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Music

Drop Everything and See Eamon McGrath Tonight

Posted by Greg / September 24, 2010

...because I sure wish I could! I just came back from the Summer and was all pumped to start seeing shows again, but, as fate would have it, when my favorite punk-country artist rolls through town I happen to be away for a history conference. What the hell, right? So after shouting "Why!?" in the general direction of the heavens for a few hours, I took consolation in the fact that I could still interview the dude if nothing else. Jump ahead to Tuesday night when I received a phone call from an unknown number, picked up in confusion, and was suddenly talking to one of Canada's great living song writers.

That's right, I really do think he's one of the best that our very talented country has to offer. Like a small number of song writing icons, such as Bob Dylan and Prince and Neil Young, Eamon churns out songs as quickly as most plants churn out oxygen. He simply doesn't stop - it's in his blood or something. His online discography lists four albums from 2010 alone, five from 2009, and nine from 2008, and he indicated there could be far more than that. "I record as a means of writing," he told me. "Sometimes I save albums for people who ask for them, like friends or people at shows, or I give one to a girl I'm hitting on." Neither of us could remember his grand album count (and remember, he wrote them), but we were sure that two of these albums have been released officially by White Whale records: his critically acclaimed "debut," 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light, and his more recent Peace Maker.

These two official releases show Eamon inhabiting the country/rock/folk genre, but he has long thought of himself as a punk rocker, and his live shows have historically taken on a much louder, more aggressive tone. "I had an Epiphone SG that got smashed a few weeks ago," he said, seeming to indicate that it happened half-accidently during one of his shows. But this aside, Eamon indicated that his more immediate direction is toward the quieter and more subtle: "It doesn't have to be loud all the time. You can have music be quieter and still be punk. I'm just trying to see how pretty I can make punk rock sound."

Of course, I had to ask what he listens to on an everyday level, and this launched him into an enthusiastic recounting of his favorite artists. In the tour van, on those long drives between cities, pretty much anything goes: "It's Motörhead to Lucindia Williams to Ryan Adams to ABBA to Slayer to Big Use to Wolf Eyes to whatever else. I can't listen to the same style nonstop. I've toured with metal bands a few times and they seem to listen to nothing but metal all the time. I can't do that. It doesn't even seem heavy anymore at a certain point!" Beyond that, it's a list of bands worth checking out: The Drones, The Faulklands, Cocaine Eyes, Gram Parsons... recently the songs "And it Stoned Me" by Van Morrison and "Suffering Jukebox" by Silver Jews have been stuck in his head (in the good way).

To be honest, I'm not terribly upset that I'll be missing Eamon on this visit, since I have no doubt whatsoever that he is a deeply talented artist who will keep writing songs and keep touring 'til his voice dries up. I'm sure he'll keep evolving and growing as an artist, only getting better and better over time. After all, dude has more known albums under his belt (26) than the number of years he has been alive (21).

Eamon McGrath plays tonight (September 24th) at Casa Del Popolo
Picture via his myspace page

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