The great songs of our time exemplify the number one rule of writing: show, don’t tell.
Don’t just preach and point fingers; paint people as they really are, and folks will relate to the story more than if they feel they’re being yelled at or subjected to a sermon.
One artist who takes that storytelling tradition to heart is C.R. Avery, who performs in an intimate concert at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo Tuesday, Oct. 4.
His new album, All the Angels Didn’t Scare Me, unfolds like an homage to the unsung heroines of the outskirts of contemporary society – the everyday nine-to-fivers, living and doing what they have to do to keep going.
In many ways, All the Angels Didn’t Scare Me marks Avery’s return to his roots – the storytelling that shaped him as a kid.
Raised in small-town Ontario and unable to focus on books as a child, Avery was drawn to all things aural and lyrical: standup comedy, country ballads, sexual adventures and risqué episodes retold in hip-hop lyrics.
“I was a kid who wanted to change his name to MC Howlin’ Wolf,” said. “I wanted to be DJ Muddy Waters.”
Over the years, the now East Vancouver-based songwriter has released 17 albums, from swamp city blues to spoken word performed with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, all infused with an outlaw outlook and rock ‘n roll attitude.
On All the Angels Didn’t Scare Me, Avery collaborated with celebrated producer and songwriter Ben Mink on several tracks,
Mink is perhaps best known for his work with k.d. Lang, as well as for Feist’s 1234, and is a past Juno songwriting award winner.
For the rest of the album, Avery teamed up with newly Nashville-based producer Steve Dawson, eager to take advantage of Dawson’s experience with the southern story-song traditions of blues and country.
What results is a finely painted portrait of people surviving and sometimes thriving in the brokenness of urban and rural life.
Opening for C.R. Avery at Gallery Vertigo (upstairs at 3001 31st St.), is spoken word artist Cellar Droor. Doors open at 7 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance at the Bean Scene or $20 at the door. (Show is 19-plus, cash bar).