“Touching Smoke” brings a lifetime of experience

Prince Albert musician Jim McKillop (centre) takes to the stage during a performance at the Rock Trout Café on May 6. McKillop recently released his debut album, “Touching Smoke.” -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

After a lifetime of songwriting, touring and teaching, Jim McKillop found himself with a book full of songs and some free time.

For years, the Prince Albert musician brought his musical talents to a number of bands, playing on weekends and writing songs during his spare time. When he retired, he decided to finally start recording.

“I’ve played music all my life, played in bands and weekend stuff … and all along the way I’ve written (songs),” McKillop said during an interview on Saturday. “Now I’m not playing in so many bands, I’m retired from my day job as a schoolteacher, and it was time to put them down somewhere.”

The result was “Touching Smoke,” McKillop’s inaugural album, which was officially released on May 6 at the Rock Trout Café.

The name comes from the album’s title track, which McKillop wrote after visiting the Gila cliff dwellings. The album features a wide variety of musical styles and themes, but they all have a connection to something in his past.

“It’s just trying to capture that (experience),” he said. “It’s kind of an observer role. Some things make you shake your head and some things make you angry and some things make you happy that you’re here.”

Getting into the studio and recording the album was a long process. It began roughly 20 years ago when he played on a few recordings for one of the bands he performed with. A decade later, he was back in the studio, this time recording one of his own songs.

For the rest of this story, please see the May 10 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.