From the moment Tim Harrison saw Gordon Lightfoot perform live, he just knew what he wanted to do with his life.
“I was 15 at the time,” Harrison recalled. “From that point on I knew what I wanted to do. Everything else went to hell and hand after because I knew that music was what I wanted to do.”
Since that moment decades ago, Harrison has gone on to carve his own pathway in the music industry, working as a musician, producer and festival organizer.
Tonight (Dec. 29) Harrison will perform at the Queen’s with The Distributors, Tora Leigh, Tyrell Beal, Alex Wickett and Damn the Diva.
Harrison grew up in Owen Sound, Ont., and spent the majority of his life living throughout the Toronto area.
“Who knows why people do what they do?” he asked. “I was drawn to music from the time I was kid. I was given piano lessons, but never paid much attention, even though I loved to play the piano.”
In 1978, he released his first record, Train Going East, which was recorded by Stan Rogers.
A few years after the record was released, Rogers was killed on board Air Canada Flight 797 in Kentucky after a fire consumed the cabin.
“We were just guys in those days,” Harrison recalled about his time with Rogers. “We were just all struggling back then … and Stan was an up and comer.”
Harrison has previously performed throughout Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, playing at a number of notable venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Harbourfront Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.
However, it is the Trinity House Theatre in Livonia, Mich., that provides Harrison with his fondest memories.
“It was an old brick building made into a smaller off-Broadway theatre kind of thing,” He recalled. “Oh man, do I have some great memories of playing there.”
Since 1985, Harrison has released a number of albums including In the Barroom Light, The Stars Above, Bridges, Sara and the Sea, Wheatfield with Crows and Grey County.
The Ontario native explained that while he writes plenty of music, he doesn’t keep anything he deems unworthy.
“I don’t hang on to the bad stuff,” he said. “I can’t say that I have a thousand songs because I only keep the good stuff.”
In addition to his time as a musician, Harrison is also the founder of the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival in Owen Sound, Ont.
Harrison, who no longer organizes the event, said that in the early days, the festival, which is in its 39th year, was a great way for young people to socialize.
“There were a bunch of young people around, mid 20s, 30s who didn’t have a social thing to do,” he said. “So volunteering for the festival became the social thing.”
“We had concerts and dances all year around just based around the festival. It was very locally produced by the community.”
In 2009, Harrison moved to Gabriola after taking a three year break from music.
“For personal and health reasons, I stopped touring as much as I had. I was looking for some kind of rural situation, but to be honest with you I was thinking like Peterborough, Ont.,” Harrison said.
As a veteran of the music industry, Harrison has seen plenty of changes. He said that the internet has exposed plenty of talented musicians that would otherwise not have a voice.
“There are so many artists who have the potential to get out there now,” he said.
Harrison added that he isn’t sure where the industry is headed, but he believes there might not be another King of Pop again.
“I have no idea where it is going,” he said. “But I don’t think you will see another Michael Jackson. I don’t think you’ll see one name propelled to the heavens like you used to.”
As the year comes to a close, Harrison is looking forward to 2015, where he hopes to get going on a new record.
“I am hoping to get something out soon,” he said. “My goal for 2015 is to keep making music that is genuine and comes from me.”
Harrison performs at the Queen’s tonight at 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.
For more information please visit www.timharrison.ca.