SOUTH RIVER – Singer-songwriter Jon Brooks says he doesn’t write “happy music.”
The decision is for good reason.
“It’s sort of an illiterate request,” said Brooks. “My aim is to inspire. I’m not in the business of taking people away from themselves. That’s the role of pop music.”
Brooks said he writes music that takes people on the type of introspective journey so-called happy music could never conquer.
“An hour of pop music could take you away from your life and make you happy for a bit, but when the show is over, everyone goes home alone,” said Brooks. “I write music that takes people on a journey and asks them to look at themselves, so when everyone goes home, they have the feeling they are not alone in the world.”
Brooks is set to perform a house concert at the Blue Babes Guest House and Studio on Friday, Aug. 17, bringing his unique brand of music to the intimate venue, which holds about 20 people.
A folk singer-songwriter with four albums under his belt, Brooks says the industry is embarking on a dangerous course.
“The music business as it is, is run by 15-year-olds,” said Brooks. “These are the dark ages. The world for some reason doesn’t want us to be thoughtful. It pays people to shut up, so if it seems the folk singer has less of an audience, that’s why.”
Brooks said his South River house concert is one of only a handful of Northern Ontario performances he has ever played.
“You’re never a prophet at home, and Canada, whether she wants to admit it or not, is sort of culturally insecure,” said Brooks. “One thing that you can’t take away from Americans is their pride in their culture. Canadians like to wait for New York to say thumbs up, or London to say thumbs up first before they will get behind their artists. But that’s not always a bad thing. There’s a virtue to our cultural humility. It’s part of our charm.”
Toronto-based Brooks said that cultural humility is likely why he has a larger fan base in the state of Texas than on his home turf.
“The irony is, I write about Canada. But I think that is part of my success in the U.S. We’re always drawn to the exotic,” said Brooks.
To further support Brooks’ thoughts on the allure of the exotic, his opening act is a very talented Australian singer-songwriter.
Gina Horswood opened for Suzie Vinnick during the Blues Babes’ grand opening last month. The young singer gave a heartfelt performance of original music combined with her endearing humour on her trials and triumphs as a quasi-Canadian. Horswood is a fan favourite and is set to come back to Blues Babes for a full-length performance in the near future.