Music to warm your soul

Donovan (comes to our neck of the) Woods 

His music soothes the soul like that first warm beverage on a busy morning; his lyrics surround your senses with the sort of calm that’s equivalent to a warm, lingering hug from someone you love. Once described as “Canada’s best kept secret,” Whitehorse will be privileged to welcome Donovan Woods and his band, The Opposition, to the territory on March 29, when they play a 7 p.m. show at the Yukon Arts Centre.

Woods describes himself as “a folk/singer-songwriter guy, but there is some other stuff in there … there is definitely some country in there too.”

Regardless of the musical genre though, Woods has a noteworthy musical resume. He released his first album The Hold Up in 2007. Since then he has experienced significant success as both a recording artist, and as a songwriter for other artists. His song “Brand New Gun” can be heard in the movie Numb. Another song, “Wait and See,” was featured in Degrassi: The Next Generation. Moreover, Woods co-wrote the song “Portland, Maine,” which was recorded and performed by Tim McGraw. He also won the 2019 Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year for his record, Both Ways.

As a recording artist, Woods has performed all over Canada and the United States, hitting tiny towns such as Liverpool, Nova Scotia, as well as cities including Toronto and Vancouver. This will be his first trip to the Yukon though.

“I’m looking forward to it very much … In fact, really everyone I talk to in the Canadian music industry says, ‘you have to go to the Yukon, you just have to go, it’s so beautiful.’”

Some of the members of his band have been. Having recorded or worked with all of them in the past, Woods speaks fondly of them. He jokingly called them “old road dogs,” adding that they’ve toured everywhere, seen it all and done it all. As he spoke, he sounded grateful to have a group of musicians (literally) behind him who are “very calm and confident in all situations. Say at big concerts or pushing the tour van up a snowy hill.” (that last skillset should prepare them for the slushy climb to the Yukon Arts Centre.)

Woods looks like he belongs in the Yukon, comfortable in a toque and plaid. When people first hear Woods’ smooth, acoustically-driven music, they’re often perplexed when they see an image of the artist. He looks like the kind of fellow you’d go to if you wanted to buy some quality cords of firewood to keep you warm in the winter and you definitely wouldn’t look twice if you saw him standing amongst some coffee-sipping locals over at Midnight Sun.

In an interview, Woods admitted that , for a long time, he thought his look would prevent him from succeeding as a recording artist. In 1996, he typed “Is it possible to be just a songwriter as a job?” as an Internet search. Fast-forward to present day and Woods has certainly surpassed his own expectations. This musical underdog is now celebrated as both a songwriter and a prominent Canadian musician, playing prestigious venues including Massey Hall and, of course, the Yukon Arts Centre.

When he comes to Whitehorse it will be the ninth consecutive night of his current tour, which spans western Canada and the northwestern United States. He said he maintains momentum by relying on an excellent tour manager, but added he has a “fun job.” When he gets overwhelmed, he just thinks of all the other jobs he’s had in the past. I guess that means we won’t be buying firewood from this bearded man in plaid anytime soon!

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