Martyn<br /> Joseph<br />yearns forthe Rockies
Martyn Joseph just can’t stay away from the Bow Valley.
The Wales-based folk artist has been coming to Canada on a regular basis for the past 12 years and in that time has played the Canmore Folk Music Festival twice and The Banff Centre at least three times.
“It’s one of those gigs where you pinch yourself, to actually be paid to come and play in such a beautiful place, it’s very special,” said Joseph, Thursday (Sept. 13) from his home.
Joseph returns on Tuesday (Sept. 25) to play The Club at The Banff Centre, with the show starting at 8 p.m.
“I remember a good friend took me out in his canoe and we went paddling down the (Bow) when I was playing the Canmore Folk Festival,” he said, recalling a fond memory. “We paddled down the river for about an hour and when I got off the boat I walked onto one of the workshop stages, and I thought it was a pretty amazing form of transportation to get there.”
Any chance to play in the Rockies he jumps on, said Joseph.
“There’s something about those mountains and the depth and the breadth of it all, that has always made me feel small and insignificant, which I suppose is a good thing, because it reminds you of many things. I’ve always loved coming to Alberta and B.C. and the effect the mountains have on me,” he said. “As soon as I get there, it just feels so good, so peaceful, I’ve always felt at home there.”
For this tour, Joseph will play 14 shows in 17 days, mostly throughout Alberta and B.C. Then, after a week off, he’ll play another 33 shows in Europe up until December.
“They work me hard, but I don’t mind – it’s nice to be wanted and I love the job,” he said. “In the U.K. we have a very dense population with a piece of land a little bit bigger than Vancouver Island, so in terms of touring you can drive 45 minutes and there’s your next show, whereas in Canada it’s often four or five hours.
“It’s almost a part of my DNA, making that connection with the audience. Every night is different, it’s all a bit of a journey.”
Joseph’s music is heavily influenced by social issues affecting the world and at this show he’ll be promoting several causes.
“I’ve always written about issues; I think it’s important that we don’t just bleat on and complain, that we show people a positive way in which they can be involved,” he said. “In Canada, I’m a patron of Project Somos, which works with orphans in Guatemala. Also, after much searching, I ended up representing World Vision in Canada as well.
“I really liked the work (World Vision Canada) were doing and found that this was a good and positive way to encourage people, once I checked them out and realized they were doing good work,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who will take your money and do nothing with it, but I know these two are doing good work.”
For the show, it’ll be Joseph alone on stage.
“I’ve learned over the years playing solo to make the guitar sound more interesting than just someone strumming it – my style would be somewhat similar to Bruce Cockburn,” he said. “I haven’t played the same set list for about six years – I’ve made a lot of records and it means I don’t have to put the same thing out every night – and that keeps it fresh for me and the audience.
“It’s a lively show, I use a lot of humour – that’s because there’s a certain weight to the songs – I try to cheer people up in between them. We go on a journey and look at what’s going on in the world, or on a personal level, so at the end of it people feel like they have been to something that did entertain them, but at the same time encouraged them.”
The job of a good artist is to make the listener feel like they’re not alone in the world, he said.
“The guitar for me was like a cheap psychiatrist, it was my way of working things out,” said Joseph. “I’m not for a moment saying I have any answers, but it’s at least addressing some of the questions and common ground we can find.”
Songs for the Coming Home, Joseph’s 18th studio album and 34th actual album, is set to be released in October.
“I’m excited, I’m really looking forward to it,” he said, noting every 18 months or so he has enough material for a new album, something he’s able to do, now that he has no record label.
“I went through the major label thing and had a little bit of chart success, but since the mid-’90s I’ve been my own boss in that regard,” he said. “It was the Internet that freed up a lot of artists, and I was one of the first to recognize that this was good, it meant we could have control.”
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