Local country and folk artist Sean Conway has emerged as one of the most recognizable faces in Peterborough’s music scene. He self-released his first two albums in 2006-2007 at the age of 14 and 15 years old, music which he characterizes as ‘experimental, soundscape-y type stuff’, after having played his first show at the age of 12.
His interest in country and roots music came when he was approached by chance by local folk greats Washboard Hank and Catfish Willie. They invited him to come play with them after seeing him perform with the electric guitar/loop-station driven music off his youth.
“I started working and playing with them, learning the music, studying the instrument, learning how to play country music, and thought ‘Ok, I guess I’m good at this’ and when I started writing this is what I wanted to do,” he says. “My music is so bastardized, it comes in parts from all these different places, that when I play country and folk it never sounds exactly like it should, which I actually liked.”
Fastforward to 2014 and he has released four different EP’s in the span of a year, including the most-recent album entitled Party Talk (hard copies available at Blue Streak downtown).
“I’d been doing shows for years and years and decided to do something big,” says Conway when asked why he wanted to put out so much so quickly, “I basically woke up one day and said ‘I’m going to do four albums this year. Just going to do it.’ It had been basically five or six years since I’d released anything or even written anything.”
He credits the success of the first of the those four, last January’s The Blue Acre (which was recorded in 3 days) to the fact that he had the motivation to keep working.
“I had a few new songs written in 2013 when I was last touring heavily and I hadn’t done anything for so long. I had spent the last few years as a hired guitar player touring the country with bands in the Yukon, Newfoundland, the Prairies and just got tired of it. So I decided I would take a break, quit everybody’s band and live in Peterborough and just record for a bit. I knew I was on the track when I actually put something out and had people respond to it and remembered what a great feeling that was.”
While deciding to come back wasn’t easy, it was necessary. Conway says: “I had spent the previous 4 years doing nothing but touring cross-country, playing guitar with different bands and different musicians, it was great, but it was tiring. Spending that much time on the road just melted my brain, I needed to be done, I needed to be home.”
It would be difficult, however, for any musician to release that much material and not want to show it off and Conway went back on the road for a couple weeks last summer to do an east coast tour, putting a band together and then heading to Halifax and back.
He also spent several months doing a residency in Toronto at The Cameron House. “It was a lot of fun”, he says, smiling. “I played on Wednesday Nights and a had really big, six-piece band with me.”
All four of 2014’s releases were recorded at home, which has been lovingly nicknamed by friends and peers as ‘Chateau Hunter’, including Party Talk, about which he says “I really like these songs, I think I spent a lot more time writing and recording these songs then I did with others.”
As far as 2015 Conway says he is starting a new band and reworking and tweaking songs from the last releases and plans on going to back into the studio to collect the best ones onto Vinyl and Cd in April. He is looking to work with James McKenty, who is a long-time area-based producer who is well-respected by local musicians.
“I decided I would give up doing everything on my own and finally bring in someone who knows what they’re doing,” says Conway laughing. “The way I’ve done it is fine, but its always better to have that extra set of ears.”
Conway will be next showcasing his music at The Gordon Best on Saturday, February 21 with cellist Cris Derkson. Tickets are $10. He can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/seanconwaymusic