has formed the basis of Foster's decision to stay independent throughout his 30-plus years of music-making.  "There's nobody dictating that you have to go on the road, or that you have to play certain venues, or record in certain places," said Foster. "No one dictating your sound and making you somebody you're not comfortable being," he added.  After studying jazz, Chet Atkins-style guitar and Hawaiian and classical guitar, in part at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Foster took to the road and made a living as a traveling musician for 10 years.  Though he says musically his sound is "all over the place" in terms of genre, he considers Bob Dylan and Neil Young to be formative influences.  He has opened for Sammy Hagar, Dr. Hook, Jose Feliciano, Valdy and Jesse Winchester, to name a few.  In the early '80s, tired of a life on the road, Foster settled down and spent the next ten years teaching at Ferguson Music.  Though he remains creatively 'single,' Foster's albums often feature local performers like blues guitarist David Gogo, blues harmonica player Gerry Barnum, and vocalists The Turtle Doves. He also produces recordings for other artists and operates his own indie record label and publishing company called Rescue Records.  The Reckoning is Foster's fourth CD, and was recorded in Nanaimo with producer Rick Salt. His CD release party is at the Vault, 499 Wallace Street, on Saturday (May 4) from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 and there will be CDs available to purchase. 

The Reckoning is the long awaited album by Canadian singer-songwriter Glen Foster

By Alfons Maes  KEYS AND CHORDS         Published - Sep 1, 2012

The Reckoning is the long awaited album by Canadian singer-songwriter Glen Foster. The album starts with a four part suite containing 3 instrumental tracks, overlapping each other seamlessly. Musical overtures and melodies are the norm. The title track is the closing part of the suite, the only song supported by tasteful lead vocals. Glen Foster entices us with his dexterity and nimble fingers on his 6-string guitar. The release contains some controversial tracks. In 'War of Worlds' you'll find the original voices of John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev mixed in. And Foster's voice fits in very well. But the best track Foster kept until the end. The optimistic 'Someday (It'll All Work Out)' with backing vocals, organ, piano and fluid electric guitar is unquestionably the absolute high note. The CD ends just as hauntingly as it started. The 12 string Rickenbacker guitar in 'The Reckoning' part V Reprise enchants us again in a sustained musical highlight.