By Mike Dunn
CALGARY – “I think I thought it was gonna be easier back then,” says Winnipeg-based Sean Burns of the hard touring he’s done since launching his career as a singer-songwriter back in 2010. “It was like, ‘Hey, we’re pretty good at this, we’ll go out, get the lay of the land.’ Then got my spirits crushed and shattered and then rebuilt over time, then it took a few years of being here in Winnipeg for things to come together and really start working.”
And come together they are. Burns’s latest full-length, Music For Taverns, Bars, and Honky Tonks finds Burns getting together with some of the cream of Winnipeg’s roots scene, including producer/guitarist Grant Siemens of The Hurtin’ Albertans, drummer Joanna Miller, and bassist Bernie Thiessen, and knocking out a classic-sounding set of tunes in exactly the vibe the title describes. Burns met Siemens here in Calgary during the first Wide Cut Weekend, and they quickly discovered a shared affinity for country music in the classic roadhouse style.
“With Corb Lund doing most of 2017 solo, Grant was around and just said, ‘Hey man, you play that real country music, if you ever need a guitar player’. And when you get a guy like that on your side, it really gave me a confidence I’d never had before, you know? He’s into these songs, he’s really into playing this kind of music.”
Burns started out 17 years ago in Ontario, backing up his father in a bands around his hometown of Barrie. “My dad had a gig and they were out a bass player, so I filled in and kept it up through the end of high school. Then this other guy that my dad did a duo with started getting some gigs, and I was backing him up. My dad started getting better gigs, and this guy had just these rough gigs.” Burns adds with a laugh, “My dad just said, ‘Hey if Sean really wants to be a musician then he should be out there doing some of these terrible gigs.’”
During and throughout the hard touring, Burns has definitely found a home in Winnipeg, where he plays often locally, and recently took over a hosting spot spinning country music on CKUW, the University of Winnipeg radio station. “There’s a thriving community here, and I remember seeing some people playing when I’d come through town and thinking, “I’d love to play with that person,’ and now they’ve all played gigs with me. When I think about it, that’s maybe the big success of my career, is making friends and playing music with really excellent musicians who are just the best people.”
Sean Burns tours through Alberta and BC in March and April, at The Ironwood Stage & Grill on March 10th, and The Aviary in Edmonton on March 13th, with stops in Lethbridge, Red Deer, Nanton, Twin Butte, Black Diamond as well.Sean Burns, The Aviary, the Ironwood Stage & Grill