NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: Long-time singer/songwriter Steve Poltz is offering a one-time only performance on Wednesday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Strathspey Place Performing Arts Centre.
Billed as an intimate, up-close and personal experience that the audience won’t forget, the performance in Mabou is part of the “Steve Poltz Shine On… Canada!” tour and those who haven’t seen him before are in for a real treat.
“I love those intimate shows,” Poltz told The Reporter on May 2. “It’s fun to just be able to look out at the audience and see some smiling faces and give them a respite from their own crazy days, they have. It’s a big investment for somebody to come out and see me play. I don’t mean like money-wise, I mean like time; you have to plan it, and find parking, pop down the money, maybe pay for a sitter, all the things you have to do. It’s really cool, so I’m honoured when people show up.”
Despite living in this technological era of increasing social isolation, Poltz says the live music scene is more vital than ever considering the number of music festivals, the many places boasting good venues and the amount of successful touring artists.
“I’ve noticed that people still like human interaction and they like to go out and go to shows and be amongst other people,” Poltz noted. “You go to the show, you experience it, you see some friends, you smile, have a good time. Hopefully people keep going out. The concert business is still doing good, it’s amazing.”
Born in Halifax to a mother from North Sydney (whose father was a fiddler), the 59-year-old Poltz moved to Southern California when he was young, but remains a dual citizen. He has performed in communities like Inverness, Iona and North Sydney and has made friendships with musicians like J.P. Cormier and Dave Sampson.
“It’s really neat for me to come back to Cape Breton,” Poltz said. “It’s pretty special thing for me because it’s pretty sacred ground to me. It’s beautiful, the people really are friendly, they’re out to have a good time, I love it.”
Poltz started his three decades in music as the frontman for underground legends The Rugburns. Then 20 years ago, Poltz released his first full-length solo debut, One Left She, and since then has released 12 solo records, including the acclaimed 2010 Dreamhouse and Folk Singer in 2015. Perhaps most famously, he co-wrote Jewel’s multiplatinum Hot 100-topping megahit “You Were Meant For Me.”
Looking back on his career, Poltz disagrees that being a professional musician is a tough way to make a living.
“People always tell you it’s a hard life but it’s actually really cool,” Poltz stated. “You get paid for the travel, the shows are fun because you show up, people clap for you, everybody wants to do something nice for you. It’s like an altered existence, then you come home, make a bowl of oatmeal and nobody claps for you.”
In 2015, Poltz suffered a stroke, but by the next year, managed to perform 280 days of the year.
“And then I took some time off, then I went back to touring,” Poltz recalled. “You just got to be in the moment. So I kind of got really into it because I went on walks every day and started playing guitar and hanging out. So what I realized is wherever I am, that’s where I’m supposed to be.”
A press release calls his music “rockin’ countrified folk slices of sardonic Americana,” which Poltz agrees with, although he likes to defy simple conventions.
The idea for his 2018 Red House Records debut, Shine On… arose after another mass shooting in the United States. Although he felt overwhelmed, Poltz said he wanted to put his feelings into music. According to a press release, those who know Poltz might just call him “that little light in the dark people need in this day and age.” Referring to the constant cycle of negative news, Poltz felt it was time for something positive.
“We’ve just been inundated with all this bad news all the time on a 24-hour news cycle, so I just wanted to make a record that had a bit of a positive spin that might make people smile a little,” Poltz explained.
Calling himself a searcher, a smartass, a movie freak, a lover of technology, a baseball fan, and a “lapsed Catholic who still believes in God even though all his friends are atheists,” Poltz said he no longer considers himself a news junkie.
“I’m kind of weening myself off of being too much of a news junkie, so I just now peruse some articles,” Poltz said. “You can get so involved that you think the sky is falling, and then when you look outside and it’s beautiful. So you kind of got to step back every once in a while.”
Tickets are available on-line at: www.strathspeyplace.com, by phone at (902) 945-5300 and at the box office.