NEW GLASGOW – Just past Hopewell sits the small community of Millstream, once home to a large saw mill and Garnet Rogers’ father.
Garnet Rogers takes the Celtic Circle stage on Saturday at 8 p.m. SUBMITTED
Rogers remembers going to the rustic property as a child.
“It was just kind of heavenly. It was this beautiful Tom Sawyer-like, Huck Finn world. There was a big millpond. There was a boat and a raft. There were horses and orchards. It was beyond lovely,” the renowned folk singer says.
Garnet’s father was born in Great Village, but moved to Pictou County when he was two.
Although he spent a large part of his life in Ontario and still lives there now, Rogers is looking forward to coming back to the area for a show at Celtic Circle this weekend.
He was last here this past summer.
“I just got back to the family homestead and look at it every once in a while to be in touch with it. It’s a childhood place that becomes more important as you get older.”
He hopes to come back to Nova Scotia permanently within two or three years. He has a house in Canso.
“This is where my heart’s been all these years,” he says, adding that he’s only left to go work.
Rogers has been performing for many decades, a fact he chuckled at when mentioned, adding that his career has gone from several years of playing to much more than that.
He started out with his brother, Stan, in the 1970s and the two took Canada by storm and on their own terms.
They built their own record company that they ran with their parents. He said labels didn’t want what they were doing, but it turned out to be a blessing because they didn’t have to worry about conforming to what a company wanted them to do.
They were their own bosses in their music.
Rogers says it’s the contact with people that keeps him wanting to continue performing.
“It sounds very simple and it is. This is my community. This is part of what I do.”
His performances are based on interaction with audience. He doesn’t tend to subscribe to a set list. He bases it on what people want to hear.
“The shows are different every night. If they (the audience) sound like they’re feeling quiet, then the show will be quiet,” he says.
Although he doesn’t plan out his shows, he is recording some new music that could make an appearance at his Saturday show.
He’s two-thirds of the way through recording a new album he started in the summer that reflects on the deaths of his parents and a few friends.
He compares the songwriting process to the way people express themselves on social media, as a way to communicate your thoughts and feelings on something.
“Often times, I’ll be going through something and trying to sort out how I feel about it in my mind. A song will come out and you think, ‘OK, well I guess that’s how I feel about it.’ Your subconscious has a lot to do with the process.”
His last released recording was a live album called Get A Witness, from 2007.
The latest was an impulse. Despite the general decline in CD purchases, he says he decided to make it anyway and would let the chips fall where they may.
He’s hoping to release it in the spring.
Although Garnet is commonly associated with his brother, who died in 1983, their musical styles are very different.
Whereas Stan is recognized for Maritime music, Garnet prefers a more reflective sound. He has songs about Nova Scotia, but they don’t resemble Stan’s Fogarty’s Cove or the rest of his trove of Atlantic anthems.
“It’s difficult even to describe to somebody how the whole thing worked, but there was more of my influence in his music than there is of his music in mine,” Garnet says about how much his brother enters his style.
Although he has done tributes in the past, that’s not what people should expect, he says.
One of the things they can expect is an impressive display of guitars.
Rogers says he has nine with him on this trip and often has seven or eight with him on stage.
“They all have a different function. To me, they sound different or they have different problems to overcome. They all feel different in your hands and you can only do certain things with certain guitars.”
Jannine Howell with the Celtic Circle was anxious to know how many guitars Rogers would be bringing.
She can’t wait to hear the “great Canadian treasure.”
“Garnet tells the best stories. This is such a special occasion to have him play here at the Celtic Circle.”
Rogers plays at 8 p.m. on Saturday with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda