Joel Plaskett has earned an awful lot of honourifics in his career so far, counting folk hero, indie darling, and national treasure among them. And that’s just since the Halifax musician started making records of his own in 1999. For a decade before that, he was one-quarter of Thrush Hermit, a band of scrappy Superchunk disciples who became hard-rock revivalists and one of the last survivors of the ’90s pop “explosion” of major-label interest in Halifax.
Canada’s east coast has never been much of a pop-culture mecca. Most musicians from the region who’ve ever made it big moved away. But armed with a stubborn streak and a knack for great songwriting, Plaskett has kept Halifax as his home, building both a career and a music community there. Along the way, he’s earned great respect: when he plays shows in Alberta, east-coast expats literally thank him for staying home.
Nowhere with You is the study of how he pulled this off, from the origins of Canada’s east-coast exodus to Plaskett’s anointment as “Halifax’s Rick Rubin.” It’s a story about what happens when you call a city “the new Seattle,” about the lessons you learn playing to empty rooms in Oklahoma, and about defying radio-single expectations with rock operas and triple records. It’s about doing what you want, where you want, no matter how much work it takes.
Josh O’Kane is a staff reporter with the Globe and Mail. He has previously written for the Telegraph-Journal, Toronto Star, Exclaim!, and New Brunswick’s Here Magazine. He grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick, but, like thousands of Maritimers before him, now lives in Toronto.
“O’Kane’s familiarity with the scene and the general excitement around the East Coast at that time anchors his narrative, but even more enjoyable is his palpable enthusiasm for the music he documents . . . O’Kane’s research is thorough: his detailed account of much of Plaskett’s catalogue is amplified by interviews with members of Plaskett’s bands, his family, and Plaskett himself, creating a full picture of a life lived through music.” — National Post
“Canadians love to talk about our great storytellers of the past when we have one walking amongst us today. Joel is as deft with words as he is with emotion. He is as truthful, funny and brilliant as any who have come before him. Any opportunity to learn a little about Joel is one that is not to be missed." — George Stroumboulopoulos
“Well-paced, comprehensive and extensively researched . . . More than a biographical account, Nowhere With You is a meditation on roots and community.” — Globe and Mail
“For any fan of Plaskett’s, Nowhere With You is simply a must-read.” — Winnipeg Free Press
“An exemplary rock'n'roll biography, perfectly tracing the timeline of Plaskett's rise up the ranks of Canadiana while also offering up enough unknown tidbits to surprise even the most well-informed supporters and historians of East coast indie rock.” — Exclaim