Where: Capital Ballroom, 858 Yates St.
When: Wednesday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28.59, admitone.com
Note: Lightfoot also performs Oct. 3 at The Queen’s (in Nanaimo) and Oct. 5 at the Sid Williams Theatre (Courtenay)
Terra Lightfoot has developed a trusted pre-show ritual that might surprise those familiar with what the big-voiced, Gibson-wielding fireball can do in concert.
“Hiking is a really good way to be grounded,” the Ontario-based Lightfoot said, at the outset of her afternoon hike. “That’s one thing I need when I’m performing, which is hard to do when you’re travelling all the time. Putting my feet on a trail and seeing something beautiful, being around trees, that fills my cup.”
Lightfoot was on a trail in Canmore, Alberta on Tuesday, mentally prepping for her a Calgary concert later that evening. The performer is heading to Vancouver Island for three shows next week, including one at the Capital Ballroom on Wednesday, her first in five years as a headliner in this market. Hiking, no doubt, will be on the menu.
The 37-year-old Juno Award nominee fondly remembers her first shows in Victoria — at Logan’s Pub and Fort Street Café— as the stops were part of her aptly named Pay Your Dues tour in 2011. “That is definitely what happened,” she said with a laugh.
Over time, her hard work paid dividends: Lightfoot returned to Victoria in 2016 with Blue Rodeo, and in 2022 with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Her success in the provincial capital is something that she has replicated across the country over the course of five studio albums. “I’ve gotten to have all these different experiences,” she said. “I feel like I’m in a good place.”
Her latest recording, Healing Power, arrives Oct. 13 after five years of incubating. She hatched the idea for the album after reaching the summit of a mountain in Austria, near the end of a six-week solo tour of Europe in 2018. She had hiked for two hours to get there, and though she was struck by the natural beauty laid out before her, Lightfoot was completely alone during what turned out to be a crucial moment in her journey.
“I had another six weeks of dates in the U.S. coming up,” she recalled. “I would not darken the doorway of my own home for three months. That was hard.”
Shortly after what Lightfoot describes as “that moment on the mountaintop,” she met musician Jonathan Auer of The Posies, who would eventually become her husband (they were married in August). Though she recorded and released her album, Consider the Speed, in 2020, she never gave up on the prospect of bringing Healing Power to light. It was a process that boosted both her personal and professional development.
“I realized what I needed to do was to give attention to myself as a person, which I wasn’t doing. I’m so happy to say that I’ve experienced the healing power of music.”
The performer, who was raised in Hamilton, Ontario, now lives in a rural area two hours outside of Toronto, where she moved to escape the big city grind. She still enjoys her time in Toronto, which is where she recorded Healing Power with producer Gus Van Go, a three-time Juno nominee (born: Gus Coriandoli) for his production work on albums by Metric, Whitehorse, and The Beaches.
Lightfoot said she loves working in Coriandoli’s studio, despite her preference for quietude. “His studio is right in the middle of Toronto, in a very trendy neighbourhood. There’s tons of stuff around, but no nature to speak of, and no natural light,” she said with a laugh.
“I used to be obsessed with [quiet], but now I’m able to go ahead and work, regardless of what the physical space is about. I’m a lot more comfortable.”
She credits Coriandoli’s steady presence in the studio for helping her confidence blossom outside of it — especially with regard to her singing. For a performer known for her bombastic voice, Lightfoot said she was always self-conscious about her voice growing up.
“I have dealt with that since I was a teenager. If my parents heard me singing in my bedroom, I would say I had a friend over. I just couldn’t do it. Painfully afraid.”
Touring has also been a big positive, in terms of raising her confidence. “That’s the funny thing. Everyone thinks that when you’re a rock ‘n’ roll musician, and have a guitar, you must be the most confident person in the world. But for me, that hasn’t always been true.”