The folk-inspired musician, best known as the banjo toting Old Man Luedecke, has earned critical adoration along with a rapidly expanding fan base in large part due to his infectious, simplistic songs and humble personality. He is a musician not afraid to take chances, and not afraid to walk to the beat of his own drummer.
Tender Is The Night, Luedecke’s latest record and fifth overall, was released earlier this fall and sees the musician take a well-placed gamble to go beyond his much-loved solo banjo songs. Luedecke has at once expanded his sound to include more in the way of instrumentation while also pulling back in other respects.
“In some ways, my new album is more of a return to Hinterland (Luedecke’s 2006 release),” Chris says. “The sound is more stripped down but is maybe in some ways actually fuller because of the approach that the engineer took in making the record. The playing on the record is very rich but there are actually fewer instruments on this record than the last few records.
“Because Tender Is The Night is so stripped down, it is probably more representative of what I do live than my other releases are. We decided to harness a more specific sound for this record and it ended up being more of a folk record in some ways.”
After making each of his previous records in either Halifax or Vancouver, Chris ventured down to Nashville for the recording of Tender Is The Night. Having worked with acclaimed bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien on 2010’s My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs, Chris hired O’Brien to sit in the producer’s chair for his newest album. Chris says that he and Tim talked about making a record together for quite some time and it was only last year that all of the pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place.
“Tim and I had talked about him coming to Halifax to make the record but when he started listening to the songs that I had sent him, he was insistent upon using the bassist and recording engineers that he tends to work with. As chance would have it, when I arrived in Nashville, however, Tim’s street was being dug up and so we were not able to record at his place. Instead, we ended up making the record at the studio owned by John Prine. It was definitely something else to travel all the way to Nashville from Nova Scotia and feel like those guys dug my music.”
Musically, what sets Nashville apart from other cities in the United States is the fact that its musical community thrives upon collaboration in an “all for one, one for all” kind of way.
“My experience with the city is that the musicians of Nashville all live close together, they love music and are proud to be involved in making the music. The people of Nashville are also proud of the city. Everyone is conversant with respect to what music means to the city.”
Chris’s new record is his first for True North Records, a label that has given rise to Bruce Cockburn, among others. Asked what prompted his move to the label, Chris says that it was actually Tim O’Brien’s manager who suggested that he look at True North due to their respectable presence in the United States.
“True North has been incredibly supportive so far and has been a great fit to help promote the record,” Chris says. “When I was making the album, I didn’t go through the typical grant streams to help offset the costs of making the record. The album was paid for out of pocket but I saw finding the right label to work with as a good kind of pressure to have.
“There is a much larger market for radio for this kind of music in the United States than there is Canada. Lyrically, I find that my lyrics are very Canadian but that the music I am making is very American sounding. Working with True North has been a good fit in many different respects.”
Aside from his Parkindale Hall show this Saturday, Chris shares that the month of December is an otherwise quiet one for him. In the new year, he will be heading out to tour western Canada and the northeastern United States before he heads to the United Kingdom for approximately one month. While some might argue the merits of keeping so busy, Chris says he is going to embrace as much as he can while he can.
“I have just had what is probably my busiest year ever but I am going to try to write a bunch of new songs,” Chris says. “It feels good to make the inroads that I have made over the last few years. I feel very lucky that I am able to make this happen for myself.
“I am also very lucky to be working with people who work hard to make my life both easier and richer. It is nice to see my career growing with the help of others.”
Article published in the December 13, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript