By Laura Crapo
I’ve known Julie since I was introduced to her by Chris Murphy, the harmonizing, bass-playing Beatles and Beach Boys enthusiast from Sloan whom I was dating back at the dawn of the 90s. I didn’t know anything about bands other than staring at the cover of Rick James’ Street Songs and listening to ‘Call Me Up’. Chris taught me drums by having me sit on his lap and feel how he played with my arms on his arms and my legs on his, guitar playing to Velvet Underground songs and Andrew Scott backing us up on drums and 4-track recording, putting the mic under a couch cushion and beating it with a stick for a bass drum. Chris later regretted teaching me to play and record as he outlines in ‘G Turns To D’. He wrote ‘Bells On’ about our blossoming love and my braces, that one’s a bit more gentle. He brought me to shows and introduced me to musicians that passed through Halifax.
Julie was in a band called Eric’s Trip, from Moncton, a few hours west of Halifax. I soon learned that Eric’s Trip was one of the finest bands around once their show started – a show that was more like a ceremony or invocation. I took photos of them playing live. Julie Doiron’s and Rick White’s hair both over 2′ long and covering their faces, moving in unison while they bent over their low slung big hollow body guitars, lit by one bare lightbulb laying on the floor. They were a fascinating foursome. Julie’s joyous presence and solid bass playing, Rick’s heartbreaking love pleas set to a heavy waltz, Marc Gaudet’s incredible drumming and Chris Thompson’s beautiful melodies etched their name on the wall of the rock and roll hall of fame for me. I knew them but I was fully aware that I was talking to rock gods. It’s like thinking on two planes at once.
Rick asked me to make a video for them, Viewmaster. I spent a few days with them in Moncton filming it – in front of Rick’s sister’s gravestone across the street from his parent’s house, in a wooded glade at his uncle’s, at the beach at his grandmother’s cottage, in his parent’s back yard and downtown with the local kids. We ate at Pizza Delight, wandered through the mall to visit the enchanting Tara who sold accessories there and who would later become Mrs Rick White and part of Elevator. I loved the honesty and humour of all four members of Eric’s Trip. They understood the heart was sacred and the power of honesty.
Julie started a solo career around the time of her first born child, Ben. People have gathered to watch her for years and years, with an open heart, in full view of her open heart. While others may say she is shy, I never saw her that way. She has incredible strength and faith. She is blazing her own trail through life. When I saw her show at Sala Rosa this March just gone, I saw that she had arrived at a very beautiful place.
While I may not have followed her path while I was busy raising three children and ignoring music for the most part, she unveiled the great mysteries of her wanderings from the stage in such a way that I was brought to tears in her last song.
The kind of raw power I saw in the last song reminded me of Iggy Pop and David Yow and the other fully formed artists I’ve witnessed. She channeled the pure energy that makes people weep from the performer’s generosity of spirit.
She can rip your heart out and hand it to you and you’ll say thank you. Go see her live.