The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
By TANDI CHABWA Staff Writer Canadian folk singer Craig Cardiff loves performing in “weird places.” The impressive [read: bizarre] list of venues he’s performed in, ranging from festivals and churches to prisons and house kitchens, leaves his upcoming performance at the college’s Niagara-on-the-Lake [NOTL] campus looking a little tame in comparison. The Armoury, NOTL’s student centre, will be hosting a songwriter circle featuring Cardiff, as well as Laurent Bourque and Steven Ryan on Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. “This will be my second time in Niagara-on-the-Lake,” says Cardiff, who also mentions his excitement. “I’m looking forward to exposing students to my kind of music.” Born and raised in Waterloo, Ont., Cardiff was exposed to performing from a young age. In a household where music lessons were mandatory and singing was a staple, he began his journey by playing recorder, a childhood favourite among many people. From there, he took a “long, meandering path” to other instruments including piano, the clarinet, and finally the guitar. Cardiff, interviewed over the phone and through email, has an honest, friendly voice – the kind of voice that makes you feel you’ve known him for years. His warmth easily carries into his folksy, intimate music. When asked to describe his sound in five words, he replies, “Warm, campfire, sing-along, and slow dance.” With nearly 20 albums under his belt, and “all of them” being his favourite, it’s easy for one to see this guy is passionate for music, song writing [which he calls a “gift”], and unwaveringly for his fans. Three years ago, Cardiff began passing around the “Book of Truths” at his performances. Pens and notebooks are passed among the audience while he asks that they write down something truthful, such as a wish, a confession, or a worry that they may be scared to say. “I wanted to connect with people at shows in a real way, past the surface conversation,” he explains. “It just kind of grew into its own thing, where people shared stories anonymously, and the books kept getting filled. I feel like I’m more of a curator for them.” These truths are reportedly the inspiration behind Cardiff’s last album, Love Is Louder (Than All This Noise). “I didn’t realize it at first, but this collection of songs is just really to help people be OK and to let them know to just wait until tomorrow, stay here and push on through,” he says. His nurturing personality and big heart are evident, qualities that would have made for a great teacher, had he not been a performer. Cardiff, who doesn’t get nervous before performances, gave a speech titled “Fear is the Cheapest Room in the House” at the first TEDxUWO conference at Western University in 2011. He strums his guitar while giving an encouraging reminder to pause, slow down, and be open to trying new things. A self-admitted Glee lover, the singer’s favourite moment while on the road is having his hair stand up on the back of his neck when the crowd starts singing along. With an extensive catalogue and a busy month of performing ahead of him, here’s to a hair-raising, goose bump inducing couple of weeks. For more information about the upcoming songwriter circle featuring Craig Cardiff, Laurent Bourque and Steven Ryan, check out www.ncsac.ca/event/