Ottawa
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Rae Spoon cruises into town for Ladyfest

COUNTRY MUSIC OUTLAW. Rae Spoon upends the stereotypes. Credit: Capital Xtra files

It’s hard to picture a less likely Alberta country music outlaw.



Rae Spoon – who grew up in Calgary and relocated to Vancouver in 2001 – identifies as queer and as a trans-man and combines a husky, dust-bowl era swagger with an angelic, distinctively female-sounding, voice. It’s a juxtaposition that has not gone unnoticed when Spoon’s music is written about and people have definitely been taking notice.



Spoon says he sometimes gets tired of the attention and admits it was difficult, at first, not having the option to pass as male. At the same time he has worked hard to develop his voice and isn’t about to change it.



“I’m starting to get a sense of humour about it and really enjoy it,” says Spoon. “I like that I’m in the mainstream media sometimes or on a folk stage with people you never think would be exposed to trans issues, and somehow people seem to be rather accepting. I think it’s good that it’s that obvious, because it kind of draws attention to the issue in a way.”



Though he doesn’t mind it now, Spoon says at first it was difficult. “I was worried about being trans and trying to be in the mainstream folk scene. I didn’t know how people would react and I don’t think confusion is that great for someone’s career.”



There has never been any confusion about Spoon’s talent, however. He burst onto the music scene with an independent EP, Honking at Minivans, in the spring of 2001. It quickly sold more than 1,000 copies. Spoon recently followed up with a full-length release Throw Some Dirt on Me. Distributed nationally by Festival Records, the disc has begun a climb on college charts and plays regularly on CBC radio.



Spoon, 22, was surprised how quickly he was playing folk festivals, which happened the summer after the release of his EP.



“I did want to make a career out of music but I knew I was young and I probably had to spend some time,” says Spoon. “I just started doing coffeehouses when I was 17 and bars in Alberta when I was 18. I expected to eventually make a record. I knew I wanted to play folk festivals and do the folk scene. I thought it would take a bit of time, though.”



But in a short time, Spoon has built a diverse following working everything from folk fest workshops, alongside peers like the Be Good Tanyas, to playing shows with Winnipeg political punk rock legends Propagandhi.



And Spoon says his own tastes are just as diverse. His work is often compared to that of Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and Bob Dylan, but while Spoon admits those are influences, particularly Dylan, he’s got a secret soft spot for Motown.



“I listen to lots of Motown. I guess that’s really different,” Spoon admits with a laugh. “I kind of like that. I like Marvin Gaye, older ’60s-type of Motown. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. That kind of stuff.”



But Spoon’s own style is definitely more Dylan than doo wop. He describes his work as “new skool folk music.” And while Spoon admits that basically means folk music written by younger people, it also means incorporating newer themes and images and mixing those into an older tradition of music.



* Visit www.raespoon.com and www.cheworx.com for more info.



RAE SPOON IN CONCERT.



RASPUTINS FOLK CAFÉ.

8pm. Fri, Sep 17.

696 Bronson Ave.

Tickets $9.

Info: 230-5102.



LADYFEST OTTAWA.

6:30pm. Sun, Sep 19.

With The Platonics, Yael Wand and The Jane Waynes.

Club SAW (67 Nicholas St).

Tickets: $10/door; festival pass $30.

Available at mother tongue books

(1067 Bank St), Organized Sound

(591-A Bank St) and Venus Envy

(110 Parent Ave).

Info: www.ladyfestottawa.com.



BLACK SHEEP INN.

9pm. Thu, Oct 28.

With Geoff Berner.

753 Riverside Dr, Wakefield, QC).

Tickets: $10.

Info: 819-459-3228 or www.theblacksheepinn.com.