By Jonathan Hale
At Wolseley Barracks by day, Sgt. James K. MacDonald performs as the chief clerk of central region cadet headquarters. There, his administrative responsibilities have put him in charge of 81 units in southwestern Ontario. This, one must remember, is only his day job.
"The first time I had a guitar in my hand I was six years old," MacDonald explains. "Ever since then it's always been my main hobby."
In the evenings, MacDonald drops his last name and role in the military for a musical passion, which he has been perfecting since that young age.
"I grew up in New Brunswick in the old farmhouse kitchen scenario," MacDonald explains. "My grandfather [would play the] harp, me and my uncle on guitars and my aunt on the piano. We would play some bluesy stuff like that. Gordon Lightfoot was also kicking in, so my uncle was teaching me all of that."
New Brunswick didn't have all the answers to life that MacDonald desired, so he decided to join the army, a decision that would allow him to see more of the world and meet various new and interesting people.
"I've always thought of [music] as a career," MacDonald notes, then reasons, "But as Keith Richards said, 'There's no money in it.'"
This lack of funds did not deter MacDonald from writing a vast amount of songs for his band and playing whenever able to get a gig. Actually, MacDonald found being in the army helped his musical career, allowing him to tour various parts of the world during his off time while overseas.
In recent weeks, MacDonald has found satisfaction in the comfortable, quiet setting of the Brass Cafe, where he plays an acoustic set on Fridays and Saturdays.
"Right now I'm leaning towards a more folk/acoustic revival kind of music," he notes.
MacDonald is used to playing either alone or with a band in a much rockier, grunge-type setting but has said that the latter gives a lot of hassle and would be inappropriate for the most part at the Brass Cafe.
"When you play acoustically, you're not just another band," he concludes. "It's more intimate, more unique and people like it."