Riding the musical waves

Polaris Prize nominee Bahamas says playing in a church will “get people’s attention”

Afie Jurvanen, a.k.a. Bahamas, says his second album is “more concise.”
Afie Jurvanen, a.k.a. Bahamas, says his second album is “more concise.”
Bahamas’ first album Pink Strat was released in 2009.
Bahamas’ first album Pink Strat was released in 2009.

When I began my interview with Afie Jurvanen and asked him to introduce himself, I was met with a short reply.

“I play guitar, isn’t that why you called?”

I was taken aback by his abrupt answer, but the simplicity of it was indicative of him as a performer.

When Afie Jurvanen comes to play Chalmers United Church tonight, he’s banking on back-to-school cash to stage a lively show.

“It’s September, October November. Students have a lot more OSAP money so they seem to drink more alcohol … young people have lots of energy — it’s a good energy to be around.” Jurvanen performs with his band under the name Bahamas, and his latest release, Barchords is his second studio album since his first release in 2009.

This summer, I decided to take a listen to some of the albums nominated for the Polaris Prize. Barchords stood out to me for its easy listening power and simple melodies, which made its soft-spoken love songs a staple in my work playlists.

“It’s a stronger, more concise record. From start to finish, it has a much tighter groove to it,” he said.

Even though I was a bigger fan of his 2009 album Pink Strat, this album brought many of the same elements that I fell in love with the first time around, like his soothing vocals that got him his Polaris Prize nomination.

The new album has taken him and his band on a world tour this year, with concert dates in the UK, US and Canada.

“Getting a chance to go over to the UK to play shows has been a highlight of this tour,” he said.

Though he won’t pick up as many Air Miles during his trip to Kingston this weekend, Jurvanen’s set will be hosted inside a church — something he’s not phased by.

“It gets peoples’ attention before we start playing. People have a lot of respect for those buildings. They’re expecting to sit down and experience something meaningful and I hope that they do.”

While Jurvanen may just play guitar, it’s his careful delivery on “Lonely Loves” and heartfelt, but upbeat lyrics on “Okay Alright I’m Alive” that make his musical simplicity just enough.

Bahamas plays Chalmers United Church on Sept. 14. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

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