Member Profile

Ali McCormick

Once, before they called her the Lioness of Lanark County, Ali McCormick was growing up off the grid on a farm with the first steps of the rest of her life lying in wait in the form of an acoustic guitar. Home was a small house on a Watson’s Corners hill where her family grew vegetables, tended to livestock and lived a life many of their loved ones couldn’t understand. They were tough times but they were beautiful times. The great wide world was somewhere beyond the horizon but first there were spring melts, maple syrup runs and days chasing deer out of the garden with an old hound dog. Then there was the guitar.

Somewhere between the jump to 5 and the step into six, McCormick started strumming her brother’s guitar. It wasn’t long before she was given one of her own, a cherry top parlour guitar which would graduate into a Taylor that has now seen many miles beyond where it started from.

“Our family was always big on long, drawn out and frequent visits,” recalls McCormick. “It was during those visits with heated in-depth family discussions, boisterous tea and coffee drinking sessions, where inevitably the guitars would come out.”

Though she refers to music as always having been a strength and comfort to her, she admits she hadn’t seriously thought of pursuing it as a career until a few years ago. That desire, though, was pulled by another dream, one to see the world over that horizon she’d spent so much time looking towards out her Watson’s Corners window. In her late teens, guitar in hand, she headed towards the city lights, tucking snippets of songs into suitcases and dusting off melodies at way station stops on the journey.

On snowy night highways, in lonesome hotel rooms, on smoky room stages, here she found the words and the words found themselves on scraps of paper that found their way into songs. “I’ve been known to park the car half-way up the driveway and stop everything to hammer out a song coming home from work,” she’ll tell you. Her style would be very much like McCormick, a stitched together patchwork quilt of personality, one that has her sense of worldly wanderlust as well as her fiery, back woods tough personality. Even sandpaper as a softer side.

This wilderness wordsmith populates her music will characters you can slip on like a well-worn sweater. Though you’ll find struggle and bittersweet kisses, McCormick usually gives you a clearing at the end of the past where you can dip your line into a local fishing hole and dream a little dream. Though mainly rooted in folk, her tunes do like to wander in other pastures and you will catch a hint of jazz and even hip-hop on the wistful winds.

“I love bringing a song, be it a story or feeling, to people,” she says. “If a song has made someone else think of something they want to change about themselves, or remember someone they love then I’m in my happy place.”

Having released two albums (2014’s self-titled recording and 2016’s Clean Water), McCormick is ready to share perhaps her most personal offering to date with The Place You Know. Tracks like “Tackle Box, Saw, Chain and a Knife” and “The Woodstove” show that though the body has ventured across the land the soul has never strayed far from her childhood farm. The path at the end of a tour now leads to her own cozy clearing where she runs a sheep sheep farm between her musical interludes. A need to be inside nature’s envelope is part of her DNA.

“If I learned anything related to musicology during my years in restaurants it is that some recipes call for familiarity. Nature has the perfect ingredients for an environmentally inspired songwriter to cook up some good, wholesome poetry.”

The Place You Know is an album of road-tested songs could be called an ode to youthful memories filled with hijinks and wild days at the midway. In between there are moments spent at home nestled in the warm caress of love. One would expect no less from The Lioness of Lank County.