Songs in the key of ‘O’: Musician Paul Weber finds muse in history of Ottawa

Spotlight is a weekly have a look at some of the people who find themselves half of the Ottawa space’s arts neighborhood. This week, Bruce Deachman talks with singer/songwriter/musician Paul Weber. Visit for extra data.

“I got here to Ottawa once I was 12 or 13. Moved round rather a lot earlier than that. It took me a very long time to type of personal this city and really feel like this was the place I got here from, however now I’ve that feeling.

“I’ve been taking part in music for about 45 years, however a few 12 months in the past I wrote a tune and thought, ‘The world-music band I’m taking part in in, The Main Street Market Band, can’t play this tune; it is a solo tune, type of a rustic/folks tune.’ So I began taking part in it for individuals, and it felt good; it felt like the proper tune for me at the time. And it was the first time that I’d written one thing about my very own neighborhood, my very own neighbourhood.

“It was a tune about the Great Fire of 1870, and it actually clicked for me, writing a historic tune like that. And I assumed I’d write some extra like that, they usually simply popped out. The subsequent one was about the constructing of the Rideau Canal, and I noticed that I’ve examine this canal — I’ve walked by it on daily basis — and it’s received these tales which might be superb. It took them two days in 1826 to get from Entrance Bay to Dow’s Lake — simply surveying the land — as a result of it was a swamp.

And I decided early on that I needed to jot down songs about Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley, whether or not they had been historic or present day, whether or not they had been previous history — the previous tales — or whether or not they had been songs a few bouncer at the Chaudière — newer type of folklore.

“I discovered that writing about my very own neighborhood was one thing I may connect with. And in the course of of writing these songs, I began considering that there’s a complete undertaking of songs — a CD — so I’ve been working in the direction of in all probability twice the quantity of songs that I’d want for a CD, hoping that that can be finished in early winter, and in the interim I’m getting out and taking part in these songs as a lot as I can, and getting viewers suggestions, which is nice.

“I wrote this tune about Gerry Barber, this bouncer at the Chaudière Club in the ’70s and ’80s, and the response was overwhelming. The tales I heard from individuals and the emails I used to be getting — from individuals in the Northwest Territories, even — and folks sharing the video all over the place. And I began noticing that it was being shared by individuals with the final identify of Barber, and it turned out they had been all Barber relations — descendants or siblings of Gerry Barber, and I’ve had a number of conversations along with his son, his daughter, different cousins, grandkids. That meant rather a lot to me, to get that sort of response. It was actually touching.

“I additionally wrote a tune about the fentanyl disaster. And one about how I dislike that the media usually calls the federal authorities ‘Ottawa.’ You activate the radio and also you hear ‘Ottawa this’ and ‘Ottawa that,’ however that’s not Ottawa, so I wrote The Ottawa Song, about all the issues I like about Ottawa — type of like Hank Snow’s I’ve Been Everywhere.

“I’ve one other tune about the Syrian refugee disaster and connecting that to my grandparents and their arrival in Canada 100 years in the past. And I wrote a tune about my neighbourhood — I discovered not too long ago that the first airplane in Ottawa landed only a few blocks from my home, on Slattery’s Fields, which is now the hydro station on Riverdale.

“I’m actually wanting ahead to recording these songs and placing them out on CD, as a result of they’ve an power to them, and I like getting out and taking part in them. It’s humorous, I’ve been taking part in in bands for thus lengthy, and all of a sudden discovering this spot the place I can connect with the tune and inform the story. Often in a band, you could have rather a lot of issues occurring and that story will get misplaced. But once you’re by your self with a guitar and also you inform a narrative and interact with individuals, that’s an actual highly effective expertise.

“There’s one thing, particularly in the days of the web, about telling that native story, about our personal lives, our personal previous, our personal history, that folks reply to, that they join with. It’s private. We’re so used to wanting elsewhere for our tales, however we’ve received these superb tales ourselves that must be advised.”

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