A few years ago, folk-singer Brett Wildeman really wanted to visit South America.
Unfortunately, the Roberts Creek native was unemployed and realized that a trip south of the equator was not in the cards.
So, Wildeman did the next best thing. He biked from British Columbia to California and back in 21 days.
“I had been planning a trip to South America for a while but then my window of opportunity was getting smaller and smaller so a cycle tour down the coast of the United States was more feasible for the time that I had,” Wildeman said.
Since his escapade to the United States, Wildeman has put out a full-length record and done plenty of eco-friendly tours.
On May 23, Wildeman will be performing at The Vault with West My Friend. This is not the first time Wildeman, who has biked from the Sunshine Coast by way of the Lower Mainland, has performed in the Harbour City. Wildeman’s last performance came at the Buzz Coffee House in September.
“I love coming to the Island. Living on the Sunshine Coast it is just a hop, skip and a jump away on the ferry,” Wildeman said. “I have lots of friends in Nanaimo so it is always good to come and connect with old friends.”
Wildeman, who often bikes to many of his performances, explained that while the Harbour City is a beautiful area, the crowds are not always as big as they could be even though many of the venues in the city work extremely hard to put on shows.
“Nanaimo is kind of a tough city to play in,” Wildeman said. “I don’t know why Nanaimo is tough … the people that have come have always enjoyed it, but I think it is a tough place to get people to come out. Nanaimo is kind of spread all over the place.”
Wildeman’s bike trip took hi through Washington, Oregon and all the way down to San Francisco.
“I grew up racing mountain bikes, I still ride a lot of mountain bikes to this day, but I had always wanted to go on a big road riding trip like that. So I bought a bob-trailer, threw like 40 pounds of gear and a ukulele on the trailer and set off,” Wildeman explained.
The trip down south was a huge source of inspiration for Wildeman’s most recent record, Mother Earth, which was released independently last July. The album’s first track, Coos, was actually written and is based on Coos County, Oregon.
“I wrote it in Bandon, Ore., which is a beautiful little town. I have never forced myself to write songs. There are songwriters that have to force themselves to write songs but I find that if I give it time, that things come to me and then I massage into something that can become a song at some point.”
The album’s fifth track, The Story, was heavily inspired by an encounter that Wildeman had with a woman in San Francisco.
“I rode the bus with this woman who had been to hell and back it sounded like. Her husband was in jail and her son just killed a guy and he was in jail and she was strung out on some drugs on the bus,” Wildeman said. “You just never know where song inspiration is going to come from.”
Brett Wildeman performs at The Vault on May 23.