Owen Steel and The Sad Turns are back for a run of shows this weekend.
Owen Steel’s music has taken many forms over the years. Since he began performing his own tunes in 2009, he has toured and performed as a duo, a trio and with a full ensemble, chasing inspiration wherever it leads him.
After a successful year or more performing in support of the fantastic album, Time Machine Blues, Steel pulled anchor and set out to farm in California and sail the coast of South America before heading to off to tour Europe last fall.
Now, he’s back on home turf with a reunited cast of performers who have all, at one time, joined him on stage to perform his music. The Sad Turns have taken many forms of the past several years, each version adding something unique to Steel’s own brand of folk-infused music. We put a few questions to him prior to his upcoming Fredericton performance in hopes of learning a bit more about this current incarnation of Owen Steel and The Sad Turns.
What’s it like getting back into playing with a band again after over a year of solo playing and touring?
Well, at the time of answering this I still haven’t played with the band yet, so I couldn’t tell ya, although the anticipation excites me. It’s always fun to play music with friends. Playing solo is way easier as far as organization goes, so planning this small tour and everything that surrounds it (transportation, etc) has taken some adjustment for me.
Who are the musicians involved in this edition of The Sad Turns and how many are new to the group?
The Sad Turns for this run of shows are: Kate Romain (accordion), Rich Driedger (clarinet), Mike Trask (washboard), Max Keenlyside (piano), and Rheo Rochon (upright bass). We’ve all played together at some point but never ALL of us at same time.
After playing solo for a while, you must have a pretty solid idea of how you want you songs to sound. How does working with a band change or challenge your interpretation of your own music?
I don’t actually know how I want the songs to sound yet. I don’t know if I ever will. I have so many song sketches and demos that are all over the map. For now, with this configuration of musicians, I suppose all I know is that I want it to sound and feel loose and jumpy, while being able to reign it in when needed.
Playing with a band helps me to listen more closely to the songs and I suppose, in turn, that changes the way the songs are played out, be it little things like change of tempo or doing it in a key that’s easier for the clarinet to play in. It’s a challenge just in the sense that there’s more you have to pay attention to and yet at the same time, everything’s easier because many hands make light work!
This show in Fredericton is going to be the first public performance with this group. You must be pumped. What does this configuration of The Sad Turns offer that may be different from previous versions?
I’m equal parts excited and nervous. This version of The Sad Turns offers us playing in a bar without hardly any practice, opposed to outside at a festival without any practice. It should be interesting. Plus, Max is bringing along a piano… that he made himself!
Are you planning on playing more and possibly recording with this group? I guess what I’m asking is if we’re going to hear some new music from you this year at all?
I would love to play more and record with these guys but I honestly have no idea when or if that’ll happen. We’ll see how this mini tour goes and then if schedules meet up again, hopefully we can make something happen. If nothing with the band, there’ll definitely be something else new this year.
Catch Owen Steel and The Sad Turns on tour this weekend:
The Capital Complex | Fredericton | February 20, 2015 | Doors at 10:00PM | Show at 10:45PM | $8 | More Info
Parkindale Hall | Albert County, NB | February 21, 2015 | Doors at 7:30PM | Show at 8:00PM | $15 | More Info
The Company House | Halifax, NS | February 22, 2015 | 7:30PM | $10 | More Info