By Jason Schneider.
As a proud Yukon resident for over two decades, Gordie Tentrees intimately knows both the wonder and the challenges that go along with living in northern Canada. He’s channelled that into seven albums of soul-stirring, unapologetically rough-hewn songs, and his latest, Mean Old World, is his most personal and powerful collection to date -- and appropriately recorded over the course of a week of minus-35 degree weather.
Mean Old World will be officially released Sept. 14 on Bandcamp, Apple Music, and through tentrees.ca/music.
Working with a small combo of acoustic multi-instrumentalists that includes Bob Hamilton of the Undertakin’ Daddies and Jaxon Haldane of the D-Rangers, Tentrees uses a distinctly Canadian style of roots music as the foundation for 10 new songs that are by turns joyful and thought-provoking in the style of Corb Lund and Fred Eaglesmith, artists to whom Tentrees is often compared.
The themes contained on Mean Old World stem from his family’s journey in navigating the Child Welfare system. Songs such as “Every Child,” “Rosetta” and especially the album’s title track are reflections of truth, loss, hope, colonialism and growth that have come from these first-hand experiences.
“It’s been a long time since I have believed in a batch of tunes like these,” Tentrees says. “I think ‘Wind Walker’ especially is a reminder that we northern folks move to the beat of our own drum, and that’s why we live here. There are positives and negatives to that, particularly when you’re a non-Indigenous parent to an Indigenous child. I think I conveyed that in ‘Every Child’ and ‘Mean Old World.’ ‘Every Child’ also features The Dakhka Kwaan Dancers and they have taught me a lot through their inclusive warmth and creativity.”
Tentrees has certainly earned the respect of his peers, not only through his writing, but also his tireless international touring regimen that has averaged over a hundred shows a year for the past decade and a half. Being forced off the road in 2020 added a different vibe to Mean Old World, allowing for more focus to be placed on developing the songs, while also giving Gordie some added time to appreciate his community.
Slowing down is certainly something Tentrees had not considered up until now. He adopted a bulldog attitude during a difficult childhood in Hamilton, Ontario, and later on a farm in Bancroft, Ontario. He found focus in his teens through boxing and earned a Golden Glove ranking—illustrated on Mean Old World’s rousing closer “Ring Speed”—while also dispensing his life lessons as a teacher and youth worker. He actually didn’t consider a music career until his early twenties after moving to the Yukon.
However, Tentrees quickly made fans once his songs started being heard, the most crucial being Fred Eaglesmith who took Gordie on his first tours of Europe and the U.S., becoming a mentor in the process. Tentrees has since shared stages with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Mary Gauthier, Kelly Joe Phelps and many more.
Now with Mean Old World, Gordie Tentrees has made his most impressive musical statement to date, proving that Canadian songwriters are among the best in the world—even if they’re from the furthest corners of the country.
MEAN OLD WORLD TOUR DATES / CANADA
Oct. 20 Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse, YT
Nov. 17 Northern Lights Centre, Watson Lake, YT
Nov. 18 Northern Lights Festival, Fort. Nelson BC
Nov. 19 North Peace Cultural Center, Fort St. John, BC
Nov. 20 Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre, Dawson Creek, BC
Nov. 21 Twisted Cork Concerts, Prince George, BC
Nov. 22 Sunset Theater, Wells, BC
Nov. 23 House Concert, Horsefly, BC
Nov. 24 Elemental Botanicals, Salmon Arm, BC
Nov. 25 Kelowna Folk Club, Kelowna BC
Nov. 26 Alpine Grind, Rossland, BC
Nov. 27 Studio 64 Arts, Kimberly BC
Jan. 18 St. Albert Community Hall, St. Albert, AB
Jan. 19 Valemount Arts Theater, Valemount, BC
Jan. 20 Ratzlaf Concerts, Golden, BC
Jan. 21 Ironwood Stage, Calgary, AB
Jan. 22 Foothills Folk Club, High River, AB
More to be announced
Ticket info at tentrees.ca/tour