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Albums Of The Week: Old Man Luedecke | She Told Me Where To Go

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “How did Old Man Luedecke go from touring the world with his banjo to suddenly giving it all up to work as a deckhand on a scallop boat, and abandoning his signature instrument? “I was just going over to my scallop farming neighbour’s house to get some scallops to have for dinner”, says Chris Luedecke. “Knowing that the live music world had slowed down, he asked me if I wanted a job on his boat.” And so, Luedecke accepted and began going out to sea in the North Atlantic, not far from his family home in rural Nova Scotia. He was giving up the game of music.

Throughout that time working on the water, song ideas would pop in his head, and Chris would stash them away in his sea salt-stained notebook and battered iPhone, not sure if anything would ever come of them. During downtimes, Chris and his family would host all-day sap boils and wiener roasts over an open fire on their property where they tapped their maple trees and boiled the sap to make syrup in the late days of winter. A frequent visitor to these fires was Afie Jurvanen, aka Bahamas, who brought his family over for the BBQ and syrup and to chat music and play around on their guitars.

“What about not playing the banjo on your next record?” suggested Jurvanen. Initially, Chris thought those may have been fighting words, and prepared to throw down with his fellow Juno winner. Luckily, it didn’t come to blows and Chris understood that Afie’s question was rooted in how much of a fan he was of Chris’s song writing, and that maybe perceptions of the banjo distracted from that. This was the moment that She Told Me Where To Go was conceived.

“I was a musician, a banjo player, known for my old-time Appalachian-based sound, and Afie thought that we should let go of the chains and expectations that come with writing songs around an instrument, and that I should just write the songs without the instrument in mind. He convinced me to abandon my signature sound, and I had this newfound sense of freedom in my song writing.”

She Told Me Where to Go is a journey through the darkness and light of mid-life. The songs wrestle, long form, with the value of an artist in a time when music is ingested in fifteen second increments. There’s hopefulness in Guy Fieri but Holy Rain and Misfits in Old Clothes capture the ongoing struggle.

The album took time. With Jurvanen producing, they worked on the songs for almost two years and then spaced out the tracking and the vocals over 10 months. This is the longest gestation period ever for an Old Man Luedecke record. “I took a note from the world of theatre, rehearsing and tweaking the songs endlessly before they were ready for the stage, or in this case, the studio.”

It might have been easier to just quit the game, and stick to scallops, but being able to let go of the instrument that made him, brought new life to his songs and the album-making process. And fans need not worry, the banjo is always close at hand. There’s a treasure trove of songs that have soundtracked the lives of many, that feature that signature sound. The absence of the banjo is not forever, just for now.”