Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar
811 1st St. S.W.
Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 p.m.
Cover charge: $10 admission only; $20 admission plus a copy of the “Autumn” vinyl and digital EP
Ben Nixon doesn’t want to be a full-time musician. The bassist and co-founder of Calgary-based folk-rock-art band Locomotive Ghost would love national success and more sales, but not at the expense of continuing to draw inspiration from everyday life.
“I can’t do full-time music,” Nixon says. “As a full-time musician, you’re contriving some sort of expression without a basis for it. You can’t make art about art.”
Art and creativity, in all their forms, are what Locomotive Ghost is all about. The four-piece – which, along with Nixon and co-founder Mike Buckley, includes Paul Orton and Mac McDougall – incorporated artist Rachelle Quinn into the release events for its “Spring” and “Summer” four-song EPs. Quinn created a visual pallette for the band’s music, and the “Spring” release took place at Lux Laundromat, a unique space that gave the music a singular context.
“We’re going for a multi-faceted approach,” Nixon says. “It makes it more exciting for us, but we also really want to make sure that when people leave a show they feel that they were part of a moment that happened.”
Locomotive Ghost, named for a line in American poet Allen Ginsberg’s 1955 work “Sunflower Sutra,” writes and plays songs that are at once artistically expressive, accessible, fun and full of small surprises – ebullient backing vocals in “Blue Eyes” (from the “Summer” EP), keening guitar leads overlaid on a churning bed of processed rhythm guitars and rainfall in “Run for Cover” (“Summer”), and vocal harmonies over countrified picking in “This Damn Addiction” (“Spring”) for example.
The sound is deft and clean. Organic samples and acoustic instruments blend seamlessly with electronica. Vocals soar, and morph into spoken word. Tasteful drumming and propulsive, melodic bass keep a groove flowing. It’s art, definitely, but it’s also entertainment.
“We try to create a dynamic experience,” Nixon says. “We’re not afraid to have moments that are really low, where if you whisper someone will hear you. And we’re not afraid to have moments where ‘it can’t possibly get louder than this.'”