NEW GLASGOW — Some of the finest songwriting talent the Atlantic Provinces have to offer will be taking the stage at Glasgow Square on February 11.
In advance of the East Coast Music Awards, the ECMA Songwriters Tour is comprised of Ian Sherwood, Jordan Musycyan, Jon Pike, Mike Biggar and Andrew Waite representing Nova Scotia, Cape Breton,Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and PEI respectively.
Sherwood can either be seen as co-representing Nova Scotia or representing mainland Nova Scotia, but in either case he said it is an honour to be asked to do so.
“There are piles of amazing songwriters in Nova Scotia so to be the one that the ECMAs put forward is a real honour,” he said in a recent interview.
“And it is pressure too, dozens of people could be doing this. It’s an honour probably more than anything else.”
The inclusion of a Cape Breton performer in addition to himself, he said, only makes sense given the Island’s vast musical contributions.
“It is important to do that because Cape Breton — being far away from the epicentre of Halifax — can very easily get left out and forgotten, and maybe in the past has,” Sherwood said. “It does have its own musical community happening on the Island. It has its own thing going on. I think it’s perfectly natural to make sure they included it as something separate in this kind of a tour.”
The tour will be the first time the five will have worked together, although they have crossed paths over the years and Sherwood holds a healthy appreciation for each of them.
“I sort of know a few of them,” he said. “I know Mike because Mike and I have toured in the same circuit for a couple of years, I’ve never performed with him. And Andrew, I know him as a player for other people. I’ve never seen him do his own thing, so I’m excited about that. Jordan and Jonathan I’ve only just met at ECMAs last year and they’re both fantastic. I mean, Jonathan’s got an amazing pop sensibility and Jordan’s an amazing writer.
“I’m thrilled at the fact that everyone is so very different from each other. It’s not going to be a line up of singer songwriters doing the same thing in different ways and different keys. It’s going to be a very different show,” he said of their upcoming show.
Striving to sound different one song to the next is a standard Sherwood holds himself to as well. His track “What Am I Doing Here?” and its frequent — if not constant — changes in mood, key and tempo, will confirm that.
“It’s in a pile of different keys with strange chords,” he said. “Once you wrap your head around it, it’s a pretty easy song to play but it’s not an easy song to play with other people. And it’s not an easy song to sing because it does get loud and shouty. I wrote that song to get myself out of a writer’s block. This was probably five, six years ago now. I was writing songs and they all seemed to sound the same. They all had the same chords in them… this is pretty common for songwriters or any creative person. You just fall into a rut. I just wanted to find chords that sounded unlike anything I had ever written.”
Although he makes use of a looper pedal, Sherwood said he does have a few songs in his catalogue that can’t quite be pulled off in a single guitar and vocals format.
“There are some songs that I just can’t do because they just don’t lend themselves that well,” he said.
“I designed them to have a larger production value but they just won’t be the songs that I do. I have lots of songs that work well with just a guitar and voice. It kind of forces you to really analyze the worth of the song, the value of it. It gets you back into the reason why you wrote it to begin with.”
New Glasgow’s stop will be the second show in the tour — which kicks off in Windsor the night prior. The 2017 ECMAs will take place April 26 through 30 in Saint John, N.B.