Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot New Music: Singer-Songwriter Alan Charlesbois

Photo courtesy Alan Charlebois
Photo courtesy Alan Charlebois
Sometimes good things happen to good people.
That's how I felt when I first spoke with Alan Charlebois. If you could put The Blues Brothers, Tenacious D, and John Mayer into a studio and lock the door for a few years, the kid who would eventually clone off the acoustics would be Alan Charlebois.
At twenty-two, Charlebois' career is just beginning. He is performing in London, Canada to packed audiences but it wasn't always this way.
Like so many other creative people, high school was a struggle for Charlebois. He was painfully shy, had only a few friends and spent most of his time alone reading and, fortunately for us, teaching himself to play the guitar.
I asked him about his first performance and he stated flatly that it was a disaster. He was fifteen and singing Blood Red Summer by Coheed and Cambria in the high school talent show. "It's every kid's nightmare to have something go wrong in front of 800 people," said Charlebois. "After the first few bars, I totally lost track of where I was and forgot the words. Everything went dead silent but I had a couple of friends in the front row who encouraged me to keep going so I did the end of the song. That's all I could remember."
He laughs about it now but says it taught him to keep trying no matter what happens. And that's exactly what he did. Later that year, he performed on the same stage, a song called Black and Yellow as part of a class project on domestic abuse. This time though, he didn't forget the words. He'd written the song.

Poetry with Soul

After high school, he decided to get out and take some chances so that's just what he did. He landed a job at a resort in Alberta's beautiful Lake Louise and headed west with his guitar. It wasn't long before his new friends discovered that the music they were hearing in the hallway wasn't coming from the radio. That was all the encouragement Charlebois needed and he hasn't looked back since.
What sets him apart from millions of other musical hopefuls is his ability to view life through a poet's eyes and tell the story with soul. Here are a few lyrics from one of his songs called Don't Breathe.
Every day I look outside, the colours in your eyes reflect the light that guides my way.
Every night I wish that I could re-arrange the stars up in your sky to write my name.
Just know that you're my breathing life and that’s a fact, it’s never changing.
I know that I'm just skipping stones trying to fly across the ocean,
so don't breathe into me... just breathe into me.

The Inspiration behind the song...

By now, most of you know that I like the stories behind the person and also the art. After hearing the song The Rain, I had to ask how it all came about but I wasn't expecting this!
"It had been raining for days and we were a few miles out of Grande Prairie in northern Alberta looking for a place to camp for the night. We stopped at a government park but it was pouring so instead of struggling with a soaking wet tent at night, we decided to catch a few hours sleep inside the only building around." Charlebois pauses for a moment here. "We slept in the outhouse."
"You what?" I asked. Maybe I had heard wrong.
"Well, not the men's room. That place was disgusting so we left our backpacks in there but that's all. We slept in the ladies' room. It was much cleaner and it would have been fine except my friend had to go and lift one of the seats. I really don't know why he did that. I mean it's not a mystery what's in there or anything. Other than that, it was okay and at least we were dry. I didn't look at the rain in any interesting way until a couple of weeks later though. That's when this song came about so it just shows you no matter what the circumstances, something good can come from it."
When asked about his inspiration, he is quick to mention John Mayer, Coheed and Cambria's Claudio SanchezLed Zepplin's original acoustic works, Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Our Lady Peace, and Shinedown. "In Alberta, I started listening to Old Crow Medicine Show and some Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. There's so much great music out there. It's hard to narrow it down."
We couldn't agree more.
Charlebois has an easy laugh and an even easier style. Here he is at home singing The Rain. The sound is what you would expect with someone just sitting and playing with no professional recording equipment. His first professionally done music video will be in production soon but there is something authentic and immensely enjoyable about him just like this.



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