Canadian Workhorse Craig Cardiff live at Streaming Cafe

by Malcolm Petch

Craig Cardiff plays a back-to-back pair of shows at Streaming Café on January 21, helping to kick off another year of fabulous live acoustic shows in front of the wood wall.

The Canadian Icon Gordon Lightfoot says this about Cardiff: “A songwriter who needs to be heard” – and a brief time exploring the music available from Cardiff online backs up that sweeping statement. This isn’t music that can exist unnoticed in the background sonic landscape; Craig Cardiff seems to carry that indefinable presence that draws the listener in to an experience deeper than just a casual listen.

Cardiff was born in Waterloo, Ontario in 1976. He’s part of a musical family, and his two sisters sometimes show up as backing artists on his albums. Known primarily for his soft voice and his use of loops when he performs (voice and guitar loops, not electro-pop percussion), Cardiff is also notable in the music industry for his apparent preference for a wider audience rather than a fuller wallet. He has given away music in different contexts, whether that’s the offering of free album downloads (like his 2010 EP “Songs for Lucy”) or the inclusion of a free CD, designed to be given away to others, in the packaging of his 2007 release, Goodnight (Go Home).

This attitude toward music distribution is not exclusive to Cardiff, of course, but it’s interesting and more than a little coincidental that his record label, MapleMusic Recordings, was also the Canadian home for RadioHead’s physical release of In Rainbows back in 2007. (RadioHead, you’ll recall, stood the industry up on its ear that year by releasing Rainbows completely independently, and first offered the album as a digital download from its website for whatever people wanted to pay – in other words, you could get it free if you wanted to. The industry heavy-weights said that was foolish and suicidal. But the band still went on to sell over three million copies of that album within a year, and won two Grammy awards in 2009 due to its success). Other artists who’ve released music through MapleMusic include David Usher, Colin James, Martha Wainwright, Joel Plaskett, and Spirit of the West.

Cardiff’s newest release is Floods & Fires, produced by Ben Leggett and released late in 2011. The songs have a distinct contemporary singer/songwriter feel to them, and are certainly worthy of a listen prior to Craig’s appearance in Kelowna. Interestingly, Cardiff has also released ‘books’ such as The Book Of Truths and The Book Of Songs, covering topics like lyrics (Book Of Songs) and “curious and candid anonymous sharings from audience members” (Book Of Truths).

There’s not a lot of biographical information about Cardiff floating around online. He’s definitely got a web presence, but other than a few sparse details about who he is and where he came from, most of his online sites deal (understandably) with his music. But that’s the beauty of the live shows coming up at Streaming Café: fans everywhere, both in the café and online, will be able to ask questions of Cardiff live and in-person, and his answers will be available for the whole world to hear. Check out these shows on January 21st in person (at 7pm or 9pm) or online (7pm PST only) and ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted to about everything you’ve ever needed to know about Craig Cardiff – it should be good!

Get your advanced tickets at Streaming Cafe.

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