Introducing Tin Can Chronicles

Category: community 162

Hosts Peter Rowan and Neil Bonner hope to cultivate a deeper appreciation for regional music makers through their new podcast.

Matt Carter 
Photo: Hosts Neil Bonner and Peter Rowan at Saint John’s Tin Can Beach. Photo by David R. Elliott.

It was only a matter of time before Peter Rowan started a podcast. For decades now he’s been rallying against anyone who chooses to label music from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland as simply being East Coast Music. 

“As I’ve felt for years now, the overall scene of East Coast music is not necessarily represented all that well through certain organizations and platforms,” said Rowan. “I’ve worked in this music community for over 30 years now, and from my experience it’s always been a struggle to get acknowledgement and representation of the diversity that exists here. That’s led me into a lot of battles with the East Coast Music Association trying to make sure there is better representation.”

After much discussion and lots of planning, Rowan and co-host Neil Bonner will launch their podcast Tin Can Chronicles this week.   

“Neil’s enthusiasm was a big part of this whole thing coming together,” said Rowan. “I’m pretty notorious for having ideas but usually need help executing them. I’m also a transplant. I’ve only been living in Saint John for about five years now. Neil’s a Johner through and through and brings a lot of great insight to the project. He has a great knowledge of the scene and the community we’re talking about.”

As hosts and creators of the show, Rowan and Bonner’s collective experience as music lovers, supporters and advocates covers the gamut. Rowan has run a record label, co-founded festivals and has been managing bands for more than 30 years. Bonner has been a fixture at local shows in the Saint John region for many years, has produced his own program for Local 107.3 FM and is also involved in the city’s theatre community. 

“For me, one of the things I’ve missed most through the COVID quarantine is live music,” said Bonner. “Our live music scenes have certainly taken a hit. I’m thinking particularly of Taco Pica, but I think just in general because we can’t do shows at the moment.  Some of the best moments in my life and some of the best friendships in my life have been established by going to live music events. The whole culture of it, going outside between sets, talking, discovering new music, and sharing new music with each other. I hope that in some way, this project becomes a platform to do that with music fans in the province because for the time being, we can’t physically do that right now.” 

Rowan connects some of the challenges facing many musicians in Atlantic Canada directly to narrow programming perspectives from both radio and traditional forms of media. Part of his objective with Tin Can Chronicles is to feature music and conversations with artists who exist outside the mainstream and to help introduce their craft to a wider audience. 

“In a lot of cases, these avenues are not the space to feature some of the music we hope to feature on the podcast,” he said. “I think there’s lots of room for a show like ours. We feel pretty compelled to talk about the arts community as social capital here. I think it’s something incredibly important and it’s something we have to talk about all the time to offset things.”

With help from engineer Corey Bonnivie (Little You, Little Me/Monopolized Records) who will assist in episode production as well as recording artists for the program’s Locals Covering Locals segment. Rowan and Bonner have also received support from Music NB and the Canada Council for the Arts which has enabled them to pay the artists featured on the show – an entirely new concept for most independently produced music related podcasts. 

“One of the things we’re trying to do which is a little different for the podcast world is we’re going to pay the artists for the usage of their music,” said Rowan. “To legally use music on a podcast you have to agree to pay a royalty to whoever owns the masters.  The beauty of our scene here is that all the artists own their own masters. And in the case of the Locals Covering Locals segment, we will pay the composer as well.”

With a primary focus on Saint John artists and related community issues, Rowan and Bonner hope Tin Can Chronicles can serve to highlight in inner workings of one small music scene with an end goal of helping listeners gain a better perspective and develop a new appreciation for their own creative surroundings. 

“I think this is a regional show but our market is everywhere,” said Rowan. “There are communities all over that are looking for help. It’s these small music communities that are really the life blood of good music and new music. My intent, if we can generate enough interest in this, is to explore what’s happening in other areas as well. Saint John is not the only underrepresented community in the Maritimes. There’s so much great music and even more artists who don’t feel they have a voice. So even though we’re just two bearded white guys, we’re going to do our best to be as representative as we possibly can be.” 

Tin Can Chronicles launches March 2. Learn more at tincanchronicles.ca

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