Last year I attended Johnny Reid’s concert at the Scotiabank Centre, this was before we took over as The Daily Musician. I was blown away by this man in the crowd that Johnny hauled up on stage to sing with him. His voice was fantastic, he took the mic from Johnny and performed “Darling”. I then began listening to him on Youtube. I saw on social media he had released a CD not long ago, I contacted him to see if he would be interested in doing a feature!
Get to know this talented musician Jon Cyr.
“I wear a few different hats in my life, however, the hat that has the most value and importance to me would have to be my “Dad Hat”. My dad hat gives me the power to watch my 3 beautiful children grow up. My wife Tina and I are very grateful to have been blessed with 3 healthy kids and have been there every step of the way through their lives. They are all very active in Hockey which has also provided a platform for our whole family to learn many things about discipline, teamwork and has been one of the main sources for the friendships we have built over the past 10 or so years.
One other hat I wear is a “Work Hat” in my day-job. I work as a graphic designer / print room supervisor in a full-time (40 hrs per week) role where we design and print labels, job aids, POP and marketing material for equipment and documentation that is manufactured in Lower Sackville and distributed internationally. I have been with my company (SureShot Solutions) since 2000 and appreciate what Michael Duck and his company have done for me and my family through the years and certainly not excluding their continuous support to allow me to pursue my passion in music.
The other hat I am also proud to wear is my “Music Hat” which gives me the opportunity to meet many great people each year. I started playing guitar as a hobby when I was 14 years old and my main influence at that time was Bluegrass and Classic Country Music that my parents would listen to whether it be on their radio or at festivals around Nova Scotia. It has only been more recently, like since 2015, that I started taking Music more seriously and have started playing publicly and been trying to write more of my own music. My only regret at this point is not doing it earlier in my life. Whether it be with residents of a nursing home on a Tuesday evening dancing and singing along to some Classic Country songs, friends that are out dancing on Friday night at a local pub or house party to some Pop Music and Top 40 tunes or a couple enjoying a few pints in a chill atmosphere with some easy listening acoustic favorites playing in the background, the joy that music brings to the people whom I entertain week to week reflects 10 fold in the joy I get as a musician to see their faces light up when I’m able to play that song they requested and you write or sing something they can relate to. These great feelings and memories are what have driven my passion for music and I can’t think of a better way to heal your soul in any circumstance than a song that you can relate to and that may help you get through the situations this crazy world throws at you”
Jenn: How did you get started?
Jon: My main influence when I started wanting to play the guitar came through a 16 year old named Justin Greenwood whom I met at a Bluegrass Festival. Seeing the way he could captivate people young and old with his picking, quirky songs and humor around the campsites made me want to do the same. My mother was taking guitar lessons at the time so we had a guitar in the house and while most of my friends would be playing video games or hanging out, after school and after supper, I’d be studying the papers my mother would bring home from her lessons quickly surpassing her ability and frustrating her to the point where she gave me the remaining few lessons. When those lessons were done I set off on my way to learn on my own and have been learning on YouTube and other online resources since the age of technology has come along.
Jenn: Who are some of your musical influences?
Jon: My musical influences are quite broad, in that I grew up with parents that loved Classic Country & Bluegrass and by the time I started going to High School I had gone through phases of Alternative, Hip Hop, Rap, Classic Rock and everything in between that I could relate to or had a story to tell of some sort. These days I have been getting back to the bluegrass music and enjoy a lot of soul filled music from artists like Travis Tritt, Chris Stapleton, Alan Jackson, Johnny Reid, Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks but certainly would also put Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Guns n Roses, Nirvana, Matchbox 20, Metallica and Eagles into a category of some of the top influences in my life as well.
Jenn: Tell us about your new cd?
Jon: Well like any CD…it all started with a song. In late January of 2015 the community of Lower Sackville was shook with the early passing of a local boy named, Rylee Sears. The event brought back a cold memory for me of losing my brother at an early age and knowing the effects that it had on my family, I wanted to write a song that people who were grieving his loss would be able to relate to that would bring them some form of comfort, if possible. Right here with me was the title I ended up giving the song and from there my good friend and fellow musician Mike Robar offered to collaborate with me on a CD. He had recently upgraded his studio gear and wanted to put some time in on the equipment and use my CD as a project to build on his producing skills. Mike also wrote 7 of the songs on the CD and played the majority of the studio instrument sessions as well. Chasin’ the Lights (CD Title) was one of the songs Mike wrote from my perspective which basically highlights my life currently and some of the sacrifices my family have to deal with while I’m out chasing my dream night after night.
Another song with significant meaning on album is “Celebration of Life” which I had wrote for a friend who was only given a short time to live based on this diagnosis with Cancer. Wade Selig showed extreme courage in planning his own celebration of life with family and friends and although I had only known Wade a short period of time I felt very honored to be asked to sing my song at his celebration while he and his wife Anne had their final dance together in front of many friends and family. Wade managed to hang on long enough to see the song through the process and even recorded the bass line himself on the song. Special thanks to Glendon MacBurnie (Studio & Arrangement), JP Arsenault (Arrangement & Guitar), Bob Lawrence (Pedal Steel Guitar), Michael Jackson (Hammond / Leslie Organ) and Dana Helpard (Drums) for their musical and time contributions to the song as well.
Jenn: Tell us about your writing style?
Jon: My writing style is based on pouring out my feelings on paper. My songs are generally influenced by some events or happenings in my life or in the lives of those around me. I have only written a handful of songs so far but what I can tell you about those songs are that they generally started from one line and entirely built around that line or hook. In the song “Right Here with Me” the line was “Billy Joel said it best when he said only the good die young”. In the song “Bluegrass on the Main Stage” my mother had asked me to join her at a Bluegrass festival so I could play with some of her friends who were part of the main acts for the weekend. I told her “Mom I don’t know many bluegrass songs” and she said “They have Bluegrass on the Main Stage but it’s usually Country in the fields”. The song was born from that line and generally that is where my songs start. As you can tell by the “hats” I wear at this point in my life it is very hard to find time to focus on my writing but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to free up some time to get more pen to paper sooner than later.
Jenn: What was it like to sing with Johnny Reid?
Jon: It is artists like Johnny Reid who have the heart and are down to earth enough to give somebody an opportunity like this that instill confidence in people to believe in themselves. Since that night when Johnny invited me up on stage there has been a huge weight that lifted off of my chest. For years I have struggled with being in front of large crowds of people and by that I mean anywhere from 100 – 300 people. I’ve always had a tough time with public speaking and being fearful in front of larger crowds but after I jumped down off the stage (in front of 10,000 strong) that night and having complete strangers complimenting me all the way out of the Scotiabank Centre made me realize that I should have more confidence in myself and feel more confident in sharing my talent with people. I met Johnny at the CCMA’s in Halifax when my wife and I managed to grab some free seat-filler tickets and then we replied to a last minute email to join Johnny for his rehearsal the night before. Johnny and I connected as soon as I met him and following the CCMA’s he shared a cover I did of his new tune “What Love is All About”. When people ask me about that whole experience I often keep it simple and say “Johnny Reid is What Love is All About”.
Jenn: Anything else you would like to add?
Jon: In 2006 I won a competition through 780 Kixx Country Radio with Frank (97.5 Community Radio – Morning Show) & Nancy Lowe, in which the prize earned me and my, then, girlfriend (now wife Tina Cyr) a guided tour of Nashville, TN including a very memorable evening at the Grand Ol’ Opry (Ryman) where I would propose to her in front of a sold out crowd. During that same trip I was also given the opportunity to sing on stage at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge which holds a ton of history and has hosted many of the most popular Country Music Singers new and old!