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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Ken Wallis Chats With Meghan Parnell Of Toronto-Based Southern Soul, Roots Rock Band Bywater Call


By Ken Wallis. Photo Credit: Elliot Tilleczek



Bywater Call is an electrifying band that crackles like a live wire spurting out high-powered music. Led by vocalist Meghan Parnell and guitar-slinger Dave Barnes, this seven-piece band is turning heads everywhere they go. And they have been everywhere! Europe, the U.S, and of course Canada. The band has just garnered four Maple Blues nominations, including Recording Of The Year for the album Remain.


Ken Wallis interviewed Meghan Parnell for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview, amended and edited for brevity and clarity.



Ken Wallis

Bywater Call has a new album out, it’s called Remain, and joining us to tell us all about it is Meghan Parnell.


Meghan Parnell

Thanks for having me.


Ken Wallis

Great seeing you again. Let's get into a couple of interesting facts. Firstly, where did the name Bywater Call come from?

Meghan Parnell

So, Bywater is a neighbourhood in New Orleans, right next to the French Quarter. There's a street along there called Frenchman Street, lots of amazing local music clubs, and the first time Dave and I visited New Orleans we just fell in love with the area. So, it's basically just the call to go back and visit as often as possible, which has not been easy lately. And secondly to incorporate the kind of warmth and the feeling that we got from those visits into the music that we're writing.

Ken Wallis

Your new album is entitled Remain. Why did you pick that title?

Meghan Parnell

The title is based on one of the tracks which we wrote pre-pandemic to bring on our first European tour with us in 2020, and it became the first tune that we recorded for this album. It really kind of sat well right from the beginning. The song Remain is about broken relationships and one side wanting to see it through. But for us during the pandemic, the title also kind of brought on a second meaning, where at the time we were seeing a lot of our friends in the industry, and we were all struggling, but some friends kind of just gave up on it. And we said we're going to see this through. So that's kind of why that became the title track for the album.


Ken Wallis

And the album cover artwork is very interesting as well. Can you describe what that's all about?


Meghan Parnell

Well, we stuck with bird imagery. Our first album had a bird on it, which was kind of in line with the New Orleans feel. A kite is a bird native to that area, so we wanted to stick with that imagery. When I was talking to the artist who brought the concept to us, originally it was a t-shirt concept and then I saw it and I was like I love this! I think this would be great for an album, just kind of taking that bird imagery and then incorporating some of the vibe of the album, which is tied down, so the bird is tied down and that's what he came up with and I love it!

Ken Wallis

The album opens up with Falls Away. Why was that selected as the first song on the album?

Meghan Parnell

We just wanted to grab people off the top with the energy of that tune. It's got a pretty bold vocal, something high-energy off the top to grab people.

Ken Wallis

This album seems a little more of the softer side of Bywater Call. I find it very interesting, lots of great, smooth, slow tunes.


Meghan Parnell

We like to give a nice balance. We definitely want some of the rockier side of us to be there and to come through. But I think we really live in groovy, feel good, mid tempo music.


Ken Wallis

One thing that's really struck me is your voice and Dave Barnes’ guitar, they just seem to blend together so well. How did you two get together?

Meghan Parnell

Dave and I have been playing together for about 15 years now. We ran a corporate wedding private-function band and we had been doing that for years. I met him because he was looking for a singer for that band way back when, and I was doing some gigs with a good friend of his, who asked if I had a regular gig and at the time I didn't. So, I met up with Dave and Mike our bass player, and I did a little jam with them some 15 years ago, and they were like, okay you’re hired. We've been playing together ever since then. Dave and my musical tastes and sensibilities have kind of grown together over the years, and yeah, we've just been playing together for a long time, which I think helps.


Ken Wallis

And how does the band go about creating the music? Is there one person that writes the majority of it or is it more of a cooperative effort?


Meghan Parnell

We're seeing a lot more input now from the rest of the band, which is awesome. We're really excited about that. Sweet Maria which was the first tune we put out this year, the first single came to us from our keyboard player John, and there's lots of really fun and exciting ideas that were we're working on. Traditionally the tunes start with Dave, mainly Dave, but also me. We bounce ideas, often starting with a chord progression, or some sort of melody that he and we bounce it back and forth. When we feel like it's ready, we bring it to the band and together the band kind of takes it to another level to develop the song. So everybody has input.

Ken Wallis

The band is a seven-piece band. Is that difficult touring with a with a large entourage?

Meghan Parnell

It's not easy, but it is what it is. There's nobody that we can leave behind right at this point. That is the setup of the band and it's more expensive, and seven personalities weeks together on the road. I think we handle it really well and the chemistry between everybody in the band is great.


Ken Wallis

The band has toured Europe. How did you find the audiences over there? Were they any different than Canadian audiences?


Meghan Parnell

The impression we got right off the top was that audiences there are a little bit more willing to come out and see something that they've never heard of before. I think we're a little bit more tentative with that at home. It's very different from one country to the next. In Spain they love to party and they'll cram into a small room and just get sweaty together. In Germany and the Netherlands, they're very stoic but they'll clap enthusiastically after every song, but they're not bouncing around too much.


Ken Wallis

I've seen Bywater Call numerous times and I think what strikes me about the band is the way it blends together. It's a very cohesive sound and I think that's remarkable with seven different instruments, seven different people.


Meghan Parnell

I think a lot of that has to do with how much we've played together and especially this year. It's always going to get, I hope, more cohesive and better in the vibes on stage, but we've played so much together this year that we've really locked into something really cool.

Ken Wallis

Where can fans purchase the album?

Meghan Parnell

There's a link on our website where they can purchase it, the website is bywatercall.com. It's available on streaming platforms and if you come to one of our shows, it's available offside stage.

Ken Wallis

And you're selling both vinyl and CD versions of the album?

Meghan Parnell

Yes we are.


Ken Wallis

Are you finding one is selling more than the other?

Meghan Parnell

It really depends from day to day. Some days the CD's fly off the shelves, sometimes it's the vinyl. Vinyl is obviously making a comeback, but, it's a difficult thing to get printed. The timelines are crazy and it can be cost prohibitive. For people who are really into music and do have the means to play a record, it becomes a bit of a collector's item which is cool.

Ken Wallis

Well once again the album is Remain by Bywater Call and Meghan, I thank you so much for your time. It's been great chatting with you.


Meghan Parnell

Thanks Ken I appreciate it.





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