With a knack for biting commentary and eyebrow raising lyrics, Neil Conway is a fixture of the Newfoundland arts community. He is an events organizer, activist, and self proclaimed radical roots crooner.
After growing up between rural Nova Scotia, Toronto and Montreal, Neil Conway hitch hiked to St. John's in 1998 and still can't get enough of the place. Since then he has had his fingers in many musical pies including his own solo project, The Somethin' Family, a hip-hop/funk/reggae group known as The Discounts, a reggae band called Skank as well as improvising with various groups. He has performed as a dancer/musician with Sara Stoker's Collective Gutsink and Lori Clark's Loose Confederacy. He has been a regular performer at Sound Symposium, Peace-a-Chord Arts and Social Justice Festival, as well as frequent trips to St. Pierre et Miquelon.
His company, Funnerbunny Pro, is responsible for the annual Homegrown Dope Jam, The World Songwrestling Federation, the Heckle Me Awards Show, terminus1525.ca's Seagull Sideshow and regular events in various St. John's venues. He lives to dance and laugh and would like to see more people doing it.
Friendly and engaging, Neil Conway knows how to play for his audience. This compulsive lyricist gets his inspiration anything and his imagination may take him anywhere. Equally adept at writing folk, rap, rock, reggae and more; themes range from the political to the personal, serious to satirical. You never know what will come next from this startlingly diverse artist and neither does he.
A creative fixture of the St. John's, Newfoundland arts scene for over 10 years, he has remained prolific and provocative through good times and hard times. He is a founding member of popular townie reggae group "Skank" and leader of freakish groove dance machine "The Discounts" as well as folk-swing ensemble "The Somethin' Family." For CBC Television, he wrote and performed a music video/comedy sketch mocking the 2006 Canadian election and in 2008 he was commissioned to write a song about Newfoundland premier Danny Williams for national radio show "Go." Though widely know in his own community, he is only now emerging as an artist to the rest of Canada and beyond.
In 2004 he released "The Somethin' Family Album" and has since toured from coast to coast several times as a solo song maker; frequenting pubs, cafes, community centers, living rooms and the like for small but always impressed audiences. His second folk album, Roadblock, was praised for its witty take on current events and saw considerable college radio play and swell reviews. With the recent release of "The Discounts - Part One" another side of Neil Conway is finally exposed outside of Newfoundland. This Hip-Hop/Funk/Reggae project takes on many sounds but it's the tight delivery and quirky lyrics that ties it all together into one cohesive dance party. With at least three more albums ready to record and new songs arriving in his head all the time he plans to remain busy for years to come.
Transcript from an Interview with Neil
Do you play live?
All the time. Just across Canada so far -a bit In St. Pierre (French Island). I live for it. My favourite moments have involved Newfoundland comedians checking out my shows.
How, do you think, does the internet (or mp3) change the music industry?
In the grand scope of things, selling records can be seen as a blip in the history of music. Although it changed things forever it does not have to be preserved. By making music free on the internet, artists can play to a world wide audience without corporate influence or backing. This is a huge step in the right direction for music as art, not just a commodity. There is only air between us.
Would you sign a record contract with a major label?
Sure, if it was the right wording and people.
I like all sorts of music. The main thing that sorts out good from bad, whether it be hip-hop, folk or rock is songwriting. I like songs.
St. John's, Montreal, Winnipeg and Saskatoon
I play guitar and sing under various circumstances. I use a hollow body electric so an amp is nice but I can go direct -just cut out the mids and boost the highs.
Some media quotes:
"It's about time this guy put out an album!"
-Penguin Eggs Magazine, Edmonton
"funny, catchy, honest and worthy of your attention."
-The Newfoundland Herald
"a great collection of tunes the local bar circuit has been singing along to for years"
-Fred's Records, St. John's
"A heart-felt satirical commentary on love, life, politics, pie and ice cream."
-Rhiannon Thomas, Current Magazine, St. John's
"A recipe for smiles and head nodding"
-Lezlie Lowe, The Coast, Halifax
Official Website: http://neilconway.ca/