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Wednesday, 22 January 2014 16:20

Swift Current and Belle Plaine will always be close

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Melanie Hankewich aka country/jazz/folksy blues singer Belle Plaine has immense talent as a songwriter and is a gifted songstress.

Plus, she works hard on her craft as well as ensuring she gets on the road to tour and meet fans. This is something music-goers in Swift Current will get an opportunity to experience Feb. 15 when she performs on the Lyric Theatre stage. Doors open at 8 p.m. with the show starting at 9 p.m.
Unfortunately Hankewich worked too hard on her last tour which saw her on the road for seven months straight and then just prior to that, almost two years. All of this after she first decided singing was going to be her full-time vocation after spending some interesting times as a waitress in Australia.
The time spent touring through 2012-13 was a success, but it came at a cost which she didn’t really realize until she took a step back.
“I burnt out,” states the honest and amiable Hankewich. “I was busy (this year), ended the tour as I was at the Junos in Regina, was a big part of Junofest and it was over, I was really exhausted, so the summer, I took it off.
“It’s good. I have a fresh perspective. I took a long time off. It was something that was needed.”
Her band mates were supportive of her during her tour and her decision to relax. Saying the tour “was hard on them” Hankewich feels the decision to take a break was needed. She had a lot of people agreeing with her.
“I told people who are around me I was tired and they told me I was going too hard for too long.”
You can’t blame Hankewich for pushing hard for so long. Belle Plaine was on a roll.
Besides the tour and guest appearances at festivals, Hankewich travelled to Los Angeles as part of a SaskMusic tour. According to the SaskMusic website, the organization was going to  “present entertainment at the Canadian Consulate on Dec. 12 for a private reception for 80 guests that (included) individuals from the entertainment Industry.” Belle Plaine, joined The Sheepdogs, Jack Semple and others in the Saskatchewan entertainment scene to play at the reception and make some excellent contacts.
“It felt like a huge coup,” explains Hankewich. “To be put on a tour like that and now they believe in you in that sort of thing and to be part of a huge thing makes you feel good.”
After spending the summer doing a lot of writing, Hankewich says she has more to work on, but will be in the studio soon. Notes From A Waitress (2012) and Hello from Belle Plaine (2010) were critical successes, but Hankewich says she will not rush this new effort. She has no problem waiting to release it in 2015 to get it just right.
“The summer of 2015 feels like a long way off, it seems like a lot of time, but it goes fast,” explains Hankewich. She adds it allows some much-needed time for collaboration with other acts.  “We’re starting to record the demos; we’d like to do it here in the summer. It’s coming out in 2015; two albums taught us about pacing myself. I got a lot done last summer during my time off. I’m proud of what I was able to get accomplished.”
She can’t wait to hit the road for a couple of shows and try some of her new material out while performing some from her previous two efforts.
“I’ve been reconnecting with the music community and I’m ready to start again,” explains Hankewich who says the show in Swift Current, she’s going all out. “This show is the start of the next phase of my career. We’ll have a seven, possibly eight-piece band. I absolutely feel ready, feel more in touch with the music and myself."
Touring around western Canada is something she enjoys. That touring is what gave Hankewich her name Belle Plaine. She had done a lot of recording work with former Lyric Theatre employee Dave Lang. Hankewich’s friend Carolyn Lang was one who encouraged her to sing full-time. Driving between Swift Current and Regina, driving by the small town of Belle Plaine. The two thought the name Belle Plaine would be a great stage name.
“I feel invincible and I feel great about doing this first show in Swift Current,” adds Hankewich who has nothing but great things to say about promoter Shann Gowan who has always been a supporter.
“Swift Current was the genesis of all of this.”
Tickets for Belle Plaine are $25 and can be purchased at Pharmasave or by phoning Shann Gowan at 306-778-2686 or e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor