CANMORE – Leeroy Stagger and The East Pointers will perform on the Main Stage at the Canmore Folk Music Festival this weekend and both musical acts have new albums to release later this year.
Coming up to nearly two decades on the Canadian folk scene, Stagger has already recorded 11 albums and two EPs. But for Stagger, this year in particular has been busy musically. With his album Me and the Mountain released earlier this year, he is now preparing for the release of Strange Path.
The two albums were originally set to be a double record. However, as Stagger continued to write and produce the albums, each evolved in a different direction.
“It just wasn’t going to make sense artistically to put them out at the same time as a double record,” Stagger said.
Me and the Mountain was written while Stagger was at the Banff Centre for Art and Creativity. In comparison to Staggers previous albums, this one touches on personal aspects of his life that he thinks can relate to audiences.
“It’s a little darker than Strange Path, but there’s still a lot of folk in it as well. But it’s a real personal record. It’s about hitting a wall in my marriage and kind of navigating through that and all these emotions of travelling for a living and having the family at home. You know, this constant push-pull of that feeling,” Stagger said.
With Strange Path, which is set to be released this September, Stagger describes the record as a more contemporary, “cool kid” record. With distinguished musicians including Brad Barr of the Barr Brothers and Pete Thomas, who has performed on records with Elvis Costello and Pearl Jam, Stagger is excited to release the album.
“I feel like I’ve kind of made like a cool kid record, you know, because I’ve never really been in that club and this is the first record that I’ve made where it’s just like, 'oh yeah.' Inadvertently I might have made a hip record so to speak,” he said with a hearty laugh.
The theme of Strange Path delves into the different roads, which can sometimes be joyous, but also painful roads people embark on over the course of a lifetime. What brought inspiration to the album was a particular fact that Stagger honed in on.
“It was kind of a metaphysical idea of the science that shows that our cells regenerate every seven years, I think it is – and for me the soul is kind of this unseen presence, like there’s no quantifying soul scientifically,” Stagger said.
“But I always wondered about this idea of a person – like when I think of the essence of a person, I would call that the soul ... So I was wondering to myself, is it the same idea? Could the essence of somebody regenerate itself every seven years or so as well?”
The single, "Strange Attractor" along with a music video to accompany it, has already been released as a teaser to the album.
In October, the east-coast celtic style band, The East Pointers will release its third album Yours to Break. Lead singer and fiddle player, Tim Chaisson, banjo and guitar player, Koady Chaisson, and guitarist and keyboardist, Jake Charron make up the folk ensemble.
With Yours to Break, the East Pointers wanted to experiment with folk music outside of its genre and “play music without any boundaries.”
“We’ve played a lot of traditional celtic music, folk music, but we also enjoy playing stuff that would be using different instruments and synthesizers, which wouldn’t really be allowed in a traditional music session. It’s about just kind of being ourselves. It’s fun, I really enjoyed putting this album together,” Charron said.
Although October is still quite a ways away, fans can catch a taste of the album with the new single "Wintergreen." The song unfolds with carefree notes and as the verses come in, "Wintergreen" addresses a difficult theme.
“It’s a new song that sort of touches on the topics of mental health and just a song kind of about telling someone that you believe in them if they’re lacking a bit of hope in the world. Hopefully it helps brighten up someone’s day.”
Both Leeroy Stagger and The East Pointers will also be participating in the folk festival workshops playing alongside artists Willie Watson, Sam Lewis, The Jerry Cans, Irish Mythen and Bon Débarras.
On Saturday (Aug. 3) at the Stan Rogers Stage from 8:55-9:50 p.m., Leeroy Stagger will be performing at the Canmore Folk Music Festival. The following day, The East Pointers will take the stage as the last act for the night from 10:10-11 p.m.