PARRSBORO, N.S. - Last summer, while playing at the Hall in Parrsboro, Séan McCann went for a run through the community.
He found Ship’s Company Theatre along the way and decided then and there it was a place where he wanted to perform.
“I was staying at a little B&B and got to see the tides come and go. I saw this other theatre sitting there along the shore and I thought it would be a great venue for a show,” McCann said.
He found the theatre closed for the day, but met an employee, got a tour of the former Kipawo ferry-turned-theatre and booked a show in Parrsboro on Aug. 20 at 8 p.m.
“I'm thrilled to be coming back to Parrsboro,” McCann said. “I love playing in these smaller venues. The atmosphere is so quaint.”
It has been a long road for McCann. He once partied his way across Canada and sang in front of massive audiences as the wine and whisky flowed freely.
But McCann had his last drink Nov. 9, 2011 and has been sober since.
“Great Big Sea was a great place to hide and not face the truth – you can’t solve a problem unless you’re prepared to face it,” said McCann.
Two years sober, the folk-rock musician left Great Big Sea to pursue a solo career. It wasn’t an amicable split and it has only been recently that the first steps have been taken to mend fences with his former bandmates. There’s even the possibility of a reunion show sometime in the future, although he doubts it will ever go as far as another album or concert tour.
“I’ve made peace with my past. Just recently we had a meeting that went very well. It was the first positive meeting we’ve had in nearly a decade,” McCann said. “It was the first time we’ve talked without getting angry with each other and quite honestly, I’m encouraged and open to doing a show again. Just one more show to bring closure for the fans. We ended in anger and I’ll take one-third of the blame for that, but time has passed. I’ve said to the boys I’m available. I don’t want to go on tour again, but I’d be open for a show.”
The Carbonear, N.L., native has a repertoire of more than 200 songs to choose from including his solo albums and the Great Big Sea catalog. McCann said he will sing a variety from his newer albums, There’s a Place, and You Know I Love You, as well as his first albums Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes, and Son of a Sailor.
He said his solo career hasn’t been easy because he wasn’t the front man with Great Big Sea.
“No one really knew me. I was the other guy,” he said. “I never said much. Even though I sang eight or nine songs every night, the front man was Alan and he was happy with that. I sat back and let him do his thing.”
Along with the music, McCann has a message for anyone struggling with addiction of any kind.
“You’re stronger than you think and if you don’t give up you will succeed, because if the guy from Great Big Sea can quit drinking and using drugs then anyone can,” he said. “Every day we went to work, there was a bottle of whisky, four bottles of wine and 48 beers – and that was our starting point.”
Today, McCann warns digital addiction is rising fast, with people seemingly forever glued to their phones and social media. He said people typically curl up on the couch with their phone after work and browse Facebook instead of going out and meeting people.
“That’s the new ‘out’ and that’s not good enough.”
There are advantages to playing for smaller audiences, according to McCann.
“I like to bring my show into small, intimate venues where I can go face to face with people. I want to have a meaningful interaction with my audience and I want people to sing along with me.”
McCann takes the stage at 8 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20 at the Ship’s Company Theatre.
For ticket prices and more event information, visit http://shipscompanytheatre.com/live-music-2018.
- With files from SaltWire Network.