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Singer brings stripped-down show to qathet’s Max Cameron Theatre

Musician who played with Canadian greats now on solo tour
ON TOUR: Singer/musician Ryan McMahon has toured with Canadian greats Burton Cummings and Tom Cochrane. He will hit the stage at Max Cameron Theatre on Wednesday, May 8.

Being a touring musician has always been hard work, but after the pummelling live entertainers took during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, being on tour is a godsend.

Vancouver Island folk/Americana singer-songwriter and guitarist Ryan McMahon recently finished playing 21 shows in 25 days, across BC and Alberta, and is back on tour. Residents in the qathet region will have a chance to immerse themselves in an intimate and entertaining music experience with McMahon at the Max Cameron Theatre on Wednesday, May 8.

For the latter part of 2023, McMahon was the opening act for Canadian greats Burton Cummings and Tom Cochrane, but is now back doing his own tour. He hopes his latest releases, “One More Fire” and “Lost & Found”, connect and inspire people to "find their life passion and live today, because now is all we have."

Like many, McMahon has been through his own personal upheavals and life changes, but that hasn't stopped him from having the ambition to hit the 100-show mark for 2024.

"I have visited Powell River a few times over the years and played shows of all shapes and sizes, even house concerts," said McMahon. "I played the Sunshine Music Festival years ago, and it's beautiful there. When you live here [on the coast of BC] there are those smaller places that you can get to, and it's important that you pay them a visit, because of the audiences there."

The Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island have a fair share of musicians visiting and touring around, but the qathet region is just that much further away, so many don't make it over. 

"I'm trying to reach that 100-show mark for 2024, especially after that long layoff over the last couple of years," said McMahon. "It feels great to be back on stage. I'm playing theaters, clubs and sometimes cafés if they are big enough, and all kinds of different spaces."

The blessing in disguise that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic was that people became more creative. Folks started hosting entertainment events in nontraditional spaces and formats, which still carries on now.

"Every audience, of course, is different, but by and large, I find that everybody's just so happy to be together, and experiencing [live] music again," said  McMahon. "It's been a slow opening [for live music], and I was looking at artists larger than myself, Serena Ryder for example. The first time they were getting back on stage, they were touring in these smaller, stripped-down, single-solo shows," added McMahon.

The show at the Max Cameron Theatre will also be a stripped down, intimate performance, with McMahon on guitar, accompanied by Joel Spillette on piano, a longtime pal, whom he met while playing at the Queens Hotel in Nanaimo 17 years ago. 

"[When it comes to music genre] I've always been kind of described as a little bit of a fence-sitter," said McMahon. "A little bit of country, rock, roots, Americana, and in the end, it's a folk-singer/songwriter."

McMahon has been a solo performer for 25 years, and also performed in a folk trio called Lion Bear Fox as a side project.

"[The audience], is going to hear stories about my life, in first person accounts of things that I believe in as a soulful singer," said McMahon. "We're gonna laugh a little bit, we might even tear up a little bit, but they'll all be songs from the heart."

McMahon said he felt privileged being around musicians like Cochrane and Cummings, who have been in the business for what seems like their whole lives.

"Watching them go to work every night is super inspiring, because you learn something different every night," said McMahon. "Not so much about how they craft songs but how they connect with their audience as well."

Catch McMahon's No Town Left Un-toured performance at Max Cameron Theatre, located at 5400 Marine Avenue, on Wednesday, May 8, at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the Peak (4493F Marine Avenue), Nutcracker Market (4741 Marine Avenue), and online at Eventbrite.

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