Entertainment

Singer’s duality fosters creativity

Ridley Bent’s debut album on the music scene was a fusion of hip-hop style rhymes with country-style music, followed by more traditional country music. He still moves between the two varying styles of his music. - Photo contributed
Ridley Bent’s debut album on the music scene was a fusion of hip-hop style rhymes with country-style music, followed by more traditional country music. He still moves between the two varying styles of his music.
— image credit: Photo contributed

There are at least two sides to every story.

The same can be said for a storytelling, singer-songwriter like Ridley Bent.

Bent started his career by creating a new genre of music that blended rhyming vocals in hip-hop style with traditional country music. A colleague dubbed it “hick hop.”

It was a sound that evolved as Bent explored the music that interested him initially. While working on his music in Vancouver, the musicians he played with proved inspiring.

He also found that his rhymes didn’t go so well with canned music from a laptop – he wanted real people playing their instruments.

“That never worked with my stuff,” he said. “I liked having a live band.”

His first album, Blam, used all of these hip-hop and country influences and spawned popular songs like Suicidewinder. But his latest album, Rabbit on My Wheel, released in 2010, is much more traditional country, harkening back to the likes of Johnny Cash.

That more traditional sound became his focus and the hip-hop stuff became a side project.

Bent also looked to his father’s influence, who he described as “a three-chord, country bum strummer,” who never waited for an excuse to break out his guitar at gatherings.

“He was the life of the party,” Bent said.

Complementing Rabbit on My Wheel was a three-song disc called Blood Trilogy, recorded at the same time as the album. The three songs, inspired by Bent’s readings of authors Steinbeck and Cormack McCarthy, were cut from Rabbit, but Bent decided to release them anyway.

“Those three songs kind of related to each other,” he said.

Bent said he draws a lot of inspiration from reading, particularly Westerns, as he incorporates the story structure into his songs.

“I like being a storyteller,” he said.

He’s headed into the recording studio to lay down some of the rhyming tracks that started his career. Yet he’s still working on the more traditional country music.

“I’m kind of split right now – I’m doing two albums,” Bent said.

Either or both of those albums are slated for a spring 2013 release.

Before then, Bent performs at Diners Rendezvous Aug. 9. Doors open at 7 p.m., with show at 8 p.m. Tickets $25/advance; $30/door. Please call 250-740-1133.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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