Dedicated to the art of entertaining audiences here and abroad, Marystown’s The Likes of Jeff Pittman delivers on his long awaited full-length debut History and Mystery
Much is made about first impressions. It’s that one shot to impress, to say or do in many or little words or deeds that which will define you moving forward.
Decades in the making
They call them first impressions ‘cuz we all only get one and when the pressure is on come statement time it’s either deliver or don’t, sink or swim.
Well, if history is written by first impressions, then Marystown’s proud son Jeff Pittman will go down as one of the good ones.
It is decades in the making, built up from a young age through scatter bar gigs, dozens of demos and popular, fan friendly kitchen party haunts, but the man who goes under The Likes of Jeff Pittman has finally uncorked his debut album, History and Mystery.
“I’ve been playing for a long time,” Pittman shares in a sitdown with The Newfoundland Herald. “It’s been a lifelong thing for me, playing. This is my first full length album and something I’ve wanted to do for a lot of years.”
Pittman graduated from the piano to guitar at age 10. When he was in junior high he was recruited as a last minute stand-in to play at his local pub – his elder brother signed off on the deal – which would become the first of years worth of engagements playing evenings and weekends at various gigs to help pocket some extra money as a teenager.
The bug for performing would prove to burrow far past adolescence for Pittman, something he attributes to our ingrained love for music within our culture here on The Rock.
“This thing transcends generations. I think there’s an added confidence for me in being able to kind of say, OK, I’m going to make these songs,” he explains. “I’m going to put them out there and just in feeling a little bit of an onus, even because my aunt was big time into poetry. I know that others in my family lineage have been into performance. I also think that tradition tends to lean people making it such a family network with the young and the old kind of thing. It probably comes from where we’ve come from before, but for me personally I got into playing at a young age, going camping with family, friends and those fellows playing guitar. I was infatuated with it from such a young age that my parents kind of put me in piano lessons. And then it goes on from there.”
History and Mystery is a polished collection of 11 tracks which capitalize on the style Pittman lovingly refers to as shed party merriment with folk club sincerity.
Recorded at JT3 Productions and Record Time Productions in Marystown and St. John’s, the album features a solid assortment of collaborators, with Pittman calling on the likes of Ryan Baker, Vanessa Jackman, Greg Walsh, the legendary Fergus O’Byrne and Irish export Newfoundland the Band.
Nature of home
“I feel a lot of family kinship and lineage in what I do and community in what I do,” Pittman explains of his newest and most extensive work.
“When I’m writing it’s always been a bit of a thing for me just feeling that nature of home. A lot of my favourite writers that I’ve grown up listening to are the ones from who I kind of learn a bit about place. Some people would say that would be alienating in some situations, but I kind of love that exploration of ‘what’s he talking about’ or ‘what’s that place he referred to’? Writers like Shane MacGowan and Stompin’ Tom Connors that write about people and place in such a way. I kind of aspire to do that a lot. Throughout the record, there’s a lot of themes there, parts of Newfoundland identity. Those trimmings are laced throughout the songs.”
Pittman, who works with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation out of his hometown of Marystown, has taken to workshopping and traveling globally to promote and hone his brand.
He competed in the Singer Songwriter Residency program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, working alongside the likes of Howard Bilerman, Dave Francey and Fats Kaplin, while also attending the Toronto International Film Festival and Folk Alliance International Conference this past year.
History and Mystery is that next great leap for Pittman, a dedicated craftsman who lives to entertain, and is deadly serious about progress, and the process, of making the most of his life as an artist and entertainer.
A human experience
“I want to continue,” he said of his current career path. “What I love about it is just the collaboration and the people you meet. That’s honestly what it’s all about, the sharing. It’s funny how it all comes back to what feels natural … in your travels as a musician you get to kind of collaborate so much. Sharing music, I think what it’s designed to be is as a human experience. Every time you can gain an experience like that it’s very enriching. So for me I’m trying to do as much of that as a can.”
Pittman releases History and Mystery on November 9th at St. Gabriel’s Hall in Marystown, November 23rd at The Ship Pub in St. John’s, with a pair of engagements on December 6th and 21st at 5 Dock Row in Marystown. For more visit jeff-pittman.com.