Home Feature David Newland is releasing his new Northwest Passage-themed album Friday

David Newland is releasing his new Northwest Passage-themed album Friday

David Newland
For a while, David served as a brand ambassador for Adventure Canada, a role that combined his love of music with his love of the country and its geography.


David Newland is a Canadian adventurer, writer and miner of song – and also the co-founder of this here web site – so we’re always excited when he puts out a new project. And that’s exactly what he’s doing April 26 at Hugh’s Room Live.

David’s releasing his fifth album, Northbound: The Northwest Passage in Story and Song, a live collection of original songs based on his travels in the Northwest Passage with Adventure Canada. Recorded live at Trinity United Church in Cobourg, ON on Nov. 3, 2018, it features some of Canada’s finest musicians, including David’s band, Uncharted Waters, with Sam Allison (Sheesham and Lotus), Saskia Tomkins, Steafan Hannigan (Loreena McKennitt), and Oisin Hannigan. They are joined by Inuit throat singers Siqiniup Qilauta Sunsdrum (Lynda Brown and Heidi Langille), fiddler Alex Cheung, jaw harpist Lois Suluk and more.

David was born in Ottawa and is now based in Cobourg – and he’s a classic folk archetype: the big fella with the deep, resonant voice, who undertakes adventurous journeys to the Canadian hinterland and returns with powerful songs documenting the experience. For Northbound, he spent six years immersing himself in Arctic lore, taking multiple trips to the High Arctic via his day job at Adventure Canada.

The first song on Northbound, “No Way to Stay Warm,” finds David inhabiting the perspective of one of the sailors on Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to the Northwest Passage, revealing the voyage’s tragic error – a failure to work with the Inuit of the region. The sprightly melody and catchy chorus are buoyed by a propulsive bodhrán beat and accented by driving fiddle and low tin whistle.

“Poor William Braine” is a sombre lament for one of three of Franklin’s men who is buried at Beechey Island, which ends with a haunting musical reference to the classic, traditional sea-faring “Sailor’s Hornpipe.”

Stepping out of, and moving forward from, the album’s initial historic narrative, “Oh What an Awesome Sight,” sees David recalling his own personal experience witnessing the wonders of the north through a series of contemporary vignettes. Saskia Tomkin’s fiddle dances around David’s voice, flanked by the dueling percussion of father and son Steafan and Oisin Hannigan, culminating in a thrilling crescendo.

And “Monument” is a real standout on the album, with the striking vocal blend of rising star Annie Sumi and seasoned singer Tannis Slimmon against Saskia Tomkin’s lush cello. It’s a slow, dignified, funereal testament to the human cost of creating one tiny settlement in an effort to establish sovereignty at the height of the cold war. The Uilleann pipes, played by Hannigan, add to the drama and evocative spirit of the song.

As a southern Canadian being welcomed by the Inuit of the north, David respectfully cedes the space occupied by the album finale to “Quiviasuliqpunga,” a vocal and Inuit drum evocation by Johnny Issaluk and Siqniup Qilauta.

You won’t find a more heartfelt, engaging, or authentic tribute to the people, places and culture of Nunavut and Greenland – what European Canadians have traditionally called the Northwest Passage – than David Newland’s Northbound. Throughout this album, he hopes to pass along his treasured, reverent experience of the far north to listeners.

Northbound will be released on April 26 at Hugh’s Room Live. Doors are at 6:30 p.m., and music starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25.00 in advance and $30.00 at the door. Call 416-533-5483 for dinner reservations and to guarantee seating, or visit https://hughsroomlive.com/event/davidnewland/.

For more information please visit www.davidnewland.com .

See David Newland live!

  • April 25 – Richmond Hill Cultural Centre, Richmond Hill, ON – w/ Siqiniup Qilauta  
  • April 26 – CD Release at Hugh’s Room Live, Toronto, ON – w/ Siqiniup Qilauta & Guests
  • May 2 – Art Gallery of Northumberland, Cobourg, ON – solo
  • June 7 – CD Launch, Victoria Hall, Coburg, ON
  • July 5-15 – Adventure Canada’s “Iceland Circumnavigation”
  • July 1 -5-25 – Adventure Canada’s “Iceland to Greenland”
  • August 7-11 – Stone and Sky Music Series, Pelee Island, ON – residency w/Siqiniup Qilauta
  • August 13 – Huron Shores United Church, Grand Bend, ON
  • August 16-18 – Summerfolk Festival, Owen Sound, ON
  • August 22 – Stockey Centre, Parry Sound, ON – w/ full band & Siqiniup Qilauta
  • September 2-18 – Adventure Canada’s “Out of the Northwest Passage”
  • Sept 20-22 – Cultivate Festival, Port Hope, ON
  • Oct 26 – Spirit of the Hills, Cobourg, ON
  • October 19 – The Village Playhouse, Bancroft, ON


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