David Myles, Friday, Nov. 23 at 7: 30 p.m. at North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre, part of the Electric Evenings series. Tickets: $30/$27, visit centennialtheatre.com.
David Myles is no stranger to touring.
Since releasing his debut record in 2005, the hard-working Maritime singer/ songwriter has clocked countless miles in an effort to bring his award-winning music to audiences of all kinds, earning him a place in the hearts of many.
Myles embarked on his current tour in September, packing his car and heading West to Saskatchewan and B.C. where he’s maintained a busy performance schedule ever since. As on previous tours, the artist – who’s known for his genuine and affecting songwriting as well as his ability to captivate audiences between songs with stories from his life- has kept audiences entertained.
However, this time around he’s brought something a little different to the table: his family.
Joining him this fall is his wife Nina Corfu and their firstborn, Maria, now four months old. The tour was booked well before little Maria was in the Halifax-based couple’s lives, but they seized the opportunity to hit the road together for the first time (aided by Nina’s maternity leave from her job as a CBC Radio producer).
“It’s been totally, totally fun,” says Myles. “It definitely means for busy days because everything’s really full on. . . . I always miss Nina when I’m on the road and I would have missed Maria terribly, my first child, to go through all these experiences and miss that stuff, so it makes each day pretty amazing. And then, there’s a great show at the end of every day.”
Maria has been an important member of the road crew, “penning” her own blog (with the help of Corfu). Look Who’s Touring: Behind the Scenes with Maria Myles (davidmyles.com) discusses everything from green room snacks to Myles’ and his band mates’ backstage antics.
Also travelling as part of the Myles-Corfu tour convoy in a second vehicle are Fredericton, N.B.-based musicians Kyle Cunjak (upright bass) and Alan Jeffries (guitar).
“They’ve got the adult car. They listen to music a little louder,” laughs Myles.
The North Shore News caught up with Myles et al Tuesday via cellphone as they were en route to Osoyoos from Prince George, packed in their white Hyundai Elantra hatchback. They hoped to make it as far as Kamloops, their journey stalled due to bad roads and an accident up ahead causing a two-hour traffic slowdown.
“My wife is driving right now, and I am soothing a small baby in the back seat. She’s seconds away from sleeping, actually,” says Myles.
Not only has the current tour offered an opportunity for family bonding and to see firsthand the “remarkable” beauty of the West, it’s allowed Myles to work on growing his audience as he’s playing a number of communities in Northern B.C. for the first time.
“This whole tour has been good because it’s given me a chance to play in B.C. in such a way more thorough fashion. . . .,” he says. “They’re often pretty big houses of people who don’t know who I am. Then it becomes my job to get them to like my music in an hour and a half or two hours, which I dig. I like that challenge. . . . Hopefully it will mean that we’re going to get to tour in B.C. a lot more because it has been so successful.”
The tour will bring him to the Lower Mainland today, taking him to the Studio Theatre/Surrey Arts Centre tonight, Nov. 16 and Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre tomorrow, Nov. 17. Myles is playing Courtney Nov. 18 before returning to the Vancouver area for a show at North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre Friday, Nov. 23. He’ll cap off his B.C. fall tour with a show in Whistler Nov. 24.
Adding further excitement to Myles’ journey was news received Sunday that he had earned yet another feather for his cap. Over the years he’s received countless award nods for his five studio albums and one live recording. He’s been recognized in international and CBC songwriting competitions as well as by the Canadian Folk and East Coast Music Awards. He’s also won a number of Music Nova Scotia Awards and received word of his latest win last weekend, taking male artist recording of the year for his 2011 release, Into The Sun. Myles won the same category last year for David Myles: Live at The Carlton.
“That was a record that I put a lot into and it was a bit of risk because it was quite different from my other records. So with it getting recognized, I was pretty excited for sure,” he says.
Myles has been making music since he was young, starting on the trumpet in the school band program in his hometown of Fredericton, N.B. He was surrounded by music growing up; the Myles family had two pianos and his father, a high school biology teacher, also directed his school’s musicals.
While music was always a passion, Myles never thought it would pan out career-wise so pursued a political science degree at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. For his third year, at age 21, he travelled to China on an exchange program and decided to buy a guitar, which set him on a new course.
“That was the catalyst because I started writing songs,” he says, adding, “Once I did that, I was hooked.”
Myles has continued to build a strong fan base, something he says has been amazing to see come together.
“The magic in it is that you’ve just got to work a lot. You have to do a lot of shows and you have to make sure every show you do is really good and slowly the fan base will appear,” he says.
He refers to friends and musical collaborators Joel Plaskett and Classified, both East Coast artists who’ve been incredibly successful in their respective careers. Their passion for their craft, artistry and intense work ethic are continued sources of inspiration.
Halifax rocker Plaskett produced Myles’ 2010 release Turn Time Off, the result of a personal relationship the duo forged, having met through the local music scene, as well, they share a manager. “We just became friends, we’re really similar in a lot of ways and we get along really well,” says Myles.
Working with the music industry veteran proved lucrative. “I learned a ton. Working with Joel is really fun because he’s so enthusiastic. He has an insane amount of energy,” says Myles.
He’s likewise learned a lot through his ongoing collaborations with rapper Classified (Luke Boyd). Myles has worked with Classified on a number of songs, including “Simple Pleasures” off Myles’ Into the Sun and “The Day Doesn’t Die” on Classified’s Handshakes and Middle Fingers. Their most recent collaboration, “Inner Ninja,” was released last week and will be the lead single on Classified’s upcoming album, expected to drop in the coming months.
“We’ll inevitably collaborate again pretty soon,” says Myles.
Despite their diverse backgrounds – Classified’s hip hop sensibilities and Myles’ formal musical training – they’ve been able to find a formula that works.
“He likes what I do and then we find a ground where we work together,” says Myles.
The same can be said of his recent collaborations with fellow native New Brunswicker Measha Brueggergosman, an acclaimed Canadian soprano. They’ve been doing some writing and performing together and a video for their duet, “Whole To My Half,” which is included on her latest album, I’ve Got A Crush On You, is awaiting release.
“You have to get to know your own world before you collaborate effectively,” says Myles. “I had to be confident as a songwriter and feel like I had something to contribute to a collaboration. Once that happened, especially with the right people, you can do some amazing things. For me it’s about exploring possibilities.”
After wrapping his B.C. tour, Myles and his family will return to the Maritimes, where he has a number of free concerts scheduled in support of New Brunswick food banks. He also has a couple of other holiday shows planned, one in Saint John, N.B. and another in Toronto.
“The next day, I start making a record,” says Myles.
He suspects it will differ slightly from his last work, which incorporated some Brazilian and African sounds. These days, he’s been gravitating towards the music of the late-’50s.
“I think that this next record is a bit more of a love song record, to be honest,” he says. “It’s kind of where I’ve been at. I’ve written most of the songs and I’ve been playing them live and they’ve been going over really well. That was my priority, is to make sure that they translated live.”
January 2013, Myles confidently asserts, will be a little more mellow than his fall. Though with a six-month old Maria on he and Corfu’s hands, only time will tell.