Michel playing Communitea Cafe
Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 06:00 am
Here’s a weather anomaly you might find interesting …
August in the arctic on an icebreaker, or February in Canmore for a holiday and skiing? Which scenario do you think would offer up the best weather?
As it turns out, singer-songwriter Danny Michel can tell you, as he’s experienced both situations in the last year.
Just this week, Waterloo, Ont. native Michel has been holidaying in Canmore, seeing the sights and getting in some skiing as the valley basks in above zero temperatures (12 C today, Feb. 16).
On the other hand, at the invitation of astronaut Christ Hadfield and in putting together his 2017 album Khlebnikov, he spent 18 days on the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov in the arctic, above 80 degrees latitude – where August temperatures were in the range of -10 C.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Michel, who will play a solo gig at Communitea Cafe, Friday (Feb. 17). “We saw things like the Franklin (expedition) graves and it was an incredible adventure.”
The adventure was part of Hadfield’s Generator Arctic project, which saw scientists, photographers, writers, musicians and filmmakers on board to capture the experience and share it with the world.
On board the Khlebnikov, Michel wrote the songs for the album, which was quite a departure for him in that it was themed, heavily orchestral and has a real feel of Russian folk. As well, he kids, it may be in line for a Guinness Book of Records nod as the most northerly recording made.
The album itself, he said, would be difficult to tour with, although he does have bookings with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra planned. For shows like that at Communitea, “they’ll be more campfire versions, the way they were written.”
Fortunately for Michel, who now has a dozen albums under his belt, he’s a songwriter who likes to set aside a block of time (say while on an icebreaker) to create.
“I’m always putting little ideas and notes, but, like on the Khlebnikov, I like to get into a zone. For it, the whole record is about the adventure of the north. I’ve been to places like Dawson while touring, but never in the arctic; it’s a whole different north and I absorbed it all.”
While the summer festival circuit beckons from some months away, Michel thought while he’s chilling in Canmore, he might as well get in a gig at Communitea. His plan is to tour with the current Khlebnikov album, hit the summer fests, take some time off, then get working on a new project.
With nominations for three Juno awards, The Polaris Prize, The CBC’s “Heart Of Gold” and a pile of albums, Michel is one of Canada’s top songwriters and his thoughtful lyrics and earnest performances have earned him a devoted fan base.
An environmentalist, pacifist, romanticist and space enthusiast, Michel’s hopeful songs can find a home in everyone’s heart.