Life has been moving at a pretty good clip for Winnipeg singer-songwriter JP Hoe.

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This article was published 17/9/2015 (2192 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Life has been moving at a pretty good clip for Winnipeg singer-songwriter JP Hoe.

He got married, his son, Parker, was born and he released his third full-length album, Hideaway, earlier this summer.

Over some cookies and cool drinks on a particularly steamy Winnipeg afternoon, Hoe wastes no time explaining how much his wife, Lindsay and two-year-old Parker have influenced his music.

"This record has definitely had some important songs that relate directly to my family. There's one song all about the day my son was born and it's probably the most important song of my life because he probably shouldn't have made it alive," Hoe says, explaining his wife went into labour nearly four weeks early and had to undergo an emergency procedure that resulted in Parker's premature birth.

Hoe's complicated, but catchy melodies and lyrics have been a fixture on the local music scene for nearly a decade, and though Hideaway is just his third album, he has developed a loyal following over the years thanks, in part, to the success of his annual Hoe Hoe Hoe holiday show in December.

He's performing a pair of Hideaway-release shows at the Park Theatre on Sept. 17 and 18. The original plan was to do a small, intimate show on the 18th, but it sold out quickly, and he heard from a lot of disappointed (and a few angry) fans. Another band already booked at the Park on Sept. 17 cancelled, so by popular demand he added a second show.

"The band is sounding good and we'll play the whole record and then a bunch of favourite songs from older records, and I'm looking forward to a Winnipeg show that doesn't require (Hoe Hoe Hoe's) costume changes... it's just music," he says.

The emotional roller-coaster he rode during his wife's early labour and traumatic delivery has helped put everything else in his life into perspective, he says.

"If you have a bad show, if you have a bad tour, this is not what the bad stuff is," he says. "I saw what the bad stuff is. He (Parker) was 30 seconds away from dying and that's the bad stuff."

"Three months after he was born, I had to go on my first little tour, and the day before I left, I was thinking about the tour and thinking about him being born and the song (We Try) just flowed out in a heartbeat."

Hoe has gained a new sense of hope from Parker's close call.

"Personally, I think this batch of songs is generally more optimistic than I've ever been because I'm still in this really fun, glowing stage where I feel like the luckiest person in the world. And every day I see him, or talk to him on the phone if I'm away, just puts it all into perspective," he says.

Even though he hopes Parker will one day look back on his father's career with pride and absorbs some lessons from the old man's work ethic, Hoe says he's hoping the toddler chooses a different career path.

"He's going to have to take that lesson and apply it to something else," he says with a laugh. "I'd like him to become a professional golfer so that I can caddy for him... or an accountant. He can ultimately do whatever he wants to do and it'll be OK, but an accountant or a golf pro would be really nice."

Touring is more difficult now, given the pull and responsibilities of family life. He's been home all summer, but will soon pack his bags for shows in Canada, the U.K. and Germany, and he'll be away most of autumn. Hoe says he enjoys performing, and is "desperately excited" to be able to do it all over the world, but he feels guilty about abandoning the family ship for extended periods. "My wife has got her full-time job, and she'll also be full-time both parents, and I know that it's super-challenging, as any single parent will know, so I feel bad for her," he says. "And I feel bad for my son because I don't want him to grow up with an absentee dad and I know that he gets sad when I'm gone.

"But it all comes back to the idea that I've been working at this for so long. This is part of the job, and the minute that we're not going in the right direction, we can reconsider and figure out, if it makes sense. Luckily right now, everything is still going in the right direction, but going on tour is always bittersweet."

Hoe says he's looking forward to playing his new material for hometown fans.

"I'm happy to share that with the city that allows me to do this as a full-time job and has really supported me from when I was a beginner... and I can say I know most artists don't have the same amount of support. I feel really grateful," he says, adding Winnipeg is a good test market for his new stuff.

"It's also a litmus test; I want to form a touring setlist of songs that, for a lot of those people overseas, will be cold for the first time, so shows like this help me do my job a little bit better. And who knows, maybe some of these new ones will really connect with people, and that would just be the best."

 

Erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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