Bio

Stewart McKie

Singer-songwriter-musician

Yes, life gets better after 50. Ask Stewart McKie. From rock ‘n’ roll roadie and booking agent at 19 to a successful 25-year middle management career, the Kitchener, Ont. based songwriter shows you are never too old to chase your dreams.  

Music and songs were always companions in McKie’s life; he wrote his first songs as a teenager — experimenting with melodies, song structure, and crafting lyrics. But, while other friends pursued music full-time, he put his passion aside to climb the corporate ladder. Following a buy-out package from his last employer, McKie took time to reflect and ponder what was next. The artist was overcome with a desire to write. He set up a home studio and got to work. Besides unleashing a spurt of new material, this creative awakening led the songwriter to dig into his vast catalogue of unreleased songs and rework some compositions written more than 30 years ago. 

The result, Save Me a Seat, is McKie's solo debut. Released in April 2021, the record features 14 songs that sway from country to soul and from rock to blues. Recorded in his hometown at Fred Smith’s studio (The Umbrella AcademyThe Borgias), the compositions showcase the musician’s varied influences: Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan. “My parents were into big band and jazz,” Mckie says. “We found common ground in country music.”

Save Me a Seat is just the beginning of McKie’s musical journey. Since its release, the artist has not stopped writing. And, he frequently collaborates with other artists from a variety of genres. Recent co-writes include: work with French Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Sokal and a new song with CJ Cooper featuring Australian Rapper SINnista_Minista. He is also exploring synching songs for TV and film.  

“At this point in my life, it’s more about just enjoying the ride than the end goal,” says McKie, of what his future in music holds. “But I love music and I’ll never stop chasing these dreams.” 

 

Album details

  

As Tom Petty sang, ‘the waiting is the hardest part.’ For some, that wait is longer; yet, no longer the length of pause, it is usually worth it. Kitchener-Waterloo musician Stewart McKie proves this point with Save Me a Seat. The artist’s solo debut arrives 30 years after shelving his dreams of a music career. Released in April 2021, the record features 14 songs that sway from country to soul and from rock to blues. Recorded in his hometown at Fred Smith’s studio (The Umbrella Academy, The Borgias), the compositions showcase the musician’s varied influences: Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan.   

McKie gathered a community of friends and veteran local musicians to bring their talents to the studio and help flesh out his songs; some new and some written decades ago. McKie plays lead guitar on nearly every song and sings on five of the tracks, including the current single: “Better Days.” 

Save Me a Seat features a few co-writes and plenty of collaborations. McKie unpacked 30 years worth of songs scattered in notebooks, and buried in boxes from his various moves to British Columbia and back and wrote many new songs. The record opens with the catchy, “Dancing on Sunshine.” McKie’s son Mason inspired this song. Father and son were out for a walk one winter day when Mason turned to his dad and said, “We are dancing on sunshine Papa!”  

“Prisoners of the Heart” features soulful sounds of Saxophonist Dave Wiffen and Trumpet Player Ray Podhornik as well as bluesy lead vocals from Cheryl Lescom — a veteran of the Canadian music scene, who once backed up Ronnie Hawkins and toured with Long John Baldry and Hills Walter from Fog Blues and Brass Band. Possessing a powerhouse of a voice, C J Cooper adds lead vocals on a pair of tracks (“Hardest Part”; “Walking Away,”). She also duets with McKie on “Blue Eyes in the Morning.” 

Save Me a Seat is a bold statement. The songs linger long. McKie embodies the old cliché that you are never too old to chase your dreams. Mark my words. If these 14 songs are any indication, his musical journey is just beginning. 

David McPherson 

Author. The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History Dundurn Press (Sept. 23, 2017); Massey Hall: An Enduring Legacy (November 3, 2021)

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