Nearing the 25th anniversary of Shanneyganock, Mark Hiscock flexes his solo muscles on his long-awaited album The Old Fishing Schooner
Fans of Newfoundland and Labrador traditional music are uniquely acquainted with Mark Hiscock. His welcoming tone, pleasant demeanor and mastery of the accordion through his work with island staple Shanneyganock have made him a fan favourite for decades.
Now, months away from the 25th anniversary of the band, Hiscock has put the finishing touches on his long-awaited third solo record – his first since 2002’s The Music Takes Me Back – an album 16 years in the making.
“It was time to put another one out,” Hiscock shared in a sitdown with The Herald. “A lot of people have been asking for another solo album from me, and it’s so different from the Shanneyganock stuff. It’s songs I don’t get a chance to do, the Newfoundland country stuff I grew up listening to like Harry Hibbs and the Whitehorse Band and all that stuff. It was an opportunity.”
Hiscock’s The Old Fishing Schooner is a tribute to the tried and tested tunes he grew up on, that rang through kitchen parties in many coves and inlets across Newfoundland and Labrador.
“A lot of songs on it are from old house parties we used to have years ago,” he says. “Mom was singing a song on the album that my grandmother Boland used to sing.”
Hiscock recorded the album with fellow Shanney member Ian Chipman at Players Choice Studio in Spaniards Bay. Chipman, who performed bass and drum duties on the album, joined a list of contributors that includes Craig Young, Patrick Moran, Renee Batten, Doug Randell and Carole Bestvater, and perhaps most amazingly, his mother and father Norman and Linda Hiscock.
A Family affair
“I got mom to sing one and dad to play one, so that was pretty cool to get them on the album,” Hiscock says proudly. “A lot of people wait too long, and they don’t get that chance to capture them and they regret it once they’re gone.”
Linda lent her considerable vocals to Leaves Mustn’t Fall, while Norman serves up slick accordion that could rival his own son on Maritime Farewell. Yet there was one more contribution to the record that will surely have folks talking.
Hiscock, by way of Russell Bowers, was granted access to the final recording by the iconic Harry Hibbs, recorded three months before he passed away. Hiscock was given special permission to take the raw track (album closer Songs of Ireland) and record and intimate and one-of-a-kind duet.
“I was a huge fan of Harry Hibbs. I have all of his albums in my record collection. A big, big fan. It’s such an honour and a privilege to be able to do that,” Hiscock explains. “Sitting in the studio, singing harmonies with Harry Hibbs … goosebumps. Just to hear his voice captured and knowing it was the last performance he ever made. That’s an opportunity that I don’t know if anyone will ever have again. It turned out to be a great track on the album. I’m very proud of it.”
Shanneyganock turns 25
Ending off the year with a series of annual holiday performances with Shanneyganock – including the always lively Delta December 27th showcase – Hiscock voiced his desire to perform a series of release shows and concerts in the early New Year, a year which will already hold significance for the longtime singer-songwriter.
2019 marks the 25 anniversary of Shanneyganock, who have long-since carved out their place in the annals of Newfoundland’s music history.
“25 years me and Chris have been playing together,” Hiscock mused, shaking his head at the milestone. “We’ll be planning some big tours throughout the New Year. Hopefully a new album as well, some form of a new album. It might be a greatest hits compilation with a few new tracks added in there. We’re still in the process now of deciding if we’re going to do a full-on new album. It seems like only yesterday that we started playing, but it feels like 25 years.”
Mark Hiscock’s The Old Fishing Schooner is available at Fred’s Records, O’Brien’s Music and Downhome.