Calgary’s first official poet laureate, Kris Demeanor, emerged as a striking talent with his solo album in the late 1990s, displaying a gift for nailing down truths and singing the unspeakable: Gary Glitter’s girl, Saskatoon police “starlight tours” and the horror of designated bike lanes. Demeanor fearlessly experiments with sounds, genres, people and mediums. He’s co-written with Ian Tyson, was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award as Best Supporting Actor for The Valley Below, won the 2017 Doug & Lois Mitchell Outstanding Calgary Artist Award and the musical, Crime Does Not Pay (which he co-wrote with David Rhymer), recently won Betty Mitchell Awards. Music, theatre, film, poetry and prose: Demeanor joyfully revels in the testing of their boundaries. So you can understand why there is not enough barbed wire, concrete, and irony to fence in this astounding talent.
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About Steve Poltz · Nashville, TN
Steve Poltz might be one of Canada’s best kept musical secrets — largely because he got the heck outta Dodge as soon as he could and spent the three decades of his musical career living everywhere but here. Hatched in Halifax, Poltz earned his sardonic rock-country-folk chops as co-founder and frontman for underground legends and road warriors The Rugburns, crisscrossing the continent tirelessly in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. In 1996, while playing at a coffeehouse in San Diego, he met and fell for another musician, and despite Poltz’s sardonic wit and left-turn lyrical tendencies, he wrote a heartfelt little love song that she went on to perform. The musician was Jewel, and the song was the multi-platinum “You Were Meant for Me.”
With his fortune made, and no need to ever play or tour again, Poltz continued playing and touring like his life depended on it. He recorded a prolific 13 albums over the next 18 years. Having lived for two decades in San Diego, his partner decided it was time to try living in Nashville, the musical experience Poltz hadn’t tried yet. The resulting album is 2018’s Shine On which evokes themes of hope, love, contemplation, celebration of Wednesday, pharmacists, and the fact that windows are not inanimate objects and they sometimes have conversations with each other.
Despite Poltz’s irrepressible tendency towards smartassery, his music is also replete with shimmering beauty, like the song “All Things Shine,” written in response to one of the dishearteningly frequent mass shootings on the news, and espousing the belief that however bad things might feel, “there is still beauty. All things shine in their own way.” Poltz certainly does.