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Picture-perfect harmony: Artist fuses music and photography

Local artist Brian Tremblay will be releasing his first full album of original music, The Neighbourhood: Songs & Stories of a Blue Collar Raising
Brian Tremblay will be releasing his first full album of original songs on Thursday, May 16th at the North Branch of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library. Image provided.

Brian Tremblay is well-known in the local community for his photography, freelance work with CBC Radio and other news agencies, as the creator and host of Borderline Radio’s Rock 'n' Roll Heaven, and as a long-time musician.

But that wasn’t always the case.

Back in high school, Tremblay helped manage local bands rather than play in them.

“I've been playing since I was 13 or 14,” says Tremblay, noting that there were a lot of stops and starts in his own musical journey.

“Unfortunately, back then I got discouraged a lot because I always compared myself to others, so I felt I wasn't good enough.”

So instead, he booked shows for friends’ bands and assisted with their promotion.

Band promotion required band photographs, so Tremblay took those as well.

Many years later, it was Tremblay’s wife Lynn Eckroth, a touring musician before she moved to the Sault, who encouraged the artist to challenge himself with music.

The couple were known to perform cover songs as a duo for many years under the moniker of Taste of Honey.

“I asked her what she thought about me trying to write a song,” he says, noting that she has been his biggest fan and toughest critic.

“She encouraged me to go for it."

So he did and has been actively promoting his original music ever since.

These days, Tremblay's original music and photography have very much intermingled.

Back in January 2023, Tremblay organized a photo exhibit he called "The Neighbourhood" that was held at The Art Hub.

Tremblay’s photos in the exhibit were of the Steelton neighbourhood where he grew up.

“[I] realized after I had finished hanging the show, that I had songs that were inspired by growing up on Morin Street … that [went] along with these images.”

So the artist decided to perform those songs and tell stories about his memories during the photo exhibition.

The show sold out and was considered a great success.

“Many of my old neighbours, friends and folks who lived in the area came,” says Tremblay.

“I never thought the photos and music had a symbiotic relationship until the idea for this show came along.”

Coming off the success of the exhibit and performance, Tremblay decided to produce an album of those songs.  

His first full album of original music, The Neighbourhood: Songs &Stories of a Blue Collar Raising, was born.

The press release for the new album notes that the songs are “a musical journey for the listener” and tell the story of “family, love, life, growing up, riding bikes and playing with friends.”

Tremblay says the first single from the album, “Steel Ponies,” is about the “sheer joy of just riding bicycles around the neighbourhood and having adventures.”

Another track, “A Hole Where You Used to Be,” is a touching tribute to his late sister, Izzy.

The album release event, like the exhibit that inspired its creation, will be a live performance with projected visuals of the photographs he has taken.

The Neighbourhood: Songs & Stories of a Blue Collar Raising will be first released on CD and to all the streaming services, but Tremblay hopes to put out a limited edition of it on vinyl soon.

“I'd love to put out the album on vinyl because it just fits the time period I'm writing about,” he says.

“Maybe I want to do it because I just want to see it on an LP. I do love the warmth of the sound and the fact that you are listening to an entire album and that's the best way to listen to music, instead of shuffle.”

The release event will be held at the North Branch of the Sault Ste. Marie Library.

“The space kind of found me,” says Tremblay, noting his enjoyment of playing non-traditional performance spaces.

“Libraries are often looking for programming, so I sent some information along to them and they got back to me saying they'd love to do it as part of their Signature Series of events. I was honoured and thrilled.”

The Neighbourhood: Songs & Stories of a Blue Collar Raising

Thursday, May 16, 2024. Doors at 6:00 pm. Performance at 6:30 pm.

North Branch of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library (232 - C, Northern Ave E);

Tickets are $10 and available at both library locations.

For more information about Brian Tremblay and his music and art, visit his website here.

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