Life, Liberty and Music Meet Jeff Liberty

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Jeff Liberty has spent over 25 years in the music industry, wearing various hats as an artist, publicist, agent, writer, broadcaster, promoter and manager. He also is a proud father of five and a loving husband to his wife, Cynthia. None of these are easy accomplishments in a business known for its lack of loyalty and trust.

“I spent many years with business partners, always trying to round out the success so we all could get ahead and enjoy our shared success. I am now completely on my own with JL Artists but I have had a wealth of experience gained from my partnerships. In the 1980/90's, I started working in the music industry at first with Michael B and the Power (Isba/Sony/Various) and then Devon Niko (Was on Ed McMahon star search). Jeff worked alongside Stephan Klovan (Alanis' first Manager) with Devon. I remember one person telling me the key to success was to learn to ‘stay down for nine’.”
During the 1990’s, Jeff met Martin Leclair and formed the artist management company "Icebreaker Productions" to co- manage his (Martin) then wife Nathalie Lepage of Juno Award winning dance group Capital Sound. Jeff Also handled the business of producer Brad Daymond (Love Inc, N`Sync) JL and ML went on to start their own Record Label "Sour Music Inc" and released albums by it's Icebreaker roster including Fleshpaint, Punchbuggy, Steve Gardiner and Curt Smith of Tears for Fears. JL and ML secured an International Records Deal for Fleshpaint with a joint venture with Spongbath Records and The Enclave (Virgin) which was headed up by A&R Icon Tom Zutaut. Zutaut was the co -head of A&R at Geffen where he signed Guns N' Roses, Elastica, Enya etc. As a label Sour Music was distributed by Tox Records, Page Music and finally Sony Music Canada.The Label closed and became in active in 2000. Icebreaker closed as well.

Jeff at the Desk of his CBC Show 'Take Liberty'Jeff at the Desk of his CBC Show 'Take Liberty'“Before moving out to New Brunswick, I was living in Ottawa and running a record label called Sour Music, which was distributed by Sony. then my first marriage ended. I had a nervous breakdown and in 2000 I lost everything due to unforeseen circumstances — my label, my house, my kids were sent to foster care and I ended up at the  Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. ( I had to fight to get everything back but at least being in a big government town like Ottawa there was a hospital and resources to help me. I am still on medication today dealing with depression and anxiety. I came out of it and now I try to be open about what I went through; if it helps even one person to know there are not alone that is a good thing for me. So few people talk about mental illness.  It's so important to just be present in anything you do.”

Which leads to Liberty’s latest efforts; An Annual event entitled "Music is Freedom - Songs For MindCare and a limited edition compilation CD featuring tracks from Alan Frew of Glass Tiger fame, new wave legends The Spoons, Tarmac Adam featuring onetime Crowded House members Nick Seymour and the late Paul Hester, Toronto’s Bill Wood and the Woodies (formerly of Eye Eye), Carla Olsen (see collaborations with Gene Clark of the Byrds and onetime Rolling Stone Mick Taylor) and others is cornerstone to a multi-pronged East Coast fundraising effort supporting mental illness care and awareness. The CD launch was held recently and  Music is Freedom: Songs for MindCare Volume One was sold with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit  MindCare, (  “New Brunswick’s only Foundation for mental health” which promotes mental wellness through research and education funding, assisting those living with all types of mental illness. (There are limited copies still available - email for info).

Glen Matlock of Sex PistolsGlen Matlock of the Sex Pistols“I was one of the lucky ones; when we arrived in New Brunswick, I had my three kids, and Cynthia took me to meet her family and start our lives over by the Bay of Fundy. I had my daughter in my arms, who was only four at the time, and when Cynthia’s Dad opened the door, he said “Welcome Home”. I knew right then and there I was finally safe and at home on the East Coast. We live on a peninsula and have to take the cable ferry to get home but it is such a wonderful way of life here.”

Liberty is humble about his achievements. In a promoter, programmer and agent capacity, over the last decade he has worked with acts like Rose Cousins, Jill Siberry, Jill Barber, Good Lovelies, Julie Doiron, SWING, Joel Plaskett, Matt Mays, Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Steve Poltz, David Myles,  David Francey, Garnet Rogers, Hannah Georges, Carol Pope, Ron Hynes, Stacy Earle & Mark Stuart,Jeremy Fisher, Ron Hynes, Josh Ritter, Jay Semko, The Spoons, The Box, Haywire, Blue Peter, Jim Bryson, Don Ross, Stephen Fearing, and Babette Hayward. Bill Wood and Jeff LibertyBill Wood and Jeff LibertyAs a journalist he has written for several publications including Punk Globe I have interviewed; Crispin Glover (Cover story!), Ann Wilson (HEART) Kirk Pengilly (INXS), Robby Takac (Goo Goo Dolls), David Lovering (Pixies),  Scott Stapp (Creed), Graham Russell (Air Supply) to name a few. He currently is the host and columnist for the CBC Information morning column "Take Liberty’, that features Atlantic Canadian music -

Music has always surrounded this man. An interesting trivia fact about Jeff is his uncle was the late, great Ray Peterson, of ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ fame. I was a music fan long before I worked in this business. Actually, that is still what I am, a fan; I just get to earn a living now working with great artists.”

The last decade has seen this man fine tune his talents and concentrate on artist management, booking and promoting. Past  management clients included Matt Andersen and The Northern Pikes. Liberty currently represents Mike Biggar, Dennis Ellsworth and Bill Wood and The Woodies.  JL Artists also has an extensive booking roster as well. He has managed to work closely with the label Busted Flat Records and its owner Mark Logan, securing several deals for his artists.

Gord Deppe of The Spoons and Jeff LibertyGord Deppe of The Spoons and Jeff LibertyJeff Liberty has been nominated multiple times for his dedicated work as a manager and media person of the year at the ECMA's. He also had an award nomination for Music Business of the Year at the Music NB Awards. “I am enjoying the freedom that comes with making my own life decisions.  I have had a decade of peaceful healing here on the Bay of Fundy. I have learned how to pace myself and stop to ‘refill’ emotionally. This business is about tenacity as much as talent. I am blessed to work with artists who match me on both these levels. Music is the soundtrack of our lives, and it is all about real relationships. I plan on reaching for my goals and dreams until the day I die. I would love to have a songwriter’s retreat in the future; do a lot more charitable work, maybe even start a farm. The key for me is to be fearless, but most of all to be honest. That is the path to my success.”

Success is not always measured by money or how many times you hit the charts. After talking to Jeff Liberty, it is clear he is comfortable in his own skin and content with his life now. Jeff, you are your own man and it shows others the path truly is to ‘take liberty’.

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