For the love of Burnside: Matt Mays reflects on upcoming live album

Mays' concert from 2018 is being released as a digital album, virtual concert and triple LP in February

Burnside: the biggest industrial park north of Boston, east of Montreal and a place dear to Dartmouth’s own singer-songwriter Matt Mays.

He spent his youth there, picking up supplies for his dad’s business, skateboarding, or cruising around in his friend’s Chevy Celebrity. His upcoming live album and online concert, From Burnside with Love, pays homage to the “City of Lakes” and is a reflection on a musical career spanning over 20 years.

The semi-unplugged concert from 2018 is being released as a digital album on Feb. 12, an online concert on Feb. 13, and a triple LP on Feb. 26.

Mays remembers the performance vividly, saying in an interview that it was “so surreal by the time it was all set, lit and we were ready to go. It seemed like a weird visceral dream to me.”

Last day of summer camp

From Burnside with Love took a substantial crew to pull off, with people from across the province coming together to work on the project. Asa Brosius — who played pedal steel, dobro and banjo on the recording — travelled all the way from Nashville, Tennessee.

“We all became a bit of a family in a very short period of time. By the end of it, it was sort of like the last day of summer camp,” said Mays. “The whole experience was absolutely chock-full of love.”

While he felt lucky, grateful and humbled to have so many people involved, he also recalls feeling intimidated.

“There was like 100 people working on it. It was a really big production for me. All these people were driving from all over Nova Scotia to come put this on […] a lot of people hadn’t met before, and it was all just for me.”

Bringing it all back home

The performance took place at Swearnet studios, under the glow of a chandelier borrowed from The Marquee. Longtime friends, the Trailer Park Boys, let Mays use the venue free of charge.

Mays and his bandmates formed a circle to face each other as they performed. He said at first it was a little strange having his back to the audience because he usually makes a point to “look everybody in the whole place in the eye.”

It turned out to be no different than jamming at a kitchen party, and comfort soon took hold.

If you listen closely to his studio albums, it’s obvious that Mays has some strong country roots. These roots are especially apparent on From Burnside with Love. He said with the “halo of that genre over the show, it gives people that country music comfort I get when I hear country that I love.”

From Burnside with Love has been a passion project three years in the making, and Mays is excited for it to finally see daylight.

“It’s nice to have a 10-camera performance that’s recorded in high-definition, to sell tickets for and pretend that it’s an actual show,” said Mays.

“God knows I did enough living room shows, and I’ll probably do a lot more, but it’s nice to have something that is a little more of an event.”

Alec Martin

Alec Martin

Alec (they/them) is a journalist based in Halifax, with a focus on music and arts. Their work has appeared in The Coast and they are a member of New Feeling Co-op.

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