As one of Canada’s most highly regarded singer-songwriters, Murray McLauchlan is making a return to touring. McLauchlan performs at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Saturday Oct. 24.
After deciding at an early age to pursue music full-time, McLauchlan produced his first album Songs from the Street in 1971. He steadily earned his way into smaller venues and clubs, eventually gaining audiences at major theatres and festivals in North America’s largest cities.
Now with 18 albums and 11 Juno awards under his belt, McLauchlan’s had a great deal of success throughout his 40-year career.
His most famous hits like Farmer’s Song, Down by the Henry Moore, and Whispering Rain are iconic to the Canadian folk scene.
His latest solo album Human Writes was released in 2011. Though it received considerable airplay across the pond in the U.K. and Europe, he didn’t tour it much.
“Frankly, I was worn out,” he said over the phone from Ontario.
“I loved playing, writing and making music,” McLauchlan said. But a hectic solo touring schedule wasn’t bringing the joy that it once did.
For the past several years he’s restricted his touring to shows with Lunch at Allen’s, a group that he co-founded in 2004, by way of a particularly unusual circumstance.
“A group of well-meaning doctors tried to kill me,” he joked. A routine diagnostic test resulted in a tear to his coronary artery, which then required complicated emergency surgery.
During his recovery, Marc Jordan and Ian Thomas came to sing him Christmas carols in the hospital.
Once recovered, McLauchlan took them out for lunch at Allen’s restaurant in Toronto to thank them. Lunch lasted well through dinner as the group decided, “we ought to do something together,” McLauchlan recalled.
With that, Lunch at Allan’s was formed.
With over a decade of jamming and performing with Jordan, Thomas and Cindy Church as Lunch at Allen’s, McLauchlan thoroughly enjoyed himself.
Tour production company Shantero Productions had promoted shows for Lunch At Allen’s, and McLauchlan decided to work with them once again to tour his solo music.
McLauchlan is joined on tour with Victor Bateman. “He’s very skilled at playing bass with a bow,” McLauchlan enthused, which will provide a beautiful orchestral spread to underlie his songs on stage.
As for the music you can expect to hear, McLauchlan will perform a blend of his fan favourite radio hits, and his latest work from Human Writes.
Call it ‘An Evening With Murray McLauchlan…,’ if you will. “It will have a cabaret element to it. Not loquacious, but I’ll talk a bit about the process that goes into making a particular song.”
He bore comparison to a memory of attending a Bob Dylan concert long ago at Massey Hall. “The only thing he said all night was ‘here’s something new I’ve been working on.’ He didn’t even say ‘hello.'”
McLauchlan’s current tour is reinforced by his passion for visual arts as well.
While music is a more overtly communicative art, paintings tell stories in their own way
McLauchlan has rekindled his life-long affinity for painting, his work recently appearing in galleries like the Muskoka Place Gallery in August.
“I paint because it’s an existential experience. You have to be in the moment,” he said. “It shuts up the part of your brain that’s constantly bringing up what did or didn’t do. It stills that inner chatter.”
Art may be a particularly important escape for McLauchlan now as he prepares to re-enter the spotlight.
He said his excitement is the the same as his trepidation, “like a racehorse at the gate before it opens.”
“I’m 67,” he joked, “I think it’s pretty cool that I can be excited about anything.”
McLauchlan’s Chilliwack performance begins at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre (9201 Corbould St). Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at The Box Office or by calling 604-391-7469.