Tue, May 14, 2013.
His story is so spectacular, it's enough to draw you into his music, he's led that kind of life. There's no room to tell it all here, drop by jontnet.com for more, but a capsulized version goes like this: Born in England, as a teen he hobnobbed with the likes of Princess Di, then followed the Dead in the U.S., along with famous poets such as Ginsberg. Then back home, he became a pro cricket player. Oh, and a recording artist, his albums getting raves in the big mags.
But then, he decided if he was going to sing like a troubadour, he'd better act like one. To that end, he hit the road with no plans, few destinations chosen, and no support team. In 2010, he was in Australia, when an epiphany came to him, something to do with meditation and song writing. Then on the road he discovered he had an 8-year old daughter, living, in of all places, Halifax. The troubadour now had a purpose as well as a destination, and a new home.
Now ensconced in the East Coast scene, Hello Halifax is his first album since the troubadour experience, the move, and becoming a working dad. Oh, and the epiphany as well. Centred around his warm vocals and intimate lyrics, it's a largely acoustic songwriter piece, but with some charming and different accents. It features grand backing vocals from Jennah Barry and Eska that take the songs to new highs. Deep acoustic bass and cello mellow the sound, and Haligonian Kev Corbett drives things with subtle percussion. The trombone that drops in shakes things up as well. But it's the straight-to-the-heart lyrics that leave the deepest impression, and with such a life tale, as you can imagine, there are plenty of big, emotional moments. On the inspirational Lucky Leaf Falls ("We got each other, sisters and brothers"), he sings of the chance happenings of life that make it beautiful, "The lucky leaf falls, comes to us all".
Teardrops & Pennies is the central song, the one he says came with his personal and song writing breakthrough, and pretty much sums up his journey: "Well I spent so long, waiting for something, and now I've found it, how do you think I feel?" Pretty good, I'm betting.
Jont's playing tonight, that's right, tonight, Tuesday, May 14, at Plan B in Moncton, and first he's dropping by Frank's Music to do an in-store performance, which is always cool. That's happening at 6 PM, get the heck over there.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).