Tentrees comes home to perform
By Darren Lum
Published July 28, 2016
Once a hawk, always a hawk.
Haliburton Highlands Secondary School proud graduate and musician Gordie Tentrees is returning to the Highlands for a performance when he takes the stage in the Austin Sawmill Heritage Park at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18 in Kinmount.
It's part of Kinmount's Music and Barbecue in the Park summer concert series event, sponsored by the Kinmount and District Lions Club and the Kinmount Committee Planning and Economic Development. (They recommend people bring their own lawn chair.)
Tentrees, who is originally from the Bancroft area, is excited to be returning for a performance.
This free concert in the park is part of his Less is More tour, which is named after the album he released last year, his sixth.
The majority of the songs from the album have a theme of overcoming challenges.
“It's always an attractive quality I seek out in hearing stories or songs about people,” he said.
The show will feature a lot of slide guitar, harmonica in blues style and include storytelling.
He characterizes his performance as a “one man band” kind of show, which will be in a place he calls home.
“I grew up there and have a connection with the people in Haliburton [Highlands] so it's going to be neat to come back,” he said.
He describes his music as “rural blues,” which is perfect for people in smaller communities
“It’s funny: it goes over the same as in Australia that it would in Kinmount and different parts of Germany, Holland, Belgium and U.K. as well. I sort of noticed there's the same pocket of people that are interested in the kind music that I play ... it's like finding every Kinmount that you can find around the world, you know?” he said.
In the past, he has written songs with references to the area and the people here.
The opening track, Love and Ink, he said, was written with someone from Haliburton.
It's about a man and his generational family farm and how it was passed on despite challenges.
“We wrote that song together just from him telling me the story, being the recipient of this land and farm. His father passing it on and passing it on from his grandfather. All those kind of things I find are really interesting and appealing. In that case the history of each person's struggle and how they came through it.”
Tentrees said his recent album describes his own life.
A few years ago he made a conscious decision to travel less for work and put more into living.
“I was on the road sometimes five months of the year, playing like a 150 shows. It was just becoming quite a lot. I realized that I could do what I was doing just less of it ... and be more strategic about it,” he said.
One thing that made him decide to work less was when he and his wife Kelly Proudfoot narrowly escaped harm back in April 15, 2013, when two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
When the bombs exploded, Tentrees was four blocks away, expecting his wife to have finished the marathon.
“I could not find her as she finished nine minutes before they went off and for some time was not sure if she was hurt or still running. Lucky [for] me she had finished earlier than she had projected,” he said.
The explosion left three spectators dead and more than 260 people were wounded.
“We were both just shocked like everyone else. The experience made me think about the parents who raised those kids that set off the bombs and how they must have felt. Hence the song Somebody's Child on my new record,” he said in an email.
He still has family and friends in the area and returns to visit. There is something more though about the area that keeps him coming back.
Coincidentally, his wife is familiar with the Kinmount area. She cottaged on the Crystal Lake as a child, visiting from Whitby. Now they rent a cottage on the same lake south of Kinmount for the past three years. He met her in the Yukon and they have been married for a year.
As for his future projects, this coming November while performing in western Canada he'll be recording the concerts for his next album, which is untitled.
His music, he said, has a cross-generational appeal. He describes his shows as “off the cuff” and include storytelling between songs. It makes it exciting for him and his audience. He doesn't believe in having a set list and welcomes the unpredictability.
“I just start talking and sometimes I don't know until a show is over,” he said. “But I've learned to do that and roll with it and it's part of my show ... every song has a story and five different ways to tell it or different ways to play different songs.”