20 gazillion years ago I learned the definition of affluence in anthropology class. It came twofold, a state achievable by either having much or needing little.
As our province’s economy settles into one of the more challenging winters in a while, I propose that BA Johnston is far more than a talented comedic rock act coming to town to play shows on the 11th and 12th at the Ship: he’s the guru we need for a new day. A patron saint of enjoying unironically the simplest of pleasures, while wearing ironic secondhand fashion.
For those unfamiliar with “Canada’s trash troubadour,” “Hamilton-based shit disturber,” “skid president” or “dirtbag king,” BA released his first album, In Situation Bad, in 2003 on Dead Bum Recordings, and has been releasing music ever since, with too many exceptional song titles to list. Culinary matters factor deeply, with bedroom model deep-fryers, pizza, Ikea hot dogs, and ketchup chips as celebrated themes. At a past Ship Pub show, a hot dog eating contest enthralled the crowd during set break.
His passion for his hometown of Hamilton, Ont. rivals any townie’s pride, and is a staple of his writing. “Stairway to Hamilton” was released in 2008, and a proposed web show, BA Johnston’s Ham Jam, in which BA is enlisted by Hamilton’s tourism authorities to create tourism videos promoting the area, could be as funny as the Trailer Park Boys with Chelsea McMullan at the helm. She is the talented film maker behind the Rae Spoon feature My Prairie Home which screened at Sundance in 2013.
BA tackles zombies, dirtmalls, Fort McMurray and skinny jeans as subject matter, questions the usefulness of his philosophy degree in Hobo 4 Life, and shows the confidence and sensitivity of his soul when dealing with heartbreak. Sometimes he rests sure in the knowledge that “Everyone You Date After Me is a Sack of Shit,” but other times his “Heart is a Blinking Nintendo” that just won’t work anymore. Sweaty rants and intricate Casio work are trademarks of his musical style.
BA teaches us to enjoy life despite the uncertainty of the millennial future. When fine charcuterie is breaking our ever stretching paychecks, try bologna, he gently whispers. Love your hometown, stop wishing it was Vancouver. You’d be even broker if you lived there, anyway.
Forget this ‘living your best life’ stuff and embrace the life you have. It’s authentic, unique and all yours. Throw away your Deepak Chopra books, your guides for the sensitive soul, and let this man ,with his humour and joy, lead the way.
Ottawa’s local legend, “extreme lounge” act and “100 percent giver” Remi Royale will play both shows, with locals Green and Gold and Joe Grizzly filling out the first night’s lineup, and MC Sir-Ill and Coward the second.
If the weekend is too long to wait for BA to soothe your ravaged soul, here are some instructions from a January 2015 press release . “B.A. continues to travel the country in his mother’s beloved Toyota Previa minivan. Some say if you utter his name three times in front of a mirror, he will show up at your house, force you to give him nominal cover charge, then entertain’ you for 25 minutes.”