Circle the Wagons
Stan Carew is best known to people in Canada's Maritime provinces - New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island - as the host of a popular weekend radio show on the public broadcaster CBC, but in the past two years he's revealed another side of himself - a passion for songwriting that goes back thirty years. 'I was going through a marriage break-up in my late twenties and a colleague gave me slender little book called How To Survive The Loss Of A Love. One of the things the author recommended was writing down your feelings in a diary, a poem or a song. So I opted for a song and found it came fairly easily to me. I'd been working in radio for ten years by then, and had played thousands of popular songs, so I think I'd developed a subconscious understanding of form and structure. I kept at it, and became a student of songwriting, absorbing everything I could find on the topic.' He also began to play more, and developed a fondness for bluegrass music that continues to this day. 'I bought a 90 dollar mandolin and the Mel Bay Book of Mandolin Chords. The early songs I wrote reflected the simple, honest straight-forward style of bluegrass and country. My mom was a fan of Hank Snow and Kitty Wells and Jim Reeves so I heard a lot of classic fifties country growing up, but I came of age in the sixties, so the Beatles, Stones, Searchers, Hollies, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Motown was the music of my youth. Then the singer-songwriter era began in the seventies and I started writing about the end of the decade...after disco'. His radio career was paramount until a health crisis in his fifties caused him to re-evauate his life. He realized those folders of songs he'd accumulated meant more to him than he'd been willing to admit. 'I didn't want to go to my grave without having at least tried to get people to hear my songs. So I called up some long time friends who were great musicians and we started learning them. The popularity of the radio show got me some venues, so we we went out to play. The response was overwhelmingly positive and made me wonder why I hadn't done it years ago, but I know it was fear of rejection that kept me from it. Now I've reached the age where I want to record as many songs as I can, and I'm less concerned about how people react - I'm trying to please myself'.