By Lethbridge Herald on October 12, 2018.
Murray McLauchlan performing at Yates Centre this month
The word “icon” is one that is used often to describe musical luminaries whose work has touched the souls of their audiences.
It’s a word that deserves to be used as a description of Murray McLauchlan, a Canadian institution whose varied professional life has included careers as a singer/songwriter, radio host, actor and even commercial pilot.
McLauchlan, who last appeared in Lethbridge two years ago with the Canadian supergroup Lunch at Allen’s featuring Cindy Church, Mark Jordan and Ian Thomas, returns to the newly renovated Yates Centre on Oct. 25 for an intimate show backed up by bassist Victor Bateman.
The show will feature the songs fans have come to know and love the Scottish-born McLauchlan for — “Farmer’s Song,” “Whispering Rain,” and “Down by The Henry Moore.”
It will also give audiences a chance to hear McLauchlan’s latest works from his 2017 album “Love Can’t Tell Time,” a collection of music from the so-called American Songbook and tunes he co-wrote that fit the theme of the recording, that love can be found at all ages.
The show here is part of a busy fall schedule for McLauchlan who has 15 tour dates of his own before joining the Lunch at Allen’s crew for another 10 before Christmas.
McLauchlan’s latest album was recorded live off the floor, harkening back to the era of Frank Sinatra and other classic artists, he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
“I’m a great believer in recording live,” said the 70-year-old McLauchlan, who grew up in Toronto after immigrating to Canada with his family when he was five years old.
“You lose the soul” if an artist spends too much time recording, he said, referring to the popularity of the Rolling Stone’s record “Exile on Main Street” which was partially recorded in a rented French villa.
“My feeling of a recording is the picture of Frank Sinatra and an orchestra recording live in a studio,” he said.
For his 19th studio album, McLauchlan performed on an old 1938 Hensell guitar he discovered hanging on a wall at a music store in Gravenhurst, Ont. He played a few Robert Johnson licks on it and was sold.
“It’s the most wonderful recording guitar,” said McLauchlan who since has added a 1934 Gibson Archtop to his collection.
His new album features standards by the likes of Sinatra as well as those co-writes.
“It’s a collection of songs I love to play. I just went in with the upright bass (played by Bateman) and just played the songs,” singing them, he said, into an old-fashioned tube-style microphone.
The co-writes were all specifically written for a musical project that never panned out, those songs which have now been given a new life.
The music of the American Songbook, a term he makes clear he isn’t a fan of, “is disguised simplicity,” said McLauchlan, who started his career playing Toronto coffeehouses in his teens.
After a brief stint in New York City, McLauchlan returned to Canada and began having chart success with tunes such as “Child’s Song” and “Farmer’s Song” which won a Juno in 1973.
“Love Can’t Tell Time,” he said, is about finding love in the golden years.
“It can happen anytime,” said McLauchlan, who subscribes to the philosophy that “the process of getting through life is an enriching process.”
Too often, he suggested, aging becomes “a thing of denigration. . .it’s time to start knocking down the silos.”
Age and even heart surgery a few years ago certainly haven’t slowed down McLauchlan, who is a member of the Order of Canada, an author, a painter and until his heart issues, a commercial pilot who flew everything from F-18s to Piper Cubs and spent time working as a bush pilot in Northern Ontario, based out of Red Lake. Fans may recall a TV special in which he flew a Cessna float plane across Canada.
Between his guitars and piano and Bateman’s bass, McLauchlan said the duo will sound like a symphony when they hit the stage.
“We have us covered musically,” he said, joking that fans will realize he can play guitar when he breaks into the new music.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $52.50 at the Ticket Centre locations, 403-329-7328.
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