Dan Mangan is almost as excited to see the Yukon again as Yukoners are to see him.
In 2010, Mangan played both the Frostbite and Dawson City Music Festivals and was impressed by the local cultural scene. He says, “it seems to me like there’s a really good music community up there, a really strong arts community. There’s a lot of support for the arts up there.”
In turn, Yukoners bought out Mangan’s upcoming show, on Friday, January 30, at the Yukon Arts Centre, in just four days.
In the five years since Yukon audiences have seen him, Mangan has grown as a songwriter, expanding from the acoustic folk of his album, Nice Nice Very Nice, to the more textured, atmospheric, eclectic sounds of Oh Fortune and especially his new album, Club Meds, recorded with his band, Blacksmith.
“As I’ve just kind of gotten older and spent a lot more time with different kinds of musicians and different kinds of music, it’s expanded my palate a little bit,” Mangan says of the way his songwriting has developed.
“I think what you do is take this old tradition and put your mark on it, and I think you do that with sonics as well.
“You hope you’re not just copying anybody and you’re taking all the things that influenced you and putting them through your own kind of funnel or meat grinder. Hopefully what comes out is honest and genuine and thoughtful and relevant.”
While his new sounds are bound tightly to the sound he and Blacksmith have created, Mangan will be performing in Whitehorse as a solo act. On rearranging his new material for an acoustic treatment, he says, “In general, what you’re hoping is that the production, all the tricks to the song, won’t outshine the simplistic strength of the lyric and strength of the melody.
“I’ve been doing some press sessions where you go to a radio station and just pull out a guitar and play a song or two. I’ve enjoyed doing these songs in a variety of ways.”
In addition to his sold out concert, Mangan will be presenting a workshop performance at the Gold Rush Town Hall. The Artist’s Journey, based on an interview-style keynote he gave at BreakOut West, describes his journey from busking to winning two Juno awards. He says, “I don’t have any secrets or special tricks, in terms of ‘here’s how to make a career in music’, but I have made a tonne of mistakes and learned from them. I don’t even say this with any idea that I’ve arrived at some miraculous career. It’s still in process. I’m still figuring out what I’m doing.”
Mangan adds, “I remember all too closely what it feels like to be in a scenario where you feel like you’re making music and absolutely nobody cares. I can sort of commiserate or bring a perspective to people who are just starting out, and maybe even to people who have a career.
“And the other thing is I like to come to these things with the idea that I could learn something from the people that I’m meeting.”