Last night, I finally got a chance to sit down with a talented artist, songwriter and philosopher and just talk with him for a few hours. I have been a fan of Brad Lyons, also known as Oceanship, for about 2 years now after seeing him perform at a local café. Yesterday’s conversation both impressed me and left my mind reeling with images, words and thoughts and not wanting to head into the office this morning.
It all started when a person whose opinions I respect recommended that I see this guy performing on the upcoming weekend. I had heard that this local singer-songwriter was recently signed to a major label and was going places and was intrigued. I had also noted that his recently released CD was nominated at the Hamilton music awards and had seen a video produced for his song, “Hotblack.”
If this or any of his songs is familiar to you, you may have heard them on Degrassi the Next Generation, Rookie Blue or any one of his currently 11 television placements. Irony at best as he professes to watch little television.
I went to the café early, as it was a dull grey day and I knew it would be packed with university students socializing and doing their homework. I staked out one of my favourite places along the wall and set up my latte, Moleskine, pens and proceeded to begin writing. Mid afternoon, this thin guy walked in and began setting up a small PA system and acoustic guitar. He grabbed a stool from the coffee bar and proceeded to tune up, when he began singing, I dropped my pen and was transfixed.
His songwriting was heartfelt and just real. His voice carried over the chatter of the students, forcing them to stop and take notice. He ably accompanied himself on his guitar for over an hour. I was hoping to hear Hotblack, the one song I would recognize, but found myself wanting to sing along with songs that made me want to listen more. Towards the end of his set, he broke out Stone Temple Pilots’ “Plush” – a favourite of mine since the 1990’s – and I got up, and immediately laid my money down and purchased a copy of his CD.
The CD was different than others, it was packaged in a simple brown paper bag emblazoned with a winged lion (Sphinx? Hippogriff?) on the front and the song titles on the back. I went back to my table and finished watching his set. When he was done, I finished my coffee, packed up my stuff and raced to catch the bus back home.
I got home and, not being one to wait, I turned on the stereo in the living room, took the Oceanship CD out and popped it in the player. I turned up the volume, sat down and pressed play. What followed was perhaps the best “headphones to infinity” album I’ve heard since Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” as the first sound you hear after starting the disc is the sound of rushing water – or is it the surf or is it rain? The album unfolded and I continued to be transfixed by it.
This is where I interject that when I hit on a CD that intrigues me, I often fixate on it and listen to it until I can stand it no further, I performed this with the Oceanship CD and also downloaded his EP and recent single from iTunes. Since February 2010, these recordings have been high on my playlist and get called upon when I need to relax or focus my thoughts and energies.
This past year, after Larry’s health stabilized and I was able to focus on other things, I reopened my house concert series and began looking for artists that intrigued me. High on that list was Oceanship, so I emailed Brad. After much coaxing and discussion he agreed to do a house concert, which I ended up having to cancel due to unexpected difficulties, however we have since kept in touch.
Brad did a house concert in the late summer/early fall and was energized and invigorated by it. He is now working towards doing more of them and recently contacted me to begin discussions about his doing a concert for me. I was honoured and agreed, we met last night to talk about concerts and for him to show me his demo.
A warning to some friends whom I have done house concerts for: I’m sending you some promo CDs and a DVD soon in hopes that you’ll listen without prejudice and see if Brad’s talents are something you can support.
We sat at another café and talked shop as two musicians normally do, exchanging war stories and philosophies. Then we began discussing movies that we have watched and enjoyed and books that we have read. Which then became a full on discussion about personal philosophies and outlook in a world where we are seemingly bombarded by the lowest common denominator. This conversation led to a discussion of our art and the medium which we both choose to express our voices, thoughts and feelings and how we define ourselves as artists.
What seemed like a relatively short conversation actually ran closer to three and a half hours, only interrupted by DH calling me to ask where I was (oops! Sorry Hon!) I sheepishly had to cut our further conversation short and rushed home, my head swimming with ideas and items to explore. I look forward in hearing more from Brad and truly look forward to hosting him for a concert in 2012. This time it WILL occur and I hope that my local readers will take me up on the offer to hear an extremely talented artist at work in the comfort and solace of my home.