Confrontational Craig Cardiff returns

“It’s out of nobility that I’m a jerk,” says Craig Cardiff.
“It’s out of nobility that I’m a jerk,” says Craig Cardiff.
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Craig Cardiff @ Elixir, March 16

There are a lot of different ways to spend your weekend. Sometimes you need to study, sometimes you’ve got a date, and sometimes you want to drink until your forget your own last name. But on occasion, all you really want to do is hear someone play a little music. The word is still out on how Craig Cardiff feels about drinking, but he’d love to sing and play guitar for everyone—as long as you sit down and shut up.

“I may get a bit confrontational at times, but it’s out of nobility that I’m a jerk,” insists Cardiff, who spoke with the Journal via telephone from Alberta, where he is currently wrapping up a brief tour of Banff. “Who wants to waste their time and money? A show is only as good as people make it.”

Known as much for his unique performance style as he is for his soulful voice, Cardiff will return to Elixir next Thursday night to promote his new CD Fistful of Flowers. Released Feb. 14, the 11-track disc has Cardiff covering some of his favorite songs by artists like Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel and Suzanne Vega.

“I’m a huge fan of other songwriters, and this album is a way to reinterpret what they’ve done and lend my signature,” Cardiff said. “I’ve had a lot of requests from listeners who’ve attended shows over the past few years to put out an album like this, and all of the pieces of the project just fell together.”

Possessing a vocal style that has drawn comparisons to Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson, Cardiff is equal parts musician and storyteller, often sharing personal anecdotes and conversing with the audience in between songs. Cardiff brought this penchant for banter to the recording studio for Fistful of Flowers, and tracks like Elvis Costello’s “God’s Comic” are peppered with playful chatter between Cardiff and his bandmates.

“I find the chatting provides a kind of comic relief,” said Cardiff. “[On God’s Comic] Joel Stouffer and I sort of hammed through it during sound check, and we’d been running tape the whole day, so on the CD you get this great whispery take.”

Though he has been touring for nearly seven years, Cardiff remains the kind of artist who is continually surprised by the results of his own hard work.

“I’m very proud of how it ended up feeling like a cohesive show,” said Cardiff, “And it features musicians I love playing with—Paul Mathew on double bass, Les Cooper on Rhodes piano and guitar, Joel Stouffer on drums. It feels like a hug.”

True to his word, Fistful of Flowers does indeed have a warm, campfire-like quality that is reminiscent of the intimate atmosphere he strives so hard to achieve during each of his live performances.

Cardiff is serious about creating music to cuddle up to, and said he was eager to come give a hug to Kingston in particular.

“Kingston is a bit of an oasis in terms of listener support and music fans,” said Cardiff, “I’m blessed to have connected with listeners who understand that music starts and thrives in a live setting, who search out new music and share with friends to help get the music out there. And they show up night after night to keep it happening.”

So you heard him—drop whatever you’re doing next Thursday, and show up.

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