“There are a lot of really worn paths in the bleeding-heart world of singer-songwriters,” says Old Man Luedecke (AKA Chris Luedecke), with a smile. “I have this unfortunate habit of always needing to find a new way to say things. I’m always looking for another route to finding where things are at.”
The tone is characteristically self-deprecating; it’s the same engaging bashfulness the banjo player brings to the stage. But then, neither Luedecke’s path nor his music can be described as particularly conventional. Luedecke only came to the banjo after graduating with a degree in English. “I thought it had a beautiful sound,” he says of the instrument that has since propelled him to two Juno Award wins.
Rather than moving to an urban centre to pursue his career, Luedecke settled in the village of Chester, Nova Scotia, where he regularly turns to his own life for inspiration, finding his songs in the fodder of the everyday, from the tragedy of heartbreak to the joys of breakfast and being the father of twin girls.
“Because I play solo so much, I need songs that I can sing with conviction in front of people,” Luedecke explains, “and in order to do that, I have to be behind what I am saying.” He starts each song by finding a melody that fits with a phrase, then steps back to build in a story, knowing a song is ready when it makes his “whole being work.”
“I need songs that I can sing with conviction in front of people.”
Luedecke recorded his most recent album, Tender is the Night (due for release in the fall) in Nashville, where he worked closely with country and bluegrass artist Tim O’Brien. “Tim is a hero of mine,” says Luedecke, “so for me it was a vote of confidence that he was into the songwriting, and that he liked what I do and where I’ve come from.”
He says he’s excited to share the new album, and he’s keen to see where the road takes him next. “I looked really hard for the thing I was going to do with my life,” he says with a smile, “and I have had the great fortune of finding it.”
- Old Man Luedecke won Juno awards in 2009 (for Proof of Love) and in 2011 (for My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs), both in the solo category for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year.
- Luedecke recorded Tender is the Night in less than a week at John Prine’s Nashville studio, The Butcher Shop. In preparation, he says obsessed over the album for most of last year. “I like getting psyched up and then trying to nail it,” he says.
- He describes playing a gig with folksinger Ramblin’ Jack Elliot at the Regina Folk Festival as a career highlight. “I’ve listened to so much of his music. He’s pretty wonderful.”