Popular and celebrated local artist Brent Morton takes to the stage this month for a double feature with The Alkemist.
Going under the new project name Lyle Bats, Morton is excited to be returning to the stage after almost a year away from performing music live. The Horsefly Junior Secondary teacher is a well-known member of the local music community, especially for his popular Drum and Bell Tower project that ended after last year’s Dark Times Music Festival.
“I kind of hung that up last spring. I just kind of decided to stop doing that project and I kind of threw myself into the abyss hoping I’d find something new to latch onto,” Morton said.
Morton has lived in Williams Lake for the last 12 years, originally hailing from Saskatoon, Sask. and has been playing live music for well over 20 years. His interest began early with music lessons and a wish to emulate the hair-metal bands he listened to as a kid.
“When I realized I could make music like the musicians that I loved, from then on music was no longer something I had to practise it was something I got to play. It was an easy switch, having had a lot of formal training to become like a person who would just spend four hours a night practising the guitar,” Morton said, adding that picking up the guitar and drums helped fuel his love of music even more.
His musical journey and style since have always been all over the map, however, as even his previous project started as a “live electronic, acoustic, drums smorgasbord with vocals” before he reduced it down to kick drum, guitar and vocals with a semi-political folk stomp sound.
However, 12 years of operating under the Drum and Bell Tower name had left him with writer’s block. To fix this he attended that year’s Arts on the Fly songwriting workshop and said he just “remembered how to write songs.” Morton said that after this workshop he experienced an outpouring of music and creativity that fuelled his current project.
“I basically spent August coughing up lung butter from the smoke and writing music,” Morton joked.
“It was really cool because, what I did for the first time in this project, I wrote about things that were just about me not about anything else. My lyrical content shifted and I just stripped down (my music) and worried about guitar and vocals, that’s it.”
Morton said this new style of music has led to songs that are more lyrical and tune focused than any of the songs he’s ever written or performed in the past. This upcoming show also marks their official premiere, with a few being sampled at the Medieval Market in November.
“This concert is the first time I’ve felt that these songs are ready to be heard,” he said.
For the Arts on the Fly concert at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre on Feb. 23, Morton will be performing before the Alkemist at 7:30 p.m. Using some electronic drum loops to set the rhythm, Morton said his act will consist solely of vocals and acoustics otherwise.
“Jay (the Alkemist) makes a fair amount more noise than I do and with his music he brings a bit more party or stomp vibe so we’ll end the night with the banger set,” Morton explained.
When asked why people should come out to the show, Morton joked it would mainly attract people who weren’t able to get tickets for Beerfest, which takes place on the same night.
On a more serious note, he feels it’s important people support the local music scene, especially now with the de facto ending of the Safety Meetings and Dark Times concert series helmed by Brandon Hoffman.
On a personal note, Morton knows he has a following within the community and really wants them to come out to see what new things he’s been doing musically as of late.
He feels that they will notice a real difference, for the better, in both his music and his on-stage persona.
For those unable to attend Saturday, Morton added there will be a second show on Feb. 24 at The Belles Lake Retreat and Wellness Centre out by Horsefly.