Life is Good

by Smokin' Joe Wiseman

Released 2011
Wolf Publishing
Released 2011
Wolf Publishing
Smokin Joe takes folk music to a new place using traditional instruments like the fiddle, bodhran and accordion and layering with solid electric guitar riffs and superb background vocals. He picks up where Johnny Cash left off!


While flying from Toronto to Phoenix, Smokin’ Joe was treated to Uncle Tupelo’s version of “The Moonshiner.” He had heard the song before but was blown away by this fresh interpretation of that traditional song. Further exploration revealed that there were many versions of the song and doors opened for Smokin’ Joe. He created his own version, revising the chord structure and the lyrics and found that his friends liked the song and looked forward to playing his adaptation.

Let’s Do It!
Being a novice guitarist and songwriter and flushed from the success of his adaptation of “The Moonshiner”, Smokin’ Joe turned to his love of the blues. He discovered that 12 Bar Blues had a common structure and started writing songs in the 12 Bar Blues format. One of his favorite guitarists is Jimi Hendrix and “Hey Joe” inspired the writing of “Trouble Comes My Way” and “Do The Time.” The “Hey Joe” theme of love lost and desperate actions is a common theme in Blues songs as well as cheating partners. Other songs flowed from these Blues themes including “Cheatin’ Blues” and “I Woke Up With The Blues” both of which appear on his first CD. His 2nd CD “Blue Smoke” was released in summer 2009 and features original songs and collaborations as well as covers from other SongU students.

Growing Through Collaboration!
Smokin’ Joe found that while the songs came quickly, making them sound different was a challenge as his guitar skills are limited to rhythm support. Discussions with son Waylon led to collaboration on “No One Got The Blues.” Originally written in the 12 Bar Blues format, the song has taken Smokin’ Joe’s original lyrics and added Waylon’s chord arrangement, lyric input and guitar solo to come up with a fresh interpretation of the song. This song was recorded at Mallczar Studio in Stephenville with assistance from MusicNL. He also collaborated with son Waylon on “Riding With the Wolves” which was recorded under the same demo grant.

Joe has developed co-writing associations with Gerald Butler, Dennis Long, Pamela Gibson. Dennis Dolloff, Pat Kelly, Rachel Bay, Emmet Bresnahan and others. He continues to develop SongU co-writing partnerships as well as among the participants of the Ryerson Songwriting Workshop such as Matt Gerber.


“Smokin Joe Wiseman: Life is Good” is will be replicated at Blu Monster Media in Toronto, Ontario. The CD features 12 new songs plus a bonus track – the country song “Everything But Me” from his 1st CD “A Field By The Sea.” The CD is a country-folk CD and includes originals as well as co-writes and covers of some of Smokin Joe’s favorites.

Smokin’ Joe was successful on his second attempt at getting a demo grant from MIANL and three demos were produced. “No One Got The Blues” was recorded as a demo in Stan Gallant’s Mallczar Studio in Stephenville, Newfoundland. “Riding With the Wolves” and “Do The Time” were also recorded at the same time. These songs feature many of Smokin’ Joe’s friends who donated their time and skills to help make these demos a success.

Building on this studio experience and with relationships developed through SongU, the REO Songwriter’s Retreat and MusicNL Joe released his first CD “A Field By The Sea” in March, 2007. The Western Star covered the CD release and here is an excerpt from the entertainment page review:

His CD is a compilation of 10 of his originals, along with Moonshiner, which is his own adaptation mixed in with the lyrics from several versions of that particular song.

Wiseman said the CD's title song, A Field By The Sea, is about people leaving this province and "not" ending up in the field by the sea.

Another song, The Legend of the Blue Puttees, is a tribute to the Newfoundland Regiment and Wiseman has even included photos of his two uncles, Harold and Clyde Coish from Seldom, Green Bay, on the CD jacket. Harold was killed at Beaumont Hamel, France, and Clyde at Paschendale, Belgium, in another horrific battle.

Wiseman said the song also aims to remind people that Newfoundlanders per capita had the highest casualty rate of any of the allies in the First World War. As a result of what Newfoundlanders gave to the effort, King George V renamed the Newfoundland Regiment the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the first time such an honour was bestowed in war time.

"I wanted to tell the story of what happened at Beaumont Hamel that July 1, 1916, when the next morning of just over 800 soldiers that went into that battle only 68 answered the roll call. This represents the character of the Newfoundland people," he said.

Joe is currently working on the final tracks and vocal arrangement of songs for his third CD to be released in 2010. The CD will be entitled “Smokin’ Joe Wiseman: Life is Good."

New Genres
Once the doors of songwriting as a form of expression opened up for Smokin’ Joe, he found that 12 Bar Blues as a form didn’t necessarily help convey all messages. His love of motorcycles led to the writing of “Riding With The Wolves.” This song grew over a two year period as Smokin’ Joe struggled with the mood and tempo he wanted to create. The result is a jazzy tune with the final touch of energy driven by the lead guitar solo created by son Waylon. He is finally satisfied with the result and now writes in other genres.

“Beads of Hope”, a folk anthem grew from a fund raising initiative for AIDS, sponsored by the United Church of Canada. Smokin’ Joe organized four fund-raisers for that campaign and “Beads of Hope” evolved from that effort. “Bureaucratic Man”, a folk song, evolved from a personal experience and he found the content was better suited for a folk song presentation. Other folk songs have arisen from Joe’s experience in Northern Manitoba including “Mustugoso Netha”, “Prairie Crocus” and “Metis Girl.

Joe recently penned three sounds featuring Newfoundland motifs – “The Ballad of the Blue Puttees”, “The Ballad of Johnny and Mikey” and “A Field By The Sea.” Two other songs, “Bound For Hell” and “Love of a Hometown Girl” will appear on Life is Good.

Skills acquired at SongU and the REO Songwriter’s Retreat led to several country songs including “Where Have You Gone” and “Everything But Me.” They also led to the pop/rock tune “Blues for Michael (That Michael Jackson Song)” and “Is This The Way?” – a haunting folk song.

Moving Ahead
Smokin’ Joe is now making song-writing a study and has subscribed to Newsletters, has joined SOCAN and SAC, has purchased books, is studying chord progressions, takes guitar lessons and visits song-writing websites to motivate further writing. He finds himself constantly taking notes, starting songs and day dreaming about stories to be told and feelings to be shared through song. In his role as a Visiting Artist under the NLAC VAP program, he has shared the joys of writing in the 12 Bar Blues format with hundreds of adolescents in South-West and Central Newfoundland.

He has started work on his 4th CD which will be released in 2011. It will follow the format of Life is Good with some originals, some collaborations and some covers.

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