Award winning songwriter juggles multiple balls
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 06:00 am
Old Man Luedecke
Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25. Call 780-459-1542 or purchase online at www.ticketmaster.ca
Old Man Luedecke. For an instant the name conjures up images of grandpa’s old blue overalls and flannel shirts.
Yet when he appears on stage, a lone soldier pickin’ his banjo, a driving rhythm interspersed with stomping boots, there’s a youthful, soulful energy that immediately connects.
The real Chris Luedecke, a renowned Nova Scotia roots troubadour, is anything but an old-fashioned fellow. He recently completed his fifth record, Tender is the Night, inspired by newborn, identical twin daughters Delia and Wilhelmina.
In fact, the 2012 release was just nominated for a Juno in the roots and traditional solo category. It’s not his first brush with fame. His 2008, A Previous Love, also won the 2009 Juno for best roots album.
Yet Luedecke displays humility and a slight insecurity.
“I’ve always seen myself as an outsider. I never do anything particularly fashionable. I call myself Old Man. At the same time, I’m not a throwback songwriter. I write all contemporary songs. I’m not wearing suspenders and I don’t play up the antique nature of songs,” says Luedecke in a telephone interview from his home in Chester, N.S.
The singer-songwriter’s lyrics and melodies are certainly modern, but somewhere inside his songs is a groove that connects us to the long-gone sound of Dock Boggs and Ralph Stanley.
Along with violinist and mandolin player Joel E. Hunt, Luedecke will perform a concert at the Arden Theatre on Thursday, February 28 as part of a three-stop Alberta tour that includes Grande Prairie and Hinton.
In his salad days Luedecke studied English literature at the University of Montreal.
“I really wanted to say something and searched for a venue to channel that energy, but didn’t feel being a poet was the best option,” he said.
He bought a banjo and started writing songs.
“It was pretty clear in two or three years there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do. It wasn’t a choice. It was a thrust.”
Buying a banjo was more than a lightning bolt from the sky. It was a push, a remnant from high school.
“When I was in high school, while my friends were listening to rock and roll, I was called to folk music – Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, the Carter Family. I loved the beautiful melodies and the banjo seemed so exotic and I loved the way it made me feel. Because I didn’t know anything about it, I was able to reinvent myself.”
Chasing a girl, now his wife Theresa, Luedecke lived in the Yukon, Vancouver and Halifax before settling on a small farm. While criss-crossing Canada, he worked odd jobs selling tickets for the symphony, moving boxes and filling forms for Revenue Canada.
Rather than detracting from his music, the checkered career has provided experiences for his narrative-driven songs.
Tender is the Night is an artfully crafted collection of storytelling songs on a variety of topics that are both serious and joyful. Produced by Tim O’Brien, the 13-track was recorded live in Nashville at the Butcher Shoppe over a four-day period and appears streamlined towards bluegrass.
The single Tender is the Night, is a poignant piece about missing home whereas Tortoise and the Hare is an ode to the push for success and the ever-increasing rat race. Luedecke’s charming humour surfaces in A&W Song, a sassy poke at post-bar booze cravings.
And in Ian Tyson Song, he tips the hat to Canada’s most famous singing cowboy.
“I’d been a fan of his for a long time. I read a two-page spread on him in the Globe and Mail and saw a documentary on TV about him. He inspired the song when in the documentary he likened himself to an old wolf caught in a leg-trap. I literally made the song up on the spur of the moment.”
At his Arden Theatre concert, Old Man Luedecke just plans to sing, pick his banjo, tell outrageous stories and have fun.
“I just want to keep all the balls in the air.”