Born in London, raised in Peterborough, and now based in Kingston, Michael C. Duguay has a long history with even the Ottawa music scene. As a multi-instrumentalist of some notoriety, seasoned local players and Canadian music stalwarts called frequently for Mike to play and sing in their touring bands.
He was playing in Evening Hymns for a spell, collaborated with Julie Doiron on Weird Lines and toured heavily with The Burning Hell, which in 2012 included a world record-winning effort for ten half-hour concerts in ten countries—the most countries played in 24 hours.
This year, Duguay returned to the Canadian music landscape with a growing collection of new songs, drawing on the life-shattering experience that curbed his promising career after 2012’s Heavy on the Glory. His last record, reissued by an Ottawa label this week, was a long-awaited album in its time. Duguay is a brilliant storyteller and fascinating artist who struggled with addiction and sobriety, which put his music-making on ice for a time.
“It wasn’t until later in life that it got not-so-good and then it got really bad.”
Today, Duguay is candid about his involvement in a 12-step community and will mention an addiction treatment centre which has supported him these last five years. On a new episode of this kitchen culture podcast (Duguay says he’s a “failed artist and phony chef”) he tells host Sarah Duignan, “The joke is that as a musician, and as a chef, I was destined to become a drug addict.”
“Culturally it’s sorta fetishized, the fact that [kitchens, restaurants and music] are drug-fuelled and alcohol-fuelled . . . and that understanding exists for a reason . . . It’s true what they say. It doesn’t have to be. In my experience, it certainly was,” he says. “In my earliest days as an artist and a musician, [drug use] is something I very much associated with, as much a part of my practice . . . It wasn’t until later in life that it got not-so-good and then it got really bad. Emotionally, more than anything.”
It’s been more than five years since he’s played in Ottawa. In 2011, as a member of Bear Trees, he played Raw Sugar (R.I.P.) with Paper Beat Scissors, who will join Duguay for his show at Pressed on Sunday, October 28.
Paper Beat Scissors is the project of British expat Tim Crabtree, who now calls Canada home (first Halifax, now Montreal for a total of 10 years). His Canadian label, Forward Music Group, only recently released a Paper Beat Scissors album recorded live by an 8-piece chamber ensemble at La Sala Rossa. A new studio album mixed by Dean Nelson (Beck) and Sandro Perri is on its way for 2019.
Michael C. Duguay is playing a free show at The Record Centre (1099 Wellington St W) on Saturday October 27 at 2pm. Next, he will perform w/sg Paper Beat Scissors at Pressed (750 Gladstone Ave) on Sunday October 28 at 8pm. Tickets cost $10 online and $15 at the door.