Hi, and thanks for visiting rob mclaren dot ca, the website featuring Rob McLaren (that’s me).
I am a musician and music teacher based in Smiths Falls, ON, with my family. I grew up in Red Deer, AB, before spending the best part of a decade in Toronto. I play guitar, banjo, fiddle, and steel, and I sing. I play in Union Duke and The Barrel Boys, and I’ve backed up Ken Whiteley & the Beulah Band, The O’Pears, The Lovelocks, The Fugitives, and lots of other fine Canadian folky friends of mine. I’ve been a teacher, composer, bandleader, guest clinician, and church choir soloist. I like basketball and music played the right way, that is, interactively, as a group, with expression and improvisation rooted in strong fundamentals.
A few years ago, I got the urge to record a few of my songs on my own. They were kind of a mishmash of old time, country, and folk that hadn’t quite fit with any of my bands, so I decided to make a record, the first under my own name since the EP I recorded for my final project at Humber College. The idea was to capture a single performance of each song, recording the singing and playing simultaneously, and then go from there. With the help of my friend and excellent engineer/producer/percussionist Mike Ardagh, I set up in my basement with just two microphones and a zoom recorder, and did a few takes every day, sending them to Mike, until we had a record. Then we relocated to various basements around Toronto to flesh things out with the help of some other great musicians. The whole process took years, squeezed in between tours and other commitments, but we kept coming back to tinker with these songs. I believe a record is never perfect but is just a snapshot in time, but this one ended up being a series of snapshots across a longer period.
The subject matter, like the genre, is varied. Sometimes I wrote about love and loss, and the conflicting urges for and against big life changes. I also wrote about how the preps-to-pros era in the NBA saddled kids just out of high school with gobs of money and impossibly high expectations before the implementation of rookie salary scale and minimum age requirement in the late 2000’s. I wrote songs for myself to enjoy, and I hope you’ll enjoy them too.
In between all this I’m still on the road and in the studio with Union Duke & The Barrel Boys, and still finding opportunities to play with other great musicians and learn new songs. Give me a call if you want to ask about lessons, about a gig, or about my favourite tunings on lap steel or banjo. Follow me on instagram for gig updates and string noodlings. Thanks for visiting, and hope to see you at the next show!