On the road

Local guitarist Ariel Posen embarks on solo tour

After years of performing and touring with fellow Canadian acts, renowned Winnipeg guitarist Ariel Posen is headlining his own tour of the U.K., Canada and the U.S. to promote his first solo LP, How Long.

Posen got his start by booking his own gigs as a frontman in a band, then made connections in Winnipeg and began playing regularly for other bands.

Winnipeg’s tight-knit music community provided Posen with plenty of work as a freelance guitarist. However, when he moved abroad with his wife a few years ago, Posen was removed from his usual gigs.

“I needed to work, and I needed to get some kind of income,” said Posen.

“So I said, you know what, I should probably just start booking my own gigs again, like I did at the very start.”

“I had an all new love for it,” he added, “and I was like, this is really fun, I should probably do some writing.”

He began writing tracks for How Long about two years ago, and approached Murray Pulver to produce the album.

“I didn’t force anything. I didn’t even have intentions of touring, I didn’t have intentions of writing a record or writing an album or anything,” he said.

“Just write some songs, and see what happens.”

Making music comes naturally to Posen after being surrounded by it his whole life — he began playing guitar at nine years old, and was brought up in a musical family.

Posen recalls going to work with his dad at CBC, where he had access to their enormous music library.

“Every single album that has been out or had just come out was there, and I could just take as many of them as I wanted, put on headphones and listen to them, and of course the best part about it was going through all the liner notes, reading the lyrics,” said Posen.

Posen is excited for people to be able to take home physical copies of his first solo album, which contains liner notes and artwork, instead of the basic digipack.

“My growing years as a musician and as a guitar player was all about bands and songs,” said Posen.

Posen said Nirvana, the Beastie Boys, Green Day and Rage Against the Machine were predominant influences in his formative years, but cited the Beatles as his number one influence. Posen began to get into blues guitar players, like Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Mayer, a little later in his musical development.

His upcoming solo tour provides the opportunity to share his new material with a broad audience, and also to engage in his favourite activity: performing.

The more he performs, the more he is motivated to create and play music.

“There’s something when you play to people, and you react to it, it’s just this combined effort from all parties,” said Posen.

“It just gives you this energy and an adrenaline that you kind of can’t get in any other scenario.”

Posen said his solo career is just beginning.

“This [album] represents the last couple years where my head was at and it still represents me, but I’m already moving forward,” said Posen.

“I actually almost have another record written already — that’s what happens when you sit on an album for so long.”

Posen’s tour will stop in Winnipeg on Feb. 1 at the West End Cultural Centre. Tickets are available at the WECC box office, ticketfly.com and Into the Music.