‘Idol’ finalist enjoys visit here

Duane Hicks

FORT FRANCES—“Canadian Idol” finalist Mitch MacDonald made a stop in Fort Frances last week to visit family and perform a couple of gigs in the area.
MacDonald, who finished in second place in season six of the popular singing contest in the fall of 2008, passed through en route to a gig in Winnipeg last weekend.
While here, he performed at a wrap-up event for the Nick Mainville Sr. Memorial golf tournament, then played a couple of sets last Wednesday evening at La Place Rendez-Vous, cheered on by family and friends.
The 24-year-old, who hails from Port Hood on Cape Breton Island, said he loved visiting here, playing golf at Heron Landing, spending time with family, bass fishing, hanging out, and doing some songwriting.
“It’s great,” he enthused. “It is something else to have to some family here, too. They get to show you around.
“If I was coming here on my own, I probably wouldn’t know where to go,” he conceded.
“I met a lot of nice people—so many that I can’t remember some of their names.
“It’s a gorgeous place,” MacDonald added. “At home, I live on the ocean, so it’s nice to get a different taste—being right on a nice, big lake here, getting out in a boat.
“I know there’s a lot of people that like to fish around here,” he noted. “I’ve done some lobster fishing back home, never bass fishing.
“I’ve had a great time here. It’s a great town, and hopefully I will be able to come back,” he said, later mentioning he might start coming here every year to visit and play music.
Since his stint on “Canadian Idol,” MacDonald has been travelling and working on new songs.
“‘Idol’ was kind of a last-minute, random decision that I made, and I never thought that it would go the extent that it did,” he remarked.
“Certainly, I was very happy with the result.
“It’s certainly become a great platform to start my career, but I must say that I wasn’t much of a songwriter before ‘Idol,’” he continued.
“So I just decided to kind of sit back and take it all in, and then really get into the songwriting.”
MacDonald believes one needs to be inspired to write good-quality music, so he has been travelling around a bit.
“I’ve been down south, I’ve been up north to Iqaluit to visit some friends,” he noted, explaining he’s working some of his experiences into his songs.
MacDonald has spent some time in the recording studio to get a feel for it, and his demo should be finished in October.
“Then once I have that down, that slowly will turn into the process of making the full album,” he explained.
“A lot of people have asked from the day ‘Idol’ was over, ‘When is the album coming out?’ and I always tried to put a date on it,” MacDonald said.
“But then I learned that it takes a lot of time.
“I thought it was going to happen quick, but really I am a man that really likes good-quality songs and songwriting, and I want to challenge myself to see if I can write some of that good-quality poetic writing,” he stressed.
“Whenever I have the first 10 songs that I truly appreciate and can grow to really love, that’s when I’ll get the album together.”
MacDonald noted his musical influences vary.
“I was raised on country music and then I grew into my own style of music,” he remarked. “I listened to a lot of independent American artists.
“I have a friend that kind of digs into a lot YouTube archives and kind of finds these folky singer-songwriters,” MacDonald noted, adding he also likes contemporary artists like Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons, and Ryan Adams.
“One thing with ‘Idol’ is that you couldn’t sing whatever you wanted to, so I would have liked to give much more of a sense of what I like to sing,” he continued.
“Some weeks you couldn’t really show what type of music you really loved.”
But MacDonald’s key influence is fellow Cape Bretoner and Grammy Award-winner Gordie Sampson, who wrote hit songs for Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, and Keith Urban.
“The hope is to go down to Nashville in the next couple years and do some recording with him,” he said. “I really hope that that happens.
“He’s a busy man, writing and recording with Carrie Underwood. We’ll see what happens there.”
MacDonald said that since “Idol,” he’s had a chance to share the stage with some well-known East Coast artists, including country star Johnny Reid.
Fans who would like to keep up with MacDonald can check out his fan page on Facebook.
(Fort Frances Times)