What's In Your Fridge: Leah Barley
What’s in Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz Ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.
On the grill
Who are you
I’m a bluesy-folk singer/songwriter based here in East Vancouver. I have two awesome men who back me up; violist John Kastelic and instrumentalist Ross Christopher Fairbairn. We perform as Leah Barley and the Converse Cowboys. I write all the tunes, manage the band, produce the albums, book the tours, and take care of all the legalities, website, and so on. I have so many Adult Points right now, it’s a little ridiculous. Most recently we performed at CBC Music in August for their Musical Nooners Summer Series and I’m about to release my third EP titled Come Home. It’s a collection of songs I’ve been working on for a few years to show more dynamic in how I write. Getting out of the standard sweet folk song and into some bigger sounds, silliness, and shotguns. The release party is Friday (September 16) at the WISE Hall. Rag-time duo Chicken-Like Birds and super bad-ass Shiloh Lindsey are on the bill as well. Not Yer Buddy is hosting the event and it’s gonna be one hell of a night.
Well, there was a huge punk scene where I grew up in Ontario so I was always going to crazy house parties or raging at Lion’s Clubs. I remember driving two hours to a shack in the middle of nowhere to see Protest the Hero. There was a lot of thrashing and boot stomping. I was a kick boxer at the time so I threw down pretty hard in the pit. As for a bigger band, I think it was Mathew Good, or Dave Mathews, one of those men with pretty voices trying to sound grungy in the early ‘90s. It was an all-ages show that MuchMusic put on. I was maybe 15 and it was at the KEE to Bala in Muskoka. Anyways, I don’t remember anything about the music; I just remember wearing a stupid shirt that had a cartoon drawing of a possum on it. It was from the Far Side comic strip in the newspaper. And there was a cute boy. He had a tan and dreamy eyes.
Neil Young, 2008, Calgary. My friends and I drove up from Canmore. My friend Wes is the sweetest man on earth, couldn’t hurt a fly, but once we got in that room he told me to hold on and ploughed through everyone on the floor like a juiced-up linebacker ‘til we got to the front of the stage. Neil could have spat on me we were so close. And I would have let him. That man rocked out so damn hard changing between a 13-piece band, including his wife, to just him on a piano softly telling us to save the Earth. By the end of the show he ripped off all the strings on his guitar and was smashing it into the speakers making the most unreal sounds I’ve ever heard. He was just Neil, being Neil. Sharing what he loved, who he loved, and not giving a single fuck. No glitz, no glamour, just straight up talent, heart, and soul.
Top three records
J.S. Bach Bach: Violin Concertos featuring violinist Takako Nishizaki. I found this compilation disc of 13 songs by Bach before I went to college the first time…I have two diplomas. I would put it on while I studied and found myself drifting off into a psychedelic dream state like in Fantasia. I’ve always wanted to be a dancer and I see music in motion, movement and colour so my brain has a heyday with this one. And I’m a sucker for strings—always have been.
Creedence Clearwater Revival The Best Of Creedence Clearwater Revival (Disc 2) I have this thing memorized. Start to finish. Don’t know where Disc 1 is, I guess I only had time to steal Disc 2 from my dad when I was a kid. This was definitely one of those albums that opened my eyes to real rock/folk music; great, simple storytelling and killer guitar.
Dawes North Hills I got this album at my first concert here in Vancouver almost seven years ago. They opened for Edward Sharpe and I was blown away by the sheer awesomeness that came out of those boys. The tunes were so well put together, beautiful harmonies, and lyrics that pulled on my heart stings. The album itself holds true to their live show and has been left on repeat for many years.
All-time favourite video
Blind Melon “No Rain” I was by far that weird kid and still am. This video gave 11-year-old me hope that someday I’d find my pack of fellow costume-wearing outcasts dancing in an open field…and a hunky shirtless hippie musician waiting for me in the grass….
What’s in your fridge
Veggies from the farmers market! I’m a Holistic Nutritionist and try to take really good care of my body. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for bourbon; I just love food, really damn good food, and supporting local farmers.
Aloe juice. This is something you drink if you have digestive problems; it’s really great for your intestines. I was sick earlier in the summer and got some. Thankfully I had a lot left because I burned the hell out of my lady bits at Wreck Beach one day and had to spray myself with it because I couldn’t go outside to buy aloe gel….
An empty bottle of Ballantine’s scotch whiskey. To remind myself to never drink Ballantine’s scotch whiskey again. Because, bourbon.
Leah Barley has her Come Home release party tonight (September 16) at the WISE Hall. Check out the EP's first single "Come Home" here.