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Mike Evin walks the distance 

The former Haligonian piano man returns to town for his CD release show.

Trudeau went on his long walk in snowy Montreal to decide on his political future. He returned resolved to leave public office.

Bob Gainey, the Habs' general manager, invited a floundering Alex Kovalev on a summer stroll in the city following the star's bum season in 2006-07. The Russian forward returned to form, for awhile at least.

Montreal, the grande dame of cities in North America, is that kind of place, where walks can take on mythological status.

Pop pianist-vocalist Mike Evin is following that contemplative path. On his outings, he's reacquainting with his hometown of Montreal, where he moved back from Halifax this past winter. At the same time, walking is helping him rediscover his joy of making music.

That feeling waned, he says, following completion of Good Watermelon, his third album. It's hard to imagine Evin losing his sight of and sense for music's positive power, given the 30-year-old's striding piano, his gift for upbeat mood and melody, his energetic and smiley vocals, sharp wit and his optimistic, playful observations on Good Watermelon.

But it happened. He's not "all positive all the time, just very light.

"I got into this huge rut, just trying to figure out what to do with it," Evin admits, going on to say that even before he started recording the album more than a year ago in Montreal, he "built it up" in his mind as "the record. And I got discouraged pretty quickly."

In part that came from shopping the album around to a variety of labels and hearing only passing interest. The discouragement eventually turned into a deeper, entrenched low. "There was some depression in there," Evin says.

The roots of the problem were present in the way he's lived his life and worked at his craft, according to the artist. "I haven't been able to live in the moment fully," Evin explains. "I've been focused on where else I should be or what else I should be doing." He's changed his thinking in part by returning to Montreal and "going for walks, getting into random places. Last night I just went for a long walk along [Rue] Jean Talon, from my house" in Côte des Neiges, which he describes as "somewhat removed but very multicultural." (Evin grew up in Hampstead, "a Jewish suburb. It's very sheltered.")

On that walk, Evin crossed intersections of cultures. "It makes you excited about the world," he observes. Though he hasn't travelled much or that far, he knows he will. He doesn't worry about when or where for now.

Walking has taught Evin patience, openness, calm. These journeys, "just these random walks," he calls them, unfold without a plan or destination in mind. "We shouldn't think about that kind of stuff so much. It's easy to think about that stuff and obsess about it. And you just miss out on where you're at, at the present moment," he says.

Evin reached a point of exhaustion trying to orchestrate his music career, his success. He turned to other sources, besides the walks, such as reading Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way. Through that, Evin is "learning to enjoy the process and not being so focused on the product."

With that in mind, he's posting videos of himself playing new songs on YouTube (calling them Mike Evin's Workshops). He's performing them in single takes, avoiding the intense evaluation and editing that, in the past, had led to some protracted periods of writer's block.

He cancelled most of this summer's tour plans, letting his fans know via his blog. Fans responded, he says, with support and stories of losing and finding their way. Though the decision didn't come without due consideration, he's happy he did it and to be returning to Halifax, where, for the first time he says, he experienced "being part of something."

Mike Evin's Workshop #2, "Alive and Well"

Mike Evin Good Watermelon release show w/The Heavy Blinkers Ensemble (feat. Jenn Grant), Wednesday, May 27 at The Company House, 2202 Gottingen, 8pm, $7adv./$10 door.

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