As we’ve seen with New Brunswick native Matt Andersen, audiences generally can’t resist connecting with an artist that obviously knows their way around a song.
Ontario native Donovan Woods is one of those artists. Perhaps not coincidentally, the roots-inspired artist has spent the better part of the last two months serving as Andersen’s support act all across this great country.
The two musicians had shared a booking agent, but only met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival last year. Their friendship grew, leading Woods to co-write two songs on Andersen’s newest record Honest Man – “Quiet Company” and “One Good Song.”
When discussing their tour together, Woods has nothing but glowing things to say about the time he has spent on tour with Andersen.
“The audiences right across the country have been absolutely great. Matt’s fans are absolutely rabid about him; they just love him, and rightfully so. For me, it has just been amazing to play some of the nicest venues in the country that I had always dreamed of playing.”
Woods comes to Moncton on Wednesday, April 13, when he will perform at a sold-out Capitol Theatre. He has been touring behind his fourth full-length effort, Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled, which was released at the end of February.
Over the course of his career, in addition to amassing his own catalogue of music, Woods’ has had a hand in writing songs for other artists, including Alan Doyle and Billy Currington. Tim McGraw cut Woods’ track “Portland, Maine” on his 2014 album Sundown Heaven Town, while most recently, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, who included Wood’s track “Leaving Nashville” on his solo debut.
While many artists struggle for years to find an established musician to cut one of their songs, Woods acknowledges he was in Nashville just a short amount of time before McGraw came calling.
“Early on, I got lumped in with people that were good at what they did, and so the first song I wrote got cut,” he says, laughing. “I was lucky that it was a long, drawn-out slog for me.”
Asked why he feels he was so lucky so early in his career, Woods believes sticking to his guns and not trying to make himself into something he was not played a big part in his early success.
“Instead of going to Nashville and replicating what you’re hearing on the radio, you have to do what you want to do, and stick with that. Just look at [Grammy Award winner] Chris Stapleton: people were singing his praises in Nashville long before the mainstream caught wind of him, but can you imagine if he had spent his career trying to be something that he wasn’t? What a failure that would have been,” Woods declares.
“I always wanted to be a performer, I just think I was pretty realistic about it every step of the way. Instead of telling people I wanted to be a rock star when I was growing up, I told people that I wanted to write songs. As a kid, that seemed like a more reasonable path to follow. The great thing about where I am at is that I have the best of both the songwriter and performer worlds.”
It should be little surprise then that Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled is Woods most confident work to date. By Woods own account, it may have taken him four records, but he feels that the album is the truest representation of who he is as an artist.
“Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled is the first record I’ve made that I feel I have my ducks in a row, and that it has been released the way it was supposed to come out. Not only do I have the right team in place. It is also my most complete record. With the making of my other records, there were always compromises of some sort, based on budget or other factors,” he shares.
“With this new album, I realized it’s all about the moment where you find the music and love it. I finally got to make the record that I wanted to make all along.”
What: Donovan Woods, special guest to Matt Andersen
When: Wednesday Apr. 13, 8 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
The show is sold out