Brad Tuck remembers back about 20 years ago when his dad would spend hours recording traditional songs on his cassette tape deck for his son to hear.
“He would rewind and play, rewind and play, writing down the lyrics, word for word for me to sing and play,” Tuck said, chuckling. “I soon had a songbook of tunes. … I had a knack for it and (my family) just dove right in.”
Growing up in the small Trinity Bay community of Hant’s Harbour, traditional music from groups like the Irish Descendants, Simani, Buddywasisname and the Other Fellers, and The Fables were engrained in him from a young age.
Having learned to play acoustic guitar at age 5, Tuck would often perform at various community shows, concerts and parties as a child, and his songs would almost always be traditional.
While Tuck continued his passion for music, his interests took him in a different direction when, 10 years ago, he moved to St. John’s. After dabbling in various projects, in 2014 he hooked up with Andrew Rodgers and Gary Powers, who grew up in the same area of the province, for some writing sessions. With the addition of Stephen Green of Bay d’Espoir, the four formed Fairgale, a pop/rock band, which quickly gained attention in local music circles, earning Music Newfoundland and Labrador nominations and East Coast Music showcase spots.
“Things just came together for us,” Tuck said.
But the 28-year-old never lost his love of traditional music. So, about six months ago, he decided to record his own traditional album.
“It’s been on my mind the last two or three years, after we put out the original Fairgale CD,” he said. “I didn’t think it would be the worst idea to just dive back into my roots a little bit. I figured it would be fun to step back and put out a traditional release.
“So, I got fed up with just thinking about it and decided to go for it. … I’ve gone full circle.”
With limited funds, Tuck put together a homemade studio in his spare bedroom, placing a mattress against the wall and padding the rest of the room with foam.
“It all came together pretty quickly after that,” he said.
His first single, called “Rise Up” — which he describes as a traditional Newfoundland love story and bit party anthem — was written in about 15 minutes at 2 a.m. one morning about three months ago.
“The idea came in my head real quick and I just started writing and writing until it was done,” he said.
He and Rodgers collaborate on another single on the debut album, “On These Waters,” which also includes a few traditional cover tunes.
“The album definitely has some twists and turns. There are a couple of pure acoustic tracks, then a few, like ‘Rise Up,’ when everything’s on fire, a few older traditional-style tunes and a couple of covers,” said Tuck, adding that the album is being mixed and mastered. “It’s a pretty wide range on there.”
The project is also giving him an opportunity to be the front singer.
“It’s been a long time since I sang lead vocals and it’s a bit of a transition after not being in that role for several years, but I like it,” said Tuck, who sings backup in the vocally charged and harmony-focused Fairgale.
“It was nice to do something on my own like this. It’s definitely different from playing drums.”
To add to the excitement of playing traditional tunes again, Tuck was recently contacted by Chris Andrews, front man of the hugely popular traditional band Shanneyganock, who asked him to join the group.
“It was just really crazy, coincidental timing and I was quick to jump on board,” Tuck said. “We met up and things went well, so we’ve been rehearsing ever since. I absolutely love it. I’ve been having a ball.”
Tuck will head west with the group March 8-19 as they embark on a six-show tour in British Columbia and Alberta.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I can’t wait.”
Tuck makes it clear he will still perform with Fairgale.
“The guys (in Fairgale) have been really supportive,” he said.
He expects his new solo album to be released around May, between Fairgale and Shanneyganock shows.
“I’ve got lots going on and it’s great,” he said. “It’s exciting times, for sure.”