A new book and CD that provides an intimate glimpse into the Montréal folk music scene has just been released – and it was all created in Vankleek Hill.

Another Tool in the Shed is a 148-page hardcover book, complete with a 24-track CD of original songs, that was created by Vankleek Hill’s Randall Anderson. The book and CD, which feature a group of old-time bluegrass, country and folk musicians – many of which jam together regularly at Grumpy’s Bar in downtown Montréal – was entirely produced and recorded in the tool shed behind Anderson’s Vankleek Hill home.

The hardcover book is filled with stories, biographies and full-colour illustrations of the musicians and performances. It is essentially Anderson’s love letter to the Montréal music scene.

“It really turned out beautifully,” says Anderson, as he thumbs through the illustrations in his Vankleek Hill home.

Another Tool in the Shed is split into three parts and contains seven essays by various artists at the beginning, along with a photo album in the middle. The final section of the book contains a centrefold biography and photos of each of the artists who participated in the project.

Anderson has written two of the seven essays in his book – both of which document his music journey. It is clear from going through the writings, photos and essays that everyone in the project is in love with the music.

Project inspired by COVID-19 pandemic

A visual artist and academic who writes about art for about half a dozen international art journals, Anderson says he was inspired to do the project at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He received a grant from the Canada Council for to help with the recording, writing, printing and other costs.

Randall Anderson at his home in Vankleek Hill. Photo: Reid Masson

“I recognize the significance of catching below-the-radar culture that people participate in, but don’t acknowledge officially,” Anderson says. “That’s where the book comes from.”

Each artist spent several days at Anderson’s home in Vankleek Hill to write and record the music.

His wife Natasha was immediately on board with the idea.

“She really got into the idea of having people come out here,” Anderson says, adding his neighbours did not mind hearing music even late at night. “We play in the garden sometimes until the sun comes up. All my neighbours love this music.”

The ad-hoc group of musicians adopted the name ‘The Tool Shed Collective’, receiving inspiration from what Anderson calls ‘The Well of Tradition’.

“I’m not sure who came up with the idea of the well,” says Anderson. “But it’s a place we go to for inspiration. We replenish and then we go off and make art, which keeps the tradition alive.”

Funding from Canada Council and CBC

Another Tool in the Shed began in 2020, with a series for YouTube that included 11 artists, funded with a small grant from the Canada Council and the CBC. After the project proved successful, Anderson approached the Canada Council again in 2022 for a larger grant, in order to produce a new series adding 13 artists, along with a book and CD that would include all 24.

The book ‘Another Tool in the Shed’ is available for $60, including a 24- track CD of original songs.

The book and CD were launched with a special concert on January 14, 2023, at Casa del Popolo in downtown Montréal that featured 16 of the artists from the CD.

“The weekend was crazy – the launch was sold out and packed,” said an excited Anderson, a few days after the concert. “What a great show!”

Another Tool in the Shed is available for purchase by sending an email to Anderson at [email protected] . Anyone interested can also sent a message through The Tool Shed Facebook page. The book and CD are also available online at The Review Bookstore and the Arbor Gallery. The cost of the book with the CD is $60, while the CD alone can be purchased for $15.

For a preview of the music, you can visit the YouTube channel for Another Tool in the Shed.

Vankleek Hill was perfect location for project

Anderson has received tremendous positive feedback on his book and CD project and is already planning the next stage.

All of the music for ‘Another Tool in the Shed’ was recorded in the tool shed in the backyard of Anderson’s Vankleek Hill home. Submitted Photo

“We’re talking about doing things,” says Anderson. “I could see doing more residences next year, because people are lining up.”

“It is truly about creation and community. And it’s happening in Vankleek Hill.”

Anderson credits his move to the small village in Eastern Ontario a few years ago with opening up his world and making the music projects possible.

“It really came out of living in Vankleek Hill and finding myself just 100 clicks from two vital communities of musicians. And there are a lot of musicians in Vankleek Hill.”

For future projects Anderson hopes to have more live performances, now that things have opened back up as the COVID-19 pandemic is waning. He is planning for a live concert by members of The Tool Shed Collective in Vankleek Hill, as well as organizing smaller, intimate club performances that are his first love and helped inspire the book and CD.

“People sit down and they consume (the music) without formally whipping out a credit card and buying it,” Anderson says of performing in small pubs and bars. “In a way, this book is my way of saying thanks to this community and bringing it (to Vankleek Hill).”