Hillbilly Highway – JP Hoe drops in with Mannequin

by Sheldon Birnie

Local songwriter and relentless performer JP Hoe is one busy guy this summer.

“I did not quite think about this properly,” he tells over the phone, laughing. “As it turns out, releasing a record and getting married within a three month period is a terrible, terrible idea.”

Scheduling conflicts aside, JP is more than pleased with all that he’s got on his plate in the coming months, in both his personal and professional life.

“The new record, I guess, is a culmination of figuring out how to song-write over the past ten years,” he says, humbly. “Ultimately I think it’s, I hope it’s, my best foot forward, and the true result of trying to become a better songwriter.”

After releasing the record, titled Mannequin, at the West End on Thursday, Hoe is hitting the Highway for a few weeks before taking some time off to get hitched. Rather than bringing his regular backing band, The Truly Richards, on the road, he’s opted this time for an “alternative backing band of percussion, cello, [and] violin” out with him.

“I think is the best opportunity to play the record in its basic elements.”

Mannequin finds our crafty songwriting hero Hoe exploring darker subject matter than his previous releases.

“It was sort of an interesting album in that all these songs sort of have a dark, twisted places,” JP explains. “But as it came out, I guess I do enjoy making songs that people can relate to in anyway they want to . . . It really delves into other people. Other peoples lives. I love to take stories, and on this record there’s a lot of mishaps and misfortune. I love to put myself in their shoes and try to imagine what I would have done.”

“It’s a very sad record for some reason,” he says. “I’m not sad, but I guess it turned out to be a good outlet to channel a lot of sad things.”

In fact, JP is a downright affable character, and a traveller who loves his home in Winnipeg. And not afraid to wear that love on his sleeve.

“I’m really, really happy to live and make music in Winnipeg. The music community is awesome. The music organizations, that probably don’t get enough credit, are incredible. The people in Winnipeg support live music. It’s useless if you have a music community that nobody goes to see. This album is such a strange one, and I just feel so fucking lucky that I get to do it and that Winnipeg is home base.”

Catch JP Hoe, along with the New Lightweights at the West End Cultural Centre Thursday, May 10th, for an evening of “organized chaos.”

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