Special to the Record
Crossing Canada from east to west and back again, Matthew and Jill Barber will present their Family Album on Oct. 24 at the Sid Williams Theatre.
Their latest recording is a natural because Matthew, primarily a pop rocker, and Jill, who’s recently gravitated toward jazz, are brother and sister.
Besides earning multiple East Coast Music Awards, Jill has received more than 20 nominations, including two for Junos. Matthew has also been nominated for multiple awards, including a Juno.
They began their latest road trip together Sept. 24 in Wolfville, N.S. That is being followed by nine dates in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. before nine more stops that end in Fredericton, N.B.
“I feel like we’re hitting our stride with this tour because we’ve been touring with this band since the spring,” Jill said recently from her Vancouver home with a sleeping baby in her arms. “We’re kind of locked in musically with this project now.”
The sound is “really textured and really full. We’re touring with a full band.”
Although the siblings occasionally perform together, as at the Filberg Festival in Comox last year, they “have had our respective careers and we’ve been doing our separate … musical thing all this time.”
Although Matthew has remained in Ontario and Jill is on the West Coast, “I think we both knew we’d eventually team up and make an album together,” she said. “We used to make music together as teenagers, and we all eventually return to our roots.”
Jill broached the idea first.
“I had suggested to Matt one day – I was just in a family state of mind … so I proposed to Matt that we finally make this record that we imagined we’d make for so many years. He was really into the idea.”
They discussed what songs they would record.
“We talked about our favourite songwriters, music that has influenced us individually.”
It was important, she explained, to find common ground.
“We listened to records and we would say, ‘Oh, I love that song.’ As two songwriters, whenever we had that really strong feeling that, ‘Man, I wish I’d written that song,’ we would sit down and play it and sing it and harmonize on it together.”
Wanting to do a combination of their original songs and also pay tribute to songwriters who have inspired them, Jill and Matthew created a list of tunes that is strongly, but not exclusively, Canadian.
Their own songs from the album are Jill’s anthem One True Love, Today and Big Picture Window. Matthew contributes the dreamy Sweeter The Dawn and ballad Grandpa Joe.
Covers from the album are Gene MacLellan’s Song To A Young Seagull, Ian Tyson’s Summer Wages, The Partisan (popularized in English by Leonard Cohen), Neil Young’s Comes A Time, Townes Van Zandt’s If I Needed You and I Must Be In A Good Place Now by Bobby Charles.
After presenting the complete Family Album, the Barbers will perform songs from their individual repertoires.
Jill admitted she became a musician due to her older brother.
“I still really look up to my brother. I grew up worshipping my brother. He’s the reason that I’m a musician. He started writing songs; I wanted to write songs.
“I borrowed his guitar when I was 14 and neither of us have ever looked back.”
As much as she loves spending time with her brother and performing with him, Jill admitted she’s used to calling her own shots and that compromise can be tricky.
“I’m used to being the bandleader, and making all of the decisions,” she said, admitting with a laugh that she’s not used to sharing the spotlight.
“It requires a little bit of compromise but, hey, that’s what you do in families, right?”
Jill and Matthew Barber perform Oct. 24 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay.
The 2016–2017 Blue Circle Series is proudly presented by Odlum Brown Limited. For concert details and tickets, visit www.sidwilliamstheatre.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit 442 Cliffe Ave.