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Joel Plaskett Emergency to rock Georgian

After the recent release of his summer album, Juno-nominated Joel Plaskett comes to Barrie with his band, The Emergency, Oct. 10 at the Georgian Theatre.

Plaskett, a 37-year-old Nova Scotia native, said, “I grew up in a small town, so I appreciate what music can give to a small place. My dad’s a guitar player and played in folk bands.”

Plaskett, who now performs guitar and lead vocals with band mates Chris Pennel (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Dave Marsh (drums, bass and backing vocals), said, “As a teenager, I learned to play guitar and started a band, Thrush Hermit. We started locally in high school, then started opening for Sloan. We went on tour with them in 1993. In 2000, Thrush Hermit broke up, and in 2000 I started touring under my own name.”

The performer’s success resulted in a Juno win for Adult Alternative Album of the Year for his record Three, and he has also received 18 East Coast Music Awards nominations.

Plaskett said, “I don’t make music for that reason, but it really does give me the confidence to move forward knowing there’s an audience and that people are paying attention. It helps reaffirm that I’m doing something that people are connecting with.”

His last tour was in 2009 after the release of Three.

The latest record, titled Scrappy Happiness, was the fifth album for the band and the ninth for Joel. The band recorded, mixed and mastered a track a week for 10 weeks, and each was debuted on CBC each week. “Every week we had a deadline and had to deliver by the end of the week,” Plaskett said. “As a result, we learned to just go for it and not be worried about mistakes.”

Rocky Varcoe, owner of WeRock Entertainment, said the album title comes from the way Joel describes his sound. “People come and enjoy everything he sings,” he said. “He writes much of his own music.”

“Perfection is a weird thing,” Plaskett said. “What I like about music is the human element of hearing people playing instruments, making mistakes and taking chances. To me it’s kind of scrappy. Things that make me happy are often unpolished.”

“One of my biggest band influences is Led Zeppelin,” Plaskett said. “They’re a playful rock band that are autobiographical to a certain extent, lyrical and melodic.”

Varcoe said the sound of the band, which he classifies as blues/R&B, “goes along with the Neil Young genre,” another of Plaskett’s favorite artists.

Georgian’s Joel Plaskett Emergency concert is part of WeRock Entertainment’s effort to meet the needs of smaller communities. “We found that there was a gap in the industry for promoters who bring in smaller acts,” Varcoe said. “We put together relationships with theatres across Southern Ontario and offer acts a mini tour.” The band will play five shows across the province.

“We’re improvisational when we play live, and we bring something new to every show,” Plaskett said. “It’s part of what brings people to the shows and brings them back – we don’t put on the same show twice.”

As for the future, Plaskett said, “I’m working on a new studio right now back home. Next year I’ll probably dig into a new record, but this year’s a lot of gigging.”

by Ali Millington,