Peterborough, Ont.-born, Lethbridge-based singer-songwriter Dave McCann has gone back to his acoustic roots on his long-awaited new sixth CD, “Westbound ’til Light,” which he officially releases with a special show with Peterborough folk duo the Mayhemingways, March 1 at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod.
He is excited to play with the Mayhemingways, who are all over the new CD.
“I didn’t know them because I grew up in the ’70s,” McCann said. “They came up after I left Peterborough. Peterborough has always had an amazing scene and an amazing venues like the Red Dog Tavern.”
“But Benj Rowland and Josh Fewings are really talented. They both play several instruments. I had an instant musical connection with them the same way I have with Dave Bauer (McCann’s long-time guitarist). We recorded this record with Steve Loree in the spirit of collaboration whenever we could make all our schedules work,” McCann said, adding recording the CD took a long time as a result. While they recorded the CD in Nanton in Loree’s studio, Loree doesn’t play on the CD.
“Some of the songs are me playing solo. The Firehearts are on some of the songs and Benj and Josh are on ‘Bitten Down to the Bone,’ ‘Swing Your Lantern,’ ‘Sure as Silver,’ ‘Snakebit,’ ‘Mexican Sparrow’ and ‘Johannah’s Line,’” he said, adding he recorded the more rock-influenced tracks with his band the Firehearts, including Bauer and bassist Shawn Worden, harmonica player Ethan Askey and Lori Reid adding extra vocals.
“When you have musical chemistry with the right people, there is that magical connection,” he said.
Adding the Mayhemingways means there is more banjo and accordion on the songs.
He is excited to start a quick, nine-day CD release tour in Fort Macleod.
“It‘s a historic theatre. I think is was built in 1912. So when the opportunity came up to play there, I jumped at it. And Joni Mitchell was born in Fort Macleod,” he enthused, adding he hasn’t planned a Lethbridge CD release show as he doesn’t want to overexpose himself, so he doesn’t like to play within 150 kilometres of the same town on the same tour.
“I wanted to write more acoustic songs and more story songs and more historical songs. There are definitely more folk songs. The topics vary. There is a lot of folklore and history. “Can’t Fight the Mountain” is about the Frank Slide,” he said, adding the kernels of the songs go back a few years.
“I went to the Banff Centre to write in April 2017 and worked with people like Ken Rich and Russell DeCarle (from Prairie Oyster) and Howard Bilerman, who played with Arcade Fire,” he continued, adding he also recorded some demos there, but the actual recordings never made it onto the album.
“But I turned a lot of the ideas from Banff into songs for the album,” he said.
Dave McCann and the Firehearts, along with the Mayhemingways, play the Empress Theatre March 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25.