Burning a path across the west
Ontario based singer-songwriter Sean Burns – who plays a combination of roots, blues and country music – is making his annual blaze across the west.
Burns and his band will stop for two nights at the Rose & Crown in Banff, Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct. 9-10).
The Outlook spoke with him by phone last week, as he was stopped somewhere east of Regina.
“I do like playing little places,” he said, speaking from Broadview, Sask. “In these places people are genuine and honest, and they’re all hardworking people – railway towns in Western Canada – people appreciate it when you come to these little places.”
With a tour that began two weeks ago in Kapuskasing, Ont., Burns certainly has seen his share of small towns. So far, the roadtrip has been a great experience.
“We’ve had a couple great jams with some bands on this tour,” he said. “We’ve only been on the road for about 10 days, and we’ve played most nights and a lot of after the gig jams, and it’s been real good to see some friends and meet some new musician friends. Nothing too crazy yet, but real good hanging out.”
Where he truly wants to be is Alberta, as nearly half the shows of this six-week tour are in this province.
“Alberta seems to be our bread and butter, and for the people, man – the reception is a lot warmer in Alberta than it is in a lot of other places in the country – for the live music and especially for the roots music,” said Burns. “There’s a lot of good people and I try to come back as much as I can.
“I’ve been coming and going all year, and we’re doing this run now. Every day we’re there, we’re doing a show. I’ve really been gone since April.”
Being on the road is where he wants to be, stressed Burns.
“I feel comfortable on the road, and I feel it’s something that has to be done, to get the product and your face fresh in people’s minds, and to build an audience. I keep coming back, especially to the places where you do better.”
Burns has two albums under his belt, with his last two years ago, and hopes to release his next record – to be called Cold Beans and Broken Eggs – in spring.
“We’ve started laying down some bed tracks and we’ve got some stuff planned at the end of October,” he said. “We’ll be doing the rest of the album and it’ll probably be out in March, and then I’ll hit the road again next year.
“We wrote a whole bunch on the road and they’re all road songs and we narrowed it down to 12, and I’m getting back home and doing it.”
The focus of the music is on storytelling, he said.
“Most of the new songs are less autobiographical than some of the previous ones, but there’s still stories about people I’ve run across – truck drivers and cab drivers and bar owners and after hours stories you hear,” explained Burns. “Less about me and more about everyone, people who come to the shows. The folk and the country songs have always been like that.”
His band consists of a trio with two other musicians.
“From my hometown, Oshawa, Ontario, I got a young guy playing guitar named Randy Vautour, who’s a real great country guitar player and singer too,” he said. “And a bass player from Regina, T.J. Sillger, who’s played with me over the last couple years. I hire him on and off, and he’s doing about 13 shows with us, including all of Alberta.”
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