Acclaimed singer/songwriter Stephen Fearing is back on the road to showcase new tunes from his latest CD Between Hurricanes.
Presented by the Central Music Festival Society, Fearing performs March 7 at the Elks Lodge. Showtime is 8 p.m.
Fearing, a multiple Juno award-winning Blackie and the Rodeo Kings member, returns with his first solo disc in seven years. Between Hurricanes is a follow-up to 2006’s Yellowjacket and was co-produced by Fearing and John Whynot in Toronto.
As he explains, the disc is both the document and result of many changes in his life.
His last CD, Yellowjacket, came out in 2006 and shortly after its release, his marriage of 14 years ended.
Then his record company changed hands, so he decided to move on.
“Around the same time, my dear friend and manager Bernie Finkelstein started to make noises about cutting back on his workload. Bernie and I had been together through thick and thin for over 16 years, but I realized that it was time to let go of the old ties and step out into the brave new world of true independence.”
A little while later, he also decided to make a fresh start on Canada’s east coast. In 2008, Fearing moved from Guelph, Ontario to Halifax. All the while, he was busy, working on both Blackie and The Rodeo Kings’ Kings and Queens and his own album with Belfast’s Andy White, Fearing & White.
He also got remarried, became a father, and kept up a relentless touring schedule. New songs had begun to emerge and plans were finally made to return to the studio.
Between Hurricanes’ 11 tracks were shaped with the idea of crafting a solo record while not employing a traditional ‘folk music’ approach, he points out. The minimal arrangements range from the finely honed piano, bass, and drum accents on As The Crow Flies to the ethereal synths on Cold Dawn. As always, Fearing nails it on tune after tune – capturing the sensibilities that fans have grown to so appreciate.
Meanwhile, the name of the disc was inspired by the sometimes severe weather patterns on the east coast during the late summer and autumn months.
“August and September are hurricane season – they come regularly and can be ferocious like Hurricane Juan which was so devastating. And then when I was actually in the studio recording this CD, Hurricane Sandy came.”
While laying down tracks for the new project, he recalls telling a friend about juggling the record production with the ongoing work of painting his house.
“I was joking with him about the disc’s working title which was ‘50’ – which is the age I just turned – and saying I was worried I wouldn’t get the jobs done between the hurricanes. He wrote back and said ‘There’s your title – between the hurricanes’.
“In some ways, 50 and Between Hurricanes have a lot in common, and it seemed to sum up the record in a lot of ways – a man at the mid-point in his life. If I’m lucky,” he laughs.
Born in 1963 in Vancouver, Fearing spent most of his growing up years in Dublin. After a short stint in the U.S. he returned to Canada, and is now long-established as a fixture on the folk club and festival circuit in North America and the U.K.
Music was an intrinsic part of the Fearing household from the get-go.
His mom has been working on recording her memoirs, and he’s been reading about her life. Fearing said it’s amazing how a love for music is so pervasive in his family, and it stretches way back over the generations as well. “I hadn’t realized the extent of the showbiz background in my family.”
Opera singers, vaudeville and classical singers and music teachers pop up here and there on the family tree. “It was always something everyone took quite seriously around the house,” he explains. “As a kid I remember going with my mom to recitals where she was either onstage or in the audience. I also clearly remember sitting beside my father on the organ bench during church services.
“So there has always been, from an early age, a feeling of being ‘backstage’. And when I started down this road, I felt like I was the black sheep of the family, but I’m actually quite deeply into the family tradition.”
Not surprisingly, his career – thanks to his musical giftedness – unfolded naturally. It was simply second nature. And as a young adult, he became increasingly familiar with the singer/songwriter, coffee house folk world.
“I just found myself doing it more and more,” he says of honing his craft. “At some point I realized this is what I do, and this is probably what I should continue doing.”
It’s certainly been a fulfilling path to walk. “It never gets boring. It’s always incredibly exciting when you start to craft a song,” he says. “And it’s really about the work. There’s an ambition to constantly be evolving as a writer and a musician.”
For ticket information, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.