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Getting Evin 

Piano guy Mike Evin returns to the city with a new album of songs about travelling and staying put.

Mike Evin's got the whole world in his album. Do You Feel the World?, his fifth record, is a collection of "songs about travelling, songs about staying put." Evin, a pianist and one-time Haligonian, returned to his hometown of Montreal at the end of 2008 (his last record Good Watermelon came out in the summer of 2009) and went through a period of intense songwriting.

"I was writing all of these songs, and they were coming really quick, and there were a lot of them," he says.

After stockpiling material, Evin connected with Nashville producer Brad Jones, who had worked with musicians Evin admired, like Ron Sexsmith. He headed to Nashville to record a few songs in the fall of 2009, finishing up on a second trip last spring. Evin calls the group of musicians he worked with "tight-knit." Jones plays bass, guitar and keyboards on the record, and another Nashville musician who Evin was introduced to, Jason Cheek, plays drums.

"This person thought that we'd really hit it off musically and we did. . .we really had a great chemistry, both musically and personality-wise."

Going to Nashville and "stepping out of my comfort zone" were central to the record, Evin says. "I've never recorded an album outside of Canada before. A lot of the songs are about exploration and this duality of wanting to discover the whole world and travel, but also looking for a sense of where is my home, what is my home---reaching out and reaching in at the same time.

"I had a feeling that [Nashville] would be a good place to make a record, and Nashville is just a very magical town."

Making a record at home is a more relaxed process; travelling, Evin had a sense of "feeling that I'm with this group of people for only this amount of time and we have to make a record."

Evin funded his travels to Nashville through donation requests online. He made a video explaining the project and different levels people could donate at with Pay-pal---"just reached out to my fans," he says. With the new album, online downloads are available with extras ranging from physical copies to show tickets to a personal concert in a park.

"No one's ordered a picnic yet," he laughs. "I guess it's winter, no one's thinking about picnics--- maybe I should have made it a ski outing."

Do You Feel the World is purposely framed by a song about world travel and a song about being at home. "I want to do more travelling---when I moved back to Montreal I thought it was going to be a lot more temporary than it ended up being," Evin says. "I thought I was going to be travelling and I ended up writing songs about travelling and staying put."

Staying home doesn't appear to be too much a problem these days. Evin's just returned to Montreal from Toronto after playing a James Taylor tribute, before heading to Halifax. Shortly afterwards, he'll go south to Florida and Mexico, performing on Ships & Dip, an annual cruise hosted by the Barenaked Ladies.

"I can always look to the next city," he says. But, in the course of a year of writing songs about travel, "I think I missed out on a lot of the things that were happening in the place I was in. There's always great things happening everywhere and you've just gotta appreciate things and be in the moment."

Mike Evin w/Laura Peek, Tuesday, January 18, 9pm, The Carleton, 1685 Argyle Street


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