NEW GLASGOW – Listening to Jim Dorie is like taking a road trip of Pictou County with a local on a warm summer’s day.
New Glasgow’s Jim Dorie recently released his latest album, “Drop Forge,” featuring many folk tracks focusing on Pictou County. Dorie and Newfoundland songwriter Ian Foster are doing a CD release show in the Green Room at Glasgow Square on June 1. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS
His whimsical folk lyrics tell a story, often of his hometown, and his latest album is no exception.
The title track, “Drop Forge,” reminisces of past industry in Trenton and the surrounding towns, evoking images of a bustling town, set to strikingly familiar acoustic melodies.
“As a kid, you don’t pay too much attention to where you’re from,” he said when asked about what inspires him about the area. “You don’t really have any interest in how the place got settled, the history, whatever. We’ve been back here seven years and since coming back, I’ve been reading a lot, just trying to reacquaint myself with the place I’m from. So when I find something interesting to write about, it comes out.”
Before he introduces the album to his friends and family here in June, Dorie is travelling near his other stomping grounds.
He has a few shows left in his mini-tour of Alberta and British Columbia.
One of his performances was a spot in a Bluebird North Showcase in Vancouver, an interactive performance with up-and-coming songwriters fashioned after the Bluebird Café in Nashville.
Dorie started songwriting as a retirement hobby when he left his position as project manager in the oil and gas industry in Alberta.
He had heard stories of people going back to work because they didn’t know what to do with 40 to 60 extra hours in their week.
“I said, ‘once I get away from work, the last thing I want to do is go back.’ So I started thinking about (songwriting) as a possibility and it’s worked out rather well.”
Dorie married young and started a family early, leaving little time to pursue music despite his interest in listening to it.
“I’ve always been attracted to people that could say something in a three-minute song that was much more than three minutes.”
When he retired, Dorie and his wife decided to move home mostly to be closer to family with both of their parents still in the area.
He pinpoints the rich musical landscape as one of the reasons his hobby took off. He says bumping into songwriters like Dave Gunning on a regular basis helped spur his second career.
“It’s funny because music is so prevalent in this province. It’s not nearly as prevalent in Alberta. I’d be willing to bet if we’d retired in Alberta, I never would’ve done this.”
Gunning has been a strong influence in Dorie’s work, producing both his first and latest albums.
“Dave was probably the first Nova Scotian artist that I met and kind of befriended. My sister taught school here and she taught out in West Pictou. So she taught Dave, George Canyon, JD Fortune and some of those people when they were teenagers,” he said, noting that he’d pick up Maritime music such as Gunning’s whenever he was home.
“They (Maritimers living away) come home in the summer and buy local music so that wherever you’re living out west and want a taste of home, you play The Barra MacNeils, you play the Rankin family, stuff from home.”
Dorie approached Gunning, asking if he was interested in co-writing, and it took off from there. Due to their easy chemistry, they’ve garnered enough songs together for an entire album.
Dorie’s songwriting can mostly be attributed to his genuine interest in history.
His song, Miramichi, on his latest album is derived from a book he read about a European widow, pregnant with an interracial child, who settled in Northern New Brunswick in the 1700s.
Cheeky tracks like My Girl and rural tunes such as Don’t Wait Until the Cows Come Home are relatable far beyond the county.
After he takes those songs out west, Dorie is returning to New Glasgow for a dual CD release in the Green Room at Glasgow Square with Newfoundland songwriter Ian Foster on June 1.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda