Yukon songstress Kim Barlow is leaving the territory. She will say goodbye in style, getting together a cast of musical co-conspirators for a send-off show Sunday night at the Yukon Arts Centre.
The next day, she and her husband will pack their three-month-old twins into a car and begin their long drive to Nova Scotia, where Barlow came from 20 years ago.
“It’s time to move on,” said Barlow. “Me and my husband just made these two new babies, and it feels like it’s time to move closer to family.”
Twenty years ago, Barlow wouldn’t have guessed that she would be here today, with five full-length records and two Juno nominations under her belt. She has toured all over Canada, Europe and Australia.
She started as a shy, fresh-faced kid out of music school who came to the Yukon for an adventure.
“I came up for a summer and had an epic, wild, amazing, awesome summer. And of course fell in love with the place and people. I made a whole group of friends that summer and a lot of them are still here.
“There were tons of campfires and opportunities to just be playing music. A lot of my friends, we lived in cabins that didn’t have electricity or running water. It was really analogue. We spent a lot of time just playing music together for entertainment.”
She has tried to leave before, she said.
“I keep coming back. Who knows if it will really take this time? I think it will.”
She couldn’t have accomplished all she has without the supportive community of Yukon musicians, she said.
“Right from the beginning, I was really shy. It took me a lot to start singing in front of people. You just find yourself doing gigs here, it’s hilarious. I remember several times over the course of my time here where I had a casual conversation with somebody in a bar about doing a show, and the next thing I know, my name is on a poster somewhere.”
Her first record, Humminah, also came as a bit of a surprise to Barlow, she said.
“I got into horse logging for a while. I bought a team of horses out in Haines Junction, the big Belgian horses, and we were doing firewood out there. That same winter, I had been doing a few gigs around town, and a record label that was here back then, Caribou Records, approached me and asked if I wanted to make a record. It was kind of a surprise, and kind of out of the blue.”
Then she started touring, and quickly got hooked on the lifestyle, she said.
Now, as her life settles down a bit and she plans to head home, it feels like coming full circle, said Barlow.
“I had some pretty wild times here, and I was a free spirit, I guess you would say, and then touring all over and doing the rock and roll lifestyle for a while. And now I’m married and I have babies and we’re going to go live in the country in Nova Scotia. I’m still going to play music and tour, but not as much as I used to.”
Sunday’s concert will feature Andrea McColeman, Dave Haddock, Lonnie Powell, Micah Smith and Helene Beaulieu as Barlow’s backing band.
Special guests will include Kim Beggs, Natalie Edelson, Bob Hamilton and Daniel Janke.
Extra special guests Betsy Sims and Martha Scott Stey are coming in from Juneau for a reprise of Barlow’s old band, the Glacial Erratics.
“I’m getting as many people who I’ve played with over the years to come and do the show with me. It will be a big reunion on stage, and we’ll play a lot of the old hits.”
There will be new songs, too, from Barlow’s current band, Blue Hibou. That band is set for a CD release next month.
“For me it just feels like a chance to say goodbye to everybody. So many people that I know and love. I want to see them all in the room together one last time - I don’t like to say one last time - one more time. It won’t be the last time.”
Barlow and her husband have not yet found a new home in Nova Scotia, but are looking for something in the Annapolis Valley, said Barlow.
“We’re hoping to get a nice big place with a guest house out there in country. We want people to come visit.”
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at