‘We’re All In This Together’

Christopher Cameron
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Sam Roberts remembers show at JBM in early 2000s

This weekend Sam Roberts and his band will take a walk down memory lane – well officially it’s Washington Street.

Sam Roberts Band will perform on the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee mainstage on Saturday night. 

It’s their first trip to the Jubilee, but Roberts remembers rocking out at the John Brother MacDonald, mostly because it was one of the first hockey arenas he ever played.

“It’s quite an honour to be asked to perform (at the Jubilee) and we always thank our lucky stars that we’re still able to go out there and make a living playing music,” said Roberts. “It’s been a few years since we’ve been in New Glasgow. One of our first, I think maybe the first time we played at a hockey arena, which is a momentous occasion in any band’s, especially a Canadian band’s existence, was in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. We’ll get to revisit that scene.”

As with any band, at least in Canada, Roberts and his bandmates look forward to getting outside after being “cooped up,” so to speak, in the winter. He said Canada comes alive in the summer and it fuels the band after playing clubs and other indoor venues if they’re touring in the fall or winter.

“I think it’s the unbridled energy that comes with a crowd of that size being able to enjoy music in the outdoors, which as we all know coast-to-coast in Canada is far too rare and precious an occasion,” he said. “I think because of our shortened summers we tend to make the most of it and that sort of comes out at festival shows, maybe more than anywhere else I’ve played. Even in the United States or Europe – I just find Canadian festivals have a special feel and spirit to them.”

From “Brother Down” to “Shapeshifters,” Jubilee goers can expect a little bit of everything from the Canadian rock band. He said that some of the older stuff gets the fans going, but “We’re All In This Together,” from his newest album “Lo-Fantasy” has been a huge hit this summer according to Roberts.

“We pull some of the old ones out of the vault and that’s part of the trick of playing a festival show,” he said. “You have to keep the crowd engaged for an hour or and hour and a half, however long you have on stage. You’ve got music that sometimes spans, not only a long period of time, but also several shifts in creative direction. All of sudden you have to make it seem like a show that’s not just this disjointed, confused journey. You have to make the whole thing flow from start to finish.”

Throughout his career, from his first hit to his most recent, he said the music has evolved from that original sound.

“I think every album that you make opens new doors for you and closes others,” he said. “You have to be willing to live with that uncertainty and let the music that you make shape your future, the foreseeable future anyway. The last five years we’ve put out a couple of records and each one of them has brought us to different places.

“That’s the way it should be, but that being said you just don’t know where it’s taking you.”

With those changes, like Roberts said, comes uncertainty in how fans will take the new music. He said gauging a crowd’s reaction to a song, sometimes before it makes the record, is a way to tell what lies ahead in the near future. Looking back from his start in the late 1990s he said his goal was not to make a few records and say thanks for a good ride, but to take on the next challenge and continue to produce successful records.

“I don’t think expect is necessarily the way I look at stuff, I wanted to (be successful),” he said. “It was always the intention to not just put out one or two records then sail off into the sunset. The whole mission that we’ve embarked on years ago, even before anyone started listening to the band or we had songs on the radio, was to go out there and carve out a life for ourselves making music for as long as we were able to.

“Thankfully that’s still an ongoing thing.”

Sam Roberts Band will headline the Jubilee mainstage on Saturday night, following Adam Baldwin.



On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

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