The call of the island we call home permeates the hearts and minds of any honest Newfoundlander and Labradorian. No matter how far we trod, miles or oceans between, there is a tether to this almost mystical place that cannot be described in honest justice. That call is something that the flag-bearers of Newfoundland trad music Shanneyganock have firmly captured in their newest studio album Home In My Harbour.
‘Feeling of home’
“Home, it’s just that feeling of home,” longtime frontman Chris Andrews said of the album’s central theme in a candid interview at his kitchen table.
“It’s not all bad, there’s still lots of good. Everyone you talk to says ‘ah it’s some bad, b’y it’s some bad.’ It’s not that great, but it’s not that bad. Look at all the wonderful things we have; family, friends, harbours and coves, and home. This album’s whole concept was to do something that reminded you of home.”
Home In My Harbour continues the momentum of the band’s universally acclaimed Rockin’ On The Water, with its successor serving as a broad stroke of trad that can be appreciated by listeners of all ages and demographics.
“People really seem to dig it, which is really cool. At the end of the day that’s what you want,” says Andrews. “The response has been great. People are really liking the new music. It’s great to see people dancing and singing along to it already. We’re really happy with it so far.”
Music & Friends
Of particular note is the addition of the iconic Bud Davidge of Simani, who lends his talents to the albums’ rendition of the classic Music and Friends. It is the most fitting of tunes for a musical marriage long in the making and one surely appreciated by fans of both legendary trad outfits.
“He’s a fan, we’re a fan. Him and Mark have a real connection. He’s a good guy and we feel honoured to do these things with him,” Andrews shares of Davidge’s involvement. “He was the real deal, a Newfoundland icon in music. It was just from having a chat with him saying ‘we should try it sometime.’ It took us about two years to make it happen, but we’ve got it done and we couldn’t be happier. It’s an appropriate song and really appropriate for Bud coming with us. It’s great and sometimes he’ll play live shows with us, get up and do a song or two. It’s wonderful to just stand back and back up Bud Davidge. It’s wicked.”
Of course Andrews, Hiscock and co. have been on-the-trot promoting the album about the island throughout the summer, popping up at numerous festivals from coast to coast. On tap is a featured slot at the 2017 George Street Festival, the annual come-down to which Shanney fans routinely turn up to in droves, without fail or question.
“I think it’s an entertainment district, really well known. It’s the best part of the summer and the weather is good and they always have really good acts,” Andrews shares of the benefits of the George Street Festival. “They usually showcase Newfoundland acts, which they did again this year with Hey Rosetta!, ourselves, Fortunate Ones, etc. George Street is a place Shanneyganock has always done well. We’ve always done a good number and we thank everyone for coming out. It’s just one of those shows that’s fun.
“We’ll be poking around all over the place,” Andrews adds, delving in to the schedule for the band in the coming weeks and months. “We do our stuff in blocks these days. We’ll go flat out for a block and then take some time off and go flat out at er’ again. We’ll do Newfoundland and Labrador and a bit of Atlantic Canada this summer and in the fall we’ll get out west and up north by the looks of it. After Christmas we’ll reload and go again.”
Doubtless long-time Shanney fans will notice new(ish) members amongst the ranks of the band, alongside founding members and stalwarts Andrews and Hiscock. Gone (on good-terms) are Billy Sutton and Bob Pike, and in are Ian Chipman (formerly of The Fables, Navigators) on bass and the multi-versed Chris Donnelly on drums. Both have adapted to the makeup of the band without incident, Andrews shares.
“It’s a good powerful little four-piece band now. Ian is a true-blue musician. He’s one of those guys who knows the show and can step up. If we need him he can play guitar too, I’m sure.”
Still Going Strong
At a time where there is much uncertainty in our province – economically, socially, politically – bands like Shanneyganock offer a welcome reprieve. It is a responsibility taken up by the band to serve as a catalyst for positivity, as a reminder of the good beneath the grey and it is something Shanneyganock will continue to carry with them in the years that come. “That’s our job I think (to lift people’s spirits),” Andrews says with a smile. “Don’t forget, as bad as it is what we’ve got and we do have it pretty good … There’s still lots of good things about this wonderful place and sometimes we just need to let them know to not forget that.”
And what exactly does Andrews hope Home In My Harbour says for a band that leaves, breathes, eats and sleeps Newfoundland and Labrador?
“It says far from finished – still going strong, still wanting, still loving here and singing about this place. It’s easy to do if you want it. You know what they say about if you don’t go to work?
Putting out records is easy because it’s almost joyous for us to do it and hoping everyone likes it, which they have, thanks be to God again. That’s all you can do – do your best, throw it out there and be right proud of it. That’s what we always did and that’s what we’re going to do again. Hopefully we’ll put out another one. There’s no greatest hits compilations yet.”