Randall Spear Band launches These Songs Are Made of Wood

Photo: Danielle Burns

The Randall Spear Band played to a packed house at Bar Le Sacrilège. Singer Randall Spear (centre) is flanked by band members Richard Drouin (bassist/fiddler), André Lavergne (album producer and guitarist), and Christian Morrisette (drummer) in back left.

It may have been a weeknight but on Thursday, November 14, Bar Le Sacrilège on Rue Saint-Jean was at full capacity. Much of the attraction was the launch of the new album, These Songs Are Made of Wood, written and performed by singer/songwriter Randall Spear and guitarist André Lavergne. The boisterous crowd soon quieted down when Spear engaged the room with the album's first song, "More Beauty Than I'll Ever Know." They remained attentive until the end of the over two-hour performance.

The show started out with a few tracks from the new folk-rock album, including "Doing Your Best" and "Open Sky." The latter is a song inspired by a cross-Canada road trip Spear took with his dad, when they travelled through Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Spear couldn't resist the old prairie joke that goes, "They say in Saskatchewan you can see your dog run away for three days." Some of Spear's songs from previous albums were also performed, such as "Slow Parade," dedicated to his Cégep Sainte-Foy students with compassionate lyrics like "You don't have to be brave/ beautiful/strong/useful."

Spear has a frank style of songwriting that touches on themes related to the human condition like love and its fragile beauty. "The theme of the CD came through after we put it together. I noticed that there was this same image coming back, man and woman, love and separation and finally the wanting to be together again." At 45 years old, Spear says he doesn't see relationships the same way as when he was younger, knowing they are fragile and have to be cared for. Spear also knows "what it means to keep on going even if you know you have made some bad decisions along the way. I hear a lot of the Irish melancholy, which is my background; my grandfather was an Irish folk musician."

Although the album launch was the purpose of the evening, the band showed off its musical influences, playing covers from greats like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash and the recently departed Lou Reed. The well-known songs were greatly appreciated by the audience who sang along with much encouragement from the band. Bassist Richard Drouin pulled out a fiddle late in the show, causing audience members to clap at an increasingly frenzied pace. A special surprise came when Spear's blonde, Sophie Denis, accompanied him in a sweet duet to the country pop song "I Just Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum.

Spear says collaborator Lavergne (from the Gaspésie) has been a friend for over ten years and has played on all his recordings, but this album is special because it was Lavergne's idea. "He wanted to produce the whole album, so I said yes, and we became partners with my manager Alain Giguère (from) SRS production." Spear explains that the album's unusual title was inspired in part by the CBC radio program Drive, when the host said, "That song sounds like it was made of wood." "I just really liked the image," said Spear between sets. The album was also recorded at a cottage so it had earthy origins. Spear admitted that launching an album is "a bit like when you have a baby." You feel nervous in the week leading up to the event. "But when it's over, you're so happy!"

What compels him to make music? Spears says he doesn't really know but, "It's like breathing to me. I need it. It's all around me." The CD can be purchased at Archambault on Rue Saint-Jean or at Sillons le Disquaire on Avenue Cartier.


Randall Spear performing a duet with special guest Sophie Denis.



Randall Spear (centre) flanked by band members bassist Richard Drouin, album producer and guitarist André Lavergne and Christian Morrisette (in back row) on drums.


The audience at the full to capacity Sacrilège Bar joined in with the singing and clapping for the CD launch.