Travelling on grid roads from town to town in the peaceful Canadian backwater and playing in front of live audiences night after night can be draining.
But for singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Straker, it’s a way of life: one that will take him across Enderby Mabel Lake Road to play Lorenzo’s Cafe Aug. 12.
“I’m extroverted by nature, so I really do genuinely enjoy meeting new people,” Straker said, adding that he plays more than 100 shows per year on average. “I really like sharing songs and sharing stories through song.”
On tour for his May 19 release Dirt Road Confessional, Straker blends smooth piano lines and double bass trackings with striking clean vocals to create a sound reminiscent of Billy Joel and early-years Elton John. The 12-song epic features Royal Wood and Daniel Ledwell, and was produced in five different studios and by several different producers.
“Typically, any past recordings are what I would describe as folk-pop,” Straker said.
However, Dirt Road Confessional transitions into an expedition of folk-roots territory.
“The core of it is still me on piano and vocals, but we’ve surrounded it with different styles,” he said.
At first, Straker was worried about over-experimenting with his sound and losing the attention of his dedicated fanbase, but his new release has had the opposite effect.
“Existing fans are really taking to it well,” Straker said. “I’m really enjoying it. It feels really comfortable.”
For the small town Saskatchewan-born artist, the folk-roots sound introduced on Dirt Road Confessional was a natural progression.
“That (sound) was always kind of with me. Lurking in the back of my brain somewhere was the folk-roots sound,” Straker said. “There are a few songs that talk about back roads and the prairies and some that are more personal.”
And for Straker, sharing personal stories and experiences with crowds across the globe makes the long, monotonous drives, which are an unfortunate necessity when touring Canada, worthwhile.
“Some people are wired to do that. Thankfully, I am.”
The Lorenzo’s Cafe performance comes at the midpoint of his tour, followed by stops in Europe, Eastern Canada, and Saskatchewan.
“It’s pretty busy,” Straker said. “I’m going to be on the go for about six months.”
Straker sees the B.C. leg of his Dirt Road Confessional tour as an opportunity to connect with a previously untapped market.
“I have played in Kelowna, and I once had a small house concert in Vernon,” Straker said. “I’m looking forward to coming this time — Lorenzo’s seems like a real music lover’s venue. This tour in general takes me to places I’ve never been.”
And that’s how Straker likes it.
“You don’t know what the next day is going to bring,” Straker said of touring. “The opening track on Dirt Road Confessional, Beauty In The Grey, is all about the idea that the grey can be unknown and scary, but it can also be exciting and beautiful.”
Straker takes the Lorenzo’s Cafe stage in Ashton Creek Aug. 12. $10 cover. Doors at 6 p.m., music at 8 p.m.