As if he wasn’t busy enough touring in support of his critically acclaimed album The Burning Bright, singer-songwriter Royal Wood realized he had more music that he needed to share.
The result of that realization was five weeks spent at a cottage in Ireland crafting a companion album, I Wish You Well.
Wood will be back out on the road to support the album, but he was first looking for a place to try out his new music in front of a live audience. And then, the Grand Theatre came calling.
“I wanted to debut what this new record was, the companion album, some of these new songs and the new format of the show,” Wood said. “We have a lot of tour dates coming up in September, October, November. When then the promoter from the Grand contacted my agent saying they wanted me in for the summer, it all kind of worked out.”
Wood will premiere his new material on the Grand’s main stage on Aug. 21.
Performing in the Forest City is nothing new for the Peterborough-born artist. Much of Wood’s family on his father’s side is from the Windsor and Chatham area, so stops in London were nothing new.
While he has a personal connection to the area, Wood has found professional success as well.
“I have a definite affection for London, Ont. I have to be honest, I have always had amazing shows even before I had a career, 10 years ago the shows in London were great,” Wood said. “We did two sold out nights at the Aeolian (back in February), which is always nice.”
After receiving the call from the Grand, Wood said he came to check out the theatre and found it would be “perfect” for him to debut his new show.
But it won’t be just the audience in the theatre who will benefit from the Grand’s lauded acoustics. The concert will be recorded live and released on an upcoming DVD, a first for the Juno-nominated singer.
Wood said he is looking forward to the DVD project because it is something he has been waiting a long time to try out. As an artist, Wood said, one needs to have the “right amount of material, the right band, the right crew,” before bringing out the video equipment.
And at this point in his career, Wood — who is known for his soulful lyrics and fluid piano skills — everything has lined up nicely.
“It is perfect timing and London crowds are really the best,” Wood said. “The Grand is a perfect venue, it just worked out, which I think is how the universe works sometimes. Life is a journey and I’m certainly enjoying the trip.”
The majority of the new material, Wood said, is “very heartfelt, more acoustic based and sparse in arrangement.”
Every artist has to grow otherwise they aren’t making art, Wood said, they aren’t having something come through themselves organically. The result is more “paint by numbers.”
For Wood there have been many experiences, particularly over the last couple of years, which have fostered him with a great deal of material.
“I would like to think that is why I don’t need a therapist; I have an outlet for it,” Wood said. “You go through it and by the end of the show you are full of joy, you are excited, you see your fans at the merch table, get on the bus with your best friends in the world, who needs a therapist when you have that?”
As for the songs in I Wish You Well, Wood says there is “a definite newness” to the material, an excitement that sometimes can be lacking when performing the same songs these past eight years.
The music is all well rehearsed of course before the public hears it, but even at this point in his career, Wood said there is “an added excitement” to performing new music for an audience for the first time.
Wood said he is also excited to the “performing arts centre artist” he always envisioned he would be. After all, when performing in bars, the kind of show he has always envisioned just isn’t possible.
“I can bring in the sound, the lights, just stand on the stage with a ukulele, not even plugged in, and have everyone hear it in a 1,000-seat room and you just can’t do that until you get to these kinds of facilities,” Wood said. “To finally be where I wanted to be; I see the scope is so much bigger. It is an exciting time to be sure.”
Tickets for the Royal Wood show at The Grand Theatre are $25-$45 and are available either through the box office (471 Richmond St.), online at www.grandtheatre.com, or by calling 519-672-8800.