On Friday, folk musician and activist Luke Wallace parked his touring van/home outside Infinitea T- Bar, took up his guitar, took to the stage and raised his voice in opposition to excessive industrial expansion in the province.
The 24-year-old singer/songwriter is traveling the province, using his music to raise awareness of environmental destruction and climate change.
Unabashedly political, Wallace described environmental issues as “the only things that there really are to think about at this point.”
He said there is a shortage of politically engaged musicians.
“I see the need for that in the environmental social justice movement these days,” he said. “There’s a big void of politically engaged musicians and artists. You look back at old folk music and it was all about politics. That was a pillar of folk music. Now it’s become a-political.”
Growing up in Vancouver, learning about the threats facing the ocean and impending climate chaos had a profound effect on Wallace.
“It instilled the need for immediate action and a no nonsense approach to change,” he said.
His beliefs crystalized to create what he called a “musical machine of political change” when he was 18.
Though he is pleased with the results of the recent provincial election – he called the BC Liberals a group of criminals who should be imprisoned – he is also leery of the NDP-Green alliance.
“We just got a group of potential criminals yet to be seen,” he said. “I don’t hold out on any politician making the changes necessary. I think the people who might be in power could do less damage and be less in the way of people who want to make true change.”
Wallace’s activism has taken him all over Canada’s west coast. In the last three years, he has released three independent records: Opportunity (2016), Little Rivers Matter Too (2015) and The Kitimat LP (2014).
In the past he’s performed benefit concerts in Terrace, Salt Spring Island and other places to support environmental causes.
“To be the vehicle that brings people together, to be the magnet that pulls communities in and to raise money and raise awareness, it’s a really empowering experience,” he said.
Wallace said his new album will feature nine songs recorded in nine different communities around the province.
Each of the songs will be based on the environmental threat facing that community or region. For example, a song recorded in the Peace River Valley will be about the Site C Hydroelectric project.
The songs will be recorded live on location and the entire community will be invited to sing on the record.
“In that way we’ll have the voices of the people threatened by these projects,” said Wallace. “It will be an anthology of the entire grassroots resistance in B.C. In one listen, you’ll be able to have an amazing understanding of how resilient the communities in this province are.”
Wallace said the album will be recorded over the next six months and released in Marchn. Some proceeds from its sale will go to grassroots environmental organizations.
He sang one of the album’s songs at Infinitea called Non-Violent Anti-Petroleum Blues. Wallace conceived the song while protesting the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline on a tour of the Salish Sea.
“We did a boat trip in an electric powered catamaran and toured the islands that could be affected by the pipeline,” he said.
The song’s chorus is, “I ain’t going nowhere.”
“It’s a good one, I think,” said Wallace.