Why did you decide to live in the Yukon?
When asked this question, many Yukoners answer with variations of much the same story:
“We fell in love with the mountains, the natural beauty, and the great people.”
“Something about it just appealed to us.”
Or, a personal favourite, “We came up here to visit and just never left.”
For musician Ben Mahony, a Yukon resident for the last nine years, the answer lies in much the same vein, albeit with slightly more specificity.
“There’s something here … it’s like a special honesty in the people, a rugged honesty,” he says.
“Life here is not always easy, but the positives outweigh the negatives. There’s some aspect that’s difficult to define. Also, over the years it turns out that many of my closest friends remain here, so I do, too.”
Mahony spent much of the ’90s playing in coffee shops in Guelph, Vancouver and Victoria. While at university in Alberta, he experimented more with bar band styles like disco and indie rock.
Since finally settling in the Yukon, he has released two albums and worked on evolving his musical style.
“I’ve been writing songs for 25 years and playing in bands for a shorter period of time,” Mahony explains. He has been playing with a trio recently, an arrangement that works with his more upbeat, pop-style songs, though he maintains a balance of genres in his repertoire.
“I play an even mix,” says Mahony. “At the Frog Mountain Music Festival, I’ll be playing with a trio, so the songs will probably start with just acoustic and voice because sometimes they work really well with a trio.”
Mahony’s trio will perform all originals, including many from his 2003 CD, Action Reaction, along with some new tunes. He warns that they may add a cover or a Christmas song, just for kicks.
“We’ve been noted for playing some eccentric tunes,” he laughs.
With the release of his latest CD, Yukon Love Ghosts, Mahony has focused on returning to a more songwriting-based approach. Over the next year, he plans to hone his act before embarking on a solo Canadian tour in 2012, tentatively titled Lethbridge to Labrador.
This will be Mahony’s first appearance at the Frog Mountain Music Festival, which runs this Saturday at the Circle D Ranch, Km 1459 on the Alaska Highway, starting at 2:00 pm.
“I didn’t make it out last year, so I’m really looking forward to this one,” he says. “It’s a short set, so I get to enjoy a focused opportunity to play my own music and listen to that of others. Plus it’s as close as I’ll get to camping for the next month!”