by Laura Stanley
For Saskatoon born folk/country musician Zachary Lucky, embarking on long tours that span months is not new. Booking his own tours since the start of his music career, shortly after finishing high school, Lucky is the reason why his schedules are so hectic. When asked why he does it to himself, Lucky laughs and says, “sort of masochistic, I guess.”
“I grew up watching bands do that, just tour for months and months, shows every single night. So when I started booking tours, that’s just what made sense. It makes sense in a lot of ways…If you’re taking breaks then you’re just spending money. It’s hard enough making a living as a musician.”
A touring musician, a road warrior, or simply road weary, however you want to label him, Lucky likes the adventure and despite its gruelling nature, he thinks it is the “best thing.”
“There’s a lot of moving parts to it so a lot can go wrong and it can get really crazy. But at the end of the day, even when you’ve played to Thunder Bay for ten people and you’ve made hardly a tank of gas and you’re crawling into bed relatively drunk you’re like, “shit, this is the best thing I could have done with my day.” I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. There’s definitely moments where you wish you were at home but I sincerely, sincerely love what I do.”
In spite of musicians’ ability to,without leaving the comforts of their home, post their music online and by doing so, connect with listeners around the world, he believes that nothing can replace the immediacy of a live performance.
“Folk music is for the people, country music too. I love being out there with the people. Despite being a serious introvert and my distaste for crowded rooms, I love being with people and having honest conversations and eating and drinking and singing. So why not? Why not tour?”
In Lucky’s most recent album, The Ballad of Losing You, a country sound that just touches his earlier releases is pushed to the forefront. Additionally, an unbridled emotion travels throughout the record making the songs’ narratives of heartbreak and struggle to be very powerful. The shift in style is one that Lucky attributes to the music he was listening to at the time of writing and recording and the changes that come with growing older.
“It felt natural. I was listening to a lot of old country music, bluegrass stuff, and old English traditional music, and part of it was just the people who were involved too…The whole country thing, it wasn’t necessarily intentional. It just came out that way. If we didn’t have pedal steel and we had cello instead, it would have sounded folky. Country and folk music, the only difference is the production and it’s just the interpretations of the songs, I find.”
Lucky’s honest approach to music and performing allows him to be a genuine artist in an often dishonest cultural landscape. The realities of lengthy tours, no matter what positive experiences that may bring, can be taxing, a topic that Lucky covers in The Ballad of Losing You. In “Morning Words,” Lucky sings,
“As for you and me
you know I’d rather stay
but honey I’m a working man
didn’t plan it out this way
just five more nights of shows
in dusty old bar rooms
once I’m done my rambling
I’ll be coming home to you.”
His humbling words limit the romanticization of the travelling musician yet leave room for us to know that the experiences that come with touring are enough fuel to get to the next stop.
“I’m still slugging it. I’m still climbing through the trenches, trying to build something, trying to do something. I guess you do that in hopes that someday it might be a little bit more than that. I don’t want much out of life. I just want to make a living and do what I love. If I can do that then it’s a life well lived to me.”
Zachary Lucky can be found playing in Toronto tonight and throughout Canada and the U.S. in November. For full tour information, visit his website.