Giving the audience a chance to hear some fresh music is what is motivating John Antoniuk to come play Tracks Pub on Sept. 5 and a return date on Sept. 16. Antoniuk will be playing on Sept. 5 during open mic night, a day after his third full-length album, Always with You, is due to be released.
The first date is a teaser to him coming back Sept. 16 to play a full set from the new album, which was written as a tribute to his late mother, Marlene, who passed away in October 2010 from cancer.
“I'd just like them to come out and have a good time and enjoy the music. I think it's going to be a fun night. I don't know if everybody gets into Calgary all the time to see all the shows and so I … want to make sure that we include all the little spots … to come see us,” he said, adding that playing the smaller venues is a good way to build up the fan base.
Antoniuk, a native of Saskatoon, said it wasn't a conscious effort to create a tribute album to his mother, but it worked out that way. Teaming up with Leeroy Stagger, who produced the album, Stagger chose 11 of 30 unrecorded Antoniuk songs that dealt with Antoniuk's grieving process from the time of his mother's illness.
“It just seemed strangely coincidental that the songs that he picked were really … about that time in my life from 2010 to January 2012 when (I was) dealing with the loss of my mom. It wasn't a conscious effort to record a tribute; at the same time, fittingly, that's the way it worked out,” he said.
Antoniuk said because this album dealt with a lot of personal issues, he decided to go with his own name rather than Smokekiller, as his other two albums have.
“I just felt like this time around I had something important to say. I really wanted to share my own musical therapy with other cancer survivors and other people who've lost people to cancer,” he said.
Antoniuk said he believes he delivered a specific message to the listening audience through this record, while at the same time allowing each person who listens to it to find their own meanings in the music.
“I hope that they get what they want from it when they get the chance to listen to it, and at the same time, I'm hoping to get across a message of hope,” he said.
As a songwriter first and foremost, Antoniuk said he doesn't try to achieve any kind of consistency across all his songs. Rather, he lets the song choose it's own path.
“I usually let the song speak for itself, and if it's strong on acoustic and with a vocal, then whatever needs to be added to it texturally should be added. It's usually the obvious right part. I've never tried to write something specifically to sound like something,” he said.