Hawksley Workman emerges from pandemic healthier and ready to rock

Juno-winning, gold-certified singer-songwriter and, dare we say, Canadian legend Hawksley Workman is set to return to the stage here in Victoria after more than two years away.

“I can’t wait to go,” Workman said. “We loved that last show [in November 2019]. The place was crowded. It was one of the best shows on the tour. There was something about it. The energy was great.

Although they’ve played a few gigs here and there, Workman says he and his bandmates can’t wait to get back on the road and really give it a go.

“During COVID, I’ve been logging guitar like crazy and really making inroads,” says Workman. “My goal for this tour is to reach a new level of comfort on the guitar and

I will have opportunities to stretch. I have put many hours into COVID. From the beginning, I really wanted to be better at my job when it was all over.
Workman fans have learned to expect the unexpected; he suggests this tour will be no different.

Hawksley Workman is ready to return to Victoria (photo by Ivan Otis).

“We didn’t just put on the same old show,” he says. ” It makes me crazy. I always need to feel like I’m creating something new every time I hit the road. I’m expecting new material, old material, deep cuts, and we’ll probably play “Striptease.” We haven’t played there for ages. We ran out of love for it but it’s definitely a good rock song. I’d say it’s up there, actually.

The past two years have been a long and strange journey for everyone; Workman says COVID has definitely changed his view of the world and he’s ready to move on.

“We’re kind of stuck in the hyperbole and the politics of it,” Workman says. “It was so dark there that I had to stop watching the news. After the first and second months of the pandemic, I was like, ‘This is it,’ and I really didn’t revive You may say I’m not respecting the end of contract for a deeply committed citizen, but I feel like emotional life has been much better without the constant aggressive gnawing of the news.

After making positive choices in the fall of 2019, Workman says he feels being at home during the pandemic has allowed him to be healthier.

“I quit drinking in September before COVID hit,” he says. “Fast forward two and a half years of sobriety and I kind of have a new energy in life. COVID has allowed me to stay home and be away from the road, where some of my bad habits have been learned.

Looking through the lens of a culture where alcohol is taken for granted, Workman says drinking has always felt normal to him.

“In the past I liked to have a few glasses of wine before the show to get that relaxed feeling, and the other thing is I thought it would be hard to get around my fear of flying without alcohol” , he admits. “The wine was really compelling, but getting up early, having a coffee and going to the gym is also really compelling.

Getting old and healthy is the new rock star, I tell you.

Workman adds that he’s no different and that the past two years haven’t been all good.

“Since December, I’ve had the blues at max, and I think a lot of people have,” he says. “Here in Ontario there was a final lockdown after Christmas with the Omicron wave and everyone had to cancel Christmas plans. It was a disappointment and I had a hard time getting over it. I think we’re all dealing with the emotional side of it, swinging from good to bad. I kept making music and I kind of made lemonade out of the lemons.

Hawksley Laborer
7 p.m. Saturday April 30
$31.70, cabaret upstairs

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