Séan McCann, former member of Great Big Sea, will stop at Knox United Church for his first-ever Parksville performance.
McCann launched his solo career 10 years ago after Great Big Sea’s run ended. He said he enjoys playing alone on stage and enjoys smaller venues.
“I really like small towns — small crowds I think have a real power,” McCann said. “I don’t like bars because people get distracted and noisy. I love what I’m doing today and that’s playing in rooms like the Knox [United] Church.”
McCann is on tour to promote his latest album, Shantyman, which he said is a return to his maritime roots. He was given the name “Shantyman” because of his knowledge and ability to find and sing old sea shanty tunes years ago.
“This was a kind of return to where I came from in many ways. And it was weird because I was drawn to these songs. As the pandemic turned into the second winter, I was feeling emotionally strained and anxious, like everyone else, and I just started to sing these songs,” he said.
McCann’s wife and children noticed the positive change in his demeanour the songs brought on and suggested he make a new album. Pandemic circumstances meant he was not able to gather with anyone in the studio, but he was able to put the album together remotely, receiving the bass and drum tracks from a good friend, Hawksley Workman. Shantyman includes big anthems that are fun to sing along with, McCann said.
“I rely a lot on the audience to become my backup band. They’ll be expected to sing as loud and as often as I do,” he said.
Outside of his music, McCann has been recognized for his work as a keynote speaker and mental health and addictions advocate — he was awarded the Order of Canada in 2020.
After leaving Great Big Sea, McCann revealed he used alcohol to mask the pain of being abused by a priest when he was young. As a keynote speaker, he said he prefers power ballads to Powerpoint.
“I’m not crazy enough to show up with a piece of paper,” McCann joked. “I show up with a guitar in my hand. I sing. I’ve written a lot of songs about recovery.”
He finds creative inspiration in nature and loves spednig time in the woods, hiking and kayaking on the ocean, which he said he is looking forward to doing on Vancouver Island.
McCann will play Knox United Church at 7:30 p.m. on May 7. Tickets are $40 each and are available through Eventbrite or at Close To You Boutique and Fireside Books in Parksville.