By Scott Roos
Special to the Daily Herald
“I’m a retro man with a retro plan.”
These words, delivered with a mischievous swagger by Park Valley, Sask. bluegrass/rockabilly prodigy Jake Vaadeland on his debut single “Retro Man” (released Thursday, July 15th) at first may seem to be hyperbole. But, upon increased examination, the forthright, matter of fact, to the point, nature of them is absolutely true.
Vaadeland’s sense of style, and more importantly, his musical talent, at the young age of eighteen, is from a bygone era.
Vaadeland, who started out in the bluegrass duo Jake & Ira, as of late had found himself branching out more and more on his own. During the pandemic of the past 18 months, Vaadeland’s friend and bandmate Ira Amundson moved to the United States causing the introverted Vaadeland to turn even more inward and begin writing more and more songs on his own, with subject material that was a lot more personal in nature.
With Amundson, things had taken off very quickly. At times both young men were in situations where they wrote original songs to fill up space in their set. When COVID shut the music world down, Vaadeland found himself with an excess amount of time on his hands which caused a lot more personal songs to emerge.
“There has to be something very important to me that’s come up. that’s bugging me, for me to be able to write a good song,” recalled Vaadeland in a brief interview with the Herald over the phone. “‘Retro Man’, is a more meaningful song for me. It’s a deeper subject to me because everything that’s in the song is true. (It’s) stuff that happens to me, like the girls laughing at what I wear and stuff, but me not caring and doing it anyways,”
“Retro Man”, performed with producer Joel Rohs on guitar and Stephen Williams on the stand up bass, leans a lot more into rockabilly than bluegrass. It’s indicative of Vaadeland’s more recent output, and proves to be a very musically accessible and lyrically relatable track.
On the surface, it’s a sonic handshake between Johnny Cash and Lester Flatt. It’s toe tapping and old timey to be sure, but the fresh elements Vaadeland brings to the table by “plugging in” along with the personal nature of his words are what gives these new tracks their universal appeal.
“It’s not just about being retro,” explains Vaadeland, “I know there are lots of people who are different in other ways too that are not part of the normal accepted set of standards that we’re supposed to live up to. I was hoping it would be something that people could relate to even though it’s not their story. It’s still about not caring what people think and just wanting to be your own person.”
At the end of the day, considering how busy Vaadeland’s touring schedule has been this summer, it seems as though he has found his proverbial groove. If “Retro Man” is any indication, Vaadeland is a top level emerging talent in this neck of the woods and one that will be worth every penny when he comes to the EA Rawlinson Centre For the Arts on Wednesday, August 4th for a Drive-in concert with Jackson Lalonde, Joel Rohs and Stephen Williams, aka the Sturgeon River Boys, in tow.
Gates will open at 6:30 with the show starting at 7:30.