Local Music and More: Fortunate Ones

Folk duo Fortunate Ones paying it forward, holiday giving and a long awaited sophomore album in a candid interview with The Newfoundland Herald


It may feel strange to avid Herald readers to consider that Andrew James O’Brien and Catherine Allan, affectionately known as Fortunate Ones, have only been performing together since 2014. Considering the strides they’ve made, miles tallied, and fanbase they’ve cultivated in said time. You’d assume they’d be pushing the decade mark of fine-tuning their particular brand of warm and endearing artistry.

Christmas Showcase

But yet, here they are, nearing their third annual Christmas showcase and very much looking the part of a pair of artists checking off all the right boxes at the right time.

The duo dropped the long-awaited news that they’ll be releasing their sophomore album (and followup to the critically acclaimed The Bliss) in the spring or summer of 2018. The pair had been in the process of working on the record since June and has compiled a who’s who of notable Newfoundland contributors.

“We did some co-writing with Tim Baker, Alan Doyle and Meg Warren,” O’Brien says. “It’s pretty cool to be such big fans of these people and to have interest from them to collaborate.”

While no definitive release date or working title has been locked down as of this writing, you can expect much of the same charm and emotive material fans have come to love, and certainly much more on the writing/creative end from Allan herself.

“It’s definitely a lot of work but it’s been really interesting and a really fun ride,” Allan explains in regards to the record. “I did more writing on this album, much more than the last album, so that’s been really interesting for me but really scary and new but also really enjoyable. It’s been really fulfilling.” 

Paying it Forward

The duo have already plotted a fairly massive 2018, thanks in part to the looming album release and a large-scale tour with Alan Doyle, which will see the pair tackle major markets across the country. The duo admit to owing quite a lot to the likes of Doyle and Baker, but then the idea of paying it forward in the artistic community is something of a given here in Newfoundland.

“That’s so important to the scene here. People are always paying it forward to the next generation of musicians,” says Allan. “Hopefully if we ever have anything to offer we’ll help anyone out when it comes to our experiences. It’s not always clear, the path forward, when you live on an island in the North Atlantic. Having to go hit the road, it’s not always an easy path so I think it’s really important to have those mentors.”

Buzz has been considerable for the third annual Christmas showcases for Fortunate Ones, with a trio of shows in St. John’s and a hometown (for Allan) gig in Corner Brook serving as a benchmark for holiday season planning.

“The planning of the Christmas shows begins months and months beforehand,” explains O’Brien. “I think people have come to expect a quality and a caliber of a performance and a night out, particularly if they’re choosing to spend their money on a show at that time of the year. It really needs to be something that’s worthwhile to them and that’s something we’ve become conscious of pretty early, always making sure that what we give them is up to their expectations and beyond. That’s always the goal.”

Original Holiday Tunes

Fans can expect some tried-and-true Fortunate Ones favourites, alongside some original holiday tunes from their 2016 EP All Will Be Well, and even a tease or two from the upcoming sophomore album.

As has been custom for the shows, donations and non-perishable food items will be accepted towards the Community Food Sharing Association. And while the idea of captivating rooms full of diehard fans for a slew of evenings around the holidays surely pleases O’Brien and Allan, it is that ability to give back to the most vulnerable and those in need around Christmastime that truly defines the season.

“I will say that the greatest satisfaction that I’ve gotten from doing these shows is being able to walk into that food sharing association with carloads of food and to see mounds of fives, tens, and twenties on these collection plates going directly into a soup kitchen,” O’Brien says fondly. “That to me is the whole thing. That really, when you get down to it, is what this season should be all about. We love playing music and sharing those times with our fans, but on the day after our last show to be able to go down and hand that stuff in is awesome.”

For tickets to Fortunate Ones with special guest Allan Byrne on Dec 8-10 in St. John’s and Dec. 16 in Corner Brook visit fortunateones.ca

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