About 10 minutes into my conversation with Sault Ste. Marie native and folk musician Jay Aymar to advance his show at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge tonight, he makes a somewhat startling revelation:
He has no home. This isn’t Aymar’s way of employing a metaphor to illustrate how much he tours. He really has no home.
“It’s never been something that has been a concern to me. If I’m sitting around too long, I tend to get a little edgy. The more you’re able to keep mobile when pursuing this kind of life, the better. Your art is going to find inspiration in your travels and the people you speak with late at night,” Aymar tells us while awaiting his flight that will bring him from Ontario to Atlantic Canada.
“As cliché as the notion of where you hang your hat is home might be, it rings rather true for me. I have a number of whistle stops all throughout Canada where I’ve made a lot of great memories and have pockets of fans, all of which makes it feel like home for the time I am there.”
A songwriter in the vein of the recently deceased Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker, Aymar is a storyteller via his songs. Although he grew up on classic rock greats like Pink Floyd and The Beatles, it was Bob Dylan and Neil Young that helped steer him onto his present path.
A university course helped officially seal the deal, however.
“When I was attending university, I was studying English literature, and then subsequently got caught up in songwriting. After that course, I decided to dedicate my entire being to crafting songs and playing live.”
Fast forward 20 years, a handful of records, and a slew of miles later, Aymar is living out his dream. He’s even had one of his songs – “My Cherry Coloured Rose” – covered by Canadian country and folk giant Ian Tyson.
Aymar’s most recent effort, The Chicken Came First, is a first for the musician. The package is comprised of a collection of short stories, a live recording, and unique artwork, as well as sheet music for the musically ambitious among us. It adds yet another dimension to Aymar’s ever-expanding range of abilities.
“I began blogging somewhere around four years ago, telling faction stories – tales where names have been changed, but the situations are real,” he says. “It began catching on with some of the folks who enjoy my music. It really was them that encouraged me to take 12 of those stories and compile them into a book.”
With more new music and thousands of miles of highway on the horizon, one could argue Aymar’s lack of a physical home might be serving the musician best at this point in his life. Acknowledging it might not always be the easiest path, he says he’d rather be living his current life than to settle into a 9 to 5 job and be left wondering if he could have made something of his life from music.
“There are flashes of success on this pursuit, but there are also some rather low points too, especially when you’re hitting middle age and starting to question what life is all about. I’m sure life would have played out differently for me if I had something holding me back or keeping me grounded. There are all kinds of reasons why people abandon chasing their dreams. I totally get it, but just hate to see it come at a great personal cost. Living the rest of your life thinking about the ‘what if’s’ isn’t a good plan; go out there and take the chance to make things happen. If you are truly intent on pursuing your art, you’ll find a way to make ends meet.”
What: Jay Aymar
When: Tuesday May 31, 9 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton