Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

“You can’t re­ally hide here. It’s a city, but it’s not so big that there’s a bunch of dif­fer­ent things go­ing on that peo­ple aren’t aware of. Peo­ple are chal­lenged by the fact they’re a part of it all rather than a bunch of di­ver­gent parts.”

So while there isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a com­pet­i­tive spirit, per­form­ers know they have to reach a cer­tain level to get up on stage and sing for peo­ple. It’s that kind of qual­ity that has pro­duced nu­mer­ous award-win­ning folk and roots artists over the years, and although the genre doesn’t get played on com­mer­cial ra­dio, each artist has a de­voted fan­base.

One of the city’s bright­est young hopes is Del Bar­ber, 28, whose third al­bum, Head­wa­ters, came out this week on re­spected Toronto la­bel Six Shooter. (Un­for­tu­nately, some­times big­ger isn’t al­ways bet­ter: Bar­ber’s new man­age­ment team de­clined to make the 2011 Juno nom­i­nee avail­able for this ar­ti­cle.)

JP Hoe isn’t shoot­ing for mas­sive fame and for­tune, but would like things to progress so he could tour six months of the year and write for the rest.

“Up to this point, it’s been about try­ing to de­velop the craft and fig­ur­ing out what I want to be do­ing and what I want to put out. Now I’m happy with my skill set and song­writ­ing in gen­eral,” he says.

“Ev­ery record is an­other start for an artist…. I would love to make any sort of im­pact to get that foothold to be able to do that for the rest of my life.”

Hoe calls his new al­bum the most singer-song­writer-ori­ented of his ca­reer — which has veered from folk-pop to rock — but he ex­panded his pal­ette by fea­tur­ing mem­bers of the Win­nipeg Sym­phony Or­ches­tra on eight songs.

A scaled-down ver­sion of the al­bum’s lineup — in­clud­ing a six-piece string sec­tion from the WSO — will per­form at his CD re­lease show at the West End Cul­tural Cen­tre on May 10, be­fore hit­ting the road for tours of Canada, the United States and Australia.

One of the more un­usual goals on his 2012 to-do list is to pay more taxes. Yes, Hoe hopes to have a year so suc­cess­ful the gov­ern­ment will want its share.

“I have no in­ter­est in be­ing a home­less starv­ing artist. I want to have a fam­ily and a life. You’re just tak­ing a skill set, some sort of nat­u­ral thing built into you, and mak­ing a liv­ing at it; that’s what an ac­coun­tant does, that’s what a sci­en­tist does, so the goal is to pay taxes, lots and lots of taxes,” he says with a laugh.

Luft didn’t ex­press a pref­er­ence for be­ing taxed, but fi­nances came into play when it came time to record. She raised money for her al­bum us­ing the “crowd fund­ing ap­proach,” which means get­ting fans to help cover the costs of record­ing.

“My goal was to raise $15,000 — that prob­a­bly wouldn’t cover ev­ery­thing, but fig­ured that would be a good start. I ended up rais­ing $33,000. It kind of blew the top off ev­ery­thing once the Euro­peans got into it,” says Luft, who re­ceived do­na­tions from more than 450 peo­ple.

“It re­ally is about a com­mu­nity and col­lab­o­ra­tion and peo­ple sup­port­ing one an­other, and not so much a typ­i­cal busi­ness model,” she says.

The al­bum was recorded over a pe­riod of sev­eral months as Luft con­tin­ued to tour and ex­plore lo­ca­tions to set up mo­bile record­ing equip­ment with co-pro­ducer/en­gi­neer Lloyd Peter­son (who also ap­pears on Hoe’s al­bum).

The Juno-win­ning for­mer mem­ber of the Wailin’ Jen­nys had just left a re­la­tion­ship prior to record­ing and wanted to get away from her usual stu­dio rou­tine, so she sought out venues with good acous­tics in out-of-the-way places.

“I needed to go some­where I felt com­fort and beauty and safe; for me, a lot of old churches and chapels have a vibe about them,” she says. “They are built for peo­ple who sing and mu­si­cians. There’s warmth in the wood there.”

Luft is orig­i­nally from Cal­gary and moved here in 1999 be­cause of Win­nipeg’s rep­u­ta­tion as a place where a song­writer could get a fair chance with an au­di­ence that would pay at­ten­tion.

That’s why the scene is thriv­ing here, says Scoles.

“When I started be­ing a pro­moter I thought, ‘Wow, the gen­er­a­tion I’m deal­ing with makes me feel lucky. I’m glad I’m here at this time,’ and I won­dered what the next gen­er­a­tion would be like — and it’s equally fan­tas­tic,” he says. “It comes out of the fact peo­ple are lis­ten­ing to other peo­ple. Good mu­sic re­quires good lis­ten­ers and it seems the peo­ple that are mak­ing that mu­sic are good lis­ten­ers. They are just as much bril­liant fans as bril­liant song­writ­ers.”

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