When he visits the Comox Valley this Friday, Brendan McLeod will do something he has never done.
The acclaimed spoken-word artist, a former Canadian slam poetry champion, will appear in that context May 8 at the Sid Williams Theatre, as part of the theatre society’s Blue Circle Series.
He will also perform as a musician in The Fugitives band on the same bill.
“I’m psyched for this show because I have been touring for 10 years now with myself and The Fugitives, and I’ve never done the two the same night. This is the first booker who’s ever asked for that.”
Recently returned from alternating business and pleasure in Spain and Berlin, McLeod spoke from his new base in Toronto after a move from Vancouver.
A poet, novelist, spoken-word-artist, comedian, songwriter and musician, McLeod never lacks for things to keep him busy, and creative.
“I’m writing this monologue right now, which I’m just finishing and I’m doing this other show with this pianist who plays Rachmaninoff. I’m doing a full show with her, so she does this certain opus that he wrote and in between the music, I do spoken word to that.
“And I’m writing a book, so I work on those three projects depending on the day. It’s nice when I have that many things working because one day you just don’t feel like writing something and … you might feel like writing a different project.
“It’s nice to be able to switch back and forth between them.”
He can clearly compartmentalize his brain, but does McLeod ever feel a desire or a need to pick something and specialize?
“I tried to specialize a couple of years ago,” he responds. “I really wanted to finish a book, and it just didn’t happen, so I just kept doing all the things.”
His membership in The Fugitives is a good example.
“Every album with the band, we’re not sure if we’re going to do another one (album) and we just wait and see if … people want to do it.”
One reason to record another album is the praise the band has earned.
The Fugitives, fronted by McLeod and fellow songwriter Adrian Glynn, have been nominated for multiple Canadian Folk Music Awards and a Western Canadian Music Award. They recently finished a Canadian tour opening for Buffy Sainte-Marie, and a European tour that included Glastonbury, England.
Their music has been described as “an inventive piece of art,” “tight, well-composed music that demonstrates great lyrical ability,” “poignant,” “eclectic and exciting,” and “infectious.”
He describes himself as a classic singer-songwriter and is modest about his musical talents.
“The Fugitives, they’re all good musicians but I am like the wimp of the bunch.”
While McLeod downplays his abilities as a musician, there’s no question he’s strong with the language.
“I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I was about 16, maybe even before that.”
His mom recently discovered a 35-page novel he wrote in Grade 6.
For more about McLeod’s various projects, visit brendanmcleod.ca.
McLeod performs solo and with The Fugitives on May 8 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay at 7:30 p.m. For details, visit sidwilliamstheatere.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit the Sid box office at 442 Cliffe Ave. in Courtenay.
Mark Allan is a freelance writer and a former editor of the Comox Valley Record.