Atkinson gets inside the sound

NANAIMO - Murray Atkinson performs at the Dinghy Dock Pub Monday (June 3).

Murray Atkinson performs an acoustic show at the Dinghy Dock Pub Monday (June 3).

Murray Atkinson performs an acoustic show at the Dinghy Dock Pub Monday (June 3).

Hard rock bands in the 1980s made Murray Atkinson teach himself how to play guitar.

He remembers looking at an album by KISS when he was five years old and being motivated to learn the instrument.

“You open the album cover and see these four guys elevated on platform shoes and there are explosions and fireballs behind them,” he said.

He said it made him ask himself ‘what is this?’” and he answered ‘This is awesome. I’ve got to do this.’

Atkinson grew up in Ladysmith and his parents enrolled him in piano lessons when he was a child. The older he grew the more he wanted to quit piano lessons, but his parents insisted he continue. Now as an adult, Atkinson said he is glad of his parent’s perseverance to have him continue his lessons.

“The piano is really great for understanding music itself no matter what instrument you play,” he said, adding the piano knowledge allowed him to teach himself to play the guitar. “It set a strong foundation for what I was able to do later.”

The singer/songwriter started writing his own music when he was 11 years old. When he was 14 his parents bought him a four-track recorder.

Atkinson said he was lucky to be born into a musical family and that his parents recognized his passion early on.

When he attended college he averaged about six hours a day practising guitar and playing music.

“It was a really good phase to go through,” said Atkinson.

Atkinson, of the Odds, is returning to the Island to perform an acoustic show at the Dinghy Dock Pub with special guests Brady Calancie and Nathan Stefani Monday (June 3) at 7 p.m. During the show he’ll perform some Odds songs as well as some new pieces he’s been working on. The musician is planning to release a stripped down acoustic and a full band hard-rock album sometime this year.

Atkinson said he’s looking forward to the performance.

“You can really get inside the sound of it in a different way than in a band,” said Atkinson.

He loves being able to perform for fans.

“It’s the audience that makes the difference,” he said. “If people are having fun we feel different …  you get that feedback loop. It can make an amazing experience.”

Atkinson said the drive to write music is with him all the time. Over his lifetime, Atkinson said he’s learned thousands of songs and these influence his ability to create music. He can just be in his house and then all of a sudden an idea hits him. Atkinson said sometimes he even picks up is guitar and absentmindedly starts playing a few notes and before he knows it a song begins to form.

“It’s just a passion and if you don’t tend to it it will drive you nuts, said Atkinson about creating music and writing songs. “Everyone approaches it differently … sometimes things just pop out by accident and it sounds cool and you pursue it.”

Tickets to the show are $20, which includes a return ferry ride, and are available from the artists or at

It also features a prize giveaway contest of a one-week accommodation holiday package for two to Hawaii and Oahu, which includes two for one airfare.