As many Banff visitors discover, the area is not only home to the tourist town, but wildlife, majestic vistas and a mountain calm which can be quite enticing.
It’s no surprise, then, that many people find themselves attracted to the Rocky Mountain environment and return time and time again.
Séan McCann is one of those people. One of the founding members of Great Big Sea, McCann has been something of a regular in the area since the East Coast Celtic folk stars started gigging at Banff’s Rose & Crown.
This year, McCann stopped in at Communitea Café in Canmore (May 2) while touring in support of his latest solo effort, Son of a Sailor, then returned to rock Banff’s Performance in the Park (June 25) with his GBS bandmates.
On Tuesday (Nov. 22), with no particular goal in mind, McCann is back to play The Club at The Banff Centre at 8 p.m.
What with touring solo and globetrotting with Great Big Sea, McCann said he finds he doesn’t get a lot of down time to work on songwriting.
“I really like it in Banff. If I didn’t live in Newfoundland, I’d likely live somewhere like Banff or Lake Louise,” he said from St. John’s, Monday (Nov. 14).
“When you leave the coast here and then get to the top of a mountain, you feel superhuman.”
McCann arrives in Banff on Monday, plays The Club Tuesday, then plans to enjoy a mini sabbatical for a few days.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while,” he said. “I usually write songs in the back of a bus or on a plane and every time I leave Banff, a song comes out of it.
“I love the energy of the mountains, it’s different than what I’m used to. I’ve been busy since Great Big Sea played there in spring and I talked to my good friend Kurt Bagnell (manager of presentations) about doing this.
“We’ve talked about this for years , and now seemed like a good time. Fall has been crazy and this is my first time off in a long time. I want to finish some songs and write some new ones. Work is a daily thing for me, but I need a break. My kids have been asking me if I can cancel work and after this, I don’t have anything on the books until January. I need to re-group, look at what I’ve accomplished and write a couple of good songs.”
Wanting to take a break is understandable and for a performer like McCann, a performance in Banff is a break. Playing a small venue like The Club, he said, will be something of a throwback to his first days of performing in St. John’s bars a couple of decades ago.
“It’s good to get up and do something by myself. You’re kind of naked up there with your songs. You can hear people in the crowd and they can here you, it’s intimate.
“I’m not going to have a set list. It’ll be some Séan solo stuff, some Great Big Sea stuff, whatever people want. It’ll be all over the place. The trouble isn’t what to play, the trouble is usually getting me to stop.”
McCann said he’s not going to be working toward another album specifically, just taking some time to “steep and settle down. I just want to spend some time alone with my guitar and see what happens. Just let it be, like McCartney said.”