A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a singer/songwriter from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, named Evan Westfal. He said, “Thanks for sharing your blog with the world,” and he directed me to his website where you can stream his music. He recently put out a new EP, called “Gay Pirates.” He says, “I was hearing a lot of love songs, but none of those love songs had any queer representation. I wanted a narrative that spoke to my identity as a gay man. So that is how gay pirates came to be. I describe the EP as a series of lamentations and exaltation of a very gay love.”
You can check it out here: Evan Westfal
The music is fun and catchy; the lyrics are full of stuff like coy promises and sweet deceits, treasure chests and booty, tight shirts, resiliency, and a “raging sea of hormones.” My favorite is probably the title track.
I asked him a couple of questions, because he’s got a lot going on behind the scenes, and because I was really curious what it’s like to live in Edmonton. He said,
If I had to explain Alberta to an American, I would say that, culturally, it’s the Texas of Canada. Politically Alberta is fairly conservative, and it’s also a Province that is rich in oil. A lot of our citizens are tradespeople that work on oil rigs. As for my city, Edmonton itself is a really cool city. A river valley runs through the centre of the city, it’s rich in wildlife and flora. The city has a fantastic pride centre, and lots of other queer organizations. To answer your questions regarding weather and topography, Edmonton is really cold in the winters, and really hot in the summers. You are correct, the surrounding areas are prairies.
The pride festival is really cool. Edmonton had it’s first parade in the 1990’s, and it was very small, and most of the participants wore bags over their heads to hide their identities. Flash forward to the millennium, and things have changed quite a bit. In the last few years our city hall has raised a pride flag, the Edmonton public school board was a marshall for the parade, and the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton raised the pride flag. Each year over 30’000 people attend the parade. This year the pride festival’s theme is “one pride many voices.” The festival says they’re taking strides to become more inclusive. I think this is a great approach, as pride could definitely stand to be more intersectional and welcoming.
I asked what his musical background was, and also what instruments he plays / does he collaborate? He said,
My background with music begins with my schooling. I am a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts, it’s a musical theatre program in Victoria, British Columbia. I think you’ll notice some heavy influences of musical theatre in my songwriting. I then decided to focus on commercial contemporary music, I achieved that through matriculating at MacEwan University. As a musician I’ve had the opportunity to sing backing vocals for Josh Groban, to play for the opening ceremony for the Edmonton Pride Festival, I’ve performed with Opera Nuova (an Edmonton based opera company), and I’ve produced and performed in many cabarets. Right now I’m working on a music video for my song “Gay Pirates,” it should be out in a month or two. As for instrumentation, I play the piano and sing. On my track Gay Pirates, I wrote all the song, but I had some great musician’s record with me. I have to send a thank you to my drummer Julissa Bayer, guitar player Andrew Brostrom, and Bassist David Pollock.
He also mentioned that he volunteers with an outreach program called fYerfly, so I asked him to elaborate on that too:
fYrefly is a great program. The name is an initialism that stands for: fostering Youth resilience energy leadership fun leadership yeah! You might notice the Y is capitalized, that’s because youth are the most important part. fYrefly originated as a summer leadership camp for LGBTTQ2SIA+ youth between the ages of 14-24. I attended the program as a teen, and it changed my life. For the first time in my life I got to be surrounded by people like me, I got to share a sense of camaraderie, and I got to feel pure acceptance. I loved the experience so much that I spent over a decade volunteering for fYrefly. Every year it’s a treat to see the difference the camp makes for youth.
I’m just going to repeat that acronym: “fostering Youth resilience energy leadership fun leadership yeah!” Haha, I love that! Evan will be performing for the opening ceremony of the Edmonton Pride Festival, coming up on June 10th. If you’re able to get up there – I just looked it up, and for me, it’s 34 hours away, by car! It’s up there!
Also, related, here’s one of the first posts I ever wrote – an experience I had at a wedding:
Effeminate Pirate Orders Fruity Drink on Party Boat
I went to a pirate and sailor themed wedding and dressed as an effeminate pirate. Due to the extreme puffiness of my shirt, I was able to get away without binding. (I try to not bind as much as possible; I try to resort to layers and rarely ever bind. I feel lucky). So I had this puffy shirt, and I wore it open to display some fine pearl necklaces. I wore a red and navy blue diagonally striped cumberbund over red cut-off jean shorts and shiny black boots. I wore my mohawk up tall and proud. Oh, and I wore a homemade patch on the back of the puffy shirt that has an embroidered lobster and says, “Lobsters: gangsters of the sea.”
The wedding and reception were really incredible. It was all aboard a touring boat that went along the canal. More than half of the guests went all out in pirate or sailor costumes. The food was all vegan and the boat was equipped with a full bar. The only difficulty was that it was filled to capacity and there wasn’t much wiggle room. It was very tough to get from point A to point B, so I made it a point to not need to go very many places. Like trying to get a drink took a very long time. Luckily I was waiting with a friend instead of stuck waiting by myself; something like this would have made me anxious beyond belief in the past. But I just chatted with her as the line crept along. When it was finally our turn, she ordered a beer, and then the bartender turned to me and said, “What’ll you have, sir?” It was freaking awesome, particularly since I thought I was looking especially femme. I said, “Gimme the fruitiest drink you got!” To which he made up a frozen peach margarita and said, “There you are, sir.” Which completely floored me because I am never sirred once I speak out loud! In other words, I may be called sir, until I speak, and then people might apologize or “correct their error.” (There is no such error).
But not on this pirate party boat! I walked away with fruity drink in hand, feeling light in the shiny black boots.