When singer-songwriter Scott Shea went on a spiritual trip to the other side of the globe, he got more than he bargained for.
“I broke my foot in Thailand in the jungle. I had to walk for three days with a busted foot with bamboo crutches and I had blisters under my arms,” Shea recalled. “I got heat stroke in India and almost died. I got shot at in Cambodia. There was tons of stuff that happened.”
Despite all the trouble, Shea’s eight-month global journey had a profound impact on his life.
“It was life changing. I felt really moved,” he said. “It gave me a different handle for living in Canada and what potentials we have.”
In the years following Shea has been realizing his potential as a musician.
On April 11, Shea will be performing at the Vault Café. His stop in the Harbour City is part of a tour that will see Shea play to crowds in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
“I’ve got a group of friends that I know and grew up with back in Toronto and they have all moved out to Nanaimo so I am looking forward to seeing them,” he said.
Shea grew up in Aurora, Ont., and became involved in music at an early age thanks in part to his father, Red Shea, who was an influential guitarist and is best known for his work with Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson.
“They used to call me Hollywood back in high school,” Shea said. “I was always singing and humming and making up little tunes and limericks all the time. It just seemed to be what I loved to do.”
Shea said despite father’s reputation, he wanted to discover the guitar on his own.
“I wanted my dad to teach me, but I didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t like the idea of my dad teaching me. I liked the idea of me doing it on my own, which is kind of the way he has always been.”
As a teenager, Shea met and fell in love with a girl while skiing in Vermont. The two quickly became an item and he moved to Goshen, N.Y. to live with her.
It was during those trips to the Garden State that Shea would bring his guitar and busk along the boardwalks.
“It was most cover tunes … but I was playing some of my original stuff,” he said. “You’re kind of young and naïve thinking that you’re going to get discovered when you’re out there jamming away.”
After nearly a year of living in New York the two broke up and Shea returned to Canada, where he formed a band called The Sheas with his brother.
“My dad taught my brother and he was so good that having him on board just made me look better,” he said.
Shea said that his father, who died in 2008, never pressured him into music and actually discouraged him from pursing a career in the industry.
“As a matter of fact it was the complete opposite. He loves music but he hated the music business. He couldn’t stand it. He didn’t like the way it was run and he thought it was very dishonest,” Shea said. “He didn’t put a lot of emphasis on us to do music. He knew that is what I wanted to do but he didn’t go out of his way to help in any way.”
During The Sheas’ life span they would release an album called Zero to One and opened for Big Sugar and Blue Rodeo.
“You know, of course, as brothers, things kind of went sour and my wife got pregnant and I had to find a real job,” he said.
After taking time off from the music industry to work and travel the world, Shea decided to get back to performing live shows and doing what he loves.
“Writing songs is just something I do,” Shea said. “I can’t think of anything else I want to do.”
Last year Shea released his first solo record, Let it Storm, which was recorded at Arlyn Studios in Texas and was produced by Gordie Johnson.
He said the record has a Gordon Lightfoot feel to it simply because of his father’s influence on him.
“I have that Lightfoot sound because I know my dad was responsible for a lot of it. I think that being his son I think that is in me and I can’t help it,” Shea said. “The last thing I want to do is be my father.”
Scott Shea performs at the Vault Café at 8 p.m. on April 11. For more information visit www.scottsheasongs.com.