The Big Three, featuring Ben Sures, Paul Bellows, and Mike McDonald
December 10, 8:00, Haven Social Club
Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door
To those who are knowledgeable about Edmonton’s music scene, The Big Three show this Saturday at Haven Social Club is a can’t-miss event. For those who aren’t as informed, the show promises to run the gamut from “folky and eccentric to classic punk-pop” according to Paul Bellows – the middle act in the evening’s performance. Paul gives me the low-down on what to expect from Saturday’s performance: Ben Sures will be playing his mix of “gypsy folk-rock” and Mike McDonald – “the pioneer of cowpunk in North America” and a founding member of Junior Gone Wild “one of the most important bands to come out of Edmonton.” And what about Paul? He’ll be bridging the auditory distance between the two bands. He says, “I figure that’s exactly where I belong…. I’m a bridge, between weird and loud!”
So, how exactly does Paul bridge the space between weird and loud? Likely due to his whirlwind career as an artist – which saw critical acclaim from album one, and has culminated in him finding his way to becoming a truly independent musician – one who creates music as an art form (and I don’t mean unintelligible art-music here), and could care less about commercial success.
Paul Bellows’ first album, Juliet Pauses was made in Edmonton in 1997, after Paul had finished a touring stint. Juliet Pauses received critical acclaim from radio stations, the CBC, and music magazines. In fact, the album was even chosen as one of the Top 12 DIY record by Performing Songwriter Magazine the following year … not bad for a first release! Paul was quickly picked up by Cake Records in Seattle, which helped him release a second album – Like He’s Famous. Again, the album was well-received, gaining an honorary mention on the CBC’s list of top 10 records of the year on the CBC radio show Definitely Not the Opera. Cake Records asked him to move to America, however, Paul’s career doing new media and web work was taking off. Paul decided to stay in Edmonton, keeping writing and performing music as a hobby, supported by his career as a web developer.
Since that choice, faced by many musicians, Paul Bellows has released two more records – Tape Deck Classics (2005) and, most recently Shipwreck Looking Out for a Beach (September of this year). Both records have been well-received by listeners and radio stations. Paul says his music is, “the funnest hobby I’ve ever had.” And this is reflected in his music – each song on Shipwreck has a carefree, take-it-or-leave-it tone. Paul says, “I do exactly what I want to do, I make the exact record that I want to make, I sell some, I get some radio play, I do a lot of those things, but I don’t have to do it for a living. I’m not required to, I do it because I actually want to.” Paul is not necessarily looking to sell records… in this case, his art is genuinely, well, art. “I think I’ve had much better artistic success from not making [commercial success] the goal.”