Two weeks is a long time to wait to write a piece…even for me. There are many reasons why it has taken this long to put words to JJ Shiplett’s most recent visit to this back road venue, but the only one that matters in the context of JJ himself is the trickiest to explain.
You see, JJ Shiplett is a star. He was the moment he arrived on the doorstep of this humble home-turned music venue. After each subsequent show here, this reality has only become clearer and sunken in that much deeper.
Serenity matriarch Shirley de Vooght knew it the moment she heard his voice. His initial producer, mentor, and friend Ryan McAllister has known it for as many years as he has known him. Every fan he has garnered has also come to believe this to be true. The only person who didn’t know it was JJ himself.
This past visit, I saw something in JJ that I had not seen previously. His talent was always there of course, but his charming Canadian self-deprecation was no act. But this time, he was beaming from within. There was a lightness about him that exposed a sense of hope and wonder that had not been present before. Not that he was ever overly serious, but I always had a sense that he was waiting to succeed at failure. Not now. Maybe it took a certain someone, or even a certain amount of time to see what everyone else has been telling him for so long; that the ‘something to believe in’ he has been belting his heart out about for years is right there in the mirror.
I don’t know what the future holds, none of us do. But as sure as the sun rises and sets, a good sounding voice and some well written songs never goes out of style, and JJ Shiplett has that locked down solid.
Be sure to find yourself at any show you can get to in coming months, and don’t miss his performance at this year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival, July 23-26, 2015.
JJ Shiplett performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on April 11, 2015.