It’s shaping up to be a busy year, musically, for Jeff Pittman.
In February, the Marystown resident showcased at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Montreal.
March saw him spending three weeks at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta where he completed the singer-songwriter residency program.
While at the Banff Centre, Pittman collaborated and recorded with several award-winning musicians including Grammy-nominee Howard Bilerman, a former member of the band Arcade Fire.
And in June, Pittman plans to release “History and Mystery,” his debut full-length CD.
“History and Mystery” includes the beloved traditional song “Tickle Cove Pond” as well as 11 original songs Pittman has written over the years. One was inspired by a SaltWire Network story.
According to notes provided by Pittman, “Carpasian Road” is about the St. John’s Senior Baseball League. He wrote the song after reading a story in The Telegram in which two former players discussed the heyday of the league in earlier years. Pittman believes the newspaper’s sports editor, Robin Short, wrote the story 12 or 13 years ago.
All 11 songs on the album were written between 2006 and 2017, Pittman said.
His song “Dry Camp” was inspired by comments from Newfoundlanders working transiently on industrial jobsites. The character featured is a worker, anxious to finish his rotation so that he can have a drink.
Pittman wrote “My Radio Won’t Make a Sound” in 2017 when demolition started on the CHCM Radio building in Marystown. The song laments the loss of a beloved cultural asset in Southern Newfoundland, Pittman’s notes indicate.
Pittman began working on the album shortly after releasing his EP, “Christmas with the Likes of Jeff Pittman” in December 2016.
Asked why he included “Tickle Cove Pond,” written by Bonavista Bay songwriter Mark Walker, on the new album, he spoke of a personal connection to the song, involving his uncle, John Pittman and his father, Joe Pittman.
“My uncle had a shed where we would get together... this was his favourite tune,” Pittman said.
“Both he and my father died this past few years. At the end of the song on the album there is a short snippet of a conversation between the two of them,” he added, noting the conversation was captured during a gathering in his uncle’s shed.
Pittman’s Newfoundland roots are important to him. His song “Soil” is a love letter to his home in Newfoundland. The predominant theme of the song is the connection between people and place which, he said, is also a common theme throughout the album.
Writing on a whim
While Pittman writes passionately about the province’s people and places, he also enjoys “writing on a whim” about less serious topics. He’s written a few songs inspired by Facebook posts.
“Fiddle and Flute” – which is on the new album – is one such song, he said.
The song was written after a Newfoundland musician took to Facebook questioning what had happened to his instruments following a musical festival.
“History and Mystery” highlights the talents of numerous other musicians, as well, including Fergus O’Byrne, Ryan Baker, Greg Walsh and Vanessa Jackman.
Friends of Pittman who make up the Irish band called Newfoundland are also on the album.
Pittman has had many accolades, including a testimonial from O’Byrne who described Pittman’s songwriting skills as “exceptional.”
His material has been well received by audiences in the province and beyond, said O’Byrne.
O’Byrne said Pittman is a natural performer, which enables him to connect intimately with his audiences.
“Many of his songs are important in that they speak to the unique and rich culture that abounds here in the province,” said O’Byrne.
For more information on Pittman’s music, visit www.jeff-pittman.com or The Likes of Jeff Pittman on Facebook.