Joey O’Neil – Photo by Melissa Naef
After being forced to cancel, postpone and re-adjust touring plans due to the global pandemic, Yukon-based folk-country singer-songwriter Joey O’Neil is absolutely thrilled to be back on the road this summer for what she has cleverly dubbed the Unleashed tour in support of her stunning, critically praised sophomore release, Ever Ahead.
No stranger to devising creative and unique ways to connect with her audience, the Unleashed the tour will see the talented songstress honour the canine themes of her sophomore release through a series of performances at dog parks across the country including a stop in Calgary tonight at Sue Higgins Park, as well as a Toronto play at Trinity Bellwoods Dog Bowl on August 14. To check out the Unleashed tour trailer filmed entirely by O’Neil’s beloved dog Oblio and featuring O’Neil’s cover of Terry Bush’s iconic theme song for The Littlest Hobo, “Maybe Tomorrow”, visit; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hpyf0pLC014
“My last two tour plans had gone to the dogs…So, I figured I’d give them a show,” remarks O’Neil on choosing dog parks for her latest tour. “I want to honour the canine themes of my album, Ever Ahead. As an avid cross-Canadian tourist, I’ve sampled quite a few of these canine havens. The sense of community in the spaced-out, fenced-in realms has encouraged me and my dog to return to certain parks, making them a must-stop on our roadmap. Planning a socially distanced tour was made easy with the idea that dog parks could be listening gardens – ones where you don’t have to leave your pup at home to go see a concert. This tour is for folk music lovers and for the dogs who are happy to come along for the ride.”
O’Neil’s 2020 independent release Ever Ahead eloquently speaks of disposable culture, fixing up things rendered broken, and taking care. Written while the songwriter drove her trusty 1989 Jeep Wagoneer XL on its yearly venture across the Trans-Canada Highway from the Yukon to Ontario and back, the album is the quintessential ‘ode to the road’ record that in the words of O’Neil reminds us to “keep on truckin’”, as the next great personal epiphany is ever ahead.
When boiled down though, Ever Ahead is about two things: O’Neil’s trusty Jeep and her beloved dog, Oblio.“If I imagine my perfect tour for Ever Ahead, it’s without a doubt in a series of dog parks,” shares O’Neil.
“When I sing “Badlands”, an original song about my dog surviving an attack, I hear soft sniffles in the audience. When people approach me after my concerts, they tell me stories about their dogs, pull out their phones, and show me puppy pictures. In a way, it wouldn’t have made much sense to tour this album in conventional bars, cafés, and music halls. These songs don’t live there. They were born behind the wheel of a truck, in mechanics’ waiting rooms, in lonely campgrounds, all along the Trans-Canada Highway, and in dog parks.”
Choosing to take an unconventional approach to tour her latest record has resulted in quite an adventure of its own for the songwriter. Instead of corresponding with rock n’ roll-type bar managers by night, O’Neil has been speaking by day with bylaw offices, parks and recreation departments, and city halls. ”Every town has different rules about this sort of thing and in some cases, I’ve needed to apply for busking licences or special event permits. For the most part, these city officials are charmed by my whimsical request. “Well gosh! I’ve never heard of someone doing that before!”
Please see below for a complete list of dates for the Unleashed tour.
For more information, visit: http://www.joeyoneil.com/