Celebrated Yukon musician Declan O’Donovan is on the road again.
The piano-playing troubadour began his fall tour at the Hamilton Music and Film Festival on September 20, and will continue westward, spreading his brand of alternative-roots-blues throughout Alberta and British Columbia, before finishing his tour on October 13 in Vancouver.
For O’Donovan, the traveling is an important part of his vocation.
“A lot of people don’t like (touring) and consider it part of the grind,” he says. “But that’s part of the reason I wanted to be a musician, meeting new people, going to new places.”
And since the release of his self-titled, solo debut album in August 2012, the 29-year-old O’Donovan has hit the road on four different occasions, playing as far east as Montreal, and including a stop at the legendary Rockwood Music Hall in New York.
Among his highlights were his performances at the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues festival last summer.
“There were really great crowds,” says O’Donovan. “I did a solo act on the main stage opening for Serena Ryder, in front of around 10,000 people.”
On this current sojourn he finds himself in familiar territory, collaboration-wise. O’Donovan forms one half of a double-bill with former Yukoner Ryan McNally. The pair previously toured together earlier this spring. Joining them is upright bass player Keith Picot from Vancouver Island and local drummer Lonnie Powell.
“Those three guys are amazing,” he says. “I think that’s what defines the success of a touring band, whether you can tolerate each other.”
And while O’Donovan admits indulging in a few rock n’ roll clichés on his initial tour, those sorts of antics are now largely out of his system.
“When the gigs are over I go to bed,” he confesses. “It’s great to have Lonnie and Keith along because they are older and they keep their eyes on the prize.”
And for O’Donovan there is a special incentive to keep his eye on the prize.
From October 4 to 6 he will be lighting up the stage in Calgary, first as part of the Breakout West Festival and then at the Western Canadian Music Awards Gala. For an up-and-comer like O’Donovan it’s a chance to perform in front of people who can make things happen in the Canadian music industry.
He’s particularly excited by the prospect of meeting booking agents.
“I would like to be able to book about twice as many shows next year as I did this year.”
In the meantime his current schedule provides him with plenty of little joys.
“There always seems to be Yukoners or family members that find their way to the shows, and it’s surprising and encouraging to meet people who know me exclusively through my music,” he says.
Due to increased national radio exposure, the above-mentioned scenario is becoming more common for O’Donovan.
It’s all enough to put him in a positive frame of mind as he falls into the routine of life on the road. In fact, instead of becoming worn out, O’Donovan finds himself more invigorated as the tour dates progress.
“The longer you’re out there the tighter the band gets and the day-to-day logistics get easier. When it’s time to head home, I want to keep going.”