Dennis Ellsworth and his The Moneygoround 5 piece band, have released their debut single, Very Cherry, and will unleash their 1st album in Spring of 2022.
It is my pleasure to forward a few questions in the direction of the songwriter, performer, and producer from Charlottetown, PE, Dennis Ellsworth. He began writing songs in high school and over the years he has moved around, spending time in Edmonton, AB, as well, 6.5 years in Toronto, ON, and now is based out of his East Coast hometown. His resume includes collaboration with Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize of Skydiggers, Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, Joel Plaskett, and David Barbe of Sugar and foremost producer of the Athens, GA based group, Drive-by Truckers. His work bridges a variety of styles from folk to rock n’ roll to chill electro-pop. Dennis has had 10 albums to his name since 2009 and his most recent is a self-produced collection called Common Senseless, recorded in his hometown with longtime collaborator, Adam Gallant. The record is a rumination on our ridiculous behavior. It’s a lighthearted commentary about the places Dennis hopes we aren’t heading. Dennis Ellsworth has had 4 PEI Music Awards, through his individual work and from the multiple bands that he has created and has been associated with. His music has appeared on multiple CBC television shows, and he has collaborated with Gord Downie, Donovan Woods, and David Barbe, the producer for the Drive-by Truckers, to name a few.
Currently, Dennis’s brand new group, a 5-piece called The Moneygoround, hailing from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, came together during Covid and aimed to challenge themselves with blending Rock N’ Roll, Psychedelic, Americana, Blues, Folk, and Roots music with band members featuring Dennis Ellsworth, Josh Langille, Sam Langille, Katie McGarry, and Dan Currie. They cite The Kinks song “The Moneygoround” which is a song about the trials and misfortunes in the music industry, as well as The Style Council’s song with the same title as inspiration for the groups’ name, and their sound has a 60’s pop-inspired sound, complemented by hints of psychedelic elements, fuzzy guitars, catchy melodies, For their debut album, Cruisin’ and Swingin’ with The Moneygoround, the band worked with producer and songwriter Joel Plaskett at Fang Recording in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and is scheduled for release spring 2022, filled with songs that are vignettes of life and love, and the faded dreams of the days gone by, which features their first single released on November 29th, 2021, entitled “Very Cherry.”
The debut single Very Cherry is an Americana, power-pop track with aspects of roots woven through. The upbeat song features 60’s inspired, ear-catching hooks, and is a story about commitment, security, and the promise of love. With the opening lyrics about a failed relationship, the song bridges the past and future of songwriter Dennis Ellsworth’s current partnership, as the rest of the lyrics highlight the positive relationship he has now. The fun and catchy love song also draw inspiration from Jan and Dean’s “Surf City” – a 60’s vocal duo who use the phrase “very cherry” in the song. The creative, retro cover art for the single was also created by Ellsworth, who used a photo of the inside of a kaleidoscope as the visual for the track. “Very Cherry” is the perfect introduction to the music from The Moneyground and offers an exciting glimpse into their upcoming album.
Having previously collaborated together, Dennis Ellsworth and Joel Plaskett initially started their most recent collaboration with the intention of creating a solo project for Dennis. Band members Dan Currie and Ellsworth are longtime collaborators as well, currently in another band together – the Electric Stars. Dan’s wife Katie lends her vocals and expert piano playing to the group and marks an exciting, new challenge in her career. Brothers Josh and Sam Langille, both session musicians on numerous projects from Ellsworth and members of an up-and-coming Charlottetown-based band called “Absolute Losers”, round out the group with their complementary bass and drumming talents.
DEB: Q.1. Dennis, when did you realize music was going to be a huge part of your life?
DENNIS: “When I was very young. I remember going to piano lessons as a child and I still have a visual memory of the sun coming through a huge window into a hazy, and probably dusty music room on a second-story space in Charlottetown. It’s moments like these, that while looking back for answers to questions like this, I recall. When I was in jr high school I started to imagine myself in music as a job, and in high school, I started writing lyrics and singing in bands, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really felt like I could do something professionally in music. It’s a long arc, but it’s all relevant in mapping out my deep desire for music in my life.“
DEB: Q. 2. Who would you say inspires your songwriting the most, then and now?
DENNIS: “I think you are asking about other writers, so if that’s the case, I would say: Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Paul Westerberg, Paddy McAloon, Sandy Denny, Kirsty Maccoll, Nick Lowe, John Martyn, Tim Hardin, Elevator to Hell, Duke Ellington, The Byrds, Hoagy Carmichael, Ray and Dave Davies, Paul Weller, John Lennon, REM, Bo Diddley, The Cult, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Daniel Lanois, Curtis Mayfield…it’s all over the place, and endless.“
DEB: Q. 3. Take us on a deep stroll through your song-writing process and how The Moneygoround’s 1st single, VERY CHERRY, and The Moneygoround’s soon-to-be-released debut album, Cruisin’ and Swingin’ with The Moneygoround, came to be?
DENNIS: “The band started in the spring of 2021. We rehearsed all summer and worked on the songs I had written and then recorded the album in September, so it all happened quite quickly. In the future, others will contribute songs as well, but this time, it just worked out that the seeds were all from me. Everyone is a great writer in this band.
The process of writing is a fairly organic one with us. We don’t overwork the song too much and we don’t really tell each other what to play or what sounds to make. It’s collaborative and I think that shows in the record. We dig into the arrangements most of all, but sometimes the songs just arrange us. It was a very smooth workflow and the environment was never stressful.
I have been playing music with Dan Currie since 2001, but I’ve known him for much longer. I produced Katie’s first EP and played in her live band for a while. Katie and Dan are married, and they are both such old friends and great musicians. Josh and Sam are brothers and they worked with me as studio musicians on several projects over the last few years and I knew immediately that we should get in a group together. When I was thinking about who else could join this group, Katie and Dan were the obvious ones for me. The chemistry is great, both personally and musically. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”
DEB: Q. 4. Some of the most historical and revered music always plays a deeper role in the transformation of societies. Some consider how their work relates to the current sociopolitical landscape or how the music can address these themes. Songs that you have penned, are there some that focus on social and political issues?
DENNIS: “I wouldn’t say “focus on” but there are a few that take stabs at it. Very Cherry for instance has a bridge that says, “half this world is tripping over hope, and the other half is dumb, but they don’t know”.
The first track, Be Nice to Everyone You Meet” is about behaving kindly because everyone has their struggles and you can never know how your behavior will play a role in the day of another human…so be nice.
Wait and See is probably the closest we come to overtly social and political topics. It’s real stuff, but our approach is very tongue in cheek….because I don’t want to get too on the nose about it. My opinion is that music imparts beauty and helps with healing, so it’s best to proceed without too much political stuff…unless you’re a protest singer, which I am not.“
DEB: Q. 5. Contrary to popular belief, making it in the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck, as it requires talent, strategy, dedication, and determination based on your vision and goals. Some artists seem reluctant to speak of just how frustrating and baffling the whole experience of navigating the general music realm is, let alone add in the restrictions that COVID-19 places on our lives, or how hard it is to still be ambitious about getting their art recorded, seen, or sold. Outside of releasing your current single Very Cherry, and soon-to-be album Cruisin’ and Swingin’ with The Moneygoround, what are some other ways you have kept your fans engaged throughout the last 18 months during COVID-19?
DENNIS: “I released three solo albums in 2020 and 2021 and as long as I felt there was a demand for it, I would do the occasional live stream. It’s definitely a different game now, but it is what it is, and I am grateful for the opportunity to create and have people care about it. I write songs as a way of processing what I have internalized or to express love for something or someone, and none of that has changed. If anything, the time away from live performance has accelerated my work ethic.“
DEB: Q. 6 What is the best thing about performing to a live audience? As well, after almost a 2-year hiatus due to the worldwide pandemic, how does it feel to return to live music once again?
DENNIS: “Well, as luck would have it, until recently, I live in a province/region where we have been able to have live performances so the only hiatus I have had is from flying on airplanes or touring to other regions…and I don’t really miss that, so I’m in good shape. I love performing live. The exchange between audience and artist is the goldmine. It’s rewarding for everyone unless the show stinks….“
DEB: Q. 7 Dennis, what would you say has been your career highlight thus far? Also, what is next for you and The Moneygoround?
DENNIS: “I have worked with a few of my musical heroes, so that’s probably up there. I’ve always been a big Skydiggers fan and a big fan of The Tragically Hip. I have been lucky to work with Gord, Andy, and Josh on my 2013 album Hazy Sunshine. If Covid allows, The Moneygoround will play a bunch of shows in 2022 to support the album, and we hope to do some more recording later in the year.“
DEB: Q. 8. Last but not least, what does success mean to you?
DENNIS: “Good question. Respect?”
Thanks so much for your time Dennis, Merry Christmas, and may your 2022 be successful and prosperous new adventures.
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