Family life is exceptional fodder for a songwriter attentive to their surroundings. Old Man Luedecke over the course of his set at the Northern Lights Folk Club shared some of his families own stories — ranging from his wife capturing a few moments for herself to hula-hoop after taking the compost out (“The Girl in the Pearl Earring”) to Luedecke’s desire to learn how to yodel being squashed by his father (the fruition of this dubious idea is found in the chorus of “Yodelady”). Likewise local singer-songwriter Ken Stead, who opened the show for Luedecke, had family tales to tell explaining as part of his introduction to “Oh Carolina” that he had his mother to thank for exposing him to folk music by taking him to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival as a form of punishment. Instead of grumbling about attending with his mom and her middle-aged friends Stead heard Eric Bibb entertain 20,000 people on a ski hill and was transformed. Apparently Stead shared this unusual bit of parenting with Bibb when he met him at an airport and Bibb has taken to sharing it with his own audiences.
The evening was easily captured by the title of Luedecke’s latest release Joy of Cooking” which had the audience chuckling; the melancholy-tinged “The Early Days” the introduction to which Luedecke delivered with a perfect Dad joke “I tour the Maritimes in my private Jet-ta”; and, “Real Wet Wood” which uses the need for an ample winter’s supply of dry wood when heating your home with wood as a metaphor for life or at least that is how I heard it.Calmly speaking over his restless fingers picking away at the banjo, Luedecke regaled us with the domestic explaining how the chore of taking the compost turned into a sunset hula-hoop opportunity which he connected to the eccentric by associating the scene with a Renaissance painting titled Susanna and the Elders he had seen in an European art gallery, and brought the tale to a close with a reference to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. The domestic was also highlighted in the hilarious “
The unconventional and the home elements found throughout the set, persisted in the evening’s encore with “Now We Have a Kitchen” describing markers of time within Luedecke’s family life shifting from meeting his now wife while living in a tent in Dawson City to their current home in Nova Scotia. Effortlessly fulfilling the eccentric category with the final tune “I Quit My Job” Luedecke managed to link his foot stomping out the song’s underlying rhythm with the drums of Valhalla.
Luedecke’s performance took us through a whole range of emotions, yet his in between song banter was delivered deadpan which served to heighten our understanding of the songs by forcing us to focus more closely on the lyrics for whatever element he had previously indicated. As Luedecke sings in “The Girl in the Pearl Earring” “You can’t fake a work of heart” and through his spoken and sung stories at the Northern Lights Folk Club Luedecke shared a work of his heart with us. Luedecke was joined by Joel E. Hunt who switched between mandolin and fiddle and contributed vocal harmonies, while Erin Kay added her voice to Stead’s opening act.