Séan McCann goes on solo Martitime tour and advocates for mental health

MABOU: On August 16, Great Big Sea founder Séan McCann will be performing at the Strathspey Centre in Mabou to start a tour across the Maritimes. McCann says it will just be him and Old Brown, his first guitar.

The performances will consist of new songs, and some from the Great Big Sea. McCann says that every performance is different with the goal being to bring out the best in the audience, and to sing along.

“I believe in the power of music. It’s a powerful medicine. I can’t wait to get back to Cape Breton and lift people’s hearts with my songs and get people singing,” McCann said. “I love the people there; I’m just really looking forward to being there.”

McCann has become a solo artist since in late 2013, but says he won’t forget his time with Great Big Sea, a folk rock band from Newfoundland and Labrador. McCann says that Cape Breton was the first place to embrace Great Big Sea, and he owes a lot to the people.
“I found the best version of myself on stage.” McCann said. “That’s where I’m most vulnerable and most powerful.”

Since McCann left the band, he has admitted that he’s suffered through 30 years of addiction. After his wife gave him an ultimatum, he says it got him to seek help. McCann now has been sober for eight years.

McCann said it’s a struggle day to day, but he’s grateful to still be here. He says he’s been working harder than ever; he’s gone on more shows, released records such as ‘Help Yourself’, ‘You Know I Love You’ and recently ‘There’s a Place for You’. He said that his way of writing music has become more purposeful.

“I used to write catchy songs that said ‘you’re okay, I’m okay, let’s drink and forget our problems’.” McCann said about his music. “The difference now is, I’m still writing catchy songs, it’s just now ‘let’s not forget our problems.’ Let’s face them. Let’s be brave.”
McCann is a mental health advocate since being open about his struggles. He says to only speak the truth to face your problems, and encourages peoples to do the same.

“You’re stronger than you think.” McCann said. “You’re able to do more than you think if you just don’t give up and do the work, and that is facing your truth. If you can find something to help you, like a guitar, you’re problems can be overcome. You find what works for you.”

After his tour, he and his wife will be writing a book together. The book with be about addiction, its impact and recovery. McCann says the book is expected to release in early 2019.

The Strathspey Performing Arts Centre is located at Mabou, 11156 Route 19. The performance will start at 7:30 p.m., the doors will open for half an hour prior to the start, and tickets remain on sale. For more information, go to www.strathspeyplace.com.

Séan McCann will also be playing at Antigonish on August 17 and Sydney on August 18. For more information, go to www.seanmccannsings.com.