Military buff/folk musician takes shots at Calgary

Chris Gheran describes himself as a “hard folk” musician. It seems like a strange distinction to make, but once you hear his music, it makes sense. The influences of old-school folk musicians like Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan resonate in his insightful lyrics and meaningful music.

“It’s funny, because both my parents are executive white-collar,” he says. “But I left school early to just play music and I did a lot of drugs and worked a bunch of shitty jobs, so I’m lower class than my family. I don’t mind it, it’s nice. The guys I listen to, like Woodie Guthrie, they’re working guys. It makes sense.”

Gheran perceives a widening gap between this particular brand of folk and newer, more modern folk.

“When I played on CJSW the other day with Honeybear, I didn’t want to say it, because I didn’t know if he’d be insulted and I don’t mean it as an insult, but I consider myself old-style folk and he’s new folk,” Gheran says. “I’m just with my guitar, singing about the working class.”

The working class has long been a favourite subject of folk musicians, and Gheran furthered his efforts to uphold this tradition with the release of his latest single. The song– simply called “Calgary”– takes shots at everything from the transit system, to the Calgary Tower, to the city’s “fat cats.”

This is quite a departure from his last full length album, Coup D’etat, that chronicles war and combat stories from WWI up to the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

“It was a concept album– Coup D’etat. I thought of it as the overthrow of the Calgary music scene. I want to take it over. I’m just one dude. Forget this hard-rock metal stuff. Folk! It seems to be working right?” he says. “Folk is becoming a mainstay for a lot of bands these days. There’s a lot of banjos hanging around.”

Gheran brought his hard folk and sense of humour to the Calgary Folk Musical Festival last weekend, performing concerts and workshops. He readily admitted that it was the largest festival he has played to date and his excitement was palatable.

“I’ve just discovered some good people. Local guys like Sunparlor Players– I just fucking love them now. And Axis of Conversations . . . so Radioheady. I was just thinking ‘What the hell, how come I’ve never heard them before?’ “

Gheran is now working on his next full-length album, which is currently named after his aforementioned single, “Calgary.”

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