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Airdrie resident and Punk Poet Iconoclast of Canada to perform at Folk Fest

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014 04:48 pm

Art Bergmann may be best know as one of the key figures in Canadian punk rock in the late 1970s as the lead singer of the Young Canadians (formerly The K-Tels) but now the punk rock veteran is slowing things down a bit with a soon to be released EP and a performance at the Calgary Folk Music Festival on July 24.
Art Bergmann may be best know as one of the key figures in Canadian punk rock in the late 1970s as the lead singer of the Young Canadians (formerly The K-Tels) but now the punk rock veteran is slowing things down a bit with a soon to be released EP and a performance at the Calgary Folk Music Festival on July 24.
Allison Chorney/Rocky View Publishing

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Airdrie may not be the first place you think of when you hear the words punk rock icon but it is the place that former Young Canadians frontman Art Bergmann now calls home. The 61-year-old rocker hasn’t released new material in more than a decade but the punk poet is set to take the stage and perform some new songs at the Calgary Folk Music Festival on July 24.

“You only have one life and you have to stand up and say what you think,” Bergmann said of why he is releasing new music now.

Though the songs included on Bergmann’s new EP, which is expected to be released in September under the working title of Songs for the Underclass, are slowed down compared to his Young Canadians days, he still has the rebellious voice he is known for.

His song Drones of Democracy, which you can hear online at exclaim.ca, paints the picture of the making of a terrorist and features a nearly three-minute-long psychedelic guitar riff that is almost anxiety-inducing and the lyrics, “Gifts from heaven comes / come the cluster bombs / made by hand in Newtown / Massachusetts.” The combination of the slowed down yet persistent beat and the powerful lyrics results in a beautiful and haunting sound.

“It’s about what happens to a man when he sees his daughter blown to bits,” Bergmann said.

He said all the songs on his upcoming EP have something to say in the lyrics.

“Maybe it’s a mortality thing to put myself on record, to stand up and, I mean, we’ve got a government that can’t even say the words climate change,” he said. “The human experience has grown enough and it’s got to stop. It will keep going until there’s nothing left but nature fighting back.”

Bergmann may have couched his messages in the past but in his newest work there is no hiding, the message is direct and cannot be misunderstood.

“I think it’s futile but one has to say something even in the face of futility,” he said.

He said when musicians get political like he is, their work is often referred to as “slogans for lazy thinkers” but Bergmann said he hopes his music puts the idea of change in his fans’ mind.

“(I hope it plants) a couple of seeds in their minds,” he said. “Gets them to think more critically about things and (acts as) a monkey wrench for the brain to go and do a bit of sabotage of what’s out there. Even if you think it’s futile, go out there and enjoy planting some seeds.”

Bergmann said he gets his song ideas from the music he listens to, the movie and shows he see and the books he reads.

“We’ve all been made accomplices in the big-oil machine,” he said. “We’ve all got dirty money in our pockets.”

These days he listens to new country, which he describes as a kind of country artist with something to say and with older instruments. He said he is also into eastern music and is interested in exploring a combination of the two.

“I like a good song. I don’t care what genre it’s in,” he said.

His set on July 24 at the Calgary Folk Music Festival will be stripped down with only two guitars but Bergmann said it will still definitely be rock and roll.

“Hopefully the audience will help out with clapping,” he said.

He said though his fans are likely excited to hear anything new from him after all this time, they may be surprised by his new EP.

“They may be surprised that it’s a bit slowed down and outright political,” he said.

He said his main message is to clean up after yourself in general terms.

“How can (the new generation) be more altruistic when they always have plastic screens in their hands,” Bergmann said. “A child here uses about 1,000 times the resources as a child in the Second World. It’s a huge amount we suck out of the world and the South.”

For now, fans have to wait until the EP is released, hopefully in September, to take home Bergmann’s message but if they are lucky enough to see him in person at Folk Fest, the Punk Poet Iconoclast of Canada will certainly have a lot to say.

For more information on Bergmann, visit artbergmann.com


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