BANFF – Strange new hobbies were a by-product for many bored-out-of-their-mind folk during the pandemic and Jesse Roads was no different.
For the Alberta rocker, who’s playing three nights in Banff this week, it all started with a particular hat he couldn’t find – a classic newsboy, poor boy design that has an old school rock-n-roll feel.
He dropped the notepad and guitar in favour of a sewing machine and lifetime subscriptions to every fabric store in Red Deer to create the latest masterpiece from scratch.
“My wife thought I was losing my mind, for sure,” Roads said.
Roads persisted through though, and took over the dinner table at his home where he cut and stitched together a worn pair of jeans and some new badass liner to make his elusive hat – five of them, in fact.
The short break in music and being creative in a completely different aspect sparked something musically inside Roads. From creating a simple hat, some of the musician's best work artistically is about to drop.
Roads takes the stage at the Rose and Crown Banff, Thursday to Saturday (April 21-23) starting at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday have $5 cover.
On his latest tour, Roads is giving audiences a sneak peek of his latest album, Good Seats at a Funeral, which is a reflection of his past trauma and mental health awareness.
“This world of shit just like happened one after another and it became this whole thing of like how does one person or one family deal with all this stuff?” said Roads.
In a short period of time, Roads’ mother, sister and grandmother passed away, and then his sister’s daughter was murdered. His father’s leg was then amputated after suffering from a bad accident.
As life punched Roads directly in the face and he sat among loved ones, he quickly felt that there are no good seats at a funeral.
“After my sewing expedition, I don’t know how or where or why, maybe it was the weight of the world at the time, maybe it was the whole essence of what was happening with COVID and people dying and it just kind of hit me,” said Roads.
“I picked up my guitar and started writing the song and I thought ‘wow, do I even want to sing about this?’ This is not something I really want to talk about, but then I couldn’t stop. But then I realized I was already onto the next one and they just kept coming.”
Looking back, Roads said he hadn’t dealt with any of the shock and pain he’d gone through. He’s usually the guy who brings calm and peace and wants to make everyone smile.
“I really do believe everyone is dealing with some shit right now,” he said. “For me, this album represents diving in and making peace with some of the harder things and so that’s where it comes in with Good Seats at a Funeral.”
The 10-track album is expected to be released in July. The first single, named after the album, is on track to be out in June.
Local audiences have a chance to hear a teaser during his latest stint in Banff at the Rose and Crown.
Making the walk upstairs to the mountain town venue has been a 20-year love affair for Roads.
He grew up musically there at the audience-level stage and even recorded a live album and video, From the world famous Rose and Crown Banff, during the pandemic.
It’s like a second family there for Roads.
On stage, it’s a common sight at a Jesse Roads gig for the whole room to break out into a sing along.
“This will be the first full-on show back in Banff,” said Roads. “I really think this run here is going to be long overdue for us and jam on some tunes and have a great few nights and enjoy the mountains.”