Former journalist uses music to tell stories

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Neil Speers loves to tell stories.

As a former newspaper reporter and editor in Camrose, Drayton Valley and Crow’s Nest Pass, it was his job to share stories from the community with his loyal readers.

Now, as a musician, he uses those same perspectives to inspire the emotional and lively lyrics he writes.

“I’ve met all kinds of different people – from prime ministers to homeless people,” Speers said this week. “The experiences that I’ve had certainly inform my writing. I think that having that background certainly helps.”

Speers brings his mix of cowboy blues and acoustic roots to Deja Brew Saturday afternoon. He said his music has been described as a combination of “Bruce Cockburn crossed with the Eagles meets Blue Rodeo,” and he will play both standard classics and original works during his performance at the funky First Street East coffee bar.

The Calgary-based entertainer said he uses his lyrics to tell stories around the themes of loss and redemption, and combining them with music gives an added dimension to his words that traditional writing alone simply can’t.

“The melody and the accompaniment create an emotional backdrop for the song – they support the lyrics by creating a framework,” he said. “When you’re writing pure prose, quite often the reader brings a little bit more of themselves into the story.

“Having the ability to create more of an emotional backdrop through the sound, the kinds of instruments, informs the listener about the … writer and what they intended.”

Speers’ show begins at 2 p.m. as part of Deja Brew’s Saturday Music Sessions.

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Cochrane Eagle