Greg Keelor Shares 'Meditative' Songs On New EP

Canadian musician Greg Keelor, best known as guitarist and co-founder of Blue Rodeo, recently released his fifth solo project, Last Winter.

The four-song EP was recorded in the winter of 2016/17 at his Ontario farm. Keelor was recovering from the rigours of Blue Rodeo’s 1000 Arms tour and dealing with news of some friends’ health issues.

“What I’ve done my whole life is to take those sorts of things and translate them into song because that is how I figure everything out,” he explained, in a release. “It’s how I place myself emotionally and physically in the world. It’s the way I sort information. I learn through singing. 

“Singing is what connects me to the river of song. And, so I just started playing, but my body – arms, elbows, ears – were so messed up I could only play the songs that are on this record. They’re kind of quiet, meditative, yogic songs.”

One of the tracks on Last Winter is “Gord’s Tune” – inspired by Keelor seeing The Tragically Hip’s final concert at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.

“The song is my impression of that show and just how beautiful it was – how inspiring,” he recalled. “There was just something so beautiful and moving about what Gord [Downie] was doing. He could inspire so many people. Inspiration is such an amazing thing.”

Keelor, who was born Francis McIntyre and adopted as a child, shared that “Three Coffins” is based on something his biological mother Mary Theresa said before her death.

He recalled: “She said: ‘There’ll be three coffins.’ We all stopped and looked at her. ‘There’ll be three coffins. There’ll be one for you,’ and she points at me. ‘And there’s one for Martha and one for me,’ meaning herself. ‘And they’ll take us to the river and lay us gently in the stream, we’ll float out into the ocean, we’ll sink beneath the waves and there we will stay until we become fish and start again.’

“I just thought that was fantastic. That’s brilliant. It just stuck in my head. I remember thinking that I should move in with her for a while and write down all of these things.” 

The EP was released with a lyric video for “Early In The Morning,” a song Keelor describes as being like a prayer.

“It’s an old traditional blues tune and the version I know best is by Peter, Paul and Mary,” he said. “I just love the song but I didn’t have the energy to do it at that tempo. This is what I was capable of at the time.”