A guitar and double bass are the weapons of choice for the musicians who comprise Chicken-Like Birds.
The musical fowlers are Jasmin Frederickson and Ari Lantela from Vancouver. They deliver their sound through the bluegrass domain, and they’ll be sharing it this weekend during the ‘Fall Classic’ at Medici’s.
This will be their first official show in the South Okanagan, but the pair developed an appreciation for the area while working as cherry pickers over the summer of 2015. And since they call a metropolis home, their music often contrasts life in the city to life in the country.
Frederickson has been playing music for years, but it was just nine months ago when she the stand-up bass was her true calling.
It was while she was showering, making music in her head, when a captivating bass line came about.
“So I decided I was going to learn to play the bass,” she said. “I worked my butt off, saved a bunch of money and then bought one.”
Then she proved it wasn’t an impulse buy. Frederickson practiced extensively through pain; forming blisters until they pop and need to be taped up, to build up the calluses and muscle memory she needs to share her sound.
Last summer, Chicken-Like Birds performed at Medici’s, though it was part of an open mic event.
“We would go to Medici’s almost every day last summer for our Americanos and ice cream fix,” she said. “The open mic night was really packed and cool, and full of cherry pickers. We went down to make music in Osoyoos too – there was a gathering of all the seasonal workers at the church where we played that as well.”
Much of the money they made cherry picking was spent on a van, which they now use as their tour bus. In it, they kept all the seats in tact and built a wooden platform so they can both sleep comfortably, while resting the double bass in the front seat during the midnight hours.
So after acquiring both a van and double bass over the past year, Chicken-Like Birds were finally able to spread their wings. They spent most of the past summer on tour, taking part in as many festivals as they could, both to perform and coordinate workshops.
After conducting their first-ever workshop, which happened at a festival in Manitoba, Frederickson found the experience to be very educational.
“It was a calm Sunday and we’d been there all weekend. We were tasked with scrounging people with bluegrass style, which wasn’t hard because we had jammed with a lot of people that weekend and asked them to join us at the workshop.”
The workshop was titled ‘We too have hills’ as a joke for the Prairie audience.
“It was a big circle of bluegrass groups and songwriters. We learned a lot from that.”
Most of their music contains lyrics, though Lantela penned a few instrumentals, and he’s a big fan of fingerpicking and dubs himself as a sloppy blues guitarist.
Frederickson spoke about the inspiration that led her to write the song Jumping Spider, which came about from observing one of the arachnids at Shuswap Lake.
“I was looking at a spider at eye-level,” Frederickson said. “The spider coming at me really close, and he was jumping back and forth attacking other little bugs and devouring them. And that’s what the song is about – jumping around in a disjointed manner. I try to picture that experience when I’m playing it.”
Their show begins at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 17, and doors are at 6:30. To make it a double-header, local duo Mountainview Drive will be the opening band.
By Dan Walton