Special to The Telegram
“I figured I would grow into it,” laughs Old Man Luedecke, referring to his name.
Fact is, Chris Luedecke isn’t old at all. He’s 32 and adopted the moniker when he was in his early 20s.
The banjo-playing singer-songwriter makes his home in Chester, N.S, a tiny seaside village an hour outside Halifax “where people like to sail” and where the old folk forecast rain based on the visibility of the islands in Mahone Bay.
With the April 15 release of his third record, “Proof of Love,” Luedecke is finding himself on the road more and more, and his music is catching on across the country.
“It just seems like things are really rolling. It seems like there’s been a pretty good breakthrough,” he says, having just returned from stints in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
With “Proof of Love” Luedecke takes his banjo-driven songs about “being a person who’s looking to live a meaningful life” to a new level with a full band behind him.
“I’m really trying to take a valuable stab at something new which involves this really old style of banjo playing and these contemporary lyrics…and a fuller band sound,” he explains.
The result is a raw, made-in-the-moment sound that boasts a cohesiveness among the players who sat together in studio for two days to record the album.
“I think we rehearsed with the tape rolling mostly,” laughs Luedecke. “We did a couple of run-throughs and then just tried to nail it down.”
With the band, it’s a tad closer to a pop-folk sound than his previous works, including the acclaimed 2006 album “Hinterland” which earned him gigs supporting Feist (including her show at Mile One last December), The Be Good Tanyas, Corb Lund and Joel Plaskett, but Luedecke says his new material is more about continuing to communicate important messages and satisfying his musical yearnings than trying to find any sort of musical niche.
“There’s a lot of commercial music that sings about the same stuff but it doesn’t seem to have the same impact because it doesn’t seem as real,” he explains. “I want to have an authenticity and a direct communication with the people who listen to me.”
In fact, it was the authenticity of the “old time folk and field recordings” he heard for the first time that drew him to the music.
“There was something about the honesty of it,” he says. “I was a really shy person and it just seemed this music lacked a lot of the pretension that I was worried about.”
Steve Dawson, of Juno Award-winning group Zubot and Dawson, produced both of Luedecke’s most recent albums and gathered a group of musicians he felt could successfully pull off the two-days of recording.
“There hasn’t been a record like this before with the claw-hammer banjo style and a full band,” says Luedecke. “So we didn’t know how it was going to work but (Steve) found the guys. He hired the rhythm section of the Be Good Tanyas, John Raham and Mark Beaty, and they were pretty sensitive to playing in a room together and making it work.”
Also on the record are Rose Cousins, who lends her vocals to “Ain’t Goin’ My Way” and “Little Bird,” Dawson himself, playing various guitars, the pump organ, percussion and the glockenspiel, among other things, and a half-dozen other musicians.
The record features Luedecke alone with his banjo on only three or four tracks, a far cry from “Hinterland” which was devoid of other instruments.
“I just wanted to make a record that was exciting to me and that was just a craving for a fuller sound. I just wanted to hear what it would be like to have a real driving rhythm of drums and bass,” he says. “Stylistically, I think I’m trying to take my music to a wider audience.”
On Tuesday, Luedecke returns to St. John’s for a CD release gig at The Ship with Sherry Ryan, who he played with his first time here.
“I drove a 20-foot school bus up there…(and) we camped on the bus downtown,” he laughs. “It was really pretty special.”
Based on his first two visits to St. John’s, the second being his show with Feist, Luedecke says he’s “really excited to come back.”
The Tuesday show at The Ship starts at 8 p.m. and cover is $10.