Sad Hill Media

Film & Lesser Arts with Will Ross, Devan Scott, & Daniel Jeffery.

by Will Ross

C.R. Avery moves between three mics. One is at his keyboard, a sloppy painting of a stereo on a sheet of paper hanging off the front, embracing an ironic sense of fun. Another at the piano by the wall. There, he sits in profile but turns his neck to sing to the audience, as if his body is in a different context and his head is giving us updates. The other mic is up front, alone. Here Avery beatboxes, sings, plays his keytar and blows on his harmonica, sometimes all at once. He mixes intelligent lyrics and poems with startling solos and intrustions, as if his plaintive voice isn't enough to hold our attention.

I think, "Avery clearly cares for his music and his multi-instrument offering shows he's dedicated to being a one-man band. On second thought, he's just one man, a performer, whose work moves in ten directions that have separate paths, but come from a vibrant core, like the sun's rays. Or is that too lustrous? His voice and subject matter are too dry, too scratchy to compare to a star's effulgence, yet he seems to have one's gravity when he begins an erudite poem with the news that he bought his daughter a dollhouse and pocket knife for her birthday."

When I leave the café, I am filled with admiration for performance, a refined analysis and sharing of life's waypoints with the crowd. Avery is on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette, and he doesn't just attend to the conversation, he commands it. "So what are you doing?" he asks. I fumble for an answer, and can only tell him I'm living in a basement, trying to figure my life out. "That's a good place to work from, though. You just find your corner and you dig a hole away from things. But you can't just hide from the world, either." I understand what he meant: Whether spent looking in or moving out, very night of art, adventure, and discovery is meaningful and restorative. The day-to-day routine is a curse to Avery. You have to dig in or climb out. Life is too short for rooms.

C.R. Avery has just released his latest album, The Great Canadian Novel, and I highly recommend picking it up, especially for the track "Channeling Frustrated Energy".

(While we spoke, C.R. asked me to send him the address to Sad Hill Cemetery on Facebook, and as intimidated as I am to show such an accomplished writer the unqualified art discussion I do as a hobby, I did. C.R., if you're reading this, I'm flattered and grateful, and hope this piece can give you some thanks for an illuminating night.)


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