Launching a brand new disc and tour, acclaimed musicians Stephen Fearing and Andy White are making a City stop March 25.
Presented by the Central Music Festival Society, the talented duo, both well-respected musicians in their own right, play the Elks Lodge. Doors open at 7 p.m. with showtime set for 8 p.m.
Between the two of them, the guys, who’ve been great friends for years, have recorded 19 CDs as individual artists. Fearing & White marks a fresh collaborative approach.
“The album’s tone, I find, is one of yearning,” says White. “It is emotionally bare, and coy and mysterious too. The songs will definitely keep you guessing.”
Tunes run the gamut from the breezy tones of You Can’t Count On Anybody Anymore to the simple authenticity of Let Love Be Your Direction. Under the Silver Sky reveals a rockier vein to the guys’ talent as does the funky, upbeat Mothership. The sparse instrumentation of If I Catch You Crying taps into the heartfelt, melancholic sensibilities that are so pervasive to the duo’s collection of songs.
These days, White calls Melbourne, Australia home while Fearing has recently settled in Halifax. But the pair, both accomplished guitarists and vocalists, make sure they meet up at least once a year to hang out and write a bunch of songs.
White hails originally from northern Ireland, and has garnered plenty of praise for his knack for blending folk and pop with a ‘poet’s sensibility’. He describes his growing up years as certainly influenced by music, as his grandmother raised his mom and her siblings essentially by teaching and performing. Not surprisingly, she taught her grandchildren how to play piano as well.
Guitar would eventually really capture his interest, however, and White’s flourishing talents soon started opening all kinds of doors in his culturally-rich homeland.
He’s worked with some of the greats in Irish music from Sinead O’Connor to Van Morrison, and landed Ireland’s top songwriting awards over the years as well.
He and Fearing met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival back in 1998, and formed a nearly instant connection. Fearing, who was born in 1963 in Vancouver, actually spent most of his boyhood and teen years in Dublin. There, he picked up the guitar and traces of the Irish and English musical traditions have surfaced throughout his finely-crafted music ever since.
After a short stint in the U.S. Midwest, he returned to Canada, and is now long-established as a regular and popular fixture on the folk club and festival circuit in North America and the UK.
Over the year, the shared Irish heritage has strengthened their bond, but Fearing’s musicianship also cemented their creative connection as well, explains White.
“He’s an intense and very skilled songwriter, and I’ve really benefitted from his attention to detail,” explains White during chat from Victoria. “He also likes drinking coffee and eating bagels which is mostly what we do on the road,” he adds with a laugh.
After a successful touring stint in Canada last spring, the guys were inspired to collaborate on a full-length project after considering it for several years. Last September, they laid down the tracks for Fearing & White in a Guelph, Ontario studio.
It wasn’t a lengthy, leisurely pace to record, but as White points out the results speak to a distinct honesty as the tunes unfold. “We had taken such care in writing the songs, which were then kind of spontaneously recorded. Often, artists write songs in a spontaneous manner and then spend a long time recording them. But I like the way we did it.”
It’s clear both men are thrilled at the opportunity to creatively team up and present the results to both long-time supporters and hopefully a smattering of new fans as well.
The tour runs through the end of April after which Fearing heads off with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and White continues touring in Australia, Europe and the U.S.
For ticket information, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.