Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative
It is tough to be a musician, especially during the pandemic.
That’s how Petrolia Singer/Songwriter Mike Gallant’s song, My Petrolia, was born. It is a self-deprecating tune about trying to get people to care about your music. “Would it kill you guys for a round of applause” is one of the lines in the lyrics.
The North Bay native moved to Petrolia 14 years ago. He met his wife, Katie, at Canadore College in North Bay where they were both students. Katie and her family are from this area and he now considers himself from Petrolia.
He started playing music 20 years ago. “I wanted to pick up chicks,” says Gallant. “It only worked once,” he laughed, referring to Katie.
He has put out three albums so far, the first in 2012 and the last in 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning. He says his goal is to get on to bigger stages, saying that the largest audience he has played in front of was 400 people in North Bay.
But paying big audiences is tough in Lambton County. There is a very small music scene locally, says Gallant. The musicians are really supportive, but getting the interest of the wider community is more difficult. The community does give you the ability to dream, Gallant said. “No one tells you no,” he said, adding local businesses have also been supportive. But the crowds are not always paying attention.
So when Gallant was sitting in his basement during the lock down he started thinking about the bar scene and wrote My Petrolia an ode to the bar scene “Like everyone, I was wanting a human connection,” he said.
Gallant teamed up with Corey Leckie to produce the video. Leckie did some brainstorming and picked places to feature in town.
“I didn’t want it to be corny or be considered a tourist video,” says Gallant.
The video was completed in only one day and he had to sing it over and over again as they captured the best shots. Gallant can be seen singing on top of the Petrolia sign at Discovery Line, walking down Petrolia Line, where he meets his nemesis in the video, a particularly feisty patron, played by Jeremiah Goodacre.
The response he has received has been positive and really cool, saying that much of the interest generated has been “hyper local.”
Gallant has played the song around the campfire when the gigs were scarce, but says it is more of a “big room song.”
He is really enjoying going out and playing live and taking in that community experience, especially after the pandemic. The song has become popular during his gigs, as he usually ends up playing My Petrolia three times a night with the crowd singing along to the refrain.
And it’s been popular on YouTube getting 3,700 views in four weeks.