Toronto, ON-based multi-award-winning Canadian world music collective Sultans of String have unveiled a live cover of Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold” in time to celebrate Neil Young’s birthday. It serves as a fitting tribute to both the iconic artist, and the song’s full-circle meaning for Sultans of String co-founder Chris McKhool, in particular.
“‘Heart of Gold’ has a lot of meaning to me personally,” McKhool shares of the track. “For context, I grew up in a ‘classical music loving’ house; my mother was a piano teacher, and all the kids from the neighbourhood would come to our living room for lessons. My first instrument was a classical violin, which was amazing for ear training. I was even in a string orchestra called the National Capital String Academy, and I loved it. But by the time I was a teenager, violin was kind of a ‘square’ instrument,” he continues. “When I got to high school, I had learned enough about music already that I could teach myself how to play guitar. I bought my first steel string guitar from Steve’s Music in my hometown of Ottawa — a plywood model by Yamaha! Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ was the very first song I learned on it.”
At the time McKhool worked as a short-order cook at a place on Holland Avenue — TJ’s Speakeasy Café. “It had a great open stage night,” he recalls. “I saw some amazing Ottawa folk performers there.
“One night during my shift at TJ’s, I came out from the back and played ‘Heart of Gold.’ I didn’t have enough money for a guitar strap so I was just kind of clutching the guitar under my arm as I strummed away. I was so nervous in my first public singing/playing appearance that my arms were trembling a little bit, and halfway through the song I literally dropped the guitar. The crowd went wild with applause!
So, I decided that was a good place to leave it. They all knew and loved me at TJ’s — it was a very supportive place. But I slinked away back to the kitchen and practiced a lot more before I tried that again.
Now I play violin in this band, but I still own that old Yamaha guitar and love singing this song! I hope Neil gets a chance to hear this — a birthday present from me and Sultans of String!”
Check out the cover below and stay up to date with Sultans of String as they will be releasing a brand new album, Refuge in the Spring of 2020, and you won’t want to miss it!
November 23 @ Fergus Grand Theatre, Fergus ON
November 28 @ Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff AB Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell
November 29 @ Fish Creek Concerts, Calgary AB Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell
November 30 @ Festival Place, Sherwood Park AB Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell
December 1 @ Beneath the Arch Concerts, Turner Valley AB Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell
December 5 @ Wolf Performance Hall, London ON Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell
December 6 @ Live Wire Music, Kingston ON Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell & Lynn Miles
December 8 @ Concert Hall at Victoria Hall, Coburg ON Christmas Caravan
December 12 @ Empire Theatre, Belleville ON
December 13 @ Sanderson Centre, Brantford ON Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell, Donné Roberts & Ken Whiteley
December 14 @ Oakville Performing Arts Centre Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Donné Roberts & Ken Whiteley
December 15 @ Kingston Road Village Concert Series Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Donné Roberts & Tamar Ilana
December 19 @ Shenkman Arts Centre, Ottawa ON Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Kellylee Evans & Kristine St-Pierre
February 8 @ Living Arts Centre, Mississauga ON w/ Mississauga Symphony Orchestra
March 7 @ Classic Theatre, Cobalt ON
May 2 @ Gravenhurst Opera House, Gravenhurst ON
I’m Jenna, and I am the founder and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started many years ago. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be. I am so proud of what it has become over the last few years, with many talented music lovers and writers coming together to spread the word of Canada’s music.