This holiday season, New Brunswick native David Myles is hoping to instill some friendly competition between the province’s biggest cities of Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John. For the fifth consecutive year, Myles will undertake his Singing For Supper concerts this week in support of New Brunswick food banks.
He says that last year was the most successful concert series yet with more than $7,000 and 500 pounds of food donated over the course of the three shows.
“I don’t know if it’s a matter of people feeling more generous or if it’s just a matter of word getting out about the shows but we really saw a huge jump in terms of what we brought in last year,” Myles said as he awaited boarding a Montreal-bound flight earlier this week. “What started as me more-less playing a show to people that weren’t necessarily there to watch me play has really become something I look forward to each year.
“The great thing about these shows is the fact that people come and go as they please. A lot of people will take 45 minutes of their lunch break to get stuff done, catch a couple of songs and take the opportunity to make a donation in support of their local food bank. Everyone wins.”
When pressed for details as to which city tends to be most generous in terms of donations, Myles playfully withholds specifics, diplomatically saying that each city seems to be stepping up its game.
“Truthfully, I just can’t help but play up the inherent competitiveness that already exists between the three cities. Why not turn that into something that the less fortunate can benefit from?
“Fredericton, being my hometown, has been generous from the very start but both Saint John and Moncton brought it in a big way last year.”
While previous editions of the Singing For Supper shows have featured a mixture of holiday favourites and original material, Myles has stepped up his own holiday game with the release of It’s Christmas With David Myles. The 13-track collection, released earlier this autumn, includes Christmas standards such as “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “White Christmas” alongside three holiday-inspired originals –“It’s Christmas,” “Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo” and “The Gift.”
“The holiday music I listened to while I was growing up was a lot of choral music, songs that were a few hundred years old,” he says. “My approach to the classics with this record was rooted in jazz because I love that style of music outside of the world of a Christmas record. I have always loved listening to guys like Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby but, prior to this, I have never tried to sing like them. I finally got to croon with the making of this record,” Myles says excitedly.
“I actually see this Christmas album as being something more than a novelty record for me, though. In the bigger picture of my catalogue, I think it is going to be a very important record because so much of this music had a place in my upbringing. When I was 14 and 15 years old, I wasn’t listening to grunge or punk music– it was guys like Nat King Cole who enthralled me. It is still something I hold close.
“I didn’t go into the studio intending to reinvent the wheel with this record. I just wanted to approach making the record the way that I go about making music.”
With a new baby due in the New Year, a second child for him and his wife, Myles certainly has his hands full these days. Earlier this year, Myles began hosting The East Coast Music Hour, a weekly radio show on CBC.
An avid supporter of East Coast Music, Myles says that hosting the show has opened his eyes to the amazing musical diversity that the region has to offer.
“We decided from the outset that if this was something that we were going to do, we really wanted to make an effort to make the show unique and something very special. We wanted the show to be dynamic and diverse and really take advantage of the fact that music from the East Coast includes Celtic music, hip-hop, rock, Acadian music as well as classical music.
“I’m the first to admit that the show has helped turn me on to so much music that I really hadn’t had a chance to hear. It has really freshened my ears because I’m a music fan and love talking about it in general. I am absolutely honoured to be the guy that gets to share all of the amazing music coming from this region,” Myles says.
As for when fans might expect Myles to deliver more in the way of new music, he remains vague. He shares that he and platinum-selling rapper Classified have been working on some new music together but he’s unsure as to how and when it will be released.
That doesn’t mean that Myles will just be sitting idly by otherwise, however.
“I am starting to look at branching out to the United States and the United Kingdom and building my name in some new places over the next year. I am so very fortunate to get to work so close to home here in Canada and play amazing towns and cities from coast to coast.
“In terms of cultivating a fan base on an international level, it is the kind of thing you have to dip your feet into the waters and see where your music gets the best reception. It takes time but there is nothing else I would rather be doing,” he says.
What: David Myles
When: Friday, Dec. 5, Noon
Where: Champlain Place Shopping Centre, Centre Court, 477 Paul St., Dieppe