Five Questions With John Wort Hannam

Photo Credit: David Guenther

Alberta’s John Wort Hannam is about to release his brand new album, Acres of Elbow Room on September 7. Recently, he released the first single from the album, “Key of D Minor”, a song he wrote about his battle with depression.

John shares on the single,

“It is the one song where there is no guitar and the piano takes the spotlight,” says John. ” I merely sing on the track. I wanted the song to sound sparse, almost empty, to represent the subject matter. On a thematic leve,l it is unlike any of the other songs. I grew up in a generation where people whispered about depression, like it was a dirty town secret. Men especially were perceived as weak if they vocalized their struggles with depression and anxiety. The song is the most personally revealing song I’ve ever written.”

John will be touring in support of the album, check out the complete tour listing below, and find out more about him in our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

In 1999 I heard the song “April Fools Day Morn” by Loudon Wainwright III (Rufus’s dad). It changed the way I listened to songs. In 2001, I quit my teaching job and spent 10 months depleting my savings while sat at my kitchen table, wearing a lucky hat, writing my first ten songs. Those songs would become my first recording Pocket Full Of Holes, released in 2003.
Seventeen years later, I’m releasing my seventh full-length recording Acres Of Elbow Room and also have a few feathers in that lucky hat for my first six offerings that I’m kinda proud of. Feathers that include a JUNO nomination, a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Album of the Year, A CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award, and a Kerrville Texas New Folk win.

Recent years have seen a great deal of change in my life – becoming a Dad, turning 50, a move to the big city (Lethbridge), a marital reckoning, a long, deep bout of depression, and episodes of losing my singing voice. But I like to think I’ve emerged a better songwriter, a better singer, and a better player.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

I write and perform lyrically driven roots music. The songs on the new album are very much about the theme of change – changes I see in the world around me, my life, my son, my worldview, and philosophy to living a balanced existence.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

We are a five-piece band with upright bass, drums, keys, fiddle, and guitars. The live show highlights the musicianship of a pretty firecracker backing band, imagery-laden lyrically driven songs, three-part male harmonies, and a good dose of up-tempo rip-snorters and lonesome ballads. We’re currently on tour in support of my new album ‘Acres of Elbow Room’ (out Sept 7th), here are the dates:

September 7 – Twin Butte, AB – Twin Butte General Store
September 8 – Millarville, AB – Broke Fish Barn
September 9 – Lethbridge, AB – Geomattic Attic
September 14 – Calgary, AB – Fish Creek Concerts
September 15 – Fernie,BC – Fernie Chautaqua + Fall Fair
September 16 – Carstairs, AB – Carstairs Heritage Centre
September 21 – Canning, NS – Sea-Esta
September 22 – Mount Stewart, PEI – Trailside Cafe
September 26 – Halifax, NS – The Carleton
September 27 – Fredericton, NB – Corked Wine Bar
September 28 – Fredericton, NB – Landsdowne Concert Series
September 29 – St. John, NB – Dancing Tree Concert Series
September 30 – Annapolis Royal, NS – StrongWill Barn
October 5 – Athabasca, AB – Nancy Appleby Theatre
October 26 – Vancouver, BC – Old Crow Concerts
October 27- Vancouver, BC – Buckerfields
October 28 – Vancouver, BC – Weaver House Concerts
November 3 – High River, AB – Foothills Folk Club
November 4 – Sherwood Park, AB – R’Ouse Concerts

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

I think the title track Acres Of Elbow Room is a pretty good snapshot of the kind of tunes and sound the band is producing these days.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

I’m constantly inspired by my songwriting friends that continue to push me to be a better writer: Leeroy Stagger, Dave McCann, T. Buckley, Rose Cousins, Maria Dunn, Matt Masters, Small Glories, PolyJesters, Sarah Jane Scouten.

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