Yukon’s clown queen takes to song

Claire Ness's debut CD has been a lifetime in the making. "I've been writing songs since I was a little kid, and always doing parodies of songs or writing my own or singing everything," said Ness.

Claire Ness’s debut CD has been a lifetime in the making.

“I’ve been writing songs since I was a little kid, and always doing parodies of songs or writing my own or singing everything,” said Ness.

“I think I get it from my dad, he’s always singing. Just this morning, he was singing, ‘I’ve got potatoes and carrots, but no tomatoes yet.’”

Ness, 27, is a local comedian, clown, producer and musician. Her recent exploits include travelling to the Adelaide Fringe Festival in Australia with the Yukon Gold Comics, touring with her one-woman clown show, Ruffin’ It, and taking Yukon Circus Camp into its second summer.

Now her first album, Hopeless Romantic, is ready for the world. The CD release concert is tonight at the Yukon Arts Centre.

It’s a release party with a twist. While the first half of the show will feature songs from the album, the second half will be all new songs. If all goes according to plan, that live recording will become Ness’s second album.

Ness is looking forward to letting go of some of her older material, she said.

“It’s got songs that I wrote years and years ago, so it’s sort of – I’m ready to move on and end that chapter in my life.”

The oldest song on Hopeless Romantic is called Don’t Wait for a Rainbow, and Ness wrote it about six years ago.

“I wrote it on my grandparents’ dock in Ontario. One of the verses is inspired by a friend of mine who said to me, ‘You know, all of our emotions come from love. Love is like the white light. It creates everything, whether you’re angry or sad or frustrated or scared, it all comes from love.’”

It’s happy, uplifting, and a little naive, said Ness.

The album’s title track is a love song to two-stroke engine oil, or at least to the men who smell of it.

“You know when real Yukon men come home from cutting down trees or being out on the snowmobile or boat motors, all that stuff. It’s something that you don’t smell in the city.”

Ness wrote the song while living in Montreal.

It was there that Ness realized, “Oh yeah, that is a really nice smell that I miss about home, and the real men. Not just the pretend ones in Montreal with their beards and plaid shirts.”

Ness’s newer songs are a little bit less romantic, a little bit more about things and stuff.

The planned second album features songs about trains, snow, and “whether you like pike or trout better as a fisherman.”

Her favourite, Hockey Puck, is her newest song.

“It’s an ode to anyone who would rather watch the game than the one they love,” said Ness.

She also likes a song she wrote in French about food.

“That’s fun to sing, ‘cause it just gets your mouth watering, if you understand the language. Otherwise it sounds kind of sexy.”

Ness has recruited a long list of supporting characters for tonight’s concert, a who’s who of the Yukon music scene.

“I’m so lucky to have all of those people. It was pretty tough co-ordinating schedules, but everyone is so professional and laid-back. I’d feel confident even if they just showed up at the show and started playing, because they’re all so amazing and talented.”

Ness will be inviting her various guests up on stage throughout the show.

“It’s the cabaret variety show producer in me that wants everything different all the time, changing things up.”

Her music is funny and emotive, Yukon twang with a underlying current of jazz and blues.

“Claire Ness has been out there a lot, and the community might be like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve seen her,’” said Ness. “But this is very different from any show I’ve ever put on here. So come.”

The concert is tonight, 8 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre. Tickets are $20.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


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