Thunder Bay Post
March 15, 1999
by Dawna MacIvor

This past year has been, in a word, tremendous for Gowan. Since his last visit to Thunder Bay last year, Gowan has been busy, with a great deal of touring taking place. He says his touring is going well. "As good as it started last year, it's continued and it's winding up this year," he says. His visit to Thunder Bay will be his last performance before he heads back into the studio to record his next album. "It's a great place to end off. I'm very much looking forward to it because the guy that did all my orchestral arrangements has told me about the Thunder Bay orchestra for three years, so I'm very much looking forward to it."

Touring has taken on a different feel for Gowan since he began his musical career in the early 1980s. "When I tour now, my focus is almost 100 per cent musical," he says. "I'm thinking about giving the best musical experience possible to the audience and pulling that out of myself. Doing musically the best I possibly can and challenging myself." A great deal more experimentation takes place during his performances now, more than he might have earlier. "I would never in the past, test the waters with any material," he says. "You have to, in the early part of your career, be very cognizant of anything that might make the waters murky. I see bands today less and less wary of that, but when I really emerged with my second album in the 80s, that kind of pop star persona had to be carefully monitored."

His touring schedule has taken him around England and Scotland, across Canada and through part of the States. "It's just been a year of touring and really, a lot of that is due to the fact that I put out a compellation record in England. Similar to the Greatest Hits here, except a little more eclectic," says Gowan. "I did one one tour which was a really thorough tour of England in October and November of last year that went to all these legendary theatres that I've heard of growing up and never thought I'd get a chance to play. "There's something about playing in those venues." One of the biggest highlights of his United Kingdom touring was playing with the BBC National Orchestra at the opening of Princess Diana's memorial in Althorpe. Gowan was the only Canadian artist invited to perform. "It was incredible. There were 20,000 people there live. Millions would have seen it on TV," he explains. The highlight of the entire event, however, was being invited back to the house by Princess Diana's brother after the show. "That was quite amazing. It was great because his mom actually said, it was getting kind of quiet in there and I guess she knew from my performance I can be kind of extroverted, 'Why don't you play the piano and get everyone singing?' So I did that until 3:30 in the morning," he said, a slight laugh in his voice. "That is going to be a treasured memory for me for a long time, especially since after about an hour of doing this I got off the piano and I went and got Earl Spencer to start singing a couple of songs." His outgoing nature gained him a little bit of media attention after the event. "What's funny about that especially is they did a press release about it and referred to me as a 'cheeky Scot'," he laughs. "I was born in Scotland and I guess that's part of why a lot of the press jumped on."

In November, Gowan was recognized by the Canadian Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (SOCAN) and given the National Achievement award. The only other Canadian artists to receive the award has been the Tragically Hip. "I guess they want to acknowledge, to some degree, songwriters who have shown some kind of consistency. I guess I fell in that category because I've been around for a while," he laughs. Part of the reason he was given the award might have been some of the feedback from his fans and members of the audience at his shows. He says many people come up to him after his shows, saying they know more of his songs than they thought. The biggest thrill about this award is the fact that it comes from other songwriters. Gaining that kind of respect from your peers is a big honour. "Everyone likes that," he says. "It doesn't matter what you do in life. If people who are doing the same thing as you are, or aiming their lives at the same goal, if they notice you doing it and like the way you're doing it and say so, that's high praise."

Gowan played at the Community Auditorium on Saturday night with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.

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