IAN MacDONALD CD Release
Monday, November 18
Kaos Jazz and Blues Bistro
For most people, folk music festivals are traditional events where they can hang with family and friends, soak up music, beer and sunshine, and generally relax and let down. For singer-songwriter Ian MacDonald, who shared a sidestage with Dan Bern and the Corn Sisters in Calgary in 1998, the festival became an existential crisis.
"You get to hang with really cool people, you realize Maybe I can be here! The musical worst feeling I ever had in my life was after that. These people are going to play another folk festival and youre just going back to your job. It was pretty traumatic."
But in a phone interview the day after he hosted the popular Wednesday night jam at Karma Local Arts House, the laid-back MacDonald seems completely over his trauma. And the irony is that, at one time, MacDonald gave up his day job and plunged into music full-time.
"I made the stupid step of just doing music. Ive come to realize now, 10 or 11 years later, that anyone can say Im going to quit this and do music full time, but I really dont think it makes that much difference. For example, that girl we heard last night, she can be working at a full-time job and somebody hears her that knows somebody and it will just change that persons world. I dont think everybody thats been discovered or made it in music was doing it full-time."
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, MacDonald worked summers in Maine promoting tourism in his home province. After meeting an amazing Maine guitarist and buying one of his vintage guitars, the singer got into playing and songwriting late in life, in his mid-20s. He came to Calgary to work at the Palliser Hotel and eventually worked as food and beverage controller at the Chateau Airport.
Then he gave it all up for music. A stint with a rock band, Smokin Joes, gave way to MacDonalds first solo CD, Holding Shadows, in 1998, when he decided he wanted to write more personal songs. His new CD, Hello Hello Hello Hello, continues his tuneful tradition while adding a little more diversity to the sound.
"The first one was one emotion all the way through. If you wanted to slit your wrists, the first one was a good one for it. This one has a different kind of tune. If it moves me, Im hoping its going to move somebody else."
The albums sound is boosted by the contributions of experienced talent like Ron Casat, Russell Broom and Danny Patton. Although MacDonalds recording and gigs earn him praise, he remains unsure of his abilities, perhaps still slightly bruised by the existential trauma of the folk fest.
"When somebody pays you a compliment, you are saying Thank you but thinking Did they just say it or do they really mean it? Because nobodys perfect and nobody knows if somebodys good or not."