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Sonny Aiken. Photo provided by the artist.

Talking Albums: Sonny Aiken

By John McDonald on May 29, 2020

The last time I saw Sonny Aiken, it was at my wedding reception. True story. He and Mabel Beggs played music from the Carter Family throughout the evening. They were a huge hit! That was four years ago. Soon after that wonderful day, he bid farewell to Aiken & Beggs, The Noisy Locomotive (with Ben Nesrallah), and the 613. Now, back and bursting with music ideas, Sonny Aiken joins Talking Albums to tell us about his “stay-at-home” days following his world travel.

Sonny Aiken:

On February 22nd, I performed “Saloon” for the last time, packed up my things, and headed home for what has become a rather interesting few months. I had the intention of returning, seeing friends, family, loved ones, and getting used to life back in Ottawa. After four years on the road, touring (nearly nonstop) a large-scale circus/theatre production, I thought this was going to be a challenge in itself—it turned out to be much more than that. Never mind lil’ ol’ me, I’m talkin’ on a global level—cue pandemic. But remember, in all that is tragic, lie the makings of magic, n’ I think many people are finding some, while around us the ruckus erupts.

For years I’ve been performing, largely as part of a duo or trio, but have been increasingly more interested in creating my own solo show. I was, without a doubt, born to be a sideman of sorts, but even sidemen walk the streets alone from time to time. In October, I decided to start actively compiling these thoughts and feelings of mine that have been bubbling now, it seems, for some time.

I didn’t foresee such a time of isolation, of further self-discovery, but I welcomed it with open arms, for I had already the intention of layin’ myself down to tape, if you will—layin’ down some things I had to say.

I’ve recorded an album of originals, entitled Lost, Lonesome Cowboy, n’ one of others’ tunes, entitled A Tip Of The Hat. I’ve also recorded a short album of old songs with my brother, Virgil, n’ we’ll be releasing that simply as The Aiken Brothers. Along with these new recordings, Mabel and I will be releasing an Aiken & Beggs album from a session we did in 2018 that I’ve now had the time to put together. Needless to say, I have found some magic during these times, n’ have done my best to lay down what I could.

Of course, this historic time we’re living in is far from over, but I find it so lovely to see the light shining from so many people around me (shining so bright that I can feel it despite the vast distance between us). It’s really this that I think has been pushing so many of us to do so many beautiful things—n’ how powerful is that!? And with that, I seem to have been listening almost exclusively to friends, friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends. So, the two albums I’d tell you about come from The Ever-Lovin’ Jug Band and C.A Jackson.

The Ever-Lovin’ Jug Band are out of the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and are one of my all-time favourites. I have yet to get my paws on their newest records, so I’ve been listening to The Snish, which was released a couple years ago. I’d heavily recommend listening far too much to this album, as I have, and to find everything else they’ve released, for you won’t be disappointed in the least.

Secondly, but not lesser than, C.A Jackson, who we’re now lucky enough to call an Ottawan—is that what we’re called? Mr. Jackson hails from New Brunswick, but is calling Ottawa home for the time being—we’re all doing our best to keep him here. He’ll have your heart in a heartbeat, n’ he’ll keep it forever. I’ve been trying to figure out how he plays the guitar like that for years, so if you figure it out, let me know. He has a few albums you might be able to find online, and I’ve been listening to Live In My Bedroom—you can try to find him around town, and I’m sure he’d love to chat.

About The Ever-Lovin’ Jug Band

During April, The Ever-Lovin’ Jug Band went on a “World Tour of our House.” They played a full week of shows, streaming from a different room every day, with different songs every day. If you want to revisit the shows, there are links on their website.

About C. A. Jackson

C. A. Jackson is a folk-singing crooner and multi-instrumentalist from the Maritimes, now in the 613. He is known for his tireless fingerpicking, catalogue-esque repertoire, and ability to bring new life into vintage ragtime tunes.

More from Sonny Aiken:

Aiken & Beggs on Facebook


The Noisy Locomotive on Facebook

Sonny Aken on Instagram