Because the Cape Breton Fudge Company is such an intimate performing space and because singer/songwriter Eric Angus Whyte has such a “big Catholic-like family” (he says), Whyte and the Fudge Company have scheduled two performances, at 3 pm and 7 pm, instead of just one on Saturday, December 3.
Whyte is launching, with fiddler Colin Grant and keyboardist Adam Young, his most recent release, Luddite Sons, recorded and produced this year in Halifax by Canadian folk/rock legend, Stephen Fearing.
Whyte grew up in Millville but has been living in Northern Ireland while his wife pursues her university studies.
Before he left Canada, Whyte had performed at the Stan Rogers’ Folk Festival, Celtic Colours International Festival, North by Northeast Toronto and the Franklin Graham Festival. He has also recorded, toured, and worked with Randy Stonehill, Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor, Joel Plaskett, Gordie Sampson, The Barra MacNeils, JP Cormier and Mitch McVicker.
In 2005 Whyte was nominated for the 2005 Folk Album of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards for his album, Always Home.
While in Ireland, he’s done shows in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. He’s co-written songs with Irish singer/songwriter Chris Little and his tune, “Lost In this Song” was picked as the title track for the 2009 release (produced by Phil Cunningham) of Edinburgh’s contemporary Celtic group, Giveway.
He’s just back in Cape Breton after a tour of Quebec which he says was different from the rest of the country because audiences there “listen the whole time and people buy lots of product afterward”.
While he doesn’t consider himself an anti-technology “luddite”, Whyte says, a lot of the lessons from history where people band together–especially in unions as in Cape Breton’s history–to fight the big corporations resonate with him.
“I have a lot more respect for what was going on in the 1960s and ’70s than what we have now,” he admits.
Looking back, he believes that’s what made he and producer Fearing, whose songwriting has a strong social conscience, “a good fit” musically.
Whyte had been unfamiliar with Fearing’s music until some Irish friends of his made him go to a concert Fearing gave in Belfast. Whyte admits to being “blown away”. After Fearing moved to Halifax and Whyte was looking for a producer, Whyte took a chance and asked if he was available. Fearing accepted his offer, even though Whyte jokes about not really being able to afford him.
Whyte says he likes playing small venue shows like at the Fudge Company because he wants to “lose the distance between the audience and myself. What I’m trying to do is fairly interpersonal; I want the audience to feel something.”
Whyte will also be performing in the Cape Breton Lyrics and Laughter Christmas show, (also with Grant and Young) at the Louisbourg Playhouse on Thursday, December 8; Friday, December 9; and Saturday, December 10 at 8pm each night.
He is also planning another show for Grant’s General Store in Boularderie sometime after Christmas before he heads back to Ireland.