No matter where in the country – or the world – New Brunswick native David Myles travels, there remains something intrinsically special about his annual return to the province in support of the province’s food banks every Christmas season.
Now entering its seventh season, Myles’ cleverly titled Singing For Supper concerts had modest beginnings before occupying its current residency in the food courts of the province’s largest shopping centres.
“It’s pretty remarkable to see the way that these shows have grown over the last seven years,” the always-affable Myles says from an Alberta tour stop last week. “The first year we did a holiday benefit show in Moncton was in front of maybe 15-20 people at the Blue Cross Centre in downtown. We are at a point now though where the malls have been on board for the last five years, allowing us to not only reach a much wider audience, but also giving us the latitude to transform their food courts into a concert venue of sorts.”
Not counting the food donations that have been collected, Myles shares that more than $50,000 has been raised over the last seven years. He insists that not only does the band enjoy having the opportunity to play in front of a mixture of longtime fans and those who may be new to his music, the shows also help put everyone in the holiday spirit.
“These events have become so much more than us playing a bunch of music. These shows give me the opportunity to say thanks to the public for their support of my career, but they are also very much about community, and bringing people together for a great cause.”
Now more than a half-dozen releases deep into what has proven to be an exciting career, Myles admits he felt a little trepidation before making the decision to record and release a Christmas album – the appropriately titled It’s Christmas – approximately two years ago.
In addition to cutting tried-and-true holiday classics like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “White Christmas” and “Let It Snow,” Myles recorded a number of original tracks like the bouncy “Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo,” the lushly orchestrated album title track, and the contemplative “The Gift.”
“When I made the decision to put a Christmas record together, my biggest concern was that I didn’t want to be playing a collection of songs that were going to feel like a burden one, two or ten years down the road,” Myles says. “Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case whatsoever. The band and I still have a lot of fun playing these songs.”
What never fails to humble Myles with each passing year, however, is the new life that seemingly gets breathed back into It’s Christmas as the holiday season approaches.
“I write songs and sing them for people. I’ve never shied away from that responsibility, but I do think the decision to make a Christmas album was definitive proof that I accepted my role of being an entertainer. From that point forward, I knew my coolness was going to be rescinded,” Myles says, laughing.
“As I dove into the Christmas project, however, what struck me was how well the songs fit into what I was doing with my career otherwise. The subject matter of these Christmas songs was right in line with what I like to write about otherwise. There hasn’t been one day that I’ve regretted the decision to make a Christmas record.”
Following his last holiday show of the season in Wolfville, N.S. on Saturday, Myles and his group, which includes guitarist Alan Jeffries and bassist Kyle Cunjak, will be given the opportunity to take a bit of a breather before ultimately gearing up for what will be a busy 2017.
Myles has an English-language record scheduled for release in the fall, and was recorded with Nova Scotian producer Dan Ledwell. Myles describes the album as being fun and energetic, owing a musical debt to Elvis Presley and the pioneers of early rock and roll.
Also on tap for the new year is a Francophone album, which Myles shares has been a bucket list item for a number of years.
“I’ve been extensively performing throughout Quebec these last couple of years and felt the time was right to venture into making a Francophone album. It’s important to me that I don’t become complacent at any point. I’m confident it will prove to be an exciting, creative challenge.”
What: David Myles’ Singing For Supper
When: Friday Dec. 16, Noon
Where: CF Champlain Food Court, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation. Cash donations will also be accepted.