Making his seventh album was the most fun Gordie Tentrees has had as a musician, but it didn’t start out that way.
“It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” Tentrees said, looking back on the album, which is a collection of new songs recorded over the course of five live shows last November. “After the second show, I was like ‘This is crazy.’”
Not only was he dealing with the pressure of wondering how audiences would react to brand-new songs, he was documenting it. On top of that, Tentrees’ European label, Greywood Records, didn’t know he was planning to deliver a live album. Eventually, Tentrees says, he had to just forget about the recording and focus on the show. That’s when he started having fun. As a bonus, he says, GRIT, the album that came out of the experience, was well-received by Greywood, which is releasing worldwide on March 2.
“They said, ‘We had no idea it was a live record until we heard the audience at the end.’ Which was exactly what I wanted,” Tentrees said.
He has always aimed for a live-off-the-floor feel with his studio records.
Yukoners will have the chance to hear the new songs November 15 and 16, when Tentrees plays The Woodshed Sessions – two back-to-back shows at Hamilton and Son Guitar Works in Whitehorse.
He’ll be joined on the 15th by Yukon storyteller Laurel Parry, and on the 16th by multi-instrumentalist Brigitte Desjardins.
Tentrees said he chose them for selfish reasons – both are performers he really wanted to see live. It will be Parry’s first time on a stage, Tentrees said. And though Desjardins is known for her percussion with Ryan McNally, this is the first time she’ll be playing her own music in front of a crowd.
With these shows, Tentrees wanted a unique venue, which is why he opted for Hamilton and Son Guitar Works. With only 65 seats, he said, it’s funky, intimate and well-suited to the kind of performance he and his openers are going to give.
Tentrees is excited for the Woodshed Sessions because he says conceptualizing and recording GRIT helped him realize one of his biggest assets is playing live.
“It was becoming clear that our live show was growing and kind of taking off in the last three years,” he says.
That had the effect of changing his thinking on how he has to act in front of an audience. It opened him up to the idea that there are no rules, which has allowed him to be more honest and authentic about what he’s doing.
Tentrees said he’s less focussed these days on winning over and appeasing a crowd, which can often come at the cost of taking chances. It becomes too easy, he said, if you’re playing every night, to tell the same stories, play the same songs, and stick to a script. He said that once you let go of that, you can find something really special.
“Some magic will start to ensue,” he said. “You have to take more risks to get success out of that kind of thing.”
Tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite.com.