When Ontario singer/songwriter Shawna Caspi last toured the Okanagan, she became so inspired by the landscape that she decided to paint it.
That painting became the album cover of Caspi’s recent drop, Forest Fire, for which the classically-trained folk troubadour is on tour with a March 22 stop at Vernon’s Record City and a March 28 gig at Kelowna’s OUR Coffeehouse.
“I was very struck by images of the region in the summer. I had never seen anything like it,” Caspi said, recalling the smoke-filled sky illuminated in burnt orange hues. “The cover of that record is my first attempt at abstract.”
Caspi, an Ottawa-born full-time touring musician of five years, took up the brush recently, several years after taking an arts course while studying music at York University in her current hometown of Toronto. Whenever she goes on tour, Caspi captures images with her camera and paints them in her spare time. And, while supplies last, Caspi sells her paintings at the merch desk at shows.
Known for her fingerstyle guitar, Caspi’s folk jams are at the route of her success.
“I try to write a whole band’s sound into the guitar,” Caspi said of her performance style. “It’s fairly mellow; it’s very intimate. My songs are very lyric driven. I do love to tell stories and love to connect with the audience.”
Beyond painting beautiful landscapes and playing mellow acoustic jams for audiences, that connection is what keeps Caspi going.
“For me, a lot of it (what I love) is the travel. Before I was a touring musician, I actually hadn’t done a lot of travelling. Now, I’m often going to small towns you don’t often get to see,” Caspi said. “I just love meeting new people and making new friends.”
Caspi is about to embark on a B.C. circuit and is excited to return to the area.
“In Canada, I’ve had quite the opportunity to see the country from coast to coast. That (B.C.) is still very exciting for me to see,” Caspi said.
For the grassroots singer/songwriter, that intimate connection with the audience and a sustainable career is far more important than the opportunity to play Goliath stadiums.
“My biggest goal is to play as many folk fests as possible,” Caspi said. “I love the feel of a folk fest. It feels like you’re at a camp.”
Caspi brings her fingerstyle folk jams to Vernon’s Record City March 22 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $10 advance or $15 at the door. Students get in for $10 and children 12-and-under have free access. Caspi’s Kelowna jams are slated for 7 p.m. March 28 at OUR Coffeehouse. Tickets are $10 or $5 for Kelowna Arts Council members.