Singer-songwriter to make island debut May 20 at Maxwell’s Lounge
SYDNEY — He’s written songs about the island and now Jon Brooks is ready to make his first appearance on a Cape Breton stage.
British Empire , Toronto Star , Cape Breton , New Waterford , Canada
The Toronto singer-songwriter will make his island debut May 20 at 8 p.m. at Maxwell’s Lounge on Charlotte Street in Sydney, as part of a tour of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
“I finally get to play in Cape Breton after writing about the place,” he said, noting his second CD, Ours and the Shepherds, a collection of songs written about Canadian war stories, had a strong connection to the island.
“I had to pick different geographical places in Canada and make sure I covered as much ground as I could. One of the statistics that I stumbled upon during my research was related to Vimy Ridge and in 1917, New Waterford in Cape Breton, supplied more men per capita than any other community in the British Empire,” he explained. “I wanted to write something about Vimy Ridge, for one, but I also wanted to have a song on the CD that was for the ones left behind and what better opportunity, when you’re faced with a statistic like that.”
The resulting song, Auction Days, focuses on the widows left behind in New Waterford and Brooks made sure he did the research.
“For the historical songs and for the story songs, I definitely like to make sure I get the details right,” he said. “It sounds lazy that I never actually went out to Cape Breton but that was probably the only example of a song that I did without actually going to a place but I did manage to interview some people from the area so I’m anxious to go try the song out, out there, and see how it’s received.”
Nominated twice for songwriter of the year by the Canadian Folk Music Awards, and with a spot on the Toronto Star’s 2010 people to watch list, Brooks has been making lots of waves on the national music scene in recent years. He says his goal is to inspire and uplift audiences across the country.
“I always say ‘I don’t do happy songs, but I do hopeful songs,’ and the aim is to unite people,” he said. “That’s why I would spend time writing about Fort McMurray, and then writing about New Waterford, so I can take these songs to Brandon, Man., and all of sudden the country shrinks a little bit when people relate to these stories that they might otherwise not be able to relate to.”
Brooks noted he used to think of touring as simply an opportunity to establish a fanbase and sell CDs, but now realizes it offers much more than that.
“After crossing the country a number of times, I’ve realized, it’s actually the opposite. The new songs come from visiting all these different points of the world, and Canada in particular.”
Brooks is hoping to follow up his 2009 release, Moth Nor Rust, with his next recording project, Delicate Cages, later this year.
For more on Brooks, go to http://www.jonbrooks.ca.
Published on May 12th, 2010
Laura Jean Grant