From the horrors of the Boston Marathon bombing to the ecstatic win of wheelchair athlete Jessica Frotten, a gamut of human emotions is explored on Gordie Tentrees’ fifth album.
Less is More is the Yukon-based singer/songwriter’s new release. And you can think of it as his way of bringing fans up to speed on what’s been on his mind.
“It’s a vignette — a time capsule of the last two to three years of my life,” said Tentrees, who performs on Wednesday, May 6, at Fratters Speakeasy in Red Deer.
Some of the story songs on the album are very personal, such as Somebody’s Child. The tune came out of Tentrees’ experience in Boston, where his wife ran the 2013 marathon at which two bombs were set off by extremist brothers, killing three people and injuring 264 others.
The singer recalled he was headed to meet his wife at the finish line when two blasts sounded and smoke started billowing upwards about four blocks ahead.
“It was completely strange. … At first I thought they were shooting off cannons to celebrate. …” Then Tentrees saw a bloodied man limping towards him, followed by a crush of people running from the same corner at which he was supposed to meet his wife.
He started frantically searching the crowds for her face. “I didn’t know if she had finished yet … I was thinking, oh, I hope she’s still running.”
It took about five minutes for his spouse to track down a cellphone and call him to say she was OK. It turned out she had finished the marathon just nine minutes before the carnage happened and had been resting a block away from where the bombs went off.
“The scariest thing was when a bomb squad pulled up in front of a building and people were saying. ‘There are more bombs — run!’ ” Tentrees recalled. “People were such in a panic, running every way they could. …”
When the Canadian couple got back to their bed and breakfast, they saw the blasts replayed on the TV news. “Nine minutes is not a long time,” concluded the singer, who remembers thinking “how lovely it was to be alive.”
Three months later, the words “this could be anyone’s child” popped into his mind as he was contemplating the two bombers and the people they killed or injured that day. “And the song came out in one day, the whole thing,” Tentrees recalled.
A counterpoint to Somebody’s Child on the Less is More album is the lighter-hearted tune Deadbeat Dad. But it also springs from a deep place.
Tentrees said his father was never in the picture while he was growing up, so he vowed he would always be there for his children — and he has.
Although his two sons are from different relationships, Tentrees gets along well with both his ex-wife and his ex-longtime partner — to the degree that everyone goes camping together. “I have a modern family,” he said, with a chuckle.
Although he feels lucky to have been involved with people who also made their children’s well-being their priority, Tentrees knows not everyone is as fortunate.
“I wrote that song on Father’s Day last year,” said the singer, when one of his sons handed him a present and told him he was a great dad. “I said, ‘Hey, your mother has helped me make that happen — in some ways, more than I have. She’s been supportive of what I’m doing.’ ”
The new song Broken Hero is Tentrees’ ode to “everyday heroes,” while Wheel Girl tells of a particular hero — wheelchair athlete Jessica Frotten.
Tentrees held a fundraiser when he heard 26-year-old Whitehorse native Frotten needed a new racing chair. Some $10,000 was raised, and the athlete became the national champion at para wheelchair racing.
“I was reading about her story and I thought it was so inspirational,” added Tentrees, who hopes he captured some of that spirit in his song.
The former teacher from Ontario has lived in Whitehorse for 16 years and finds no shortage of inspiration in the Yukon’s beautiful and austere environment. “It’s a very creative place, and it’s growing. But people make the place … and everyone who is here wants to be here.”
Tickets for Tentrees’ 8:30 p.m. show with multi-instrumentalist Jaxon Haldane are $15 from the venue.