Home with the Bell

Folk songwriter Carey J. Buss grew through summer camp, metal and funk

Brittany Holm

Carey J. Buss first picked up a guitar at age 12 after hearing his dad’s copy of AC/DC’s Back in Black on a primitive cassette tape. But it was a piece of life-changing advice - “If you can’t find the music you really want to listen to, make it yourself” - that inspired him to dust off his guitar and start writing songs of his own in 2013. 

“I started blasting it and all of a sudden, I wanted to be Angus Young,” Buss says, recalling his early guitar adventures. He also cites Led Zeppelin, Megadeth, the John Mayer Trio and Stevie Ray Vaughn as early influences. “Anything with really great guitar work.”

His first collaborative experience came in high school playing in Driftwood, a thrash metal band. He segued from metal into blues, joining the (beautifully monikered) funk & blues band
Slam Panda.

“My ear has always been more attuned to the melody than to lyrics,” Buss says. “I like good lyrics, but I had just never considered myself a poet.”

By 2011, he had discovered folk artists such as Kaki King and Fleet Foxes, the latter’s Helplessness Blues being the album that changed Buss’ life. Along with his first encounter with The Winnipeg Folk Festival, Buss’ passion for folk music was solidified.

The song “Answer The Bell,” Buss’ Uniter Fiver entry, is inspired by a bell at the Luther Village summer camp. He made a recording of the bell - a daily alert for campers - to keep for himself.

“The sound of the bell just makes me happy,” Buss says.

Buss currently works in the camp’s winter office, and like many up-and-coming musicians, recognizes the binding necessity of day jobs. His bandmates - Logan Picton on fiddle and Chloé Carpenter on vocals - are so busy it’s rare for all three of them to be at practices. The Uniter Fiver showcase will mark only the third time the group has performed together since forming in August 2014.

Despite the relative newness of this group, Buss is far from inexperienced. Before joining forces with Picton and Carpenter, he’s counted nearly 70 shows at local venues as a solo performer since 2013. He also became acclimatized to on-stage performance through leading campers in song at Luther Village.

In the coming year, Buss plans to record an EP, also to be titled Answer The Bell. He believes an LP would be more difficult to connect with an audience, and that recording costs would be lower with an EP, which would allow for a more efficient production.

“Making a full-length LP just doesn’t make economic sense anymore,” Buss says. “I still listen to full-length albums, but apparently, a lot of people don’t. And I’m not the fastest writer in the world, so for me, it’s quality over quantity.”

Visit careyjbuss.bandcamp.com for more information.

Part of the series: The Uniter Fiver Showcase

Published in Volume 69, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 14, 2015)

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