Sunday, March 23, 2008

Newfoundland Artist Peter Jacobs

I have been a Facebook now for about half a year- and as much as people complain about it being highly addictive and point to issues of privacy, I think it has been one of the Internet’s savviest offerings. It has been great for me to connect with friends I have not spoken with in ages, and family I seldom get to see. But it’s also a wonderful platform for talented artists to engage a wider audience.

Recently my Aunt Minnie and I became Facebook friends and knowing how much I missed home she sent me a link to a song called Take Me Back, by Newfoundland artist Peter Jacobs. I think I must have watched it about eight or nine times, nodding my head to the lyrics, and trying to ignore the lump that formed in my throat. This guy was singing what I feel in my heart when I think of home. It is almost anthemic in sentiment and it reminds me of “Song for Newfoundland”, by Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers.

I contacted Peter to ask him about his music and the story behind it. Like many Newfoundlanders he left the Rock in search of work: "I left like most everyone else, having too, not wanting too. Lucky enough to get a job in the forestry industry. But like most everything else it didn't last…Take Me Back came from seeing some of my family members, friends and even people I didn't know having to leave everything they own and move away. And being from a small town when you hear that someone is going away; it's the talk of the town months before they leave and months after they are gone. Counting the empty houses over again, counting the people that are left. You can see it in most everyone's eyes that they would rather stay, and if everyone had the choice to come back having found work back home I’m sure they would... seems like resettlement of outport towns all over again. After I thought about the first few words to Take Me Back, I think it was written in about 20 minutes. The words flew almost too fast to write them down and could have went on and on”

Peter has been playing music most of his life can remember a time as a young fella performing in pool hall with a crowd of “older ones” paying him quarters to sing “made over three dollars one night, thought I had her made!” He laughs.

Like many Newfoundlanders, Peter’s family figured largely in developing his talent for writing and performing. He would often go to his Aunt Daisy's house at recess time and sing for her. Everyone in his family loved music and his parents always encouraged him to play. His brother is also a singer, songwriter who plays guitar and the accordion. “Well, growing up…my brother, he was away a lot and I always loved it when he got to come home and I could hear him playing and singing. Good ole Kitchen party was always the best thing to be a part of.”

Peter started to think about making a CD with his music after seeing an ad in the local paper calling for local song writers. The CD he has out now was a collaborative effort with Devin Robinson of , guitarist Clint Curtis, accordion player Aubrey Cull, and drummer Stefan Davis. A new CD is also in the works and should be released in a few months. His current CD is available for purchase on his website.

I asked Peter what he thought it was about Newfoundland that keeps calling people home, and whether or not he would consider leaving the Rock again. He credits our love of the Island with “the friendly, kind, generous, atmosphere that most everyone that comes here sees. A very laid back, slower pace of life”. He does not want to leave the Island, but believes that choice is “something me and lots others really haven't got much control over” We discussed the future for Newfoundlanders, specifically those who had to leave the Rock, to return only on special occasions and holidays. I wondered how Peter felt about claims The Rock was about to see better times, that people may be able to return.

“They (the MPs) have been talking about better time ahead for years. But as I say in a song I wrote a few days ago:

So we go on and wonder how much more we can take
MPs say they can do the job they have a plan in place
The’re not the ones who pay the price for mistakes they make
It's the loved ones from our down-home shores that have to move away

I honestly don't think that it's gonna change anytime soon”

Sadly, Peter, I think you are right.

Anyway folks, have a listen and pass it on to another homesick Newfoundlander.

*Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me Peter.
I wish you all the best in your music career.*

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