Experience the Sweet, Simple Sounds of Bahamas
There's more to Bahamas than meets the eye. Bahamas, also known as Toronto singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen, plays songs that can sound simple -- but in these playful, minimalist folk songs is a powerful emotional honesty and a rich soul.
Travelling far afield from his home in Canada, Bahamas has toured the world, opening for acclaimed acts such as Wilco, Robert Plant and Willie Nelson. As he gains popularity, solo Bahamas tickets are becoming more common. He's currently on a solo tour across Europe and North America, including shows at Borderline in London, at Fleche d'Or in Paris, at Kinski in Zurich and at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.
Considering Bahamas' impressive acoustic guitar skills, it's surprising that until high school he had never considered picking up an instrument. He says the decision came down to "peer pressure." All his friends were taking up guitar and so he did as well. Those friends then formed a group, the now-acclaimed Canadian rock band Zeus, which he also joined.
Bahamas is neither from the Bahamas nor does he play music with a particularly Caribbean sound - though there is a certain breezy, easy-going vibe to this music that might suggest a far-off beach. In fact, as the title of his 2014 album proclaims, Bahamas Is Afie - the singer who writes soulful yet quirky folk songs with elements of country and soft rock. His music has been compared to Nick Drake, James Taylor and Neil Young: simply arranged songs about sunsets and quiet love affairs.
Afie himself was born in the small working class town of Barrie in Ontario, Canada. He is a self-taught guitar player, and was for several years a fixture of the thriving Canadian indie rock scene, playing with artists such as Feist, Jason Collett and Broken Social Scene.
In 2009, Afie Jurvanen decided to break out on his own, and the result was Bahamas. His first album was Pink Strat. The music was quiet and unassuming, but its intimate, relaxed vibe earned praise from critics. Bahamas was nominated for a 2010 Juno Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year, and he was also longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, Canada's most prestigious music award.
Soon, Bahamas was touring internationally and the album was picked up by Brushfire Records, the label run by American singer-songwriter Jack Johnson.
Bahamas followed up his debut in 2012 with Barchords, which was praised as a more confident and emotional album, as it tackled more serious subject matter. The album won Best Singer/Songwriter Album at the 2012 iTunes Awards, received two Juno nominations and again made the Polaris nominations.
In 2014, Bahamas released his third album, Bahamas Is Afie, an almost self-titled record and perhaps his most personal album to date. Leaving his label and his band behind, Jurvanen recorded the album and played nearly all the instruments himself before releasing the album independently. The intimate approach was widely acclaimed by critics, and also earned Bahamas his greatest popular success to date. The album reached No. 4 on the Top Canadian Albums chart, and No. 15 on the Top Heatseekers chart.
The heart and soul of any Bahamas performance is, as you might expect, Afie Jurvanen himself. He's a performer with an easy confidence, a goofy charisma and a truly impressive skill on the guitar. Rounding out the performance is a drummer and two female backup singers, who provide almost gospel-like accompaniment, lending the show a feeling somewhere between an ethereal religious performance and a throwback soul concert.
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