Music. My true inspiration and the only consistent element of my artistic process. The older I get, the more I need it to focus and I truly believe I wouldn't be an artist without it. Naturally I have mad respect and find encouragement through my fellow visual artists, but there's always been something about the music setting my pace that inspires me more than anything else.
So! Instead of writing a big, sappy summary of my 2017 art adventures like I've done in the past, I've made a set list of 10 of my favourite Canadian recording artists who are frequently the motivation behind my work year after year. I'd have a stack of blank canvas' without the following artists and I encourage you all to take a break from the Drake & the Biebs to spoil yourself with the likes of these hard-working musicians! In no particular order...
1) Colter Wall - I can only assume you've been sleeping under a rock if you haven't heard this name. I've been following Colter's work for years and it's amazed me to watch him transition from a young kid picking away in Swift Current, SK to singing his tunes alongside a sold-out crowd at one of Toronto's most legendary music venues. Continually gaining recognition from Rolling Stone magazine and some of the biggest names to ever take the stage(recently opening for Jerry Lee Lewis just to paint the picture for the unfamiliar), Colter's songwriting paired with his deep vocals are a true masterpiece if you ask me. I always describe Colter as "a humble prairie kid with a voice bigger than he is"... if he hasn't proved that true to you already, this video for "The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie" will. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l4gdhPqh3E
2) Megan Nash - If you're tuned into my social media, you've surely witnessed me boasting about another prairie-rooted favorite of mine, Miss Megan Nash! I've been lucky enough to have Megan entertain my friends & family at two of my solo art shows and I can stand witness that the chops on this gal can warm you up on the coldest Saskatchewan day. As great as Megan is on record, I personally think the best way to hear this lady is live where she'll not only blow your socks off with her raw range, but she'll have you splitting your seams with laughs too. I plead 100% guilty to annoying my neighbours by singing out of tune and on repeat to her latest album "Seeker". Here's a fun lil prom themed video from the first track, "Bad Poetry". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qUVf6mw5nE
3) Weaves - Love at first sight is debatable, but love at first listen is real and to play full cliche here, these guys "had me at hello". I first heard this four piece indie-rock band from Toronto at Lee's Palace back in 2015. I went in not knowing a single lick and I left thinking I could give their Mom's a run for the title of "Weaves biggest fan". I'm a sucker for a strong, female front lady and Jasmyn Burke's unique, charismatic stage presence and style is no exception. Not to take away from the fellas and the waves their music is making across the globe, but Jasmyn has even inspired lipstick onto their merch table... get this gal a crown! Give their video for "Slicked" a whirl, the second track and my favourite from their latest album, Wide Open. (Grab your sneakers and report back if it also made you want to go play a round of kick-ball) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEV1Zn2OJaY
4) The Dead South - I dont even know where to begin with the beards & beauty that make up the bluegrass 4-piece better known as The Dead South! Another band hailing from Saskatchewan who make me feel proud more than anything else, these guys & gal are breaking ground one chorerographed beer-crack at a time. I've been fortunate to have gained solid friendships with this crew and witnessing the behind the scenes devotion they all put in to making and sharing their music is nothing short of inspiring. Not to mention seeing the influence they've had on the fans who are lining up to buy their flasks & bolo ties! A few years back when they told me they were about to drive around downtown Toronto playing on a flat-bed truck in the middle of winter, I told them they were crazy. The 37 million views on the video that's since gone viral proves they knew exactly what they were doing. At risk of under-explaining just how good they are, take my guarantee that no matter your taste, these guys will have you drinking their Koo-laid and tapping your toe. Check out their video for "In Hell I'll Be In Good Company". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9FzVhw8_bY
5) Terra Lightfoot - Continuing with my theme of women who dominate the stage, Hamilton's Terra Lightfoot is a force to be reckoned with! I heard Terra's name long before I tuned in and fell ears over asscheeks for her sound. Terra & her band are a solid mix of roots, soul & rock'n'roll. With combat boots and a Gibson in hand, Terra's look screams badass, but her music and lyrics paint a picture of a powerful, down to earth, sweetheart. I've never met Terra, but the few times I've communicated with her on social media made me recognize how humble and grateful this woman is, undoubtedly making me a lifelong fan. Put your dancing boots on and stomp along with Terra's most recent video release for "Paradise" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X6WRIsmC6Y
6) Johnny 2 Fingers & The Deformities - Before I pump the volume on these three rock’n’roll dirtbags(said with the utmost respect), I have to shamefully admit it took me way too long to tune in! Growing up in the same streets as I did of Moose Jaw, SK, I’d been familiar with the name that perfectly describes them years before I ever gave them a spin. I’d even had people say to me “You’re from Moose Jaw? So you know Johnny 2 Fingers then”… and while I do know Johnny Dale, front-man and true rockstar on and off the stage, regrettably I didn’t know their music at the time. It took about ten seconds into the high-energy, head-banging show that these three put on for me to start singing their praises to fellow music lovers. In between full time jobs, raising kids & fighting in independent wrestling matches, The Deformities have been jamming hard for years and despite their sweaty t-shirts, there’s no signs of stopping ‘em! Here they are "Singin' Out of Tune". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtMDMS9OQ10
7) League of Wolves - If I had a dollar for every time I've told someone to listen to the League of Wolves, I'd be able to fund their next album, and would gladly do so! Another collaboration of proud prairie boys, this five piece alternative rock group has roots as strong as a family tree. Which only makes sense since two of the five are twin brothers. But despite their genetics and upbringing, they prove to be a solid brotherhood of enjoyable rock'n'roll that continues to evolve the more and more they plug in. I may sound like a broken record here, but I again have to note my pride to see some small town Sask artists stealing the spotlight across the country. From my studio to painting murals around the southern part of our home province, these guys have consistently been the music in my ears behind many, if not all of my art projects. Take a spin with them in this fun rural-shot video for "Runaway". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOQV3--Lw_s
8) Laura Cole Band - I could sum this one up with “I friggin’ LOVE the Laura Cole band!"… but most of you reading this know I have more to say than that. Laura and her crew have become good friends of mine and if you’re familiar with these Hamilton-based, bluesy-rock’n’rollers, you know that Laura is the exact description of that strong female front woman that is always an instant sell for me. Not to shade Laura and the rest of the band, but I have to admit that for me the cherry on this cake is her dad Ron, who plays the keys in his signature fedora and makes for the perfect compliment to his daughters Amy Winehouse/Gin Wigmore-esque voice. On top of all that, this band has worked with one of the most inspirational and hard-working friends that I have, Mr. Steve Bigas. Before moving onto his next chapter down south, Steve was a former member, producer and sound influence in this band. On top of loving and grooving to the music they make, the Laura Cole Band will always remind me of Steve & Jen Bigas and the mutual encouragement & support they continually give out to artists like myself, Laura and waaay too many more to name. Tap into this live, on the floor recording of “Sweet Escape” at Steve’s former Porcelain Records location in Hamilton. (Also the home of my first piece of street art!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsjEtc1R5NM
9) Wine Lips - Full disclosure. I started listening to this Toronto-based band purely because I can relate to their name a little too well ha! And just like that sweet vino, once I got a taste of what this three piece rock trio bottles up, I couldn't stop pouring. A good chunk of my wasted time is spent trying to decide who I should whistle to while I work, I almost always default back to Wine Lips to get the paint party started. Their upbeat, catchy tunes are sure to get you grooving when you'd rather pass out and call it a night. Again I have to give props to the girl power in the band. Any lady who can rock a drumkit the way Aurora Cole does is worthy of my playlist! Peep their video for "Out of Control". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1kAf2hLGl0
10) Jenie Thai - This list may be a little biased to Saskatchewan & the GTA, but it wouldn't be complete without my favorite Edmontonian, Jenie Thai! Jenie has easily been one of the most played artists in my studio since discovering her three years ago through her family, my friends the Chalapenko's. This gal plays the keys like no other and sings the blues straight to your soul. Talk to her after her show though and her sweet, friendly attitude will make you feel anything but blue. In addition to her beautifully composed songs, Jenie has a way of telling a story alongside her music that makes you swear you've known her your whole life. Again, I highly recommend catching her live to really pick up the love that she belts out. Jenie can be found playing around the GTA where she currently resides, but she frequently lines up gigs around her hometown too for all y'all in Oiler territory. Here's a preview of what you're in store for, a live recording of "So Lovely". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfRh6OmMQf0
I could go on forever about the music that keeps me painting but I'll stop here. If you liked what you heard, go follow these artists to be sure you don't miss the next time they're rolling through your hood. My ears are always open for new inspiration so please spin your favourite tunes back my way! Wishing you all a rockin'n'rollin 2018!