As the March 30 release of his fourth album, My Hands Are on Fire and Other Love Songs, approaches, Nova Scotia banjo virtuoso Old Man Luedecke (aka Chris Luedecke) has been busy tipping his hat to the Canadian Forces. Recently speaking to Exclaim! from a hotel room in Halifax, Luedecke explained that he was in between rehearsals for a television special being filmed in honour of the Canadian Navy's 100th anniversary.
For a musician who often performs solo, the opportunity to play with a 30-odd piece Navy woodwind band sounded like too much fun to pass up.
"I thought it would be really cool to play with a big band," he says. "It's kind of mind-blowing, really. It's totally different, but it's just nice to have so much colour."
Luedecke was asked to choose two songs to play for the program and selected a pair of covers for the occasion.
"I learned a Wilf Carter song for it," Luedecke said. "'Montana Slim' was actually born in Nova Scotia, but he made his fame out west as a yodelling cowboy. So I found a yodelling cowboy song to do with the navy band that a friend has arranged beautifully. And then I'm doing an old Scottish folk song that I rewrote words for to make it sound like it was about World War II and going out to sea from Halifax."
But while Luedecke came out with some beautiful music working alongside the navy band, other aspects of his relationship with the military weren't quite as harmonious.
"I've been getting in trouble with them all week because I've got fairly long hair right now," he said. "They actually brought a set of clippers in today. I had had some trouble in our first rehearsal, I had something wrong and I couldn't quite get it right. It became a bit of an issue and they were like, 'Well, how about this: if you don't get it right we'll cut off your hair!' I don't think I'd go along with it, but I thought it was pretty funny... We seem to be getting along great now."
Also performing in the television special will be, among others, Haligonian singer-songwriter Meaghan Smith, and Canadian folk legend Rita MacNeil. The program will air on CBC TV sometime this summer in the three Maritime provinces, with the possibility of later air dates across the rest of the country, as well as a potential Canada Live radio broadcast.
My Hands Are on Fire and Other Love Songs will be released on March 30 courtesy of Black Hen Music.