Hawksley Workman brings a workmanlike approach to his profession as a musician.
The Canadian singer-songwriter whose real name is Ryan Corrigan is currently on a tour of B.C. He’s at the SoCal Restaurant and Lounge in Campbell River Thursday, April 6, the Rod and Gun in Parksville Friday, April 7, Osborne Bay Pub in Crofton Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9 at the Clayoquot Sound Theatre in Tofino before completing the tour at Guilt & Co. in Vancouver April 11.
Workman was 13 shows into his 20-show B.C. tour when contacted by the Courier in Penticton Monday. He played in Penticton Monday night at the Dream Cafe after being in Prince George March 31 and Vernon April 1.
“It’s snowing back home,” said Workman, 48, who currently resides in Peterborough, Ont where his wife was born and raised. “This spring weather (here) is wonderful.”
Workman started using his stage name in his teens while beginning to pursue a musical career. It stuck with him and he became well-known during the era when fans found out about artists through music videos more than from streaming services today.
The Workman part of his name, he said, is a commitment to himself.
“I was the artist who believed in inspiration over perspiration,” he said.
Hawksley is his mom’s maiden name.
“I felt I needed to honour my grandma by changing my name and having her as a central force in what I had become,” he added.
He’s now been known as Hawksley much longer than Ryan Corrigan after 25 years in the business.
Workman has numerous full-length albums to his credit. He’s a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, drums, bass, keyboards and sings on his records, often switching between instruments even when playing live.
In keeping with those workmanlike qualities, Workman is always writing and recording music, often with a quick turnaround time
Much has changed during his time besides the nature in which people both listen to and purchase music. He’s been discovered by new fans within the next generation, if you will, stemming from parents who knew his music.
“I feel like I’m making some inroads with people,” Workman said. “There is a generational thing happening.”
The rock video era allowed him to build an audience, he said, and it’s picked up new steam 25 years later.
That’s a product of the music environment that’s contributed to incredible longevity for many artists. Workman doesn’t live like he did in his 20s, but has obtained a new lease on life from sobriety.
“I still feel young at 48,” he said.
“I feel like I’m at the top of my game. That has a lot to do with being sober the last four years now. Not that I wasn’t doing a good job. The road was a party. Now, the music is the biggest focus and it’s the most important. I just couldn’t sustain that rock and roll party that went on for 10-15 years.”
Reinventing yourself after a long career goes with the territory that brings some rewards and also pitfalls. But Workman agrees you can’t continually put out music that sounds the same without attempting to chart a different course.
“I‘ve put out 18 records to date,” he said. “You’ve got to delight your audience and disappoint your audience. If you’re not evolving, you’re not challenging yourself or your audience to have that continuing relationship.”
Getting on the road and into the third week of his B.C. tour has been enjoyable for Workman.
“The reception we’re getting out here is overwhelming,” he said. “The whole idea behind this tour is we don’t get out here enough to get into the small towns and cities. We only come and play Victoria, Vancouver, sometimes we’ll come out and do other places.”
Particularly after COVID, many artists like Workman are developing a new relationship and closeness with fans that the smaller venues provide.
“I feel like this is the kind of connection I want to make out here,” he reasoned. “In this way, I feel like I’m right up close to people. We are playing the pubs, bookstores. To get into a small town in a small room with people, somehow it’s very 20th Century. It’s good to relive the olden days when people got in a room together.
“As much as we tour Europe and Australia every year, this is my home country where I’ve done the majority of my touring and work,” summed up Workman. “I feel honoured I get to move through Canada now.”