After breaking her arm, Julia Bentley is playing music again
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Toronto musician Julia Bentley will be finishing up The Prairie Fly tour at Kergano's on Wednesday night.
Julia Bentley needs two hands to play piano.
“Earlier this summer I broke my arm,” Bentley said. “All plans were temporarily put on hold.”
The 28-year-old singer and songwriter from Toronto had planned to go on tour across Canada this summer in support of her debut album Out of Reach. Her arm was in a sling – “completely out of commission,” she said – for about five weeks.
“As soon as my physiotherapist said that I was able to play some piano again, I called Mandy (Ebel) up, who was originally going to be my tour-mate, and we devised a smaller tour plan so that we could still get out there and play a little,” Bentley said.
That scaled-back tour became the eight dates of the Prairie Fly Tour with Ebel. The shows were entirely in Alberta and Saskatchewan, finishing with a stop in Moose Jaw at Kergano’s on Wednesday night.
Bentley said the time she spent being able to play piano with only her right hand was “torture.”
“I think music is a big part of my overall sanity,” Bentley said. “When you lose your outlet, then you drive your friends and family a little crazy for while. They’re really happy I can play again.”
Bentley, a music alumnus from the University of Toronto, described her debut album as “many years in the making.” One of the songs, Can’t Let Go, had a video on Bentley’s YouTube channel in 2009.
“I think it’s about trying to get yourself to a point where you’re happy with what you’re putting out,” Bentley said.
That meant revising and reworking songs with various people to get the album to a point where Bentley was content with putting it out into the world.
She has built an online audience on her YouTube channel, with nearly 4,000 subscribers.
“I have a lot of fans who almost feel like friends. They encourage me to put stuff out and when you get that positive feedback it only encourages you to put out more,” Bentley said.
She produces and edits many of her online videos by herself, typically with just her an instrument. For a classically trained pianist, she certainly plays a mean ukulele.
She posted three covers online, each honouring members of the “27 club,” a list of musicians who have died at 27. So far, she has done songs by Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix.
Bentley told the Times-Herald she’s been looking through Nirvana songs to pick one by Kurt Cobain. She said Jim Morrison is on her list as well.
But Bentley uses the Internet for more than just posting songs.
She used crowdfunding to raise $4,500 for a new music video. Her goal was $4,000.
She said most of the people who donated, she has never met in-person.
“I feel really, really lucky to be in this time in music, despite how uncertain it can all seem,” Bentley said. “It gives you a lot more power to reach out directly to your audience.”
Bentley and Ebel will be performing at Kergano’s on Wednesday night.
Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX