The last time Geoff Berner played a concert in the basement of Kootenay Co-op Radio, the show was packed solid, sold out and sweaty. He fondly remembers the spectacle of the evening, and the connection he made with his Kootenay audience.
“People in the Kootenays are intense thinkers. What I like is that defiant, protest mindset everyone’s got. There’s real value in that,” Berner told the Star. “Plus those guys know how to party.”
That’s why he’s coming back for more next week. As part of the Crank it to 6 concert series, Berner will be playing alongside Kris Demeanor and Carolyn Mark.
“Kris was the first poet laureate of Calgary and Carolyn is probably the wittiest person I know by a considerable distance. We tried out this format on Saltspring and it was grand.”
Berner has performed a number of times in the Kootenays, and recently completed a trio of albums under the name Whiskey Rabbi.
Years ago a journalist searching for a way to describe Berner’s music resorted to quoting Hunter S. Thompson, writing that it was “a wild combination of menace, madness and genius … fragmented coherence that wreaks havoc on the mind of any listener.”
Berner loves that description, and appreciates the comparison to the Gonzo author. He said one of his most popular tunes is a Yiddish song that roughly translates to “*** the police”.
“I feel like we’re at a point in time, with aboriginal people and Occupy Wall Street and all that, where that’s a sentiment that means a lot to people.”
He said his act could be characterized as political.
“I don’t leave anything out. A lot of musicians, they leave out the politics part of life because they don’t think it belongs in music, but I think everything goes in there, and Carolyn and Kris have the same attitude,” he said.
“It’s not just a bunch of cliches. We’re singing about sexual politics. There are drinking songs and drugs songs and protest songs and songs about having kids, whatever. You just throw everything that’s part of your life into the work, and it that way you elevate ordinary life to place where you can think about it more, feel it more deeply.”
Berner said he looks forward to playing again as a triple-threat.
“One thing we have in common is we all play dark-humoured drinking songs. That’s a big part of all of our repertoire, so that’s where we connect.”
He said most songs will feature at least two of the three musicians, and the format of the evening will leave plenty of room for improvisation, random jamming, interruptions and intoxicated sing-alongs. “It should have something like a Rat Pack aspect.”
The show begins at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20 and will be aired live. Tickets are $15 at the door, and KCR requests “no glass/jerks/entitlement”.
For more information visit the Crank it to 6 concert series on Facebook.