John McLachlan

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.

Biography (Short)

BC born singer/songwriter John McLachlan began writing and performing in folk clubs in Vancouver in 1979. Over the next 20 years he presented his original songs about his own experiences and historical events in hundreds of theatres, festivals, clubs and schools.

After a hiatus working in arts administration and graphic design, in 2014 John returned to music, writing and recording the album Call it Home in 2016 and Wind & Bones in 2017 with multi-instrumentalist Marc Atkinson. He’s working on a new album to be released in 2018 and is back performing in venues large and small. John’s inimitable stage presence, range of songs and genuine rapport delights and connects with audiences of all ages.

Biography (Long)

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 his dad’s old guitar his dad and started to learn words and chords of singer-songwriters he loved. He wrote his first song at 19 when he began playing at a small folk club in North Vancouver, BC.

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From 1983 to 1985 he studied in the commercial music program at Capilano University. Voice lessons, theory, ensemble playing, music business courses, and meeting up with lots of other young musicians gave him the courage present his songs “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. 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 travelled to many corners of British Columbia—from Nazko to Kyuquot, Fort St. John to Princeton, Prince George to Vancouver— presenting hundreds of community concerts and developing several programs for schools featuring BC or Canadian history. He took his school show to Saskatchewan, toured folk clubs as far east as Ottawa and performed in Bogotá, Colombia accompanying a festival of West Coast Canadian cuisine.

By the late 90s, the tank was getting low and he pulled the music bus to the side of the road. Learning graphic design from his artist father and using his experience with artists and arts organizations he launched a new career in graphic design and arts administration. He ran two arts  service organizations (BC Touring Council and Creative City Network of Canada) and coordinated two arts grant programs funded by the BC Arts Council.

By 2014, it was time to get back to his first love: music, songs and performing. His 15-year break gave him a new perspective on his older songs and introduced a fresh ear and eye to writing and performing, allowing the spirit that started to merge with some new-found wisdom that inspires his music today.

He released the album Call It Home in 2016, Wind & Bones in 2017 and is recording another album for release in 2018.

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