For a weekend in June 2015, Edmonton friends packed up camping gear and ventured an hour outside of the city to do what they always do, live laugh love and savour each other’s company..and talent! “Farmstock Four” welcomed anyone willing to take on the Andrew WK level of party which ensued. I sat down with two of the weekend’s attendees/performers – Sebastjohn King and Brett McCrindle – who each answered six of the same questions with two distinctly unique sets of humble answers in this delightful setting.
It was important to ensure we made it to “the correct middle-of-nowhere” upon arriving. We all could agree, the location sufficiently made it the best out-of-city excursion – ultimate serenity and peace with the land. Freedom, autonomy, and basic survival level camping… plus a fully equipped tarped stage and generator. We all offered gratitude to Kiefer’s family for use of their beautiful hidden gem of property in the Alberta countryside.
Edmonton’s magnificent arts scene with inspiration supportive (albeit struggling) urban venues. This may come to a surprise to anyone from a typical cultural hub – Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, …Winnipeg – but in recent years musicians, comedians, visual artists, photographers, writers, venue owners and show organizers in this polite, rough-edged northern city have particularly thrived on nurturing this diverse network of community. Yet, in a rare moment away from streetlights, bar tabs, and closing time, we found a pause from the chaos and celebrated playing for fun.
Early in the evening on Friday still-light-out evening, Seb and I found two old wooden chairs on this semi-abandoned family property, overlooking a peaceful natural marsh. Our conversation became a peaceful respite from the chaos of the party, just getting underway. Sebastjohn is the lead singer/guitarist in The Gibson Block (music video “My City“), who headlined Friday’s lineup (finishing their set around feels-like-4:30AM). The next evening the boys happily (and exhaustedly) accepted Best Rock Recording for 2015 at the Edmonton Music Awards. They were featured in the YEGMUSICMAGAZINE playlist for the week of July 15, 2015, and continue to be mainstays in the scene, frequenting Tavern on Whyte, On the Rocks, and Mercury Room among others. What a life!..and this conversation was prior to any of those events. Now, get to know Seb!
Six Questions: Music
What real time notes in the rain look like!
Favourite (personally inspirational) Song
Flying – Sean Rowe
Favourite Cover Song
Last Night – The Strokes
Favourite Road Trip Song
1st Crystal Castles album – Track 5
Best Place to Play a Show
“Jasper, in a downtown hotel – a very simple, old place. Very easy to spend some time there. When we were there it was in February/March.”
What’s the Hardest You’ve Ever Laughed? (borrowed from Nerdist #263)
“…with grandparents and family over Christmas, all sitting in the living room. I was maybe 11…13? We got to the point of no more laughs, just squeals. and that simple dumb rush to the head…that you really only get when you’re laughing with family that hard.”
Spirit Animal of the Band?
Lion. “take it easy.”
Other musician friends in attendance (aka artistic beauties you should probably check out):
Lee Elder, Mikhail Sherris (Barren Roads), Kiefer Hagen, Andrew Brown, Ben Hooke, Tropic Harbour, The Curves, Sunspots, Revenge of the Trees, James McGrath, Lane Olson (Rusty), 100 Miles to Gunn (our host Kiefer Hagan), Adam Bane Dowie, Old Towns, Travulta, Age and Mistakes, SNAKE LEGS
ARTISTS as ARTISTS (as featured in various bands and at Up the Arcadia Open Mic Night)
Curt Blandy as Laura Jane Grace
Campbell Copper as Johnny Cash
Mikey Muscat as Amy Winehouse
Niall Burgess as Ryan Adams
Adam Burt as Matt Skiba
Six Questions: Comedy
A second subset of Edmonton’s finest arrived on Saturday afternoon. A gentle and kind hoard of comedians found their way to us with the help of some last minute paper signs (posted by yours truly and some road trip friends). Brett co-hosts the weekly Underdog Comedy Night, with fellow comedian and friend, Simon Gorsak. As mainstays of the (literal) underground comedy scene, Brett, Clare, Simon Glassman, Patrick, and Meagan delivered some heartfelt Saturday afternoon laughs while we all drank out of pineapples and coconuts.
Brett describes himself as a “beyond comedy-ian” exploring gentle, metaphysical strings of funny one liners and strung out stories at the mic. We laughed, delighted at the simplicities of life, and appreciated this view from the edge of the campsite. My favourite performance is consistently his gravitational pull to explore the possibilities of one particular pneumonic device: M(y) V(ery) E(xcellent) M(other) J(ust) S(ent) U(s) N(ine) P(izzas) to remember the planets. You know the one. commemorated in this tweet:
via Twitter @BrettMcCrindle
Just as I enjoyed the conversation, I hope you enjoy meeting Brett!
What focused, real time notes NOT in the rain look like!
Sage Francis (“…alot of them “)
Favourite “Cover Joke”
Eugene Mirman where he tells this story about zoos, and how the animals deserve to be there. It involves a giraffe and an 8 year old boy.
(Bonus!: Cover Song – Lovers in a Dangerous Time by Barenaked Ladies)
Favourite Road Trip Song (modified to Podcast)
Citizen Radio with Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilster
Favourite Place to Play a Show
Underdog… “it’s home”
What’s the Hardest You’ve Ever Laughed? (still borrowed from Nerdist #263)
Dave Atell – at the Comic Strip (whole thing)
6. What’s your Spirit Animal?
An eagle. They’re solitary… just do as they do.
COMEDIANS (as featured at free Edmonton Comedy nights hosted on Empress, Black Dog, Wunderbar, and Druid stages):
aaaaand the HEADLINER all the way from Toronto: Adrienne Fish
The next iteration of Farmstock awaits us all next year, though until then we will continue to go on with our lives doing city things. Knowing the middle of nowhere Northern Alberta will always welcome us back for rest and party. Especially party. Leaving no trace in this place but footprints and orange peels, we can truly rest easy having cared for ourselves as the land.
In the months following this adventure to a wild kindness, there’s a certain peace after experiencing middle-of-nowhere together. There was a sense of togetherness and belonging when we left the land on Sunday. Yet, unlike many goodbyes, we were not saying goodbye to each other. We were all returning to regular urbane life in Edmonton. But it feels different. Maybe it’s typical Edmonton summer, or maybe a certain Farmstock magic was born in all of us.