It’s not your average way to finance a recording project but Rg Schaller’s winning bid on a silent auction item at a local music organization’s fundraiser paved the way for his latest CD release, “B-Sides and Other Lies.”
The Sydney-based singer-songwriter saw that a day of recording at Cape Breton University’s recording studio, complete with a recording engineer, was up for grabs so he wasted no time placing his bid. And while most would go in and record a song or two, Schaller had something much more cost-effective in mind.
“I went in there and the day before he (engineer) said to me, bring your band and bring your three best songs and meanwhile I was thinking I’m not bringing a band, I’m bringing my acoustic guitar and I have 13 songs,” Schaller recalled in a recent interview.
“So I sat down and took no breaks — every song, three times each — and then it was off to Lakewind Sound Studios with them and Sheppy (engineer Mike Shepherd) mixed them the best he could.”
It’s that "get ‘er done" spirit that keeps Schaller, 44, going, even leading to national airplay on CBC and Sirius Satellite Radio. He wasn’t about to allow a little thing like money stop him from releasing his second album, the successor to “Songs from Dirt Roads” released in 2018.
“I had these songs that were on my back bugging me and it’s expensive to do songs the way that your mind might want them to be heard, which is like an orchestra. So I wrestled with that for a while and I tried to save money but life just happens all the time,” he says.
“So the album is just acoustic and my voice. These songs are now off my back and if I want to do them again with a full band, all proper like I’ve done in the past before, I can but at least they’re out there now.”
Schaller grew up in the Howie Centre/Sydney Forks area and credits his family for influencing his music. Sometimes those influences arose from everyday circumstances.
“My sister Janice Noreen is five years older than me. (When) she was 16 and I was 11, a way for her to get the car was to take her little brother for a drive and get him out of mom’s hair. So I was driving around all the time in mom’s old Parisienne, a four-door boat and listening to Elton John and Chris de Burgh and people like that. It was the kind of stuff an 11-year-old boy would never listen to but I didn’t reject it.”
Schaller credits his mother for teaching him to sing in key while she baked and his father for his love of traditional country music, heard when they went drywalling together. While production may be spare on his latest release, he expects listeners will have no problem appreciating it for what it is.
“If people like you as a person, and they think you’re a little bit OK with music, they’re still going to come see you and they’re still going to buy your album. They’re still going to support you. They don’t need it produced in Los Angeles and mixed in Nashville and all that business — it can be local.”
Schaller was scheduled to release the album Tuesday at Breton Brewing. If you missed the event and would like to see him perform live, he performs at bars, pubs and events across the island on a regular basis and he performs with a five-piece country/alternative folk band called The Peacemakers. He also attended Music Nova Scotia Week in Truro, Nov. 7-10 where he played in some Cape Breton Music Industry Co-operative-organized non-showcases.
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