Between Solitudes: In conversation with Evan Cheadle

Photo by Gordon Muir
Photo by Gordon Muir

Evan Cheadle’s sophomore album, Make Your Way, made its way into the world via Bandcamp in March of this year. The album, recorded mostly live at a makeshift home studio in a mere two days, serves as a testament to Cheadle’s burgeoning songwriting talent. Cheadle’s intricate guitar picking and delicate vocals instantly transport listeners to a diverse musical world inhabited by the likes of Bert Jansch, Big Bill Broonzy, John Fahey, Blind Blake, and Nick Drake, all-the-while avoiding nostalgia’s tepid waters; Cheadle, it seems, stands outside of time.

Born and raised in Deep Cove, Cheadle took an interest in music at a very young age.  He played a variety of instruments before his teenage obsession with Bob Dylan made him focus most of his creative energies on guitar. From Dylan, Cheadle worked his way back, exploring a number of traditions, including America’s Country-Blues tradition, by ear. As Cheadle explains, this early exploration was a solitary affair.

Cheadle-1

photo by Gordon Muir

“I took a few lessons, but I am primarily self-taught. I liked the solitary element of the whole thing. It feels good to lock yourself away and work at something. I don’t read music, so I’ve been working on training my ears since I started playing. I listen to a lot of music, but the traditions I initially gravitated towards tended to be blues traditions and American vernacular music. These traditions are passed down orally, so learning through listening seemed like the right thing to do.”

Cheadle was eventually wrested from his self-imposed solitary confinement, however, when he had the opportunity to attend Port Townsend’s Annual Acoustic Blues Workshop. Here, Cheadle met fellow musicians from all over North America who shared his passion for an increasingly rarefied musical genre. While Cheadle learned techniques and styles common to blues music of various regions, his source of inspiration was the community he found in Port Townsend.

“The Port Townsend Blues festival recruits some of the best living blues musicians, and brings them out here for an exchange of knowledge,” Cheadle says. “I’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to know many incredible and inspiring musicians there. One of these musicians, a man by the name of Robert Belfour, passed away recently. Robert was from Holly Springs, Mississippi, which of course has an incredible tradition of players. To be close to that kind of lineage, to meet people like that and learn from them, is really inspiring for me.”

Looking forward to recording his next batch of songs, Cheadle plans to mix things up instrumentally. Whereas guitar dominates Make Your Way, Cheadle is currently gathering a wider array of instruments for his next recording. Cheadle, who played shows around Victoria with Heavy Lemon before going solo, is currently collecting instruments, and potential players, for his next recording.

“For my next record I’m hoping to have a more textured sound with harmony vocals, violin, organ, bass, drums, etc. I’ve always loved R&B and rock ‘n’ roll from the 50s and 60s. I admire the interesting and experimental arrangements done on a lot of the records from that era. I like the idea of having a fuller sound on my next record, which I haven’t had the opportunity to do as of yet, but that is what I plan to do.”

 

evancheadle.bandcamp.com

 

 

words by Nick Lyons

originally published in analogue magazine’s June/July 2015 issue