Mu­si­cians Thomas Mc­Cal­lum, Al Tuck tour­ing Mar­itimes

The News (New Glasgow) - - COVER STORY - BY AMANDA JESS [email protected] On Twit­ter: @NGNewsA­manda

Grow­ing up in Six Mile Brook, Thomas Mc­Cal­lum un­der­stands the im­por­tance of small com­mu­ni­ties.

Though the folk singer/song­writer has been liv­ing in Hal­i­fax for seven years, Pic­tou County is still home – and ru­ral ar­eas like where he grew up are where he is mak­ing an ef­fort to per­form.

Mc­Cal­lum says the Mar­itimes have been un­der threat for sev­eral decades and in­cor­po­rat­ing small com­mu­ni­ties into his tour with Al Tuck is part of an at­tempt to show res­i­dents don’t have to travel to find good mu­sic.

“... We just want to get out in those small places and those places where peo­ple will lis­ten to what we have to say lyri­cally and re­ally en­cour­age them. We just want to do our best to say the small places are im­por­tant. They’re more im­por­tant than any­one knows,” he said, adding that “soli­tude and the in­ter­play of com­mu­nity” is es­sen­tial to the Cana­dian iden­tity.

Mc­Cal­lum is play­ing a se­ries of shows with Tuck, who hails from Prince Ed­ward Is­land, across the At­lantic prov­inces this sum­mer – in­clud­ing three shows in Pic­tou County.

He and Tuck have a sim­i­lar mu­si­cal back­ground, Mc­Cal­lum said, and are able to back each other up.

“Al Tuck is an ex­tremely ver­sa­tile mu­si­cian – genre-cross­ing, genre-bend­ing – and (has) some ex­cel­lent folk songs that lend them­selves well to tin whis­tle,” Mc­Cal­lum said, not­ing that he learned the tin whis­tle while at a na­ture camp years ago.

Mc­Cal­lum got his start in mu­sic through ele­men­tary school choir, mov­ing on to Pic­tou District Hon­our Choir where di­rec­tor Mon­ica Punke had a sig­nif­i­cant mu­si­cal in­flu­ence on him, he said. He was gifted a gui­tar when he was 15 and start writ­ing songs shortly af­ter.

He re­leased his first record­ing Cro­cus Song in 2014 and has been “gig­ging around” as much as he can since then with hopes of putting out an­other longer record­ing soon.

His tour part­ner has a few more records to his name, the last be­ing Fair Coun­try in 2015, and has earned his fair share of accolades over his more than two decades in the mu­sic busi­ness.

Tuck and Mc­Cal­lum’s tour has al­ready taken them to Prince Ed­ward Is­land and New­found­land, with more dates planned for Nova Sco­tia and New Brunswick – in­clud­ing July 9 in New Glas­gow at the Farm­ers Mar­ket in the morn­ing and The Com­mune in the evening, July 11 at Green Hill Alma United Church and July 24 at St. John’s Angli­can Church in River John.

Mc­Cal­lum noted that a third of the dates on the tour take place in churches, hardly an ac­ci­dent con­sid­er­ing Tuck’s fa­ther was a well-known priest in P.E.I. while Mc­Cal­lum has worked in sev­eral churches across the Mar­itimes.

Mc­Cal­lum says there’s noth­ing like play­ing in churches – com­bin­ing a lis­ten­ing au­di­ence (hope­fully), a won­der­ful acous­tic set­ting and a pleas­ing es­thetic.

“... Churches have so much po­ten­tial as mu­sic venues and places where com­mu­nity con­nec­tions can hap­pen. My real de­sire is to see more of that.”

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