February 26, 2017

A conversation with Craig Cardiff

Cardiff’s shows aren't a one-way dialogue, but a chance for audiences to connect

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After a workshop at Nipissing and before a house show in town, Craig Cardiff will be returning to Clark Hall for another intimate affair.

The folk singer-songwriter plays Kingston a few times a year, often organizing shows in student houses.

It’s clear to see that connection – between fans, with the audience and to the music – is part of what makes Cardiff’s performances so memorable. His ever-growing fan base spans the country, as Cardiff also facilitates music workshops.

“Workshops provide the opportunity to connect with songwriters who are on campus or in the community,” Cardiff said, “It’s something I’ve been doing to try and connect that way.”

A workshop is not a one-way dialogue, but a conversation, he said.

“You end up performing and you kind of do your thing, but the opportunity to encourage people feels like a different piece of work. I’m excited to meet some of these people 10, 15 years from now and see what they create,” Cardiff said.

Cardiff frequently precedes his shows at bars with house concerts – intimate performances hosted in people’s living rooms. They are often advertised through social media.

“There are people connecting, people introducing themselves to each other. There are all these different groups of friends,” Cardiff said, “and honestly, that’s one of the neatest things about shows like that, people are just opening up their homes.”

Houses concerts, he said, have a friendlier and more intimate environment.

“People come in a little less guarded,” he said.

In a music industry accustomed to far-away celebrities and indifference, Cardiff’s outreach and interaction with fans is refreshing. He’s known to select volunteers from the audience to act out the lyrics, slow dance with each other and encourages singing along.

At select concerts, he passes around a blank journal called the “Book of Truths” for audience members to write in.

Cardiff’s website explains that his most recent album, Love is Louder (Than All This Noise) Pt. 1 & 2 is a response to the stories collected in these journals.

“The nature of performing is very egotistical,” he said. “There is one microphone and generally I get to have it for most of the time ... the book just came from a place of wanting to give people an outlet to write down some of these stories.”

Besides Cardiff’s genuine interest in his fans, it’s the musical exploration of the ups and downs of the human condition that keep people interested.

“And that’s certainly why I felt connected to music initially, it’s this way of hearing really big ideas or big things that could be communicated and it made you feel less alone,” Cardiff said.

“The hope is that whether it’s sharing these ideas or coming to music, to listen and participate, is that they open up rather than close down.”

Check out Craig Cardiff’s video for “Love is Louder” on YouTube.

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