Some artists simply put a smile on your face. Their love of the craft, their excellence, their overall joy in presenting their gift lovingly and enthusiastically to an audience comes together in one big grin that you will carry around for days.
Tobin Spring, guitarist, songwriter and singer from Huntsville is such an artist.
One need look no further than his recent sold-out shows for the Huntsville Festival of the Arts, More Barn: The Music of Neil Young, which delighted all those attending.
Creating a work based on the eclectic song catalogue of Canadian genius Neil Young takes rare confidence, poise, and dexterity that might easily ward off a lesser talent, but Spring, along with select fellow sidemen, brought this music to Huntsville for a second season with grand success.
Tobin Spring is well-known for similar extravaganzas. He has staged several highly successful ensemble appearances, such as the Muskoka Blues Connection and Northern Blues. Self assured and modest, Spring is straightforward in his approach: learn the material and then practice, practice, practice until it’s perfect. With his quiet demeanor and disarmingly supportive nature, he gathers superlative musicians around him to assist in his quest for the best presentation possible. By the time they reach the stage, Spring and company are ready, as they say, to hit the boards dancing.
From his early teenage years, Spring has been fascinated with guitar and is especially drawn to challenging himself with its nuanced intricacies. The guitar is featured as a prime solo instrument in diverse genres and guitarists tend to specialize in one or two, but Spring continues to explore a broad range of styles which undoubtedly accounts for his success as a much sought-after performer throughout Muskoka. He has established a thriving career as an entertainer capable of an extensive catalogue, which of course is the stock and trade of any working musician. Spring has long adopted the motto of playing what the audience wants.
Though his routine solo act displays a musicianship of the highest degree, Tobin Spring is also a highly developed, stirring songwriter and recording artist. With his first recording band, Laganza, Tobin and his band mates enjoyed regional popularity and their albums have been much loved since their first release, It’s Only Life. Their infectious brand of rock, reggae-infused songwriting and performances were exciting and memorable events. Both of their albums have garnered well-deserved attention, and though the band is currently not active, fans often hope for their return.
Tobin recorded one of the most impressive blues albums of 2014, Collective Blues Agreement, which still stands out for this author as one of the great overlooked blues albums of the past decade.
Raised in a musical family and influenced by his parents, Bill and Jeanine Spring–both avid musicians and devoted blues aficionados and also acclaimed for their Etwell Concert series in Huntsville–Tobin Spring has a deep love of blues guitar but also has an abiding passion for progressive rock and advanced country picking. This is at the heart of his formidable skills. It is only the very best who test their skill by stretching to reach for higher goals.
With all his work cancelled this year, Spring took that opportunity to explore and to diligently advance his ability by learning and adding new elements to his technical repertoire, even mastering note for note such daunting pieces as “YYZ”, an instrumental rock piece by Canadian band Rush from the 1981 album Moving Pictures.
Though the demands on his talent–both through teaching and preparation–are arduous, Spring remains a dedicated songwriter. Many of the songs he has recorded in the past have been aimed toward band experiences, but more and more his focus is on his solo career. Practically speaking, bands are expensive to keep on the road. Spring has been writing a series of songs more suited to a solo act or for two performers. He wants to write more for acoustic guitar, about life and living in this most special of places. To that end, he has been completing work for an exciting new future recording. He hopes to follow with a solo Tobin Spring show dedicated to his own material, which promises to be a welcome attraction.
The popularity of More Barn highlights the appeal that Tobin Spring offers. Although focused on the tracks from Young’s breakout 1972 success, Harvest, Spring and company presented material from the later albums as well. Divided into two sets, similar to Young’s own shows, Spring begins with an acoustic set, followed by a thrilling electric set. The interplay between Spring and his long-time friend, guitarist Brian Hawley, is compelling. Two guitarists trading phrases and licks, almost as if in private conversation, is perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of modern bands, but it’s a rare privilege to witness two powerful guitarists going after some of the most iconic rifts of the past fifty years in rock and roll.
Tobin Spring is a rounded, accomplished guitarist but more importantly he focuses his efforts to work and celebrate the opportunities Muskoka offers. This only adds to the richness of our cultural mosaic, providing listeners of all ages the opportunity to partake in these wonderful events and treasure the artistry that thrives in our wonderful community.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!