Patton MacLean and the Lost Highway Navigators: Canadian Roots Country Band Profiled

Updated on October 5, 2017
KPM2017 profile image

Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

Patton MacLean started setting his poetry to music as a teenager. During university he appeared in the Saskatchewan music scene as a solo performer and harmonica player. Studying English literature and ethnomusicology eventually lead to a scholarship to study the folk music of Asia. He was encouraged to travel there by the renowned Canadian guitarist and folk musician David Essig.

Patton elaborates, “When I met him, he was talking about Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero’s journey where the hero leaves home, goes through tests and comes back with the knowledge gained from the tests. It really inspired me. I went to Korea with a half-formed idea of learning what I could and applying it to my own writing. I left with my guitar and planned to immerse myself in Asian folk music. I started off that way but it ended up in Asian popular music.”

In a roundabout way, this lead to an awakening of Patton’s interest in classic country music. He says, “I’d hated country music growing up. I hated old time fiddle music growing up. I didn’t like the sound of it at all. It was not what I was ever interested in, but while I was living in Korea I started, to become interested in the old traditions of North American music. It was only being away from home that made it interesting for me.”

He refers to The Lost Highway Navigators as a project rather than a band. Patton explains, “All of the players in it are in high demand and are all personal friends. They all have other music projects that they work on. This is something they do part-time when they’re available.”

He adds, “I’ve always been kind of surprised by the calibre of musicians that I’ve been able to attract to the project. It’s a no-commitment relationship for them, so it allows them to fulfill their other commitments as well.”

Over the years, MacLean’s approach to music has changed and evolved. He started out exclusively writing and performing his own music. As he learned more about classic country music, he started learning to sing like the artists from the past. He says, “I didn’t realize what a great benefit there was to learning the vocal techniques of individual artists. It has really helped my own vocal technique. I’m able to do things with my voice that I could never do before.”

He goes on to say, “Those classic songs are now part of our set. We talk a little bit about the history of honky tonk music in the show, but I’m an original songwriter and my creative focus is how this music is going to influence my songwriting in the future.”

Early on, Patton would set the poetry that he wrote to music, but over the years the songwriting process has evolved. He says, “It’s exactly the opposite now. I’ve got a chord progression, I’ve got a melody, I’ve got a harmony and I have my hooks kind of figured out. If I’m lucky, I’ll get on my bicycle and as I ride I just make the sounds over and over again in my head until words or phrases drop into place. I’ll write down those key ideas or phrases when I get home and I’ll build a song around them.”

The core band members bring a wide variety of musical backgrounds to the project. Patton says, “I’m so fortunate to work with these people who have a lot more professional performance experience than I do. All of the members are better musicians than I am, but none of them understand the genre as well as I do, so my task was to educate them about it. Ryan Spracklin (our fiddler) has a Celtic background but he switched to bluegrass with me a number of years ago and now I’m asking him to play country fiddle which he’s never really played.”

He continues, “Gillian Snider is one of Saskatoon’s most highly sought-after female jazz singers as well as playing the accordion, She listened to country music as a kid and her mother’s a famous country musician on the Tommy Hunter show. She hated country music growing up, though, worse than I did. For her, it’s trying to find out where the accordion sits in the mix of what is traditionally string-based music.”

The Saskatchewan music scene is thriving in Patton’s view. He explains, “I think that the Saskatchewan music scene right now is just batting a thousand. Artists are very well- supported in their community. There’s been a massive growth in Saskatchewan festivals over the last fifteen years. But there are more rooms around as well so it’s a more competitive environment for venues and festivals.”

In the near future, the band plans to release their debut album and expand their touring schedule. Patton says, “The new album is going to be all original material. I’ve made friends down in the U.S. in the country and bluegrass community who are willing to contribute, so I’m really excited about that. I’d also like to expand our touring to Alberta, Manitoba and some of the western United States.”

He adds, “We’ve got marketing coming forward to support the album. All of the singles will have performance-based videos so that an AD can look at them and use them for booking or promotional purposes.”

Another thing that Patton would like to do is add female vocals to the cover tunes that they perform. He says, “I’d like to take advantage of Gillian’s singing ability to bring in more Wanda Jackson and Patsy Cline songs to present the woman’s perspective on honkey tonk.

One future goal that he’d like to fulfill is writing about more deeply emotional topics. Patton says, “ I recently completed a song called Highway 9. It was a difficult song for me to write and a hard emotional song for me to sing.But audiences respond. I want to try to do more songs like that. They don’t necessarily have to be sad songs or songs about loss, but I want to explore the emotional depth of songwriting."

Music and teaching are his two passions. Teaching is his main career and it helps keep him inspired. Patton says, “My job is incredibly rewarding I love it and I’m excited to be there every day. I’ve never felt that I was stuck in my job while wishing that I could be a musician. I’ve approached my music with the attitude that I’m totally free to do it and have fun doing it.”

In terms of creative inspiration, exercise is something that helps Patton. He says, “In the summer, I get on my bicycle and in the winter I cross-country ski. I do a lot of working out melodies and ideas in my head. It’s a very undistracted environment to write in.”

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, spinditty.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://spinditty.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)