Plaskett flies solo tomorrow

Dunning Auditorium to serve as stage for Halifax rocker

Native Nova Scotian Joel Plaskett—usually accompanied by his band, The Emergency—will be playing solo tomorrow night.
Native Nova Scotian Joel Plaskett—usually accompanied by his band, The Emergency—will be playing solo tomorrow night.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of joelplaskett.com
Plaskett intends to blend new and old material on Saturday.
Plaskett intends to blend new and old material on Saturday.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of joelplaskett.com

Interview: Joel Plaskett @ Dunning Auditorium, Nov. 5

East Coast folk-rock sensation Joel Plaskett is really looking forward to his Saturday night performance in Dunning Auditorium. Although it will be a solo performance—without the aid of his trusty band, The Emergency—Plaskett is confident that his audience will enjoy themselves.

“It’s [going to be] a bit more of an intimate kind of show,” Plaskett said in a telephone interview with the Journal.

He’s been playing a number of solo shows on this tour as well as performing with his band, and Plaskett said he enjoys the musical differences between the two shows.

“Songs that I do in both Emergency and solo kind of, obviously, take on a life of their own and a different feel when I’m playing them on my own.” Anyone who has been exposed to Plaskett’s music can attest to this fact. In fact, Plaskett’s songs “take on a life of their own” almost every time he performs them—he frequently includes little side notes and digressions that add to the unique ambience created by a singer and his guitar.

“I like the show to feel kind of like ... I’m engaging the audience, but also that I’m being engaged by the audience. I think that’s important,” he said.

His down-to-earth attitude may be exactly what makes Plaskett so endearing.

“I like the fact that [my music and shows] sort of feel homemade. I feel proud of it. I feel exhausted by it sometimes, but at the same time I feel like it feels approachable in some way.”

With two solo records and two with Emergency, all recorded within the last six years, Plaskett’s music is slowly finding its way to a broader audience.

“I like it if there’s a kind of continual process that people can kind of hear [between each record]. They can kind of connect the dots, but hopefully there’s a journey there, it’s not just making the same record over and over ... that, to me, seems like a really boring idea.”

The organic nature of Plaskett’s songwriting and his talent as a guitar player are both showcased on his newest album, La De Da, which was released earlier this year.

“[The CBC] really came on board with this new record. I’d love to get on commercial radio and sort of broaden the fan base a bit, [but] having said that ... it’s not the be-all end-all ... we’ll find it one way or another.”

Plaskett added that student radio stations have also been great about playing his music, which helps to increase his fan base and to expose his music to new people.

When asked about what he plans to play on Saturday, Plaskett said he’s going to try and represent all of his records and play some of his newer stuff as well, including three recently-recorded and unreleased songs.

“[Playing solo is] a good opportunity to play stuff from the latest record, [because] a lot of that’s kind of mellower,” Plaskett said.

He even has something special planned.

“My secret weapon is my dad accompanying me on guitar [for some songs] ... my dad being with me is sort of what I think is gonna make [the show] unusual for anyone who hasn’t seen us play before.”

Plaskett said he’s excited by the prospect of playing with his father, who has been a big musical influence in his life.

“It was him who kind of showed me the ropes on guitar,” he recalled.

His father also exposed him to a lot of folk music, which is something Plaskett said he tries to incorporate into his own unique sound.

“I grew up around a lot of folk music and traditional music. And even though I love playing rock music ... part of what I love is traditional stuff, so I like finding a way of putting that in a set.”

This weekend, Plaskett and his father will be performing a cover of a traditional Irish folk song.

“With folk music [being] passed on, it’s like, ‘Here’s the lyrics and if you want to change them slightly or add a verse of your own, by all means.’”

When writing songs like “Love This Town”—about his hometown of Dartmouth—Plaskett said he feels like he is writing a modern-day folk song.

“I like the idea that if someone were singing [“Love This Town”], maybe they would change it so that it was more about themselves,” he said.

This inclusive philosophy can be heard throughout Plaskett’s music. It may have a rock side to it, but deep down, his music is accessible and personal.

“The stuff I really like is the stuff that feels a bit more real or honest ... I think that integrity is important, and that’s the approach I’m taking.”

Enjoy an intimate evening with Joel Plaskett and special guest Valerie Gore at Dunning Auditorium tomorrow evening. Tickets are $10 in advance and can be purchased at The Grad Club, Destinations or online at maplemusic.com.

Proceeds from refreshments to benefit WATERCAN.

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