Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I'm Lost in the City (Thinking of John Angaiak)

Ever so often, I'll receive a phone call from Alaska. The recipient is always the same, Mr. John Angaiak. John is a singer-songwriter, artist, and family man of Yup'ik descent. In 1971, he combined his love of song and language into a unique long player called I'm Lost in the City, originally released through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, in 1971. Featuring voice and guitar,  I'm Lost in the City has two distinctive sides, one sung in English, and the other, in his native Yup'ik language. Up until that point, Yup'ik was primarily an oral language. The album was an initiative to assist in and help preserve his people's voice in the written form for future generations. I'm Lost in the City has a deeply emotional core, reflected in the haunting black and white cover. It speaks of community, history, change, nature, and love. The results will touch your heart and soul.

I found my first copy of I'm Lost in the City in Peterborough, Ontario, at Blue Streak Records many moons ago and it immediately took a special place in my collection. I'd never heard anything quite like it. Of all the songs, "I'll Rock You to the Rhythm of the Ocean" and "Hey, Hey, Hey Brother" resonated something fierce with me and I was eventually able to share them as part of the Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 compilation in 2014. Later the following year, I was able to help get John back on stage again at NACC in Yellowknife as part of a NNA V1 event, a very rare treat.  He played us new songs that evening (which I will share in the future) as well as his classics and had the audience with him all of the way... Laughing, thinking, and feeling. Subsequently, we were able to re-release I'm Lost in the City as a full length LP/CD/Digital reissue on Light in the Attic Records, replete with a beautiful original painting by John on the inside of the gatefold sleeve.

John has been very kind to me over the years as a supporter of his music and I'm extremely honoured to have met and worked with him for the love of music, spurred on by an album that he recorded before I was even born. I look forward to our next conversation and learning more about his incredible life.

The opening lyrics of "I'll Rock You to the Rhythm of the Ocean" are as follows:

"If you ever want to travel, come to my home. I know how it feels to see something different, the time is now..."

For those who have yet to hear the music of John Angaiak, please dig in. Whether you're in Tokyo, London, Austin, Los Angeles, Halifax, or Melbourne, John's voice and guitar will be there to welcome you to his reality. I know that the seekers, heads, and travelers world-wide will resonate with his timeless vibrations...

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