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Spencer Jo Burgess: Solo, but Not Alone

Photo Credit: Kevin Maretz

Photo Credit: Kevin Maretz

Patricide and Guantanamo Bay are two things that are decidedly not upbeat. For Calgary-based musician Spencer Jo Burgess, though, the contrast between his subject matter and the raucous presentation of it is exactly what sets it apart. His lethal combination of punk and folk are showcased in a way that is very fast, very honest, and very to the point. And, this time around, very acoustic.

Tackling subject matter which most shy away from has always been a standard for Burgess. While he usually makes up 1/5 of semi-political semi-other-things band River Jacks, Burgess is now jumping feet first back into solo music with a boot-to-face ferocity.

“I released my first album 10 years ago, and it’s kind of dated at this point. Some of it’s kind of embarrassing, you know, written by a 20 year old kid basically.” laughs Burgess. “I have a couple songs now that would probably contend as favourites, but I also think that one of my earlier songs, My Old Home, still strikes true as the one that keeps teaching me about myself. I wrote it maybe 11 or 12 years ago, but my life changes. Now when I look back at my life from a different perspective, songs like My Old Home teach me new things about myself, but also remind me of who I’ve always been.”

While having a whole spotlight to yourself might seem like nothing but one big perk, it’s a stark contrast to band life, especially when coming from one with as much comradeship as River Jacks:

“In a band if you make a mistake, you can kind of hide it under your bandmates sounds, but when you’re solo, no one is looking at anyone else but you because you’re the only one on the stage.”

Photo Credit: Sydney Burgess

Although solo, Burgess won’t be alone. Vancouver’s own Weep and Bloom are set to join him on tour this December, one which spans the islands, starting in Victoria before heading over to Pender Island and then the Mainland. Whiskey & Fire and Blood Machine are also set to make appearances during what is sure to be one never-ending ruckus, contributing to the chaos that already exists in the ancient bond between Burgess and Weep and Bloom. In cahoots and playing together for years, this closeness that music creates is exactly what music is about for Burgess.

“All of my fondest musical memories in music come from the fact that the people I meet, I do so organically and through having a common cause. Like, you meet people at school because you’re in the same class and you both have to be there. You've all got this end goal together. And then you meet people at work because you're all trying to make money, and you're all there trying to survive.” says Burgess.

“There’s all these other interests that play into those things, whereas the people I meet in music are all doing it for the same reasons: to create, to share, to be the catalyst of an experience. It’s a quality of relationships that can’t be matched in day to day life.”

Spencer Jo performs December 14 at Vinyl Envy (Victoria, BC), December 15 at AlPlaza (Pender Island, BC), December 16 at The Heatley (Vancouver, BC), and December 28 at The McHugh House (Calgary, AB).

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