Having spent last weekend playing for festival audiences – he was up in Orillia for the Mariposa Folk Festival – Zachary Lucky is changing gears this weekend, starting with a much more intimate show Friday night in Maryhill.
“I really love playing places like the Commercial Tavern,” he said down the line from Toronto as his band prepared for Mariposa. “You can get up there and play for two or three hours, stretch yourself. It really gives you a chance to play songs from all over the catalogue.”
With six recordings under his belt and another set to be released, the country/folk sing-songwriter has plenty to draw on.
Lucky can be called a troubadour for more than his relentless touring, his songwriting being very much centered on telling the tales of the people he meets and places he goes. He writes “story songs” and sometimes resists labels such as “country” or “folk” – it’s about looking at the human condition and telling some tales set to music.
“The music I do, first and foremost, I want to tell a story,” he said, pointing to the broader categorization of roots music.
“The last record we did (Everywhere A Man Can Be) was very geographical. We were doing shows across the U.S. and that’s reflected,” he said, adding that it also touches on his move to Ontario from Saskatchewan.
His newest songs stem from his recent foray into fatherhood.
“The inspiration is always changing.”
He points to the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Merle Haggard as influences on his style. He’s also been compared to Gordon Lightfoot and Kris Kristofferson.
His own journey into music came through a more rock-oriented experience with the live music scene in Saskatoon – heavy rock and punk – though the songs he started writing in high school were folky.
His grandfather was Canadian country music legend Smilin’ Johnny Lucky, though his parents weren’t musical per se.
“I grew up with normal suburban music,” he laughed, pointing out to his parents listening to the likes of the Eagles, Styx and AC/DC. In fact, he learned to play guitar at church rather than at home.
Getting involved with rock bands early on, he just assumed that being a musician meant touring exhaustively, sometimes three or four months at a time. That experience really shaped his songwriting.
“I really found my sound out on the road,” he said, a process that still continues.
That sound is “drastically different” today from where he started, but still remains about telling stories.
While Lucky played in rock bands during his teens, as he entered his twenties he began releasing a series of EPs displaying writing and performing skills far beyond his years. That groundwork culminated with his 2010 full-length debut, Come And Gone, and its 2012 follow-up, Saskatchewan, which firmly established him on the national scene.
As his music has evolved, he could only hope that fans would come along for the ride, picking up new ones along the way.
“Your hope is that people will really take time to listen to what you’re doing.”
When you’re telling stories from experience, especially from making so many stops, there are always going to be more to write about. That’s the troubadour spirit.
“You never run out of road,” he proclaimed.The road takes him to the Commercial Tavern Friday evening (July 13). Tickets are available at the venue, 1303 Maryhill Rd., or by calling 519-648-3644. For more information, visit www.commercialtavern.ca.