The Mitch Schurman Band
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The Mitch Schurman Band

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"Mitch Schurman songs finally on CD"

If you're a folk music fan, do yourself a favour and go to Back Alley Music to buy longtime P.E.I. singer-songwriter Mitch Schurman's inaugural CD release.
And if you do, put it on in a quiet room at home, sit back, close your eyes and listen to its first track, The House That I Never Made. And then tell me that it's one of the best folk songs to come out of P.E.I. in a long while.
In fact, if you listened to the 11-track album in its entirety in that quiet room, you would probably start to wonder in a big way why the name Mitch Schurman is not up near the forefront when people talk of P.E.I. singer-songwriters.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, even though the skilled finger-plucking guitarist, soulful songwriter and engaging vocalist has been entertaining audiences for many, many years, this is his very first album release.
Secondly, work has kept him away from performing as much as he would've liked to over the past few years. But he is now aiming to play live much more often.
Third, he is by no means a showy performer, and his modest, quiet and gentlemanly demeanour on and off the stage might perhaps result in Schurman garnering less public attention. But, of course, what then remains is a musical artistry that is purely unblemished by that brand of song-and-dance.
And speaking of purity, the self-titled debut CD itself is as pure as you can get: recorded live-off-the-floor at Back Alley Music, every track is one single take, with vocals and guitar captured simultaneously — just like back in the old days.
I wanted to begin by focusing on the success of Schurman's recording itself, rather than on the launch show that took place last Saturday night at The Pourhouse, mainly because it is such a great step in the well-respected Island musician's career.
But another reason is simply that the live performance — complete with a four-piece band with Eric Coffin on bass, George Maros on drums and James Phillips and Graeme Hunter on electric guitars — definitely brought quite a different feel to these songs than what is presented on the recording.
In the superb concert-setting that is The Pourhouse (above the Old Triangle), the small-yet-appreciative crowd enjoyed two sets of tunes led by Schurman that were propelled by a solid rhythm section, amid slick lines of intertwining dual-action lead guitar by Hunter and Phillips.
Guests Chris Gauthier on electric guitar and Melissa MacRae on alto sax also added fantastic texture to the soundscape of a much more rocked-out vibe for these great songs.
I've had a vase of purple lilacs sitting next to me this whole time while writing this column. And in the midst of this, I've realized that, coincidentally, many of these songs on Schurman's new CD, I think, very much resemble traits of the scent of Island lilacs. They're somehow ancestrally familiar, naturally beautiful, pulling-at-our-heart-strings. They give us a scent of how things have long been. They're pure gems. And I hope many get a chance to pick 'em up and indulge this spring.
You can next catch Schurman live on June 23 at Fishbones in Charlottetown with a full band and then July 5 at Marc's Studio, also in Charlottetown, in a more acoustic setting. - The Guardian


Discography

Mitch Schurman - LP June 2012

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Bio

I formed the first Mitch Schurman Band in '96 after several years as a solo artist. We perform original material in a variety of styles from country and celtic, to folk and rock and roll. Mark Knopfler and Richard Thompson were and still are huge influences on my writing and playing. Now I've managed to find a group of musicians who share a keen interest in this sound and offer diversity in their playing styles. Sometimes you get lucky.