Nicole Edwards was raised on the Muppet Show, and she dreamed of duetting with Kermit since she was a kid. As an adult, she decided to make her puppet dreams a reality. She debuted her new video, Lychee Martini, to a packed house at Epic Pizza last month.
Diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder that causes a hardening of the body’s soft tissues, Edwards manages her health with conventional and alternative treatments, all the while keeping a positive attitude and maintaining her musical career. This gives Edwards further motivation to perform with puppets. “I don’t know how many active years I have left,” she explains. “I really take it seriously; how do I want to spend my life? When I was healthy, I didn’t have a bucket list. I mean, I know I had ideas of things that I wanted to do. Then a few years ago, I realized if I really do want to sing with puppets, then I should figure out how I actually want to do this.”
After writing Lychee Martini with Grant Simpson, Edwards knew she had to perform the song for her dream project. She says, “I knew it, this is the song for puppets. It’s just kind of campy and musical-theatre-esque.”
Local filmmaker Jessica Hall directed the video, leading Edwards through the reality of complex shoot. “Originally, my thinking was, ‘Oh great, we take an afternoon and film me singing with puppets,’” Edwards says. “When I told Jessica what I wanted to do and what some of my ideas were, she let me know that this was at least a two-day shoot,” Edwards says. “She just broke it down, ‘this is the kind of budget that you’re looking for’. She just made it. I had the dream and vision, and she made it into a reality.”
While raising the money through a Kickstarter campaign, Edwards was put in touch with local puppeteer Rob Pelletier. They instantly shared a connection over their love of puppets, working out how to incorporate them into an act and a video. The video, filmed at Paddy’s Place, stars Alvaro, a mustachioed Latin seducer. “He’s my fantasy,” Edwards says. “He’s my dream, and it was Helen O’Connor who built him. She’s a good friend. It was her idea to do felted wool, and I love the idea that the wool comes from Sheila Alexandrovich’s farm, which is in Mount Lorne, and I live in Mount Lorne and Helen lives just down the road from me, so it’s a community creation.”
Pelletier brought in Fox Foxworthy, a puppet lounge singer who features in the video and who MC’d the video premier concert, mixing with the crowd between sets. Joining Edwards in the band were drummer Marc Paradis, bassist Paul Bergmann, guitarist Nick Mah, keyboardists Andrea McColeman, and Grant Simpson, who delayed his tour to be part of the premier. Together, they mixed soft jazz, bossa nova, and Edwards’ original songs, often duetting with Pelletier and his puppets.
Also featured at the release concert was Bluey Armstrong, a big-mouthed monster, with waving arms and a Tom Waits baritone. “The idea for Bluey Armstrong came because we were talking: ‘Oh we can do some duets, Ella [Fitzgerald] and Louis [Armstrong] have some great duets.’”
Bluey Armstrong, duetting with Edwards on “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and Edwards’ original “Grumpy Pants”, was a hit with the audience, especially the younger members at Epic.
Edwards is currently performing some shows in Ontario, while undergoing alternative treatments, and is planning more concerts with puppets this summer.
Lychee Martini is available for download from iTunes and CDBaby. The video can be found on NicoleEdwardsMusic’s Youtube channel.