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Music

Pouzza Fest 2013: Day Two

Posted by Christine / May 19, 2013

20130518-Vickers.JPG At 5:00 p.m. yesterday, I made my way to Katacombs' sunny terrasse to catch a folk-punk acoustic set performed by Joe Vickers of Audio/Rocketry,

Hailing from Alberta, Joe grew up in a coal mining town called Drumheller. "Into the Darkness", off his July 2011 release Valley Home, is a well-written tune that tells the tale of an immigrant coal miner and his struggles: "All throughout the pitch-black/ Fires and accidents, we endure the cruel conditions/ All the risks that rage do not reflect upon our wage / I'd seek another if this weren't the only way."

Following Joe's lead, the crowd stomped along, bringing to life the dutiful steps of the song's coal miners as they pushed forward into the darkness: "I hear the haunting echoes; toward them I follow."

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This was just one of the tunes performed by Joe yesterday in what was a generously ample set. Some songs were from his solo project and others, like "Busker's Ballad," were acoustic renditions of Audio/Rocketry tracks. What they all had in common was a linear quality, an aesthetic steeped in rich narrative. Sensing a kindred spirit, I suspected this could only be the result of a deep, genuine love of storytelling. I was correct in my assumption.

I caught Joe after his set and he very graciously granted me an interview on the spot:

When did you start playing music?

"I started playing music close to 10 years ago. I bought an electric guitar and learned tons of Ramones and Clash songs. Once I got a feel for their style, I became hooked on punk rock. Later, I bought a compilation called Experiments in Audio Rocketry. The songs on the compilation still had the punk rock approach, but they were more raw," said Joe. "I was drawn to the storytelling aspect of music, which led me to folk. I started listening to Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. I also became familiar with folk songs that were more than 100 years old. I love the aspect that these songs have been able to remain relevant despite the test of time."

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What inspires your songs?

"I go through different waves of inspiration. For the most part, I try to keep a keen observing eye," he said. "I rely on storytelling. I'll write a song if it's a story I feel needs to be shared and I focus on lyrics 100 per cent of the time. It comes down to trying to find a melody that fits the song."

What are some of the most memorable cities you've performed in?

"I've played in Vienna and Berlin. I performed at a folk punk festival in Berlin and got to play for close to 400 people. I also played an acoustic set at the Ramones museum there," said Joe. "Folk punk music in Europe is not the same as it is here. It focuses more on old English and Irish folk songs. It uses that style. Here, it's more about folk music from the 20th century."

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What have you been up to recently?

"I grew up on a farm. Now, I work and rent out the land. It's allowed me to use the winters to focus on music. I've been focused on touring, especially in the last five years," he said. "I put out three records in 2011. One of them consists of songs dedicated to the heritage of my hometown, Drumheller."

What are your future endeavors?

"I'd like to put out another solo record and an Audio/Rocketry record in the next year," said Joe. "I'd like to use music as a medium to see the world."

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Photographs taken by yours truly.

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