Friends, Enemies, and Internet Losers: I have returned.

Posts tagged “art

Hair-brained Year-long Project #18284-F: The dress

Okay.

I have decided I am making a dress (not for me, thx).

I’ve always liked fashion. But I can’t sketch, stitch, cut, or sew.

I am starting from scratch. But with my library card, my passion for ridiculous ideas, and my mom’s sewing machine, I’m giving myself one year, 365 days, to design and make a dress. Why? Why the fuck not?

Advertisements

Repost: “Leave the Gun; Take the Cannoli”: The fun and foibles of live music

This entry was originally posted on the Baron S. Cameron Blog 13/11/2008. I was just giving it a read and thought I’d throw it back out there. BSC.

“Leave the gun; take the cannoli” is possibly the greatest throwaway line ever. Delivered beautifully by Richard S. Castellano, as the affable but deadly Peter Clemenza in The Godfather, I consider it to be one of the best lines in the history of American Cinema. But what does it mean, and, perhaps more importantly, why would I bring it up in an article about live music?

When Paulie, Vito Corleone’s ex-driver, is murdered, Clemenza and his cohorts don’t dwell on it. Paulie is never mentioned again except when Clemenza lets Sonny know that the job is done: “Paulie? You ain’t going to see him no more.” Essentially, the dirty work is behind them; they move on. The gun is the awfulness of the immediate past. The cannoli is the anticipation of a sweet future.

As a medium, live music can be as exciting as it gets. There is a thrill of instant creation, a rush. It may not easily liken itself to skydiving or bungee jumping, but there is still the anxious possibility of a moment of glory and, equally, of a mistake. Luckily for musicians, such mistakes are rarely physically fatal. The death of one’s career, however, is sometimes a very real possibility. Unlike NASCAR though, very few people attend live music shows just to see if someone fucks up; they go to see a performance. And, provided that the mistakes are small enough, people rarely notice them. It is usually the solo burden of the musicians who are often the only ones in the room who know that something has gone awry. They should never be too hard on themselves though. We, the audience, are waiting for the next note, and, perhaps more importantly, we are waiting for the musicians to supply it, which they won’t if they are dwelling on the note that didn’t quite make it.

It is physically impossible to play the same song twice performing live; humans are not exact enough to do it. Even if a song could be perfectly replicated, the live moment originally accompanying it would be gone. The art of creating is fleeting. The effect or result of the moment of creation can be recorded in some fashion (tape, canvas, ink) but the actual moment is gone forever. It is a point in a dynamic process that exists for an instant and is then disappears to whatever realm it was pulled from in the first place. Creation moves forward. Where we were is not as important as where we are going and this is why live music forgives our little mistakes: what’s done is done and rarely remembered as it actually happened. Humans are also pretty lousy recorders of history, especially when our passions are aroused. So unless the DAT’s rolling, don’t sweat it. This of course is not to say that a musician doesn’t need to try on the previous note, only to make it up to us with the next one – we’re talking about small mistakes here, not shoddy musicianship. Also, if you really can’t play, you’re doomed. “They suck” is a pronouncement more difficult to revise than “murderer” or “whore.” Changing a crowd’s mind is simple enough with some practice but getting a crowd out to see a band that “sucks” is nigh on impossible.

But the mistakes can be glorious too. Most scientific discoveries don’t happen with a “Eureka!” but with a “How the hell did that happen?” Take Radiohead’s “Creep” for example: the seemingly out of place guitar crunches before the chorus are, as guitarist, Ed O’Brien, explains, “the sound of Jonny [Greenwood] trying to fuck the song up.” In the final cut, however, it is Jonny Greenwood’s “fuck ups” that end up being the most memorable part of a very memorable song.

So here is wisdom: If you flub a note, don’t sweat it. We’re waiting for the next one. In short, “Leave the gun; take the cannoli.”


Design V. Documentation: "What Is Art?" and my problems with photography

Every society and culture that I am aware of, has garnered my awareness through their desire to be remembered. Those who want to disappear, persons or societies, often do so. But I believe that we can logically assume that most would like to leave some type of legacy or, at least, a dent in the wall somewhere to show they existed.

A classical studies professor I had at UBC once suggested the reason we have the ancient literature we do is because it was popular and mass produced thereby greatly increasing its chances of surviving the ages. Does this mean that our society will be thought of as a society of Dan Brown readers and Justin Bieber fans? Well, truth be told, we are a society of Dan Brown readers and Justin Bieber fans, but we are also much much more. Unfortunately, that “much much more” is rarely as well documented as the other. When was the last time you saw major media outlets spend a week discussing the latest tattoo acquired by the lead cellist in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra?

So, my contribution to pot is documentation.

I review, promote, provide, and take pictures. But are the pictures art?

A lot of photojournalists have had their pictures declared “art”, won awards, etc… But are photographs always art? No. Where is the line? What is a good picture?

We (well anyone with a Facebook account) know what a bad picture looks like: over exposed, poorly framed, out of focus, poor use of subject… But what about a picture that is perfectly exposed, framed, focused, representing the subject as intended but the subject is a printing press you’re photographing for a technical manual? Is it art?

Another problem very evident in the world of Facebook and MySpace is the word “photographer”. I have owned cameras for over 20 years, but does the mere fact that I take pictures make me a photographer? According to a dictionary, yes. A quick glance through 99% of Facebook albums and the answer is “no”.

So let’s look at these:

Click me; I get bigger.

The Olympic torch bearer running through West Vancouver. I was prepared for him to arrive. I was able to run along side. I like this picture. If my flash had gone off, as I had intended it to, the picture would have been ruined. So… means, opportunity, and dumb luck. Am I a photographer yet?

Click me; I get bigger.

Serena Ryder, arguably the most famous person I have photographed. People see this pic and recognize her, see her. Is it well framed, exposed, focused? This was also the first time I was told by a stage manager that I had three songs to shoot before I had to pack it in. Other people were shooting pictures, flashes popping on their little palm cameras… The stage manager thought I was a professional: Three songs. No flash. Am I a photographer yet?

Click me; I get bigger.

Jeff Myrfield of The Stumbler’s Inn. I love to photograph these guys and have a lot more access to them than most. I like this pic. I was trying to take it. However, it is very dark. Jeff is backlit. To get this shot I needed to ramp up the ISO and got “noise”. I shot this with an f1.8 lens. If I had a lens with a bigger aperature, would this be a better photo? Could I have brought the ISO down and decreased the “noise”? As a non-professional, despite my desire, I can’t afford lenses that won’t eventually pay for themselves. Also, I’m asking a lot of questions about technical aspects of shooting. This time I had a plan, access, but wasn’t entirely sure if I was using my gear to the best of its abilities. Am I a photographer?

Click me; I get bigger.

Walking back from a live show, I stopped to take a picture of an escalator being repaired. As I turned, I saw this. Click. This picture led to this:

Click me; I get bigger.

This picture is an interesting one. It is the first time complete strangers have let me pose them so it is a step, for me personally, towards taking the kind of “people” pictures I’d like to. But this picture is also a big disappointment for me.

I shot it in black and white. I didn’t think to switch my camera back to standard. That graffiti is vivid and amazing. In this picture it is dull.

This picture isn’t in focus. I suck at manual focusing and the autofocus on my 50mm is sometimes worse. Plus, I’d been drinking, which is never conducive to focus… heh.

Here’s the thing. Could I have kept my subjects there while I changed lenses and reset my camera? A fun idea can become an imposition pretty quick sometimes.

Art cannot be dumb luck but dumb luck can contribute to art. Art is talent but cannot be restricted to only trained thought. Art is knowing your tools but not confined by them…

So what happens with a guy who just wants the world to know how cool his friends are and how much fun this city still has? I don’t know if I’m a photographer let alone an artist.


The History of the Hipster

The common mosquito, in its current form, is over 95 million years old. Despite its many eons of bothering the hell out of others and the sad truth that it probably isn’t going to go away any time soon, we still feel the need to complain about it, them. This is not hard to believe of course; they are annoying as hell and generally don’t provide a whole lot in return. Some would argue the same could be said of hipsters. I’m deciding. Granted they haven’t been around for 95 million years. Contemporary hipsters can be traced back a decade or so. But, as I will explain, there have always been hipsters, the parasitic culture gentrifier.

A Time article, written almost a year ago to the day, outlines the modern hipster. Dan Fletcher describes them as “smug, full of contradictions and, ultimately, the dead end of Western civilization.” This may be a bit harsh, but it’s not the first time it has been said.

Herb Caen, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, coined the term “beatnik” in 1958. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were not amused. If you read the Beat writers’ work, you’d know they almost always had jobs and worked very hard to play very hard. Kerouac was admitted to Columbia on a football scholarship, a strange crossover for the King of the Beats. They did not create a scene, but drew attention to it. This is the invitation, the opening of the door that beckons to all the hipsters. In a letter to the New York Times Ginsberg wrote, “if the beatniks and not the illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash men.” When Ginsberg wrote of “Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,” I suspect he was referring to those who came before, those who were the scene, not the ones who made it. Even the French Revolution was going along swimmingly until Maximillien Robespierre hijacked the Committee for Public Safety and kind of ruined it for everyone. Hipsters have existed everywhere.

The term “hip” is from the jazz clubs of the 30s and 40s. Before that, the etymology becomes a little hazy. Suffice it to say, to be “hip” meant that you were in the know. To be “in the know” now is not very difficult, especially in the digital age, when music and image are swapped like so many hockey cards. I think what angers a lot of people is that the hipster culture isn’t a culture; it’s a flea market where culture is bought and sold. Fletcher writes, “…instead of creating a culture of their own, hipsters proved content to borrow from trends long past.” Indeed. I once had a 15 year old kid tell me that I was responsible for Kurt Cobain’s death because I “didn’t appreciate him.” I didn’t have a calendar on hand, but simple math revealed that he would have been two years old when we killed Cobain and not even an egg-seeking sperm when “Bleach” was released. That’s probably why I don’t remember seeing him at a show.

You would never go to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. dressed as a veteran if you were born in 1987. The Black Label Society had to cancel a show in Manchester because of threats of violence from a local motorcycle club. The club argued that BLS’s use of “rockers” on their jackets was an insult to any 1%er who’d actually earned them.

So is there anything actually wrong with a parasitic subculture intent on the lifelong search for cool? If there is, I blame Henry V. His Saint Crispin’s day speech called out all the “gentlemen in England now abed” and called their “manhoods cheap.” Essentially, if you’re not at the party, if you’re not hip, you suck and should think yourself “accursed.” Maybe that’s a bit of stretch. We are a society of consumers, of course, but cultures are supposed to produce as well. The true danger of a parasitic culture is not what it feeds on but how it feeds.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a sentiment first expressed in the 3rd century BC by some Greek guy, then it doesn’t actually exist except in the abstract. We must see it for it to exist. This would also imply we should look for it. But if our search only extends as far as what someone else has told us is beautiful, the buck stops at the “industries of mass communication” Ginsberg railed against.

Candace Pert was responsible for discovering the opiate receptor in the human brain. In a 1981 interview with OMNI she stated, “Heroin bludgeons the opiate receptors into submission, functionally shrinking them.” In other words, if we keep outsourcing our opiates (she also stated that most drugs have less potent, natural analogs within the human body) our bodies can lose the ability to use our own; if we never leave the house, we become dependent on the deliveryman. This is the danger of the cool-seeker who doesn’t actually look. Hunter S. Thompson takes a similar stab at Leary’s Acid Culture in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, calling them “a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture.”

I too am a cool seeker. I too am a hipster in some aspects. But I want to believe that I replace that which I mine from the depths of culture in equal measures. I write about culture and society not to hand down truth from on high but to inspire you to take up the search as well. As Shakespeare wrote in Love’s Labour’s Lost, “Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye, / Not utter’d by base sale of chapmen’s tongues.”

So we continue to swat at the hipsters buzzing around us. They’re not going anywhere though so get used to them. As for yourself, art can be art for art’s sake but cool shouldn’t be cool for its own sake. Cool is the blind faith of the unoriginal. At least that’s what I heard.


Musician Profile: Kalvin Olafson

Kalvin James Richard Olafson was born and raised on a farm just outside of Morden, MB, about two hours south of Winnipeg, but calls Vancouver home as an adult. He plays guitar, but mostly a 1971 Ibanez electric and Ovation acoustic but owns several others. He’s in the Vancouver Based band MINTO.

First instrument was the piano which I gave up unfortunately to play baseball I was 8.

First public performance as an ensemble was a music version of the little mermaid. Solo, was playing a song I wrote in a coffee shop at 15.

First Minto (formerly The Smokes) show was at the media club opening for my first solo album I think or it was at the Astoria in 2003.

Stage fright: not anymore unless I’m playing for family.

Favourite show I have a few… Saskatoon at Lydia’s Pub: we didn’t know what to expect but the place was sold out and we played our entire catalogue three times and repeated three songs it was a blast!

My favourite band right now is Monsters of Folk and Huron/Ian Blurtons happy ending. I can’t stop listening to their albums on repeat.

Favourite live performance in the last year was Fucked Up.

All time favourite bands would be The Band/Rolling Stones/Beatles in that order.

Ten years from now I will be touring the world with Minto working on our 4th album and dating super models.

Ten years from now (probable answer) I will be touring North America with minto working on our third album dating cougars.

Next gig is June 24 at Brixx in Edmonton, followed by The U of C on the 24th (@ 2pm) and Banff at The Devils Gap  (@ 8pm) also on the 24th, and the Hi Fi Club in Calgary on the 26th. For more tour info and dates click HERE

Read more music related posts HERE


Two Weeks of Vancouver Fun: Femke van Delft, The Pack AD, and Shiloh Lindsey

I wish I could tell you I’ve been really busy but, truth be told, I’ve just been sluffing off, watching TV, and gaining weight. Joy. The last two weeks have actually brought a few things that I should have been writing about so I will do that now.

Thursday before last (June 3rd), I was at the Railway Club for the opening party of Femke van Delft’s exhibit, “The F-Stops Here”. If you couldn’t figure it out from the clever title, it’s a photography exhibit, specifically concert/live shots.

Femke is the first to say hello when I get there. We take a moment to remind each other where we know each other from (standing too close to the Railway Club stage on a few occasions) and she thanks me for coming. Femke works the room, saying hello to anyone and everyone who doesn’t say hello first, with the self-deprecating yet strangely confident air of an artist. Later on, she sits with me (while her salmon burger gets cold), flipping through a portfolio of her work. Her photos require little or no explanation but the little stories behind the photos are great. These are the pictures I want to take. They are not just a case of access; she certainly has an eye for this. Paparazzi in LA get paid for badly framed pictures of Jennifer Aniston buying sandals whereas photogs like Femke don’t get paid for taking amazing shots of not-so-famous people doing what they do best. It is a real shame. That’s why it is so good to see local talent have nights like this. It’s a chance for friends, acquaintances, and strangers to get a first hand look at how good they really are. A friend had gone to see Ricky Powell at the Fortune Sound Club the night before and said he was a drunken, stuck up mess. Femke is by no means sober; this is her party and she enjoys it. Unlike Powell, however, when she gets up to address the crowd, she is funny, welcoming, and above all gracious.

Femke introduces the first musical act for the evening, Alexa Bardach (who also plays guitar for the East Vamps). I have no idea what to expect when the music starts and my first reaction is, “Oh… Okay.” To me it’s not so much music in the “record store section” sense; it’s more of a sound poem or picture. It’s about choices: why this sound with that effect. If you surrender to it, and just let it be what it’s going to be, it washes over you like a warm wave and is nearly trance inducing. I would be very interested to watch (hear) the process of putting this piece together. I assume it might be like my afternoon sessions in my kitchen, playing with tastes in a dress rehearsal, a week or so before the dinner party, finding what does or doesn’t fit together. It’s cool stuff.

I wish that I could stay longer but I must be off. I say goodnight to Femke and give her my congratulations again. We promise each other it won’t be another six months before we see each other again.

Friday (June 4) finds me sucking back cheap cans of PBR at The Biltmore Cabaret waiting for The Pack AD to take the stage. The Biltmore is sold out tonight and slowly begins to fill. For those of you who still haven’t made it out to The Biltmore for a show, for gawd’s sake, go! It’s still dark and downstairs but by no means the cesspool dungeon it used to be. It is a venue with a bar, not a bar with a stage.

The Pack AD start their set around 9:45. They’re awesome, okay? I’ve seen them play a few times and they keep getting better, closer, tighter. I know what you’re thinking but your wrong. The more a band plays is not always a guarantee that they’ll get better. I’ve actually seen bands that get worse the longer they play. I once said before that where most people eat, sleep, and drink, “The Pack AD tour.” It’s true and their stage act has been honed into a well-oiled but thunderous Rock ‘n’ Roll machine. They have a new album out, We Kill Computers, and the new songs are awesome.

Watching these ladies play live is something of a marathon. Maya’s kick drum and snare work alternately as artillery and infantry and get right into your skull. And I’m still trying to imagine how such a large sound (guitar & vocals) manages to erupt from such a slight package as Becky Black. Becky, I’m certain, is the reason sound guys/gals bolt their gear into racks. Every compressor in the room wants to run for cover when Becky leans into the mic and gets ready to let loose. The Pack AD slay and there are no two ways about it.

Again, I have to ditch before The Sadies play. It’s nothing personal of course. If it weren’t for my ongoing battle with North Shore buses, I’d of stayed to catch what I’m assured would be an awesome set.

After a less-than-entertaining downtown footrace, I manage to catch my bus at the last possible stop because a couple of tourists don’t take the driver’s word for it that the fair box doesn’t accept bills. My favourite part of the night? Sprinting, two steps at a time, up the immobile centre escalator at the Granville Skytrain station (yeah, that one) and still missing my freakin’ bus by 30 damned seconds.

The next few days pass uneventfully except for painting a bar one night. Let me tell you: beers, shots, and wood stain make for one hell of a hangover.

Thursday (June 10) and I’m back on Main Street headed to the Anza Club to see Shiloh Lindsey play for her record release party.

Eldorado kicks off the evening with a great set. I’ve missed seeing them by five minutes a few times. Tonight I arrive early enough to make sure I see the whole thing. I’m glad I did. The music is fun. Now, I don’t mean “fun” in the “church groups wearing matching shirts singing Jesus camp songs” fun. I mean put a smile on your face and enjoy your life fun. The bass player is so relaxed he reclines on a stool. That’s what it looks like until I kick myself for not noticing he’s got a broken foot. Yay me. By the end of the set I have convinced myself I’m in love with Angela Fama.


SWANK! takes the stage as The Swank String Band. Kirk Douglas makes his way out from behind the drum kit and joins the rest of the boys of the front line. It’s a loose but energy packed set. Swank are incapable of “phoning in” a set; they’re too good to be bad. But with all the smiling and impromptu banter going on, one soon gets the impression that The Swank String Band are here tonight to have a great time with their friend Shiloh on her big night. If you’re looking for one hell of a party, make sure SWANK! rsvp’s. If you’re looking for the best damn campfire sing-a-long known to human existence, invite The Swank String Band. Also, for the record, Bone Rattle Music is not the place to go to swipe sunglasses if you’re so inclined.

Earlier in the evening, I hear Shiloh discussing “the dress” and whether or not she’s going to wear it tonight. She wears it. It’s a beauty and a throwback  to the days when Country & Western music had royalty, unlike the jesters that seem to be holding court these days. Shiloh’s set is the best I’ve heard from her, and that is saying something. Shiloh’s voice has always been able to cut through me and tonight is no exception, but there is a point in “Figurines of Faith” where her voice takes a tone I haven’t heard before. One name jumps to mind: Melanie Safka. Yes, she’s the one who sang that ridiculous “Rollerskates” song, but I’m thinking more of the deep tones of “Candles in the Rain” here.


Up until tonight, I would never heckle Shiloh onstage, but after watching how a rowdy “fan” was wrestled into submission by The Switchblade Sisters (burlesque performers Villainy Loveless and Lola Frost), I’m seriously considering it. Shiloh uses the comedic interlude to change into the more recognizable jeans and western dress shirt. She apologizes that the costume change took longer than expected and explains, “There’s boys in there,” with a nod over the shoulder to the backstage area.

The rest of the set is pure Western romp. James Wood and Graham Myrfield join Shiloh on stage to sing background on “Tired of Drinking” and Chad Taylor lends his trumpet (which any Ennio Morricone fan can tell you most certainly is a western instrument) to add the ghosts to “Head In My Grave”.

The Switchblade Sisters make another appearance and I can’t figure out why, as I look at the rear display on my camera adjusting the settings, my auto-focus servo continually whines as it locks and unlocks, until I look up and see two sets of pasties swirling in front of the stage. I can understand why the camera can’t focus as I seem to have the same problem at the moment. I think I just fell in love again. Sorry Angela.

I hit the road after Shiloh’s set (apologies to Rich Hope). Us West Vancouver boys don’t turn into pumpkins at midnight but our buses sure as shit do. As I walk down Main Street towards the Skytrain station, I ask myself the same question I always ask on this particular and all too familiar walk: Why the hell don’t I just bite the bullet and move out here?

It is certainly food for thought.

Read more music related posts HERE.


My Country 'Tis of Thee: In the studio with Shiloh Lindsey

Somewhere in Nanton, AB, a cowboy is without his hat. I know where it is. Well, that is to say, I know who has it. And from what I’ve heard, she more than deserves it.

If you ever visit Nanton, you’ll find the Auditorium Hotel, “The Odd” to the locals. It is filled with stuffed animals (taxidermy, not Care Bears) and old logging and farm tools. It smells dusty along with the combined homey bar smells: spilled beer and cleaning products. Built in 1902, it supplies its patrons with “cozy rooms, […] home-style meals, and regular live music.” On a Thursday night in 2009, Shiloh Lindsey was the live music. Towards the end of the night, a local cowboy apparently took exception to Lindsey’s urbanized cowboy hat and insisted she take his. The locals were shocked. His daughter could not believe her eyes. From what I understand, the act was analogous to Clint Eastwood handing over his Navy Colt to an up and coming gunslinger.

How do I know this? I asked.

Sitting in Kirk Douglas’ studio, Sound Lounge Productions, I ask Shiloh how her brand of Country Music was received in those places where you still find more cows than concrete. She answers with the story about a hat, its brim worn down in the spot where a real cowboy tipped it with his work-stained hands to countless passing ladies over the years.

It makes perfect sense to me. When Lindsey sings, she sucks you right in. There is an honesty in her songs that is absent from a lot of music today. This is not a deliberate attempt to fight against what Lindsey and Douglas refer to as “the machine,” that place where some music originates where there is “no real honesty.” I say that this isn’t deliberate in the same sense that breathing air into your lungs is deliberate; it just has to happen. Lindsey writes from a place where her music could not exist without its inherent honesty. Honesty is the quantum particle Lindsey’s music is built from.

We break to listen to a track from the new album. “Six 6ft Skids” is a piece of pure Concrete Country. Listening to the song, I am transported back to the night I first stumbled west down East Hastings after ingesting too much of too much. The lyrics relate a humorous story we can all understand even if the chorus, “Six 6ft skids,” is slightly cryptic. I ask Lindsey about the meaning of the chorus (pounded out in gang vocals by some of the local lads) and she smiles. If you didn’t already know, you never would. Suffice it to say, if you’ve ever worked in a liquor store, you’d get it. The song itself, feels a little disjointed after the first chorus, but as it settles on you, everything falls into place, literally. I ask Lindsey and Douglas about this and we start discussing how Shiloh “build[s] a song.”

For Shiloh, song writing is therapeutic and cathartic. It starts with “writing out some stuff,” progresses through the “talking and therapy” stage, and finishes with “a whole box of Kleenex” sitting empty in a corner of the studio. Despite having all the raw emotion of the average 14 year old’s first attempt at Emo poetry, Lindsey’s lyrics and music aren’t weepy or self-pitying. Other than the obvious difference in talent, Lindsey’s writing differs from overwrought, teenage angst partly because she’s not an angst-ridden teenager, but mostly because she doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her. She’s not looking to bring you down; she’s just telling you a story. If she hits a nerve it’s because all of us can place ourselves in her shoes, no matter what size we wear. This is the sign of a true songwriter: someone who pours so much emotion and honesty into a song that the song in turn draws an equal amount from the listener.

Listening to another track on the album, I am struck again by another component of Lindsey’s music: her delivery. I first heard it in “Whiskey and Rum” on her first album. Sometimes, she rambles. A lot of singers pain themselves to enunciate every damn word. When we’re upset or excited, we don’t break off into a pseudo-Shakespearean soliloquy; we ramble. She vocalizes emotion and it adds to your overall experience. All this is also part down of her stripped down approach to recording. “We wanted it raw,” is how she explains the mindset for recording her latest album. When you see her play live, how she could walk into a studio with anything but raw, is a mystery.

The next time Shiloh and I meet, we’re at The Five Point on Main Street. I known her for a few years, seen her live more times than I can count, and sat in with her working in the studio but this is the first time Shiloh and I have ever sat down and just talked about nothing. As the conversation, and beer, progresses, we share stories we’d never have expected.

Far be it for me to ever view Country Music from an existentialist’s point of view but I think I’m about to.

There have been moments in Shiloh’s life that were anything but happy. I won’t get into details as they really aren’t mine to share, but I will say the honesty and emotion in her music now have a genesis as far as I’m concerned. But rather than shy away from the stories of her past, she writes and records them for us. She doesn’t ask for your sympathy but just hands you a note for you to read and pocket.

I brought my camera today to take pictures for this article but don’t. Once you start chatting with Shiloh, you find you don’t really want to do anything else. We take a small tour of the neighbourhood, including a stop at her job, The Brewery Creek Liquor Store, where we restock for our travels. We end up back at her place, where we keep talking about everything and nothing. One of the boys formerly of No Horses is on his way over for rehearsal and I find myself taking pictures of everything, everything but Shiloh. She’s a beautiful young woman but conversation supersedes image until she finds a book of old poetry. It’s that book of old poetry, the one every writer has sitting around somewhere and is always embarrassed to find. She flips it open and starts reading. My shutter finally clicks. No posed picture could ever tell you who Shiloh Lindsey is but when I catch her flipping through a book of old poetry, she is just a human who loves life and words and has this amazing talent to share them with all of us.

The release of Shiloh’s new album, Western Violence and Brief Sensuality, is Thursday, June 10 at the ANZA Club (3 West 8th, Vancouver, BC).

www.shilohlindsey.com