Anchors Up Tour brings east coast flair to Prince Albert

Ask Andrew James O’Brien what it’s like to be back touring and you’ll hear nothing but gratitude.

O’Brien and fellow singer/songwriter Catherine Allan make up the east coast musical duo Fortunate Ones, and on Nov. 16 they’ll be in Prince Albert for the Anchors Up Tour, along with two-time JUNO award winner Old Man Luedecke, and JUNO nominees The Once.

For O’Brien, getting back on tour with a few close friends has been a treat.

“It’s not lost on us how lucky we are to be doing it at all,” he said during a phone interview on Thursday. “Even still, we’re seeing friends out there having to cancel because of COVID and things like that. The fact that we’re able to be out here on the road with other artists who have been friends of ours for so long, it’s been an incredible opportunity.”

However, unlike other musical groups, COVID-19 didn’t play a big role in keeping them off the stage. The pair were creatively burnt out after years of relentless touring. When COVID hit, it offered a welcome reprieve that allowed O’Brien to slow down and regroup.

“We were parting ways with our long-term manager. We were essentially teamless in a way—a little bit aimless professionally—and then COVID hit,” he remembered. “Actually, it was kind of a relief. We didn’t have that panic or that scramble of like, oh, what do we do next.’ It was more like a relief, like ‘oh, thank God, we don’t have to make any big career decisions right now.”

O’Brien hit a major personal milestone just before COVID hit when got sober in February 2020. Afterwards, he started working at an inn on near St. John’s, and stopped playing music completely.

The group was supposed to record a new album in Toronto, but COVID delayed their travel plans. However, O’Brien said it ended up being the best thing for him. When they finally got back in the studio in October 2020, the creative energy had returned. The result was ‘That was you and me’, the duo’s new album.

“It just gave us the opportunity to really slow down, (and) get back to each other,” he explained. “We were in this little 130 year old soapbox house on this little hill by the sea. It just really allowed us to calm down and take a look around and take stock of what was important, and ultimately that was each other, getting back to Catherine and I as a couple and as collaborators, and just trying to make sense of everything that was going on around us. The record was definitely flavoured by that experience.”

Prince Albert will be the 15th stop on the Anchors Up Tour. O’Brien said each group is eager to bring a piece of Newfoundland to the prairies.

“We’ve all been at this a long time and we’ve got just a wonderful chemistry together because we’re such good friends for so long,” he explained. “People are really in for a treat and we’re looking forward to getting back and playing again.

“We definitely are bringing an east coast musical flair along with us. We’re all singer song-writers, and it’s hard not to have that east coast influence. It’s in every corner of the music.”

The Anchors Up Tour is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the E.A. Rawlinson website, or from the box office.

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