Averill walking tour strides through Valley
Thursday, Mar 21, 2013 06:00 am
Michael Averill is a singer-songwriter-storyteller, and he’s also a walker.
Having lived on the road since April 2012 – travelling throughout Canada, Nepal and China – Averill is currently spending March touring Alberta, with an emphasis on walking from place to place. In July he’ll begin a national tour in Newfoundland and head west.
This Saturday (March 23) Averill will play a house concert in Canmore. For details on the show, visit his website at michaelaverill.com
“Everything I’ve been doing with my music has to do with community building and doing it for the listeners,” said Averill. “Providing shows that are engaging and have quite the positive content – which hopefully starts conversations of thoughts that people aren’t ordinarily too comfortable with sharing with other people.”
His current album – New Day, New Path, New Legend – is an EP consisting of songs written while on an expedition of Nepal and was released in January. The music is simple and soulful, with Averill playing folk rhythms on the guitar, occasionally beating it like a drum, while singing uplifting lyrics.
The next album, however, which he hopes to release in May, will focus on his roots and the music of his late father.
“He was a singer-songwriter and he passed away about a year ago,” he said. “In the ’70s, before I was born, him and my mom and brother lived up in the Yukon in Mayo, and he ended up getting an opportunity from CBC to record some of his songs.”
One of those songs was chosen to be the theme of a CBC morning show hosted by Peter Gzowski, he said.
“It was a neat opportunity for my dad to go forward with music – it was really well received – and he had the chance to play in one of the first music festivals up there,” he explained. “But he was also a teacher and made the choice not to pursue music – he didn’t want the stress of travelling on his family and he let it be.
“I’ve heard those recordings all through my life and I’ve written a few songs inspired by him and those ideas and afterwards, from the perspective of understanding death and what that means in the family. I wanted to do a fusion project of some of his original songs recorded with CBC mashed with this one.”
Recently, while playing a pub in Edmonton, Averill encountered a man who had a connection to his father’s past.
“I bumped into a guy who’s dad was involved with running that festival my dad played at in the Yukon – most likely his dad booked my dad – it’s crazy, because he knew the engineer that was in the room with my dad when he was recording,” he said. “A few days went by, and he put me in contact with that sound engineer, who recorded 16 songs with my dad, some of which I never even knew about or heard before.
“They’ve been sending me raw recordings of his songs, of the festival and an hour-long interview he had. It’s been really cool to hear this stuff I’ve never heard before.”
Averill’s father was known for walking, and this is something he wanted to pay homage towards.
“My dad was a huge walker – he’d get up at like four in the morning, and walk around and walk to school – and I got the idea to link this project to walking,” he said. “I thought to honour this I’d start in Newfoundland and do a walking tour across the country, sharing with mostly house concerts, but also with schools, community centres and healthcare centres.
“I want to do this because of who my dad was and how I grew up – not so much in a house concert setting, but he’d have his teacher buddies over all the time and they’d jam and play, and that was always such a cool thing to see, people gathering for music.”
Averill himself didn’t actually begin singing until he was 20, he said, but had always enjoyed the vibe of people hanging out and sharing stories with each other.
“It’s a big project on multi levels, but it’s shaping up pretty well,” he said. “I also came from a background of exercise physiology – I used to be a trainer and I competed – so I have a huge sport perspective.
“I think being able to bring awareness to that, to encourage people to go for a walk or to join me, is important.”
After Canmore, Averill will play shows in Calgary and Edmonton, followed by a tour of the Yukon in April.
For more information, including details on the Canmore house concert and ways to join Averill for walks, visit his website at michaelaverill.com