When Blackie and the Rodeo Kings singer Stephen Fearing talks about having “chemistry you can’t dial up,” or a relationship that was “meant to be,” he isn’t talking about the woman he married last summer.
Fearing uses these terms to describe the 13-year friendship he’s fostered with fellow singer/songwriter Andy White.
White, who he met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1998, lives in Australia, on the other side of the world from Halifax-based Fearing.
But the two musicians both grew up in Ireland and apparently share a similar enough world view that they were able to get together annually to write music, watch Trailer Park Boys episodes and eat copious amounts of toast.
Last year, White tested the waters towards forming a performing partnership by opening for Fearing during his concert tour of Western Canada.
And now, a commitment has been made: The two are officially a duo in all musical senses of the word.
Not only have they recorded their first joint album — called, unsurprisingly, Fearing & White — but they are also performing as a duo when they play on Friday, March 25, at The Elks Lodge in Red Deer.
Fearing isn’t fully able to explain why he clicks so well with White, with whom he shares a website (www.fearingandwhite.com).
“I’ve had roommates that I’ve lived with for years that I don’t see anymore,” he mused. Yet “I don’t see Andy for nine months because he lives in Australia, and yet we can sit down across a piece of blank paper and write songs together. . . .”
He added, “I guess what we have is an actual friendship.”
If I Catch You Crying is one of the songs on their new album that evolved out of that friendship. The two wrote it years ago, after a mutual buddy of their’s broke up with his girlfriend.
While previous versions of the plaintive tune have appeared on albums by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and a recording by White, this duo version seems slower and more thoughtful.
But then, Fearing & White is full of thoughtful relationship songs — although Fearing believes the songs are really about “being human.”
More original tunes will be in the offing when the songwriter releases two other albums this year.
June is the expected release date for Kings and Queens, the recording of duets Blackie and the Rodeo Kings musicians are doing with 14 female artists, including Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris and Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen’s wife and an E-Street band member.
Fearing said his Blackie colleague, Colin Linden, had developed quite a few contacts with female artists over the years, because of his role as a producer. But Scialfa was a cold call.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings were lucky to get her on board. “She just liked the idea of the project,” said Fearing, who’s also recording a solo album to be made available to fans who attend his concerts this spring.
The story behind this acoustic CD involves Fearing severing ties with his True North Records.
It was a case of the recording company wanting more and more, while offering less and less, said the singer, who feels the Internet is making it much easier for artists to record and market their own music, anyway.
The new limited-release album will feature Fearing performing songs with just a guitar for accompaniment. Since True North owns the master copies of his past albums, Fearing said he didn’t feel like buying anything from their catalogue to sell at his concerts.
“This came close to going to court . . . and I wanted to make a clean break.”
Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert (doors open at 7 p.m.) are $28, either on-line from www.centralmusicfest.com or at the door.