Brent Tyler – A Musical Force
by Graeme Higginson
On Friday, I left The Hub happy and into the slow sway of cool, evening air. The event had been Brent Tyler, a musical force with enough warm tenacity to shake a few local apples out of the tree. For those that dropped by, I’m sure they stepped out into the soft breeze that was cutting across downtown Vernon with the same warm feelings that pulsed through me as made my way home.
The show began casually at 8:00pm in The Hub showcase with the first of Tyler’s wonderful guests, Jayme McKillop, a songwriter described as “folky blues” by her cohort in opening, Tanya Lipscomb, a self-professed “Gypsy potlach of funk, soul, jazz, blues, folk and triphop.” As may be expected, their numbers were exciting to say the least, with McKillop at times channeling the vocal soars and whispers of Janis Joplin, the eerie ambience of Beth Gibbons, and then the unique, warm grace of someone who has found happiness in their art. On Lipscomb’s part, her vocal range was compelling, as was her ability to play multiple instruments– five that I was able to record. Drawing from an initial baritone into a lighter set of vocals, Liscomb stood apart in her unique choice to offset McKillop’s personal ballads with universal political fare that held stylistic throwbacks to both Dylan and Marley, albeit with her own personal touches. Whether together or apart, the two held strong in their abilities and passion in a way that clearly had more than one attendee excited for what was to come.
Sometime after 9:00pm, the opening concluded and Mr. Tyler and his band began. Fitting as best as a man over six feet can onto The Hub’s intimate stage, it was soon clear that this would not be a limitation. With a few humble opening lines, the environment changed. In a casual space of around thirty seats, the air became warmer as Tyler’s gorgeous, melodious vocals washed through the space and the band’s instruments melted together into one whole, living sound. Where was I when this music played? Perhaps I was on a sunny beach or driving deep into green farmland; I was somewhere good. This continued on throughout the hours until 11:00pm hit, with everything bleeding together in a mix of honest stories, humour, band antics and, whether it was in dancing for those who did, in Brent’s lyrics or recollections, or in the testimony Matt gave at the show’s close, love. Through the soft originals and fast, either of which set to exclaim Tyler’s ability as a guitarist, to a final, pitch-perfect encore of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” what existed in that tight warm space on 30th Avenue was love– for life, for the art, for possibly everything. Big love.
As I walked home through the cool evening air, I do think I took a part of that love with me, or something wonderful like it. I have seen shows in stadiums and have gone away indifferent. Tonight I heard a voice clearly without it echoing across a thousand bodies; I saw a face that wasn’t made up of pixels on a screen. Every part of the show was close-at-hand– there wasn’t a reliance on a technical network to share the goings-on. Every single person in that limited space was one in their closeness in this experience. Perhaps it is only in this way that we can truly let our souls and spirits fly into the mystic.