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2017 was a noisy year for Toronto-based songwriter and author Eamon McGrath: the springtime release of his critically acclaimed fictionalized memoir “Berlin-Warszawa Express” led to a sixty-date tour of Mexico, Canada and Europe, and the Dine Alone Records release of the first Julie & The Wrong Guys full-length later in the year saw more van wheels turn against Canada’s long highways. In between those two releases and the constant touring that followed them however, McGrath was also selected as the Sappyfest 2017 Songwriter In Residence, a three-week writing and recording retreat that took place in the condemned and abandoned George’s Roadhouse, a former east coast live music haunt in Sackville, NB. The result is Tantramar.
“The concept of the record was to inject myself into the community of Sackville with the aim of using its spaces and the people that inhabit them as both a figurative and literal instrument,” McGrath recalls, over the phone from Toronto. “I imagined the town being this squeezebox or accordion that billowed as I worked away in solitude at George’s.”
Not only do the literal sounds of Sackville make their way onto the recordings—the family of raccoons that lives under the ruins of George’s Roadhouse scurrying beneath the floor, the sound of the train as its whistles blow through town, and the sound of a late-night guerrilla recording session within the long-abandoned and condemned Sackville Music Hall—but McGrath also enlisted help from some of his ongoing collaborators including Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis from July Talk, Jose Contreras from By Divine Right, C.L. McLaughlin of Weird Lines, and Jaye R. Schwarzer from Cancer Bats and Julie & The Wrong Guys.
“This is the most focused and ambitious record I’ve done since ‘Young Canadians’,” McGrath continues. “I was at the mercy of the peace and quiet of the Tantramar marsh, and to cope, I made as loud and obnoxious a racket as I could.”
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