In January 2018, Marc Charron needed a break.
The solo musician had been playing music full-time for 14 years with up to 250 gigs a year—sometimes working until the early morning hours for days upon days.
"I burned out on music," he says over an Americano at Gone Eatery last Saturday morning. "I took six months off. I got nauseous thinking about it. It was the weirdest thing for someone who's been a life-long [musician]. So I took an unplanned six months off."
It was hard, but ultimately the right move.
"My whole identity, that's what I based it around," he says. "What am I if I'm not a musician?"
He still played music for himself in the comfort of the decked-out box truck he shared with his wife and rescue cat, but for half a year he didn't perform once.
There wasn't a turning point that brought him back the stage, but rather, an organic pull towards his calling.
"I don't know what changed," he says. "I remember booking my first gig in Squamish at A-Frame ... I don't know why I went in there, but Jeremy, one of the managers [recognized me and] was like, 'I used to book you in Ottawa.' That same day he was like, 'OK, you're playing Friday.'"
That chance reunion re-ignited Charron's performing career—and the bookings kept rolling in.
Since then, he signed on with a talent agency that books several Whistler venues and fulfilled his goal of playing the Dusty's stage a few times. He plays both original tracks—his love of rock filtered through a singer-songwriter lens—and takes on popular, but rarely covered hits like "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "All Night Long," and "Little Red Corvette."
"As soon as there was an ignition of fire I was like, 'I'm going to do this again,'" he says.
Charron first started out playing drums as a kid growing up in Ontario near Ottawa. But after his dad died when he was 13, he picked up a guitar, in a way to honour the life of his dad, who was a singer and guitar player as well.
Then at age 18, after graduating high school, he decided to head West and his passion for skiing led him to Whistler.
"I got a job working on the Gondy on a bunch of chairs. Lived in staff accom, bought my first legal beer here at the beer store and that was my grocery store," he says gesturing to the nearby stores.
He was playing music then, but he lacked the confidence to perform much around town. While he spent two seasons in the resort, Charron, who, for context, is now 45, ultimately left for more than two decades—until mid-2018.
In between, he met and married his wife and the couple bought a small house near Camp Fortune, in Quebec. Eventually, she suggested they ditch their day jobs, sell their house—and almost all their belongings—and live the simple life travelling and living in a converted box truck. (They've since upgraded to a bigger fifth-wheel with luxuries like a studio and a desk.)
For the most part, they travelled around B.C., living in various ski towns. After a winter at Red Mountain in 2018, they hit the road again, this time, intending to pass right on through the Sea to Sky corridor—only, they got to Squamish and never left.
"We didn't try to move back here," he says. "I love the fact that we were like, 'We're here' and it just happened. It's been almost two years that we've been in the Sea to Sky area. All the other times I was trying to move here—or chose to move here. This time we were just driving through ... I feel like it chose me this time."
On top of playing a growing number of gigs in the area, Charron also writes personalized songs and jingles for people and companies. He's penned tunes for a festival in Ottawa, a 10-year wedding anniversary, and a Dubai girl's birthday as a gift from her father.
"I'm pretty good at it—just from years of writing. I can sit down and write a song. I may not play it tomorrow or ever again, but if you're asking me for a song right now, I can sit down and write it," he says.
When he's not crafting custom songs, Charron is living for the local shows that keep him playing music. Every so often the crowd and performer just gel and feed off each other's energy.
"Like last night," he says. "I don't know what happened last night. It was incredible. I felt like people actually sat and watched and listened to music and enjoyed music ... When that happens, it's a tank filler."
Catch Marc Charron next at the Mallard Lounge on Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and again from 8 to 11 p.m.