Wind and Bones – Live at the Barn Studio

I had the opportunity to record a few songs with Marc Atkinson at his studio on Hornby Island recently. These were just live-off-the-floor takes of the two of us without any extra “stuff” like overdubs.

“Wind and Bones” is about a trip I made to Newfoundland many years ago with one of its goals being to find the grave sites of various ancestors. I was successful and it got me to thinking abou their lives and what they thought the future would hold.

It’s really been the journey in much of my writing which looks at themes of place and the motivations of people to move and go where they do.

Wind and Bones from John McLachlan on Vimeo.

Wind and Bones Released

July, 2017

Wind and Bones is an album about people moving through space; heading somewhere, getting away from something, or sometimes, being in the wrong place at the wrong time (a total of 412 characters die in four of these songs).

Apple Music • iTunesSpotify

The album kicks off with a couple of tracks that have my personal perspective. The first song is about a trip I made in the 1990s to Newfoundland where I visited the graveyards in various outports that contained ancestors from both sides of my family. I’d never known these people but I pondered on a connection and what similarities there might be me in my life. The second song takes place far from the Atlantic, on the prairies and a fall evening as I was driving west via North Dakota and into Saskatchewan. Like my ancestors who crossed the ocean, here I was crossing an ocean of flatland where there was much time to consider choices made in my life.

The majority of songs are of a historical nature but are about people, often not in ideal environments; in many cases they are moving through hostile or foreign settings (a ship in northern waters, a police patrol in an arctic wilderness) or, in one song about a friend of mine leaving his small town. They feature people reflecting on where they are from and where they are going or plan to go along with the hopes and dreams that go with that.

All the songs were written about 25 – 30 years ago. I wanted to revisit them and bring them back to life. In most cases, it was about 20 years since I’d sung most of them so it was a bit of a voyage of discovery as I dug back in and saw them, freshly.

In the winter of 2016/17 I went into Marc Atkinson’s Barn Studio on Hornby Island and began tracking the songs (guitar and vocals). It was then followed by Marc adding his musical talents in the form of drums, bass and lead instruments. Singer/Songwriter, Kim June Johnson added her wonderful voice to the tracks in the form of background vocals (though Marc is in there, too).

Check out the page below to see some photos from the recording experience.

Adobe Spark Page

I think of this record as my “space” album because it’s really about movement. I have a set of new songs ready to be recorded this coming year that are about “time.” I guess space and time are related but I hope you’ll enjoy spending some time with Wind and Bones as you go on your own journeys.

1 Wind and Bones 3:39
2 Drunk With Loneliness 3:17
3 Princess Sophia 4:56
4 Song of the Sockeye* 3:44
5 Towboat Man 3:50
6 Lost Patrol 5:04
7 Chief Thunderbird 4:27
8 Bogotá Rain 3:27
9 Out of Step 3:11
10 Though Time Goes On 4:14
11 Cumberland Coal 4:04
12 Railroad Town 4:13

Words & Music by John McLachlan
*Words by Ross Cumbers / Melody by Phil Thomas


Produced by Marc Atkinson

John McLachlan: Lead vocals, acoustic 6 and 12-string guitar, hi-string guitar, harmonica

Marc Atkinson: Bass, drums, lead acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, percussion, keyboards, mandolin, harmony vocals on “Princess Sophia,” “Out of Step”

Kim June Johnson: Harmony vocals on “Drunk with Loneliness,” “Lost Patrol,” “Chief Thunderbird,” “Bogotá Rain,” “Though Time Goes On”

Bill Usher: Percussion on “Cumberland Coal”

Recorded & Mixed 2017 by Marc Atkinson at The Barn Studio, Hornby Island, BC

Mastered by Joby Baker at Baker Studios Ltd.

Cover Photo by John Struthers


Wind and Bones Album Release July 14-2017

Friday, July 14, 2017 at the Hornby Island Community Hall

Tickets at the Hornby Gas Bar in July or online at Eventbrite.

Album Release of Wind and Bones

Wind & Bones is a series of songs inhabited by characters from today and yesterday who are out to find the illusive “somewhere,” to arrive at it somehow; to prove something by getting there.

Take a musical journey into the hearts and minds of people as they travel through life (figuratively and literally).

From a story about a patrol of police officers who become hopelessly lost in Yukon in 1910, to the personal pondering of the travelling musician traversing the prairies on his way home, the songs touch on the effect of being on a road, lost, and at times lonely, but always on a quest for opportunity and meaning.

The concert will also include music from his Hornby show,

Call it Home, and other original and traditional songs.

Denman Island Show – Feb 19 – 2PM

I’m thrilled to be taking Call It Home to Denman Island for a performance on Sunday, February 19 at 2PM at the Denman Island Community Hall.

This will be in the intimate setting of the back room of the hall and I’ll be joined on stage by Marc Atkinson (lead guitar, mandolin, percussion).

This show had two sold-out performances last year at the Hornby Hall and though the songs are about or inspired by Hornby Island, their themes are very much “relatable” by those who have experiences spending time living on or vacationing on coastal islands and communities.

Like the presentation of the show last year, a full multi-media presentation will accompany the music. It includes old 35mm images and home movies shot in the 1960s and 70s as well as some current aerial footage shot from a drone.

The show is suitable for all ages (kids see themselves in the old images) and older folks who “were there” get to relive a time gone by and even feel a few pangs of nostalgia.

Tickets will be at Abraxas Books and Gifts on Denman starting early February and are also available online at for $15 Adults / $5 Youth (17 and under). $20 at the door.

New Album in the Works

I’m working on a new recording with Marc Atkinson at the Barn Studio on Hornby Island. The recording will feature nine original songs with a general theme of “movement,” through space.

Most of them are from my earlier repertoire. I wanted to rediscover them again and present them in a fresh way. Like Call it Home, I’ll be singing and playing rhythm guitar and Marc will be playing drums, bass, guitar and other instruments.

The majority of songs are of a historical nature but are about people, often not in ideal environments; in many cases about people moving through hostile or foreign settings (a ship in Northern waters, a police patrol in a northern wilderness) or, in two songs about friends of mine, they feature people reflecting on where they are from and where they are going or plan to go. A new song, “Sagebrush and Trains” is heavily inspired by the experience of a friend from Washington, DC who shared recollections of growing up in Wyoming and his relationship to his mother and the prevalence of sagebrush and trains and what they meant to him.

Space shapes us. It draws us in and it pushes us out to places unknown. We move through it. It is the world we live in. It can be empty and lonely or it can be filled with love and “home.” The songs on this recording explore those themes.

I expect to have the album ready by the middle of 2017.

John recording with the 12-string

Concert – August 25

Call it Home concert – back by popular demand!

Thursday, August 25, 2016 8PM (doors at 7:30)
Hornby Island Community Hall

$15 ($20 at the door) (children 12 and under are free but do need a children’s ticket)
Tickets are at the Gas Bar or online at Eventbrite.

The Call It Home concert in May, 2016 was sold out with many people not being able to get tickets. I am pleased to say it’s being presented again so even summer visitors who will relate to the songs, stories and images, can enjoy it.

Image from Call It Home concert, May 2016

The concert features ten original songs about or inspired by Hornby Island and recorded this past year with Marc Atkinson at his Barn Studio. Half the songs are brand new and the rest are drawn from my earlier repertoire with the oldest one from 1979.

John on his bike

The event will include a live performance of the songs from the album. I’ll be joined on stage by multi-instrumentalist Marc Atkinson, bassist Scott White, and vocalist Kim June Johnson (who sang harmony vocals on the recording).

Shingle Spit – John McLachlan from John McLachlan on Vimeo. Video by Scott Smith.
(this video is projected during the song at the concert)

Along with stories of the songs, there will be old photographs and some home movies (shot by my father in the 60s) projected that depict various songs.

Photos from the 1960s by George McLachlan
Photos from the 1960s by George McLachlan

Place and the passage of time are the threads that run through my songs. Many are little observations—both of “self” and the world around us—that come from observing a location over a longer period of time.

Denman Island and Hornby Island ferries 1962 from John McLachlan on Vimeo.

The event is suitable for all members of the community. Tickets are only $15 in advance ($20 at the door) (free for children 12 and under) and are available on Hornby at the Co-op Gas Bar or online.

Contact John McLachlan for more information.

House Concert – July 6 2016

House Concert – Wednesday July 6, 8PM

at the home of Darren and John (4000 Parnell Road) Tix $20 at the Gas Bar.
A Double-Bill featuring two west-coast singer/songwriters:
John Gogo (from Nanaimo) and John McLachlan (from Hornby Island) both feature original songs about people, places and historical events of Canada’s western islands.
Your ticket entitles you to a free copy of John Gogo’s most recent recording Coal & Wood (Revisited).
John McLachlan will be featuring solo acoustic songs from his upcoming recording, Time Broke which is being recorded with Marc Atkinson on Hornby Island.
More information on John Gogo and John McLachlan