Lindy Vopnfjörd`s Young Waverer
Born into the Icelandic community in Manitoba, Lindy Vopnfjörd would get his post secondary education in British Columbia but realized as a musician, he’d have to relocate to Southern Ontario. While Toronto seemed obvious in 1997, his move east would actually have him develop many friendships first in Montreal and then in Hamilton. He’d even find his future wife in Hamiltonian Sally Panavas and has since become a fixture on our local musical landscape. The 6 foot 8 inch singer/songwriter casts quite the shadow.
Using just his first name, Lindy has released six solo releases but fans may still best remember him as the songwriter and singer of a song from Major Maker, a short lived association he had that developed from a recording project for a candy commercial into a band to meet the popularity of the 2006 song "Roller Coaster". But while that song showcases Lindy Vopnfjord's pop sensibilities and songwriting abilities, the singer/songwriter is more pensive and
plaintive. On his seventh full length released last week, Young Waverer, Vopnfjord has matured into a strong storyteller, encapsulating life's journeys into three minute folk pop vignettes with a cosmopolitan vibe.
"I`m a little older now," ruminates Vopnfjord on his identity shift with his new album. "One reviewer thought that Lindy — just the use of my first name – it sounded like I was a sixteen year old girl. The review of my music was favourable but it did spark the idea that maybe it`s time to use my full name. I just turned 40. I feel younger than that and luckily, I look younger than that. "
Vopnfjord's light–hearted demeanor and constant glee betrays a true happiness with life in general while his music betrays a perhaps darker side. Life is fuelled by what direction you take and that's how Vopnfjord found the inspiration for naming the disc.
"The title Young Waverer comes from Romeo and Juliet and I think it
sums up these songs nicely", offers Vopnfjord. "Romeo is just following his heart and that`s what this album is about. Along the way you can make some blunders but you've got to keep following your heart.
"For the music, it's like Arlo Guthrie coming to Los Angeles, or Spirit of the West — those are the songs that got me originally inspired. It`s a folk tradition but then they have the full live band and bring in the rock elements. It`s folk presented in the most modern way I could figure out. For the lyrics, if I hear a neat story, it often inspires me to write about it. There are other songs that could have been contenders for a similar theme but these songs all fall under that theme of following your heart and I think that's a good way to put together an album."
Joined by a wealth of musical friends including Whitehorse's Luke Doucet, former Major Maker–mates Thomas D’Arcy, Stephen Krecklo and Ian LeFeuvre (Kathleen Edwards, k–os) and John Obercian (Sarah Harmer), Vopnfjord enlisted fans to actually make the recordings this time out.
"I wanted to see what the interest was for me to make a new album — to
see if people would buy the album a year in advance is a fantastic feeling", explains Vopnfjord. "To fully own this record with my fans is the best way to share success with the fans. I wanted to have full control and the fans get to have their say. It`s a wonderful feeling and has really fuelled the creative process. I know who has funded the record and to be able to go into the studio and record with that kind of support is fantastic. If this record grows and grows and sees some success then all of that love is just going to multiply. I can`t be thankful enough."
With his Southern Ontario roots getting stronger, the internet offers possibilities once never heard of and while his music is very organic, he hopes to approach marketing his music with more technology. "It`s going to take clever and innovative ways to do this, to get this to more people," says Vopnfjord. "I`m not too crazy about relentless touring and online you can reach more people with real creative videos. We`ll see what the future holds, there are endless possibilities.
But whatever the future brings, my music is for the fans and I'm happy to offer my Hamilton fans a show," adds Vopnfjord. "We`re going to have lots of friends and family out. I`m bringing a band with me and we`re going to play the new album from start to finish,` I love playing the album as a set, it really works. We're just continuing on what we're doing, following our hearts."
Lindy Vopnfjord plays this Tuesday March 5 at the Baltimore House with Proof of Ghosts. Doors are at 8pm and $8 gets you in. Click on www.lindymusic.com
Survival in Today’s Music Business
Larry Feudo has been a Hamilton musician for the better part of 40 years but a year ago, he took on the role of Hamilton Musicians' Guild President Local 293 and is clearly hoping to have more of a presence in the community. With his experience and noting the changing landscape for musicians, Feudo is putting on a special seminar this week to help musicians survive in today's music business.
"I felt the need for some straight talk about the de–evolution of the music business was critical for our members financial well–being," offers Feudo. "I spoke to Ian Thomas about the need for some good advice for everyone regardless of experience or age. It’s just not something that’s been addressed very well over the years. To Ian’s credit, he jumped on board right away–pro bono. He’s been a long time member of the Local and he walks the talk. With the longtime Hamilton area musician onboard, entertainment lawyer Paul Sanderson and copyright guru Paul Spurgeon to ramp up the pedigree of a panel making themselves available to any local musician in need.
"Ian was an obvious choice going as far back as 35 years ago when he told me as an aspiring musician that, "50 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing,”" says Feudo. "In other words, someone has to help you get your music out there for a tangible share of the proceeds in order to succeed. Paul Spurgeon is a friend of Ian’s and was suggested as a worthy panelist because of his many years as a copyright lawyer and Socan director. Paul Sanderson was chosen for his experience in entertainment law having written “Musicians and the Law in Canada” and his extensive knowledge of the music business."
Whether you're looking to learn more as a professional musician or simply learning to better offer your wares, the presentation should offer a lot of food for thought. Many artists would like to get exposure and financial compensation associated with soundtrack work and Feudo and his band Trickbag have already been able do achieve placement in TV shows ranging from One Tree Hill, Hart of Dixie, Chicago Fire and The New Girl — so any aspiring musician serious about their craft may want to entertain the options these veterans are offering.
"Regardless if you’re a young or older musician, the rules still apply–you have to have some guidance to navigate the new music business," reasons Feudo. "In the old days, you had record companies, radio that played their product and retail stores that sold the product. It was a working business model that has now fallen by the wayside– but there are new ways to operate. We’re trying to reach as many musicians out there who are doing it themselves and not relying on the pipe dream of major label support. All the new tools for independent music production were unheard of years ago. It’s now possible with talent and drive to make music independently and be seen and heard. Home studios have gotten to the point where you can produce radio — ready music cheaper than ever before.
"The idea of a seminar is to provide a focus for the aspiring professional musician who needs some answers to critical questions that aren’t readily available out there," adds Feudo. "This is in keeping with the Local’s mandate to represent and serve the professional musician. We hope this will reach the musical community and let them know that HMG293 is not your father’s union and is as relevant today as it was in 1903 when it was founded. It will always be the choice of professionals for representation. Hopefully, this is the first of many projects under my direction to address the issues facing musicians. In short knowledge is power."
Survival in Today’s Music Business happens this Thursday February 28 at the Hamilton Spectator Auditorium. There's a 7pm start time and admission is $10 (AFM/CFM members) and $15 general public.
Raise Your Voice
for 93.3 CFMU FM
McMaster University’s CFMU radio station began broadcasting 35 years ago and has remained a vital force in developing underground, alternative and independent thought, music and culture in the Greater Hamilton Area. If you’re reading this column, you can hear a lot of the important Hamilton area musicians live on the radio every Friday afternoon between 5 and 8pm when your faithful scribe offers my own
audio version of Hamilton Music Notes live on the radio. If you were unaware of the exciting activities happening at CFMU, a new Community Outreach Coordinator should be helping to introduce the station to the uninitiated but whether you’re a long time listener or first time learner, the next week offers you a chance to listen to something exciting and to raise your voice and make a sound endorsement.
“For campus radio stations to have lasted this long is something,” notes CFMU Program Director, James Tennant. “These were, and are, small stations started by students, weaned and raised on miniscule budgets. That they survived a decade is a surprise. That they survive 35 years speaks to the dedication of the volunteers and staff over the years. I think it shows terrestrial radio still has some importance;
but it also suggests that augmenting that with digital is important, too. We are still one of the few places where people can get local music, local thought, local opinion and local issues discussed in one place. There are tons of blogs out there but to put them all together — CFMU would be about 100 separate podcasts or blogs. And here it is, all in one place, listenable in your car, on your phone, for free.”
“CFMU funding comes through the students at Mac – but I'd venture to say most of our listeners and volunteers come from the Hamilton community at large,” he adds. “The funding is not weighted properly; you could argue that the students at Mac provide this service to the community almost for free. Fundraising raises our profile in the wider community, and gives the wider community a chance to support us.”
While the actual dollar value per student funding CFMU was recently reduced, Tennant assures McMaster undergraduates and the McMaster Student Union remain committed to the radio station. The Mac Alumni Association has even offered their largest financial support to date but a projected goal of $21,000 is what CFMU hopes to raise through community support. Once someone finds the station, on the FM dial or even on the internet, quite often they can become diehard devotees.
“It's for the operating budget — it helps us do what we do. It helps pay for staff, who run the place — though it's the volunteering public who program it,” offers Tennant on the need for fundraising. “It pays for gear, like mics and computers. It pays for tech, like mobile apps and websites. And though we don't do tote bags, the Friends of CFMU card is a great deal. Thirty bucks for thirty businesses who offer discounts. Use it enough and it pays for itself.
“The problem is getting the word out,” notes Tennant on simply getting more people aware of what services, information and entertainment CFMU
offers so they can become fans. “We can't afford advertising. You promote and publicize and try to engage. People stumble over us all the time. Today, those people can be anywhere in the world. Yes, it's a drop at a time, but drops make a drink, eventually.” V
CFMU’s Raise Your Voice fundraising campaign happens Saturday March 2 to Friday March 8. For more information or to donate, call 905.528.9888 or click on http://cfmu.mcmaster.ca