Terri Clark bares her Northern Soul

Fishing helps her ease back into Canadian life

Story:

INCONCERT

WHO: Terri Clark with opening act Crystal Shawanda

WHEN: Nov. 19, 8 p.m.

WHERE: Interior Savings Centre

TICKETS: $39.50 or $44.50, available from Ticketmaster or the ISC box office

Terri Clark has come up for air and happily reeled in any wide-mouth bass she can pick up along the way.

The country singer and songwriter, who grew up in Alberta, took the Nashville turnpike to commercial success in the '90s, producing a string of hits that included If I Were You, Now That I've Found You and You're Easy On The Eyes.

These days, as Clark prepares to kick off a Western Canadian tour at Interior Savings Centre Nov. 19, she's found time for the simpler comforts of life.

"I've recently bought a place in Canada and have been doing some fishing," she said. "I've been learning how to live a life outside of music."

It's been 10 years since Clark performed here after Fearless, her fourth album, and she last appeared at Mountainfest in 2003. While not exactly in hiatus - she only recently finished a 23-city acoustic tour south of the border - she has done some stock-taking recently. Call it a little rest in the saddle.

"I've been trying to find a way back home ever since I left. You're always where you grew up."

With country music, you don't have to read her tealeaves to figure it out.

Clark has had her share of personal challenges in the last five years. First she had a split with Mercury Records, with whom she signed her first record deal 10 years earlier. Next her high-profile marriage (the wedding was broadcast on CMT) to her road manager, Greg Kaczor, ended in divorce after two years. Then her mother - who made her own mark as a folk singer years ago - endured a battle with cancer for three years before she died this spring.

She sings of hardship in a track off her 2009 release, The Long Way Home. A Million Ways To Run is probably the most personal song she's written. The bridge goes:

"There's a freedom I have found,

In staying on the ground,

Long enough,

To chase those demons down,

And I thank God I know I'm not the only one,

With a million ways to run ... "

On this tour, Clark returns to her usual form, backed by a full band and with a strong opening act in Crystal Shawanda.

"I'm going back to the full-band stuff for my Canadian shows. I still enjoy doing all the bigger shows in Canada. Nothing gets stale this way."

She promises to spend a little one-on-one - doing a few solo numbers - with her audiences as well. In fact she'll be sharing some of her soul-searching about what it means to be Canadian. She writes about that experience in Northern Soul, a new song yet to be recorded.

"When I first moved south, I found such a culture shock. Everything was so different."

Watching the Maple Leaf fly outside her cottage (remember, this is Ontario, where they're called cottages not cabins) reminds her affinity and affection for all things Canadian.

"I feel like I'm home. It's hard to put into words. That's why I wrote about it at my cottage."

Just don't ask for the whereabouts of her favourite fishing hole.

"I'm not telling or I'd have the OPP at my door," she quipped.

"I figure there are enough lakes in Canada and I ought to be on one of them."

Clark's known as a hard worker in the music industry and she's reaped some the rewards from her fans. Eight times she's won the fan's choice for entertainer of the year from the Canadian Country Music Association.

"That's the award that means the most, the one the fans give you."

"I think people know when something's authentic," she reflected. "I don't know what it is. I call myself the cheesiest woman in country music."

And then this: "You know what, I don't think too hard about it."

Sounds like the fishing's really paid off.

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