‘Stories are anchors in the brain’s ocean that the boats of songs tether to'

Next time you’re sipping at The Sleepless Goat, keep an eye out for 21st century troubadour Craig Cardiff, he might just be the guy at the next table gaining inspiration from your conversation

Cardiff is bringing along friends Andrea Gauster, Mike Evin and Ben Hermann as reinforcement for his shows this weekend.
Cardiff is bringing along friends Andrea Gauster, Mike Evin and Ben Hermann as reinforcement for his shows this weekend.
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Clark Hall Pub is in for a real treat this weekend with back-to-back shows by one of Ontario’s most esteemed singer-songwriters, Craig Cardiff.

In his 14 years as a professional musician, Cardiff has sparked emotion and imagination in people across Canada. It’s been over a year since he came to the Wolfe Island Grill and thrilled audiences, so back-to-back shows on Saturday, Oct. 2 and Sunday, Oct. 3 are a rarity and not ones to be missed.

Waterloo born and raised, Cardiff has been involved with music from a young age.

“My mom told me her first love was a pianist named Lyle that she fell in love with while working at a resort in Honey Harbour, in Georgian Bay,” he said. “I asked specific questions about his job and it appeared that he only really worked a few hours out of the day, and his work was playing Tiny Dancer and show tunes—I immediately signed up!” Kingston has been a special place to Cardiff for many years now.

“Years ago my friends organized my first show outside of the Kitchener-Waterloo area at the QP,” Cardiff said. “I stop in Kingston often for food at the Sleepless Goat, and to eavesdrop on tables.”

A storyteller at heart, Cardiff is renowned for his acoustic guitar-playing and soft voice, as well as the ingenious use of a digital looping pedal he performs with, which he uses to layer guitar and vocal effects overtop of each other.

“Stories are anchors in the brain’s ocean that the boats of songs tether to,” Cardiff said, “Stories need the songs as much as the songs need the stories.”

Cardiff has a dozen releases, including nine albums and three EPs, with his first, Judy Garland! (You’re Never Home) released in 1996. His most recent album, Mistletoe, released in December 2009, was actually recorded wholly on an iPod touch.

He has two new albums coming out for release very shortly—Mothers and Daughters, due out December of this year, and Floods and Fires, to be released in February 2011. Unlike many artists, Cardiff is quite willing to share his music freely; often offering free downloads of new material.

“Letting go makes things better,” Cardiff said, showing off his simple and sensible outlook on his career.

With a wide variety of stories to tell, it makes sense that Cardiff has a variety of influences—B.B King, Ani DiFranco and Scott Merritt, among many others.

Special to the Clark Hall shows this weekend are opening acts by Andrea Gauster a Queen’s Medical Student, Mike Evin of Montréal and Ben Hermann from northern Ontario. Personal connections matter to musicians on this scale.

“Andrea is a neat singer-songwriter who opened up for the show on Wolfe Island,” Cardiff said. “Mike Evin is a friend from Montréal and has been recording on my new album. He has a great stage presence and strong songs and we have similar senses of humour and appreciation of the absurd. I’m also co-producing Ben’s new album and I’m excited to bring him out to see everyone”

While the Clark Hall shows are licensed 19-and-over events, some Queen’s students took it upon themselves to organize an all-ages house concert preceding the Saturday show for those unable to attend the shows at the pub.

“We wanted to put together an all-ages show and a few staff from Red Pine Camp organized the event,” Cardiff said.

While the address of the house is not publicly being released, those who want to attend should know it’s happening from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, before the first show at Clark Hall, and you can find the organizers on Facebook.

As a travelling musician, Cardiff has played in all sorts of venues. Some notable gigs this past year include the Ottawa Folk Festival, a farmer’s field in Tsawwassen, Ontario for 200 people and by the canal in Montréal on a perfect summer’s night.

Cardiff has certainly come across many strange things on his journeys across Canada.

“I’d be spoiling it to explain,” Cardiff said, “but some teasers are Michigan taser, Halifax penis casting, Wolfville stage wetting, Ottawa sleep driver and Kingston hand dancing.” Without question Craig Cardiff is a man full of stories.

Craig Cardiff plays Clark Hall Pub tomorrow and Sunday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance at the Tea Room or Clark Hall and $20 at the door.

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