A new album in new territory: B.C.’s Garton eager to hit E.A. Rawlinson stage

B.C.’s Jack Garton will perform at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Wednesday, April 17. -- Photo from the Jack Garton Music Facebook page.

Like many musicians, Jack Garton had a lot of time on his hands when COVID hit.

After public health regulations forced music venues to temporarily close in 2020 and 2021, the B.C. resident turned to song writing to fill the time. The result was Original Skin, a new album released in 2023, and an expanded list of musical stops, including one scheduled for Wednesday in Prince Albert.

“This tour for me is a lot of new territory,” Garton said during a phone call from Winnipeg, where he performed on Friday. “I’ve been touring B.C. and Alberta for a long, long time, but had not really made it out to Saskatchewan or Manitoba much, so that’s what I’m doing with the new album here.”

Original Skin features 14 songs written during COVID lockdowns in 2021. At the time, Garton wasn’t planning on making an album. He just wanted to create music. When music venues began opening back up, he decided to get in the studio and start recording.

“It was such a huge interruption to all our lives, and of course, not performing music anymore was really strange for me,” Garton said. “Basically when I started coming back to it, I found that I was doing it just for the joy of song writing and singing again, which was a beautiful experience.”

“A lot of them are memories of things that had just been missing for a long time,” he added. “I wanted to sing about them so I could spend more time with them and explore them, and it’s probably the most joyful and honest songs I’ve ever done because it really wasn’t for anyone other than myself. We were all still locked down and I didn’t know when we’d be sharing them, so it’s quite personal.”

Garton’s musical style runs from folk and roots music to blues and doo-wop. He compliments the variety of styles with a variety of musical instruments. Garton plays the accordion, trumpet, piano, and guitar, a feat he jokingly attributes to his short attention span.

“I’m easily distracted is one way to put it,” he said with a laugh. “I was taking music classes as a kid in school and I learned how to play different things, but whenever there was chance to try something else I just jumped on it.”

Jokes aside, Garton credits another B.C. musician, Geoff Berner, for helping him get serious about one of his most popular instruments, the accordion. Garton spent many of his teenage years watch Berner perform, and that inspired him to learn the instrument himself.

Garton said he’s always been curious about what’s around the next corner, and that’s helped him expand his musical tastes as well as his list of tour destinations.

“I just really hope that people really like the album and I think they would love the show,” he said. “This is the band that is going to be coming to Prince Albert is the same band that recorded the album. They’re very good friends of mine, and just so much fun to play with.”

Jack Garton will perform at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Wednesday, April 17. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Rawlinson box office, or from earc.ca.