The Traveling Singer: Michael Bernard Fitzgerald brings his Greenbriar farm concerts to Victoria

Culture Music
Photo provided.

Are you a lover of folk music? Have you been missing the draw and excitement of live music? Well, look no further, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald is bringing his Greenbriar farm concerts to Victoria. 

Since Sept. 1, Fitzgerald has been touring Canadian farms in a performance tent known as the “Greenbriar.”  Fitzgerald’s tent comes equipped with fairy lights, chandeliers, and an exposed Edison bulb, creating a glowing yellow beacon surrounded by countryside. 

The Calgary-based folk artist’s Canadian farm tour will feature two intimate, social distanced shows near Victoria on Oct. 29 and 30. 

The tent can host up to 20 people and gives the feeling of a private house concert or kitchen party as Fitzgerald actively engages with the audience. Food and drinks, including alcoholic options, can be ordered by ticket holders. Fitzgerald’s team will set up everything before people arrive to their socially-distanced seat, which will be reserved with their name on it. Groups of up to four are welcome. 

Each show is about an hour and a half and does not have a set-list. Instead, Fitzgerald’s shows are free-form with lots of conversation and lots of laughs. 

By picking locations within a 45-minute drive from major cities, Fitzgerald brings his performance to the rural space depicted in his newest album.

 By performing in the silent surroundings of rural space, Fitzgerald seeks to highlight the “moments between sound,” encouraging his listeners to escape the noise of everyday life.

His tour is in promotion of his fifth album Love Valley. Love Valley, which began production in February 2019 at OCL studios in Calgary, is an album focused on the type of love that can be found in the most common of places. 

“I really tried to depict love simply,” says Fitzgerald. “I didn’t want a picture of extravagant love — I’d tried my best to draw details of a calm love.”

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald
Photo provided.

Many of the songs offer simple descriptions of movements between a couple, whether it’s a hand crossing a hand, or the passing of a hot cup of coffee in the morning.

“Those conversational moments are where you derive all the joy and all the fulfillment you need. It doesn’t require bells and whistles.”

These simple acts of connection, of simple love, mirror a romanticized simplicity seen in rural and agricultural life. The lovers’ worlds are encompassed by the farmland they live on, making Fitzgerald’s decision to perform on farmland a creative union between music and place.

Compared to his past albums, Michael sees Love Valley as a look at where he wants to see things go, opposed to his past experience-focused and reflective songs.

“Thematically, it’s about painting this picture about a dream I have for my future, which I think everyone, when push comes to shove, has for themselves as well.”

Fitzgerald suggests the best way to listen to the album is to get out on a slow drive in the country or out on the highway with a hot cup of coffee and just listen to the album “tip to tail”. 

The idea for the farm tour emerged from the early days of COVID-19. When it was determined a traditional tour for Love Valley would not be possible, Fitzgerald began to put on Summer Nights shows, for up to six people, in his backyard in Calgary. After performing over 58 of these intimate sessions for five to six days a week, Fitzgerald decided to capture the essence of these performances and bring them to the rest of Canada. 

“It does go back to that old school [folk singer] mentality of just singing and singing and singing,” says Fitzgerald.

“It’s me just thinking, that’s my job…and If I can be the one that’s bringing these concerts around and doing it in a safe way and creating this atmosphere for people, and connecting to people in that way then I’m going to do it as much as humanly possible.”

Fitzgerald’s tour has taken him across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Mantioba. Due to Quebec’s request to stop public gatherings, and the restrictions in place in Ontario and the Atlantic bubble, Fitzgerald has returned out West for his upcoming B.C. tour dates.

“We didn’t want to push anything,” says Fitzgerald. “The way we’ve been looking at it with these shows is that if one person is uncomfortable we have to think that everyone is uncomfortable.”

Despite certain provincial restrictions, the tour has been a huge success, seeing all but one of his shows selling out. More information about tickets and Fitzgerald’s music can be found on his website.