For my mom, love from John

Saskatchewan native John Antoniuk dedicates his latest album to his late mother

John Antoniuk says his mom was the first person to tell him to pursue music for a living.
John Antoniuk says his mom was the first person to tell him to pursue music for a living.
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Sometimes, playing music is an addiction.

“My friend said that all the songs we’re playing were like smokes, because playing the music was more addictive than smoking,” said singer-songwriter John Antoniuk. “I’d light a smoke, set it in the ashtray, then play the songs until the cigarettes burned out.”

Antoniuk is currently touring with his latest album, Always With You — his first album released using his real name. The album is a tribute to his mother who passed away in 2010 from cancer.

Antoniuk said the decision to record the album under his real name is a result of the nature of the content.

“This album is for people who knew people or lost people to cancer,” he said. “They didn’t have to look down at the cover and see the word ‘killer.’”

While he’s known largely for his matchless acoustic stylings, the new album has a larger lyrical emphasis.

It carries a distinct narrative, weaving stories of his mother’s life and the lessons she taught him before her passing.

“I found making the record really hard for me because I felt it coming from a dark place, but I feel that the songs are a lot more hopeful than the place they originally came from,” Antoniuk said.

Each track has its own significance. One speaks about his mother’s strength, while another details the life lessons she taught her kids.

Before his mother’s passing, the Saskatoon native was working part-time as an AV tech while he struggled to support his music career on the side.

“She wished for all of us that we grabbed our lives by the reins and didn’t wait around for something to happen because life’s too short, and it goes by so fast,” Antoniuk said.

It’s in an effort to send this healing message to a larger audience that he’s now pursuing his full-time music career around Canada.

“I was in a band before in the late 90s, but one day I think I just looked at the guys and said, ‘I don’t think we’re ever going to be Pearl Jam.’ Then I sort of ended up doing it myself.”

Antoniuk said he hopes his show at the Mansion next week will be his chance to shine on the indie scene in Kingston.

“As an indie musician, everyone plays the Mansion and I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to have it on my resume,” he said. “It’s hopefully going to put us in front of some people who are music supporters.” It’s clear this small-town musician wants to touch his audience with his big-hearted lyrics.

“I really wanted this project to be for other people what it was for me as far as being therapeutic.”

John Antoniuk plays the Mansion on Thursday at 9 p.m.

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