This is going to be an emotional one.
Calling Art Bergmann—headlining the Rickshaw tonight—a local legend at this stage of the game is wildly underselling things. There’s zero disputing the validity of that statement, with the singer-guitarist having amassed a body of recorded work that starts with White Rock’s wildly under-appreciated the Shmorgs, and then chronologically includes the K-Tels, Young Canadians, Los Popularos, Poisoned, and—most impressively of all—his solo outings.
As one of the founding fathers of the Vancouver punk scene, Bergmann would have been considered a West Coast saint if he’d stopped making records after the YC’s 1980 swan song This Is Your Life. Instead, four decades of music have followed, that giving us some of the most emotionally real and raw records this country has ever seen (including absolutely essential Sexual Roulette).
All this explains how Bergmann went from grimy Lotusland punk clubs in the ’70s to becoming a member of the Order of Canada in 2021. Some journeys are indeed stranger than others.
For all the music the singer has given us, there’s a good case to be made that his latest, ShadowWalk, is the most important record of his storied career.
Those familiar with Bergmann’s history know the name Sherri Decembrini, who started out as a journalist in Vancouver in the ’80s, and then became better known as the singer’s muse for three decades. In March of 2022 the most important woman in Bergmann's adult life passed away suddenly and with no warning at the couple's Alberta farmhouse. He not only lost his wife, but best friend and inspiration.
The recently released ShadowWalk is his tribute to Decembrini.
The album starts out devastatingly with “Jagged/One” and the lyrics “Today called most unexpectedly.” Eleven cathartic, painful, and beautiful songs later, ShadowWalk wraps with the incandescent lament “CandleLit”, when Bergmann sings “Our love is infinite/I swim into your gaze/Where love’s fire resides.”
Prepare yourself tonight for An Evening With Art Bergmann at the Rickshaw, which doubles as a book launch for his authorized biogaphy The Longest Suicide. One thing is for certain: there will be tears, and not just from the legend on stage.
An Evening With Art Bergmann
Where: Rickshaw Theatre
When: Friday (September 29)