With a life-long interest in the history of his home on Canada’s west coast, John’s songs, whether personal or historical, evoke rich landscapes with a strong connection to place in the tradition of songwriters such as Gordon Lightfoot and Stan Rogers.
Place and the passage of time are the threads that run through his songs. He writes as a way of making sense of who he is, where he’s been, where he’s going, and in general, of finding meaning in his life and of those characters who inhabit his songs.
It’s his hope that you will find some common threads in the songs he shares.
British Columbia-born singer and songwriter John McLachlan began writing and performing his songs in 1979 in local folk clubs in Vancouver. Over the next 20 years he presented hundreds of performances in theatres, clubs and schools with his original songs about his own experiences and those from historical events.
After a hiatus, John returned to music in 2014, writing songs and recording an album with multi-instrumentalist Marc Atkinson called, Call it Home. He is performing again and working on a new album to be released in 2017.
John’s inimitable stage presence and his range of songs connect with audiences in a heartfelt and genuine manner.
John McLachlan became hooked on historically-based songs in grade 4 when student teacher Ms. Dolan played Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy.” As a teenager he picked up an old guitar his dad had lying around and started to learn chords and sing the songs of the singer-songwriters he loved. He wrote his first song when he was 19, at the same time he began playing at a small folk club in North Vancouver, BC.
From 1983 to 1985 he studied in the commercial music program at Capilano University. Voice lessons, theory, ensemble playing, music business courses, and also meeting up with lots of other young musicians gave him the courage to take his songs and present them “out there” in a bigger way.
In 1985 with a small group of fellow musicians he formed a band and presented his first (of many) concerts at the venerable Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Granted, heavily stacked with friends and family, the sell-out show gave him a major kick to know that there was something there worth pursuing.
Over the next 15 years he would travel to many corners of British Columbia, presenting community concerts and also developing several programs for schools, which featured BC or Canadian history as a theme. He played hundreds of shows from Nazko to Kyuquot, Fort St. John to Princeton, Prince George to Vancouver.
He didn’t just tour in BC. Besides taking a school show to Saskatchewan and doing a folk club/house concert tour as far east as Ottawa, he also was invited to perform in Bogotá, Colombia to accompany a festival of West Coast Canadian cuisine.
By the late 90s, the tank was getting low and it’s here he pulled the “music” bus to the side of the road. Other interests came along in the form of graphic design and arts management. Learning design from his artist father and using his experience with performing artists and arts organizations he pulled away from touring and writing. The work he’d done and his interest in the business side of the arts brought him to run two arts service organizations (BC Touring Council and Creative City Network of Canada) and more recently to coordinate two arts grant programs funded by the BC Arts Council
But, by 2014, it was time to get back to his first love: music, songs and performing.
Having a 15-year break (except for the finishing of a long-time project in 2007 called Working Lives) has given him a new perspective on his older songs and has introduced a fresh ear and eye to writing and performing again. He brings some of that spirit that started it all with some new-found wisdom to his music today.
He released the album Call It Home in 2016 and is recording another album set for release in mid 2017.