What's In Your Fridge: Shari Ulrich

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      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

      Shari Ulrich

      Who are you

      I’m celebrating my 50th year making music in many different ways—Pied Pumkin, Hometown Band, Ulrich Henderson Forbes, Bentall Taylor Ulrich, the High Bar Gang, and all manner of solo iterations.  I LOVE MUSIC and all the many tangents and adventures it has taken me on. TV hosting, (including with David Suzuki in the ’80s), SongBird North, teaching at UBC, and most importantly, the many lifelong friendships with bandmates and peers. Festivals are the best for re-connecting!

      First concert

      The Beatles!  No kidding—at The Cow Palace in San Francisco on August 19, 1964. Frenzied, intoxicating, and thrilling. I took dozens of photos with my brownie camera—all of the backs of screaming girls. I saw their last concert as well, in Candlestick Park in San Francisco, on August 29, 1966.

      Life-changing concert

      My teen years were in the SF Bay Area in the late ’60s so….I saw pretty much every band of that era that came through the Avalon Ballroom, Fillmore West, Golden Gate Park, the Lion’s Share coffee house in San Rafael… (Including Bill Henderson & Claire Lawrence in the Collectors, who a decade later loomed large in my musical life­—oh, how interesting the threads are!)  It was ALL life-changing in that era. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of everyone I heard, (so not a “Deadhead” but I probably heard the Grateful Dead the most, since they were local) but it ALL influenced me. Probably my favourite band to hear live were the Sons Of Champlain­—a local R&B band whose lead singer Bill Champlain went on to be the lead singer for Chicago. Truly a great band. 

      Top three records

      First, the Beatles of course. I would count the days 'til their releases and race to my local record store to buy them. Then bury my head in the speakers to learn the harmonies. And damn, there's just no such thing as a top three!  SO many great ones! Probably the albums that had the heaviest rotation and biggest impact on me in my youth were: 

      Karla Bonoff Karla Bonoff In 1977 I was a fledgling singer, and this album had a big influence on me. Great tunes and production. Turns out I was not alone. About 20 years or so ago I was at the Ottawa Folk Festival—at the inevitable spontaneous song circle that crops up in the hotel. Lynn Miles, Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman, and a whack of enthusiasts were huddled around, and suddenly we were gustily belting out Karla Bonoff songs off that album that we'd all been raised on. In fact, I'd completely forgotten about those songs and that era and there they all were, lying in wait in the cobwebs of my brain. I'll never forget how fun that was that we all shared the inspiration of that album and remembered every tune. 

      Joni Mitchell (of course!) Ladies of the Canyon. Seared into my memory—hearing that album for the first time in my best friend's rec room in the wee hours in 1970. I'd never heard anything like it—that voice, those arrangements, and the utterly original, bold, confessional lyrics that undeniably impacted every single female singer-songwriter since for generations! So impactful.  

      The Weepies Say I Am You From 2006. One of the first things my son Mike and I did, when I first found him after having given him up for adoption 40 years earlier, was share our favourite music. I'd never heard the Weepies before and I was hooked from the first song. (I think the top of my list for him was Nickel Creek). Such great songwriting, fresh creative production, and utterly charming vocals from the duo of Deb Talen & Steve TannenI was teaching a class at UBC and used their song, "This is Not Your Year" as a brilliant example of writing about depression (given half the room probably suffered with it!)—never once using any words referring to pain or sadness. It's an art!  "There's a world of shiny people somewhere else/Out there following their bliss, living easy, getting kissed…" Oh yeah. 

      All-time favourite video

      Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush “Don’t Give Up”  Simple and pure and timeless in every way.

      What’s in your fridge

      Eight bottles of every manner of hot sauce despite hating any spice whatsoever in my food. I have the most bland palate known to man or woman. An utter bore to cook for. But everyone in my family, and all who visit, love it and it’s the only way they’ll get any heat in anything I cook for them, so they have more real estate than they should!

      Seven different kinds of mustard despite hating it. See above. I’m a people pleaser.

      Four jars of things that are well expired that I just threw out. So thanks so much for the impetus to actually look at what’s in there! Your work here is done!

      Shari Ulrich plays the Vancouver Folk Music Festival with the High Bar Gang on Friday (July 14). You can check out her extensive back catalogue, and listen to her most recent release, Back to Shorehere.