The Alkemist, a one man band who plays a type of music that could be described as a fusion of folk, blues, and psychedelic rock, is making his way to Rolla Pub next Thursday.
The Alkemist — real name Jay Myers, based out of a remote farm north of Fort Fraser — plays a variety of instruments ranging from guitar to banjo to fiddle, a little bit of flute, and accompanied by feet drums.
“It’s hard to pigeonhole me into one genre,” he says. “Some of the songs range from a bit more instrumental and almost ethereal to straight up more foot stomping blues country folk kind of thing.”
Having composed and performed music for over five years, his tour of a few shows across Northern BC and Alberta promotes his debut album, Lighthouse, which came out about a year and half ago.
“My first album, Lighthouse, I wrote most of those songs while living on Haida Gwaii, I was out there for three years — the Queen Charlotte Islands — and so a lot of the songs were inspired by the nature,” he says.
“Observing nature and animals, the water, and the changing of the seasons, and seeing how that relates to the human experience and our own psychology. So about life, making mistakes, the good, the bad, and the ugly — the whole spectrum really.”
While preparation — learning how to use his recording equipment to get the sound he wanted, as he recorded everything himself — took a while, the recording of the album itself took a very short amount of time.
“The album itself was recorded in three days and three nights. I just kind of got going on a roll and I would basically work from the afternoon all the way to the night, until about 4 am. And then I would sleep for a few hours and then get back on it. I got probably a total of 12 hours of sleep over that three days. I just went to town, drank a lot of coffee.”
But since then, he’s been hard at work.
“I’ll be definitely playing songs off the album, but since then I’ve got basically a whole album’s worth of new songs. I think I’ve gone in a slightly more bluesy direction, a lot of fingerpicking style, trying out some new key signatures, and some of my newer stuff is a little less ethereal, a little less instrumental,” Myers explains.
The live show is a pretty amazing spectacle.
“I’m switching instruments, going from the fiddle — one minute I’ll be playing some more celtic, like Irish fiddle tunes to Gypsy fiddle tunes — then switching to the banjo, then switching to the guitar, and I play a little bit of flute at some points,” he explains, also managing some foot pedals in addition to his feet drum set-up.
He’s no stranger to the Rolla Pub, playing about this time last year with Folky Strum Strum.
“It’s one of my favourite venues, although it’s just a small pub, it’s definitely been one of my favourite places to play,” he says.
Expecting his first child with his wife in April, he stops short of calling this tour a “last hurrah,” but admits it may be a little while before he gets back on the road again.
The Alkemist hits Rolla Pub at 8 pm next Thursday. The following night, he will be in Beaverlodge at the public library at 8 pm as part of the Vera Concert Series.