Michael Bernard Fitzgerald

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald Lands in Toronto and Lands Supermarket Residency

Besides being a mouthful of a name, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald (MBF) has been steadily growing as a Canadian commodity in the west for the past few years.

The Calgarian has become a staple in his hometown, playing the last two Virgin Festivals in his hometown, and selling out a 1800-person capacity hall for the release of the Love LP back in June.

But he's left Calgary, and as of two weeks ago he now lives in Toronto. I figured there were at least two good reasons to give him a call.
1) He is playing a one month residency at Supermarket starting November 18th.
2) With no long distance fees to deal with, it's a totally affordable call.

To be honest, I was actually unaware that he had moved to Toronto, but when I called him I realized he was just a few blocks away - and already relaxed, if not settled in.

"I'm just hanging with a friend. I've been here for a couple weeks. This is my third week living in Toronto. I wanted to be in here a bit more, on a permanent basis. At the end of October, I started renting a place and so I drove out and here I am."

I don't know a lot about the Calgary music scene, but I do know that there are shows going on every night of the week in Toronto, in a very wide range of venues. If I was a musician, I would embrace this city and utilize all of its advantages. However, since the interview is not about me, I asked MBF why he decided to switch teams and about his experience in Calgary.

"Toronto's definitely has a lot more presence in a lot of different ways, so it makes sense to be here right now. Plus, in Calgary I can only play in intervals."

I quickly discovered that even though he may have moved, he wasn't about to start cheering for the Leafs just yet.

"For me, starting acoustic... I started by playing covers in bars and stuff like that. Then I started playing cooler bars, and there are a couple in Calgary that really support independent, live music. I just found that a lot of community got behind me. The businesses, radio, and people were really supportive."

Although the Love LP is not his first full-length, it is his first disc to be released with the label Load Music, which makes him labelmates with my favourite Calgarian rock band, The Dudes.

MBF is often compared to Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson, and while musically he does possess that guy-with-guitar sound, his vocal styling is very much his own - he's bringing something new to my iPod. I found out that although he is a solo act he easily adapts to larger settings and is not afraid to fill a big stage with other musicians. For his unofficial CD release party, he sold out the Jack Singer Hall in Calgary (capacity 1800) and put on quite the performance.

"That was probably my biggest show. I had about 120 people on stage with me: a 40-person choir, 25 drummers, a 28-person orchestra, 15 acoustic guitar players, and 15 dancers. That was the most people I've ever put on stage."

And next year? A choir tour!

"Yep, I'm planning on doing a Western-Canadian choir tour. I'm going to take 25 people to five cities. That'll happen in February."

MBF has assured me that this Wednesday there will not be 120 people on stage. It'll just be him with an acoustic guitar.

But he never said anything about not having 15 dancers...

Photo courtesy of Load Music.

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