Greg MacPherson returns to the Maritimes

Everybody loves a bargain, including Winnipeg musician Greg MacPherson. He loves bargain hunting so much so that when I caught up with him on a mid-September afternoon, he and a friend had traveled from Winnipeg to the small town of Altona in search of deals at the town’s thrift store.

“Throughout the province of Manitoba, there are a lot of great Mennonite thrift stores that are simply notorious for having really cool things,” MacPherson says. “I actually just bought a keyboard that I thought looked fantastic; only paid $40 for it but it has to easily be worth more than 500 dollars. I’m pretty excited.”

Such is the life of a traveling musician. And if there is one thing that MacPherson knows well, it is life on the road.

The son of a Canadian Air Force member, Greg MacPherson is actually a displaced Maritimer who lived in seven different provinces throughout Canada before finally settling in Winnipeg. While the MacPherson family spent approximately one year in Chatham, New Brunswick, Greg was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia and by and large still considers that city his home. He admits he rather enjoys living in Winnipeg, but would still love to relocated back to the Atlantic region of Canada.

“I really feel at home in Sydney,” he confesses. “Whenever I had set up tours in the past, I always made a point to play Sydney because until not too long ago, my parents still lived there. Now though, they are living in Winnipeg,” he says.

MacPherson last toured the Maritimes in May and is looking forward to his imminent return to the region, including an October 16 show in Sackville at the Royal Canadian Legion. Although he doesn’t spend quite as much time touring throughout Canada as he had done in the past, he aims to be spread the MacPherson gospel to Canadians far and wide a total of two to three months out of the year.

“I used to spend three to four months a year on the road but I’m married now and have a day job that I rather like so I try to tour more carefully these days.”

By carefully, MacPherson admits he travels as much as he can without losing his job. Luckily for him, his boss is very supportive of his career and actually has a partner in the music business herself so it is a best-case scenario in many ways.

The humble, down-to-earth MacPherson is touring throughout Canada in support of his newest record, Mr. Invitation, released this past March on Winnipeg label Smallman Records. MacPherson’s affiliation with Smallman is a relatively new venture for the singer-songwriter. Previously signed with the G7 Welcoming Committee label, MacPherson was forced to seek out a new label home after G7 shut their doors.

“I recorded Mr Invitation in 2009 but after G7 shut down the previous year, it took me the better part of a year to search out another label who would be interested in working with me. I’m not really a man of means and know first-hand the benefits of working with a label.

“Smallman were receptive to working with me but then it took a year to get the songs together and rehearsed to be recorded. A lot of the guys in my backing band are spread all over the country. My main collaborator Steve Bates lives in Montreal while my drummer Jason lives in Toronto. It was a bit of a logistical challenge to get everyone in the same place at the same time,” he says.

Almost five years lapsed between Mr. Invitation and Sun Beats Down, MacPherson’s 2005 full-length record. MacPherson says the delay between records was not an intentional move by any means but is more than pleased with the progress he made between the two albums.

“One very good thing about the time that lapsed between records is that it really pushed me to improve my writing and performing. I think Mr. Invitation is a nice little snapshot for me; I look at records as a picture of where I am at in that particular point in my life and career. I think it is a really great example of how far I have come as an artist.

“I would actually go out and buy this record as a consumer,” he jokes. “I haven’t always felt that strongly about my releases.”

Even though Mr. Invitation is barely six months old, MacPherson cops to having another record ready (currently entitled Disintegration Blues) for release in March 2011. Recorded over the course of this past summer, he admits he is trying to make up for the five years “lost” time between Mr. Invitation and his previous album.

“If I could, I would put out a record a year but it is more a matter of financing than anything else.”

Before his next record drops here in Canada, MacPherson has a tour of Europe in the cards where Disintegration Blues will be released in February.  From there, it is inevitable that MacPherson will then hit the road to tour in support of that; it is a wash, rinse, repeat cycle he is only too happy to oblige.

“I think I’m going to stop making records when I get to the point of putting out a record and don’t feel it is better than the previous one,” he says.

See Greg MacPherson at one of the shows below:

Oct 16 – Sackville, NB – Royal Canadian Legion

Oct 17 – Sydney, NS – The Upstairs

Oct 21 – Charlottetown, PEI – Baba’s Lounge