Rocker Kim Mitchell reflects on musicians in the age of pandemic

Why not go for a soda? Rocker Kim Mitchell checks out a can of Haw Pop from Manitoulin Brewing Company. photo by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—Don’t call veteran Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell an icon—he hates that! The Expositor caught up with the musician before his gig onstage headlining the Friday night lineup at Rockin’ the Rock in Little Current.

“Oh, stop it,” he said. “I feel awkward with all that.”

“Doing what I do, it’s a job we do,” Mr. Mitchell said. “We are all doing something we do for humankind or the planet. I just happen to throw notes around, but I work hard at it. If you want to hear what my friends call me I’ll give you their numbers.”

Mr. Mitchell hangs his hat in the west end of Toronto these days. “Been out there 15 or 16 years,” he said.

As for what he thinks of Manitoulin on his first visit, “I really love it,” the Canadian legend said. “I drove around a little bit. I went for a swim today down by the lake.” Sadly, his schedule didn’t allow for a lot of time on the Island.

“There are two sides to the pandemic,” he said. “There are those who say, ‘I learned to play the saxophone’ or ‘I wrote four albums’ and those who say I didn’t do anything—I didn’t do anything musically.”

In his defence, the musician had just finished recording an album, ‘The Big Fantasize,’ before the pandemic hit. “I was kind of exhausted,” he said. “For the first couple months I was ‘okay I’m good with this.’ I was walking my dog, me and the dog decompressing.” But soon he began to chaff. “After two months it was kind of, ‘whoa, this is kind of going on too long’,” he recalled. “Now getting back into it is kind of surreal and it’s been a long time. It’s not like riding a bike.”

But getting into it without the synergy of the crowd proved challenging. “Some people really went for it, I tried, I would pick up an acoustic guitar at home I really love,” he said. “After five minutes it was, ‘meh, com’on Webster, let’s go for a walk’.”

As for any words of advice or message he would like to get out to folks, “Just I am a grateful guy that I got to do what I love. I urge any young person who’s interested in music to go for it and try to make it your own,” he said. “That’s all, just do something in life that pleases you, even if it is not full time. I meet a lot of people who are unhappy too. ‘Ooo I hate my job.’ That’s no way to go through life—life is really short. I just turned 70 and I look back at it and think, ‘that went really fast’.”

The Expositor gifted Mr. Mitchell with a Haw Pop from Manitoulin Brewing Company, hopeful he might take a swig or two onstage. While the musician was amenable, the idea was quickly nixed by Mr. Mitchell’s stage manager. Probably just as well, after all, ‘Might as well go for a soda’ is something of an iconic Kim Mitchell title—and we won’t go down that road again.