Art Bergmann (AB)
Where do you even start when talking about Art Bergmann?
Perhaps with his seminal punk band, Vancouver’s Young Canadians, defibrillators to thousands of disenfranchised, suburban-stuck youth in the late ‘70s. Possibly with his legendary anti-music industry, anti-greed, anti- power stance which (a) grew from his original punk ethic, (b) destroyed every chance Bergmann had at rising fame, and (c) continues to spark songs written in his seventh decade of life. Maybe you start with the fact that hearing “Art Bergmann” and “folk fest” together in one sentence is like seeing Iggy Pop and Rita McNeil holding hands on a park bench.
On the strength of his primal, gloriously grainy melodies and storied live shows, Bergmann’s star rose in the early ‘90s. A spate of albums netted him a JUNO, which he mocked as looking like a toilet roll holder and promptly sold for drugs. By decades’ end he released a stunning, stark acoustic album of mainly songs that had previous appeared, fangs and all, on albums from his grittier days. He then purposefully vanished from the industry in an unparalleled case of an already underground icon becoming positively subterranean.
His decade-plus of silence was broken with his 2016 album “The Apostate”, his first full-length album in 18 years, and for that reason alone should be considered a triumph in the face of his once-debilitating health issues, and a music industry that seemingly no longer held a place for him. But putting that aside, “The Apostate” is a triumph simply because it is the best work he has ever done during his four decades as a recording artist.
It details in song how corporations have abused our planet, and how our governments and legal systems have abused us all. Art’s voice has been missing from our national consciousness for far too long, but it is back with a vengeance. Overall, the album is a large dose of much-needed truth in an era of ceaseless spin, fear–mongering, and personal agendas. As is Art.