by Aaron J. Shay
The 2017 Rogue Festival is almost here. KRL will be featuring several Rogue Performer Preview articles over the next few weeks, and a preview article on this year’s Rogue Festival as well.
We will also be reviewing many of the shows once the Festival begins the beginning of March, and we may even do some more video interviews. Check out our Rogue Performer event page for more information as it becomes available, and you can also check out the Rogue 2017 website.
The human brain is a story-machine. Our whole society is built around sharing, producing and consuming stories. Our species is a whole planet-wide story-factory.
When we catch up with old friends over a drink, we share the story of how we got from way back when to the here and now. When we are spending time with loved ones, we are recounting old stories, or maybe telling the story of how our day went. When we listen to music, we build a story in our minds of what the music is trying to tell us. Even if it is instrumental, musicians often try to weave a story into the notes, using the instruments at their disposal and the dynamics of their sound. When we look at a painting, we often try to find the story inside of it, to decipher the imagery. Even if it’s abstract. We want the story, we crave it, and the best artists know how much to give while still leaving us hanging.
As a singer-songwriter, storytelling is in my history. From the fili and the bard of pre-Christian Ireland to the chazzan chanting prayers in synagogue to the Cohen/Baez//fill-in-the-blank of today’s modern singer, stories have been the main driving force not only of our lyrics, but also our stage personas. David Bowie had his cast of surreal characters, all plucked out of science fiction tropes. Bob Dylan pretended at being a rambler when he first hit Greenwich Village, despite having only just arrived from the mid-western suburbs. PJ Harvey’s songs often tell dark and discomforting tales of love and violence… it’s often hard to tell what’s true and what’s fiction and often unnecessary.
In the end, the facts of the story don’t really make the story. As the old saying goes, Art is a lie that tells the truth. Story is one of Art’s oldest and most trusted vehicles. It delivers us the truth directly to our senses, it shoots us directly into the experience of another person and it gives us an easy passage into empathy.
Stories are powerful tools. And like with any tools, they can be used for good or evil. They can manipulate us, or liberate us, they can build a community up or divide it for easy conquest.
Some of the stories I sing are mine and some of them are not. Some of them are real, while some are entirely imagined, and some stories lie entirely between those four points, an strange mash of fiction, fact, and truth.
Anyway, this next song is a breakup song I wrote a few years back. Thanks for coming out tonight and don’t forget to tip your bartender!
Spectrum Art Gallery
608 E Olive Ave.