Michael Bernard Fitzgerald to play Hinton under the big tent as part of his Farm Tour

Masha Scheele

Live Music Returns

Singer songwriter Michael Bernard Fitzgerald begins his Farm Tour on Sept. 1 and is taking his venue with him on the road.

MBF will be in Hinton on Sept. 11, performing on private land in a large but cozy tent that allows for physical distancing and roughly 20 concertgoers.

“There’s blankets, there’s canvas cloths, and things like that that make it feel really good inside,” said MBF.

The intimate space allows for conversations between him and his audience but it still feels like a real venue when the music starts. It was important for him to connect with people face to face even if that meant really bringing the numbers down.

“You can have a conversation with people and talk about my favourite song or their favourite song or take requests and things like that,” he added.

He hopes to add to the tent over the next couple of years and eventually bring it to fun festivals and venues along the way as the world navigates its new normal. When things changed in mid-March, MBF was just finishing up his fifth record called ‘Love Valley’.

The final step of making that record was mastering, which is typically done by correspondence and wasn’t impacted in a big way by the restrictions of the pandemic.

“My first step was thinking if I was still going to release this music and if so, when?” he said.

Once he determined his plan, he went back to this tent idea he thought of prior to the pandemic.

After years of touring and performing in different cities, he said it all becomes very similar, and creating his own venue would change things up and allow for a bit more control of his performances.

The atmosphere of the tent and the calm sounds of his new album mesh perfectly for a unique experience. The capacity was already going to be lower due to the tent, but with the pandemic it was brought down even more.

His travelling tent venue is called “The Greenbriar,” and it started in the backyard of his Calgary home this summer.

He sold out fifty shows in five hours and an average of six people attended his micro backyard concerts each night.

“I started playing those and we looked at the tour again and we thought the tent could get bigger and the capacity could grow slightly and we’d start travelling the country again,” MBF said.

Figuring out how to safely host concerts within the guidelines of each province, while remaining adaptable to future changes, made it possible to organize the tour.

Most of his concerts will be set up on private farms or land near the towns and cities.

“I’ve never played in Hinton, it will be another nice thing of this tour is that we get to go to places where we’ve never been,” he said.

MBF took a bit of a break prior to writing his new album, and he spent it renovating a home in Calgary.

“I gave myself a little bit of time away to reassess and as soon as I was done with the house I went to work,” he said.

Together with Calgary producer Josh Gwilliam at OCL Studios he slowly ticked away at recording an album and writing every song throughout the past year.

“I wanted to paint this picture of where I wanted my life to go and I think that’s relatable to people,” he said.

Previous albums spoke to current or past experiences he’d gone through, but this album speaks about future aspirations and he allowed it to sort of be a prophetic tool, he explained.

“I just let my mind run with it and paint this picture with the lyrics and music that I really wanted to see and I thought you know if I’m going to be singing these songs hundreds and thousands of times, why not sing about that,” he said.

These songs could have the power to forecast and talk about what he’d like to bring into his life, he further explained.

He released his first song from the album on May 15, called ‘Our River’ and the second track came out July 10, called ‘I love that sound’. 

Our River was his most successful digital release across his career so far and he said it has been really fun to watch those songs come out this summer. Another two songs will be released Sept. 9, and the full record will come out Oct. 9.

His favourite song on this album is called ‘Heart Of It,’ he shared, a track that hasn’t been heard by the public yet.

Going back to his first song, ‘Love Valley,’ which looks at life as a mountain with challenges and adventures, and on the other side of that mountain is this calm valley that’s home, called Love Valley. ‘Heart Of It’ writes about that same place, Love Valley, as if he’s already there, he explained.

“I have some friends who had a listen and I said put the thing on from tip to tail and go out for a slow drive or take a big cup of coffee early in the morning and listen to it. It’s 45 or so minutes. And I think that’s the best way to take it in,” he said of his album.

In the Greenbrier, he noticed that people would hear songs for the first time and relate to his lyrics in their own personal ways.

“This is such a cool way to play music and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Tickets are sold in packs of four for households or cohorts, and they have sold quickly for his Farm Tour, which is set to begin on Sept. 1.

His team is calling everyone who purchases a ticket to check on how many individuals are in their group to ensure for the proper distancing.

Go to his website for more information, michaelbernardfitzgerald.com