It takes awhile to find your stride, your path and your purpose in life. For some, it's a life-long journey.
Chris Luedecke first found his footing when he quit his job and started to take himself seriously as a musician. It was tough at first. Not only did he have to convince himself, he had to face everyone else. And the banjo is a hard sell. Luedecke remembers calling venues to book shows and getting hung up at first mention of the instrument.
A few years later, he has a Juno, has shared a stage with Symphony Nova Scotia, holds four albums, including his new release My Hands Are on Fire and Other Love Songs, and is performing with a full band at the Rebecca Cohn on April 30.
"I don't have to prove the existence as much," he says, over an order of spring rolls at Good Food Emporium. "People accept it now. And it's good. They can move on and discuss the work without having to prove it, or make excuses for it."
After playing all the major folk festivals in Canada and touring Australia, much has changed for Luedecke since the days of playing for a packed bar at Ginger's Tavern. He credits a lot of his recent good fortune to last year when he took home the Juno Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year.
"I was in Australia in this tiny island north of Tasmania. I didn't find out for a couple of days," says Luedecke. "I didn't have the stress. When I found out it was good. I had such a great tour in Australia, feeling really good about the music I was making. I feel like I am good where I am at."
Luedecke strikes a chord in nearly every heart. With songs soaked in sadness, existential questionings, tenderness and love, it's hard not to relate. "I've always been dark," he says. "I've always been a banjo player, which is this sort of comic instrument, and relished in the idea of having this bright-sounding music that is fundamentally sad."
My Hands Are on Fire is a gorgeous collection that explores both the dark and light of life. "A lot of my music was very inward-focussed," Luedecke says. "There still is tons of that on this record. I feel like I know that well enough to speak about it. It's just a part of who I am as a person, but I am ready to write about the larger world. There is a larger scope on this record in terms of subject matter."
Recorded in Vancouver with producer Steve Dawson, the album is an 11-track expedition through the peaks and valleys of meaning and purpose. Dawson joins Luedecke at the Cohn, along with Tom Easley on bass and Joel Hunt on fiddle, mandolin and guitar. CBC Radio 2 is recording the hometown show for Canada Live.
"I'm kind of local everywhere in Canada now, which is nice. That's a good feeling, if anything that's what the Junos brought me," Luedecke says. "I'm more local in more cities and towns.
"There's obviously huge parts of the world where it's not the case, but really in the big centres and a lot of the smaller ones, I feel like I am playing at home again."