My gosh, this guy’s an inspiration.
I first heard Buck 65 when he appeared on that wonderful CBC-TV show called ZeD. ZeD was an open source television show that encouraged viewers to submit videos. In between videos there would be a musical guest who would perform a few songs. The show ran for four seasons from 2002 to 2006.
Unfortunately, I never really heard much Buck 65 since, although I’ve seen his name around, here and there.
When I found out that he was coming to the Pyramid, I was reminded of seeing him on ZeD; and like a good journalist, I figured I would do a bit of research.
I discovered that Buck 65 is the stage name for Rich Terfry, the host of CBC Radio 2 show, Drive. Yes, I have heard this guy many times since ZeD. His Drive show helped me cope with traffic on many occasions since 2008.
I must explain one thing here, I love music, all music. However, hip hop and rap have never been my favourite genres. I also love poetry and have actually written some of my own poetry over the years. Hip hop and rap are sort of like poetry when you think about it.
When I found out that Buck 65 was an alternative hip hop artist, I wondered what the show would be like. One of my favourite expressions is, “The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it’s open.” So with an open mind, I went to the Pyramid to check it out, and I was quite impressed with what I saw.
I have a background in community access radio myself, as a programmer and as a DJ. While watching Buck 65’s performance, I had this revelation that a DJ’s voice is like an instrument. Mr. Terfry’s voice and words are the tools he brings with him to work everyday on the radio. It’s no different for a song or a poem.
It’s quite amazing what can be said in a well-crafted poem or song. It’s also quite amazing what can be said in an unbroken stream of consciousness, which is what a lot of these compositions are.
Armed with not only his voice, but samples and records as well, what Buck 65 was doing on stage was really quite fascinating.
With each song, he related a different subject to the audience in a way that they were open to hear it. When you think about it, Johnny Cash or Frank Zappa were similar to rap or hip hop artists. Many of their songs were done in a style called ‘sprechstimme’ which is a German expression for speaking time. Some songs are more spoken, as opposed to sung.
There is definitely a skill to this kind of word play. He’s not just stringing together random rhymes, he’s conveying messages and stories throughout each piece. The audience was clearly appreciating the show, as they grooved to the beats.
Every once in a while, Swedish artist Tiger Rosa would wander onto stage to contribute her sweet angelic voice to the compositions. Nice contrast to Buck 65’s voice. Then, as quickly as she would come on, she would leave the stage.
Buck 65 shared stories and background to some of the tunes he did, which was nice. He even shared with us that, “I am a CBC host, I don’t want that line to make you think that I’m into choking people.” He didn’t hurt us in the least. In fact, most of the folks there were clearly enjoying the show.
He played several songs from his recent release, Neverlove, which was two years in the making. The CD was produced by Tiger Rosa’s husband Marten Tromm. Many of the tunes deal with having loved and lost. He divorced his wife before making the album. Quite a few songs from the new album, like ‘Love Will F*@k You Up’ and ‘Heart of Stone’, were in the repertoire that night.
Before he finished the show, he mentioned that he was flying home the next day for a little break and was hoping to unload some of the crap, so he wouldn’t have to carry it with him. The crap he referred to was his new CD and T-shirts. I helped him out by buying a CD, which I’ve been listening to while writing this. I like it.
The Zen Buddhists have a way of dealing with things that trouble the mind. They say to get it out of your mind, put it on paper and burn it, then it’s gone. I think what Mr. Terfry did was put it down on paper and burn it to a CD. I’m glad he didn’t follow the Zen thing and destroy it because that would have been a shame not to share such amazing thoughts.
He invited his “new favourite friends,” opening act, SC Mira (unfortunately, I missed them as I arrived late, heard they were good though) to help him out on ‘Super Pretty Naughty’. He confided in SC Mira that he had a crush on them. I think it was a wonderful partnership, as they made beautiful music together.
It didn’t seem like there was going to be an encore but the crowd started chanting, “one more song, one more song” to which he obliged. At the end of the song, he jumped off the front of the stage into the audience and hung out talking, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans.
As he said earlier in the night, “I wanna help you go home happy and wake up tomorrow even happier.” You know what? That is certainly how I felt when I left and when I woke up. I still don’t know what he meant though when he said about prairie people that, “if you stand on a paint can, you can see the back of your own head.”
All photos by Doug Kretchmer