Joel Plaskett is a busy guy. I caught up with him while he was in his Dartmouth, Nova Scotia studio. He was in the middle of recording a Mo Kenney remix during a free bit of time between gigs. Lately, it’s been a lot of summer festivals and small-town bars, then back to the studio – a brand new one he’s been working on building for the past six months. But he likes the variety, and the movement from place to place. “There’s a real merit to playing different sized places,” he told me. “It keeps you on your toes.”
As a Maritime musical icon, Plaskett is in demand. And he’s just as happy opening for Paul McCartney as he is playing a show for 100 people. “It’s not so much about numbers as it is about energy,” he explained. “You could be in a giant room that’s half full, or you could be in a tiny room that’s packed with people, and often the room that feels packed is better even though there might be half the people.” His performance delivery is also always in flux. “I go from playing solo, to with a band, to as a duo. There’s a lot of variety in that regard, too,” he said.
When he touches down in Hamilton on September 14 for Supercrawl, he’ll be playing with his band – a bassist and a drummer – who he calls The Emergency. Together, they’re billed as the Joel Plaskett Emergency, and they’re just as excited to come to Hamilton as Hamilton is to see them perform at the James Street North event.
On the subject of playing in Hamilton, Plaskett stressed, “I’ve had nothing but good experiences. I’ve always liked Hamilton as a place, too.” He compared Hamilton to Halifax for their grittiness and industrial roots – a parallel that makes him feel at ease in the Steel City.
He’s especially looking forwards to playing alongside friends and musicians that he admires at Supercrawl. In particular, he enthused, “I’d love to see Fucked Up again. I saw them once at the Polaris Awards. It was great.” They are also set to perform Saturday night, albeit on a different stage.
He’s pretty sure that this will be his first outdoor show in Hamilton, and it’s a fact that excites him. “It’s great. It keeps the city fresh. I don’t know what to expect when I go there, compared to other venues I’ve already played. It’ll be a good surprise,” he said.
He may not know what to expect from Hamilton, but we know what to expect from him: energy, quirky musicality, and a very fun time.