Jim Bryson gets sappy this weekend

In a quiet and unassuming way, Ottawa native Jim Bryson is becoming one of Canada’s most sought after musicians. Not only does he regularly perform as a part of acclaimed roots-rocker Kathleen Edwards’ band, he has also “done time” playing auxiliary instruments for The Tragically Hip. Of course, it would be safe to say that both The Hip and Edwards were drawn into Bryson’s atmosphere thanks to the solid, arguably unforgettable songs that he has written over the course of four studio records as well as one live effort.

Bryson’s newest record, The Falcon Lake Incident, was a joint venture with Canadian indie-rock heroes The Weakerthans and helped to raise his profile even further in our country. According to Bryson, the idea of making a record went from being a mere conversation to reality in a remarkably short span of time.

“I met Jason Tait from The Weakerthans while I was touring with my old band Punchbuggy,” Bryson recalls. “When I released my second record in 2005, I ended up opening for The Weakerthans across Canada and it was then that our friendship was really forged.”

Bryson would go on to join The Weakerthans on tour, performing as a sideman for the group while the bond between the various members grew stronger.

“Then one day, Steve (Carroll) from The Weakerthans and I went to lunch and concocted a plan to make a record together. From there, the idea completely steamrolled itself; I never could have anticipated that three months after having casually talked about it that we would actually be in the studio.”

Although Bryson was the primary songwriter for the tracks contained on The Falcon Lake Incident, he admits that the songs were written specifically for the purpose of recording with the acclaimed indie band.

“The record was a collaborative effort in terms of the arrangements of the songs. I wrote the songs but they definitely put their stamp on them,” he says.

Bryson’s show as a part of the Sappyfest Music and Arts Festival taking place this weekend in Sackville will feature material from both Bryson’s solo efforts as well as material recorded in conjunction with The Weakerthans.

With such a flurry of activity taking place in Camp Bryson, one has to wonder when the musician will begin writing the material for a follow-up record. Bryson doesn’t seem the least bit phased at the prospect of not being prepared to make a new record, saying that he tends to write only when the mood strikes him.

“I know some musicians sit down and intentionally work on writing new music,” he says. “For me, I just catch it as goes by. I never put a timetable on writing new material. The songs come together when they do.

“It just so happens with me that the time between my records is not a bad thing. I tend to think it is good to have a record done and released every two to three years. But for the time that lapses between my records, it is not very representative of the actual time that it takes to make the record. I tend to record really quickly and then sit on the record for awhile before it actually gets released.”

Doing things for himself and at his own pace is nothing new in the world of Jim Bryson. In fact, he recalls that while performing with The Tragically Hip, his self-motivation was good-naturedly touched upon by one of the Hip’s stage techs.

“I have always been accustomed to doing things for myself. When I was playing with The Hip, I had gone on stage after sound check to fix one of my guitar pedals but not long after I was up there, one of their techs approached me and asked me what I was doing, that he was hired to fix things that needed repairing for the band. And it was just so odd to hear because I am wired to do things for myself; that is just how I have always done things.”

Article published in July 29, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript