John Wort Hannam writes and sings about real stuff. Some of his songs are deeply personal and then there are the fun songs, like about being a winner at the local meat draw.
He’ll kick off season 6 for The Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society on Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Vernon Prestige Lodge and Conference Centre. The Trio also plays Penticton’s Dream Cafe Friday, Sept. 13 and Kelowna’s Lantern Folk Club Sunday, Sept. 15.
Wort Hannam isn’t afraid to take chances. For most folks, quitting a steady teaching job to write songs might seem like a risky proposition.
Not so for the singer-songwriter from southern Alberta.
“It really didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me back in 2001,” Wort Hannam said.
“It’s just what I wanted to do. I’ve never been afraid of trying something new. I just thought, ‘If it doesn’t work out and I fall flat on my face, I’ll just pick myself up and try something else.'”
Eighteen years later, he’s a highly regarded musician who puts out what he calls, “Lyrically-driven western Canadian roots music.”
As he looks back on his career, he’s quick to admit his music, and especially his songwriting has evolved. “At first, I was mimicking the songwriters I admired. Gradually, I found my own voice. I realized I needed to write about my own experiences.”
He chuckles as he sees the progression in his songwriting. “I did a show a few nights back and realized I was comfortable doing a raw, honest song about some of my past struggles with mental health followed by a light-hearted song about winning a steak at the meat draw at the local Legion. It’s me and it’s authentic.”
Major life events have also influenced his art of songwriting. In fact, his whole outlook on life shifted when he became a father at the age of 44. Charlie is now seven and Wort Hannam now has different priorities. “I decided to not tour as much and stay closer to home. It made me re-think everything.” He also wrote a heartfelt song for his son Charlie, called, Song For A Young Son.
Wort Hannam is performing with Jason Valeau on upright bass and Scott Duncan on fiddle. “We have a real fun time on stage together. I guess it shows because people always comment on our super chemistry on stage.”
For Wort Hannam, performing live still provides a sense of deep satisfaction. “Really connecting with an audience is what it’s all about,” he explains. “There’s nothing more gratifying than having someone come up after the show and say, ‘Thanks for writing that song. That’s exactly how I feel and wanted to express.'”
The Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society kicks off their sixth season with the John Wort Hannam Trio on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Vernon Prestige Lodge and Conference Centre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets $30, $25 for members. Food and alcohol will be available at the show. Tickets through ticketseller.ca (250-549-7469), Expressions of Time bookstore (2901 30th Ave.) or at the door if available (cash only).
Receive a 10 per cent discount on purchases at the Lodge Kitchen and Bar and at Don Cherry’s Sports Grill with proof of purchase on the day of show. Learn more at vernonfolkroots.com.