aaron cadwaladr
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aaron cadwaladr

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Kind words by CBC Radio host Sheryl Mackay"

“The first time I listened to Aaron Cadwaladr’s song Shape Changing Sky I was hooked and couldn’t wait for the CD. It did not disappoint. It’s full of resonant songs that pull me in – smart lyrics and memorable tunes. I’ve played songs from Wade Through the Dark numerous times on my CBC Radio show, and predict a bright future for this young gifted artist” – Sheryl Mackay, CBC Radio Vancouver, NXNW - CBC Radio, Vancouver

"Aaron Cadwaladr's Commercial Drive Connection"

East Van’s alt-folk gentleman Aaron Cadwaladr (pronounced cad-WALL-a-der) just launched his new full-length record with a packed release/tour kickoff party at Café Deux Soleils Oct 23rd. ‘Wade Through The Dark’ was produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Cave Singers) and features awesome guest musicians Steve Dawson, Jesse Zubot, Veda Hille and Peggy Lee!

“I would have to call it the Commercial Drive Connection,” says Cadwaladr. “I was honoured to have each of them lend their talents to my album.”

Track to track, you’ll find an earthy, roomy feel like a vintage coat, or “Neil Young meets Radiohead for a pint of organic stout”. Peppier numbers like ‘Slowdown’ have that Calexico feel, Aaron’s patient vocals on ‘Cooling Our Backs’ could be likened to a young Stephen Stills (4 + 20), while the title track shows a little grungier side. There’s good variety on this disc, with lots of tasteful chops and hidden gems for more than just folkies and fiddleheads.

Now to the party. The first of 2 sets! opened with relatively sedate album tracks like ‘Engage The Air’ and the Paul Simon-esque ‘Take These Chances’, making way for the extremely catchy ‘Shape Changing Sky’ (which I was still humming on the skytrain ride home). Covering Wilco, Radiohead, and later in set #2, Aaron brought up fiddler Elise Bouer for a few tunes, and ended up doing a folk-rock version of The Clash ‘Wrong ‘Em Boyo’. Last time I heard that song, there wasn’t a fiddle! Aaron could have benefited from some help vocally, otherwise he’s pretty much driving this ship himself. Side musician Nathan Schubert was a standout, playing about 5 different instruments on his crowded corner of the stage.

Check out this excellent music video put together from the show. This song was performed once in each set, so the videographers would have different camera angles, and I assume 2 takes of the live mix. This is what you can expect from an Aaron Cadwaladr Band performance:

Aaron is a pretty worldly fellow, and I asked him about his days busking in Europe, and what he thinks of a chatty audience:

“There is something very humbling about both busking - when folks just walk on by, hardly noticing - and playing in a loud café where people also may not notice the musicians. Being a street musician taught me to play and enjoy it, whether there is an audience or not.”

There was definitely an audience at Deux Soleils, but Aaron seems content in making music for himself, and hey, if anyone else likes it, that’s cool too.

“Making music to please others is a risky game as far as I am concerned, though it is nice to hear that folks are enjoying the music.”

These folks definitely enjoyed the music, and the new album “Wade Through The Dark” is a sure bet for anyone looking to escape their inner-city-dwelling lives for a cool 50 minutes of wide-open wilderness. The Aaron Cadwaladr Band will be trekking around the province for the next month or so, returning Nov 22nd for a homecoming gig at The Backstage Lounge. More dates & info at myspace.com/aaroncadwaladr.

NS: Aaron, we’re here at your release party for “Wade Through The Dark. Tell me a bit about the new CD. You had some interesting special guests: Veda Hille, Zubot & Dawson. How did this thing come about? Those are some amazing connections!

AC: For the most part I would have to call it the Commercial Drive Connection. Veda, Steve Dawson, and Peggy Lee all live in the area, and I have been a long-time big fan of all of their music. I was honoured to have each of them lend their talents to my album.

NS: On the Live-tip, I know you perform solo, and I know you perform with the band. Who will grace the stage with you tonight for the CD release?

AC: For the CD release I will be playing with my regular band with me on guitar & vocals, Cornell St Jean on bass, Nathan Shubert on piano, accordion, glockenspiel, mandolin and all sort of things. Unfortunately, our fantastic drummer Michael Munro will not be able to make it on the tour, but, we have an excellent replacement sitting in for him with James Mcrae on drums, and Elise Bouer will be sitting in for a handful of songs on the fiddle. It will be a great night and we are really looking forward to it!

NS: Do you always write solo, or have you co-written with anyone for this release?

AC: To this point I have pretty much written solo, though I would love to have the opportunity to explore more collaborative projects.

NS: I saw an excellent review of you somewhere: “ a distinctive addition to the great Canadian singer-songwriter tradition”. That must feel good, to get that media acceptance, right? Would you say you strive more for media acceptance, fan acceptance, artist acceptance, or all 3? Or do you care?

AC: That is a bit of a difficult question to answer. I really try to just focus on the music. I figure that if I make songs that I can stand behind, then that is the best that I can do. Making music to please others is a risky game as far as I am concerned… though, yes, it is nice to hear that folks are enjoying the music!

NS: Is there an element of busking in your live show, like the old days in Berlin? What do you like about busking?

AC: When I play solo shows it definitely brings me back to my days as a busker, especially in those venues where folks are more interested in drinks and conversation than live music. There is something very humbling about both busking - when folks just walk on by, hardly noticing - and playing in a loud café where people also may not notice the musicians. Being a street musician taught me to play and enjoy it, whether there is an audience or not. I love playing music – and every once and a while someone really digs it, which makes it worthwhile! Busking is excellent practice, as well.

NS: Any plans to tour Europe with this new CD, maybe go back to those roots and show off the finished product?

AC: Absolutely! The gears are already in the works for a little tour back in the homeland (Wales, England, Ireland) though I would also love to head back to Berlin, it has such a vibrant music scene and is a town always up for a good time!

NS: “Neil Young meets Radiohead for a pint of organic stout.” – explain that explanation, please.

AC: Well, People are always asking me to define my sound – I find it a bit hard to put myself in one box – so we came up with this little tag that I think defines the our sound. Neil Young and Radiohead are both huge influences on me, especially the more earthy and mellower side of both of those artists, which is where the “organic” comes into it. And stout, well I just love stout…!!

NS: Did you play with a Neil Young tribute act called Live Rust? Is that where the Neil Young connection came from? Do you cover any of Neil’s songs currently?

AC: Hmmm yes I did play with Live Rust for a spell – Until life got too busy. But I would say that the Neil Young connection runs much deeper than that – he’s in our blood isn’t he? I was drawn to the Neil Young Cover Band because of my love of Neil young, but the cover band had little impact/influence on my songwriting or sound. I still sit in with Live Rust once in a while and thoroughly enjoy it!
…and yes I have been known to throw a Neil Young cover into a set here and there!

NS: You received a FACTOR demo grant a few years back, correct? You did an EP. You were funded again for this full-length. Did you ever factor grants and things into your music career in the early days, and would you say that grant money legitimized your music career at all?

AC: The FACTOR demo was my first grant money. It definitely gave me the ability to grow my music and focus more of my energy on my own music and recording. I guess you could say that yes, in a way it may have “legitimized” my music career as I was able to work on my own material instead of doing such things as playing in tribute bands and jazz trios to pay the rent. Also, there is a bit of industry recognition, which comes with receiving artist grants, which is nice.

NS: You were also involved with SIFE BCIT. What has working with them done for your career? I watched your video testimonial of the initial stages. Have you continued working with them?

AC: Funny you ask… Yes SIFE BCIT was a great experience as it helped me to understand the business aspect of marketing my music. The leader of the group of SIFE BCIT students that I was working with is now what you might call my Manager – Ross McKeachie - so yes I suppose that you could say that, in a twice removed sort of a way, I am still connected to them.

NS: You have been a guitar teacher for over 15 years? Has that ever decreased your drive to play guitar? Like you teach guitar all day, then go home at night, is guitar the last thing you want to do, or is it the opposite?

AC: Being a guitar teacher keeps me on my toes as a musician. I have some really great students that I have been teaching for years – and I enjoy teaching. It doesn’t really detract from my personal enjoyment of playing music. They are really such different experiences.

NS: This is a bit off-topic, but what is ‘In Veronica’s Garden’ and how were you involved with that? I saw you had some Illustrator and Photographer credits?

AC: Ahhh yes, this is a bit of a left turn – but here we go…A little known fact about me is that I also have a Fine Arts Degree. For a while there I was pretty focused on painting and did a couple of watercolours for the book, my mom’s book! I also did the painting that was used in the graphics for my EP Shape Changing Sky.

NS: You also play in The Kerplunks! That’s so cool. What got you into Children’s Music?

AC: I have been playing with Dina D and Tina Jones (the brainpower and force behind The Kerplunks) for over two years now. When they asked if I wanted to join them in this project I jumped at the opportunity – their songs are great to play and they are all stellar musicians. We have a lot of fun together! It is kid’s music that both adults and musicians can appreciate. I never tire of it! We have been doing very well including winning a West Coast Music Award, a Canadian Folk Music award and getting a Juno Nomination. We lost to the Bare Naked Ladies….

NS: Back to the album, any interesting stories about the recording process for this record? Did everything go smooth as silk, or what? Getting that many musicians on board at the same time must have presented a challenge.

AC: We had pretty solid arrangements for the tunes going in for the Rhythm section, then we layered the extra instrumentation on top. It went pretty smoothly. It kind of changed as it went along and we just went with it.

NS: Anything else you’d like to tell readers of The Skinny? Aside form promoting the new album with your BC-tour, what's coming up next?

AC: My energy has been focused on this album for a while and I am looking forward to settling back down and focusing on my songwriting.

NS: And finally Aaron, cats or dogs? If you had to pick just one…

AC: Well, I have a large irritable shaggy bearded Rottweiler hound – so I would have to go with dogs… she would be pretty ticked if I chose cats, and it’s definitely in my best interest to keep her happy.

NS: Well, I hope you keep your dog, and your listeners happy with the new record “Wade Through The Dark”, which is available at fine local record stores as well as through aaroncadwaladr.com. Best of luck to you, sir! - The Skinny

"Aaron Cadwaladr at Cafe Deux Soleils"

Though only my second visit in the last two years, I felt quite comfy among the dim spotlights and numerous candles at Café Deux Soleils. I enjoyed a delectable selection from their vegetarian bill of fare whilst Aaron Cadwaladr and band members prepared, running through a brief sound check. Backed by a charcoal canvas with three noticeable lime green splashes of paint, the four-piece took their places, commencing the first of the evening’s two sets.

Both confidence and camaraderie were immediately present between the band members. Lyrically, I was immediately captivated when I heard Aaron’s poignant voice sing “lock your defense in a jar, give yourself a little time to kill” in “Engage The Air”. During “Engage,” Nathan Shubert donned an accordion on his torso, carefully preventing any obstruction to his keyboard for these shared duties. “Take These Chances” displayed Cornell St. Jean and James McRae locking down a solid rockabilly beat, complimenting both Aaron’s finger picking and Nathan’s pleasant ivory chops alike. Introducing electric mandolin on “Slow Down”, a ‘faster tune about slowin’ down’ gave life to the repetitive offering.

Throughout, the sound resonated well, with great tension and dynamics between each instrument in the mix. Aaron has an intriguing ability to project his voice well with his mouth remaining slightly ajar. His voice most shone during his magnificent rendition of Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” where xylophone was brought to life. The toe-tapping grooves delivered by the tight unit of musicians then paused as their first set came to a close.

Initially, I was pleasingly surprised by the inclusion of Aaron’s live band, but found myself wishing for at least some solo effort. Although this wish was granted at the beginning of the second set, Aaron did not obtain the rest of the crowd’s undivided attention. I enjoyed “Fingertips” as best I could, but felt that the audience could simmer down, considering the lack of backing group. Aaron was rejoined, eventually adding yet another member to their ensemble, a guest musician by the name of Elise Burr, who contributed her violin to the already eclectic mix of instruments on stage. While such an addition is both present and pleasant on the record, tonight it was the only audible flaw. It came off a tad harsh in the mix, possibly due to levels of the audio engineer, which rendered a less than favorable version of my favorite tune “Wade Through The Dark.”

While I thought a strong conclusion might have been missed, I was set dead in my tracks when Aaron’s guitar upstrokes were heard on The Clash’s “Wrong ‘Em Boyo.” Afterwards, Elise’s effort came through when her violin picking well complimented the staccato 1-2-3 punches of the xylophone in “Here By Me”, which left us with a warm final note of the evening. Overall the crowd may have ranged from infant to elder, though the satisfactions derived from the evening’s soundscapes were a common ground indeed.

Aaron and his talented band of musicians can be found touring British Columbia throughout November. They’ll be back home, playing The Railway Club, on November 26, 2009. - Ronatron.net

"Review of "Wade through the Dark" by Stuart Derdeyn"

"Juno nominated for his work with kid's rockers the Kerplunks,Cadwaladr proves himself more than able to write mature and meaningful material for fans of finely arranged alternative roots music. As expansive as an ocean view from Vancouver Island."

Stuart Derdeyn, The Province (Vancouver) - The Province (Vancouver)

""Engage the Air" voted song #2 in top 10 Canadian songs of 2009!!"

Alya Ramadam of CBC Radio Program Daybreak South (CBC Kelowna) voted Engae the Air as the #2 best Canadian song of 2009!! - CBC Kelowna

"Review of "Wade through the Dark""

“intelligent and original...fun and spontaneous...I love it.” John Pippus from raisedonindie.com - www.raisedonindie.com


Shape Changing Sky: EP. released November 2007.

Wade Through the Dark: Full length album released October 2009.



It’s a rare and fine thing when a new voice arrives, fully-realized, on the music scene. From the first note of Aaron Cadwaladr’s folk-roots infused debut release Wade Through the Dark, it’s evident that this West Coast-based singer-songwriter has an exceptional combination of originality and maturity – an earthy yet sophisticated sensibility sure to garner him a focal role among the new generation of artists on this province’s vibrant indie music scene.

The Aaron Cadwaladr Band is: Aaron (guitar & vocals); Cornell St Jean (bass); Nathan Shubert (keyboards...) and Michael Munro (drums).

The 14 tracks on Wade Through the Dark showcase Cadwaladr’s rich and resonant voice and poetically compelling lyrics combined with his openness to eclectic musical influences. Songs on the release range from the barrel-house off-kilter folk rock of the title track Wade Through the Dark to the pared-down jazzy-tinged lullaby of fingertips to the bluegrass-infused slow down, and covering a lot of ground in between. His lyrics speak to the challenges of living in an over-commercialized world, of making your own way in life, of the lure and beauty of the natural world among other social and personal themes. The recording features contributions from notable Vancouver musicians including Veda Hille (piano), Peggy Lee (cello), Steve Dawson (pedal steel and electric guitar) and Jesse Zubot (violin) among others. All songs on the FACTOR-supported release were written and arranged by Aaron, and the recording was produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Veda Hille, The Cave Singers) with Cadwaladr at Hive Creative Labs in Burnaby.

Cadwaladr was born on Salt Spring Island, and raised on a homestead near Cape Scott on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. His love and respect for the natural world was nurtured throughout his early years, and is evident in his writing today. As he grew up the larger world beckoned, and he’s lived in both rural and urban BC and travelled the world. Time spent working for passage on a sailboat across the Caribbean and Atlantic, living in Wales and Berlin, and busking the streets of Europe helped shape his musical style. In addition to a fine arts degree, Aaron is a graduate of the Jazz Studies Program at Malaspina University. He makes his home among the community of musicians and music teachers in Vancouver.

Cadwaladr has played with a number of groups in and around Vancouver, including the Juno-nominated band The Kerplunks. In November 2007, he released his debut EP Shape Changing Sky with support from FACTOR. This well-received release led to FACTOR’s continued support for the recording of Wade Through the Dark.

With a love of acoustic instruments and folk music traditions, a contemporary urban sensibility and a vital and independent voice – Aaron Cadwaladr’s first full release is a distinctive addition to the great Canadian singer-songwriter tradition.

Wade Through the Dark is available for purchase on iTunes, through the website: www.aaroncadwaladr.com and in select record stores.