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Starpainter: Riding a New Celestial High

(credit Jarrett Edmund) Starpainter, left to right: Joel Gray (guitar), Mickey Hayward (drums), Dylan Wagner (bass), Joel Stretch (vocals/songwriting/guitar), Bailey Kate (vocals/guitar/percussion), Tyler Stewart (organ).

When we get Joel Stretch, Starpainter frontman, on the phone, it’s less than 48 hours after the last show of the band’s summer tour.

They just finished up a weekend at FrogFest, a music festival held on a ranch near Lethbridge. He and his bandmates played two shows and stayed up late dancing to Deicha and the VuDudes. Stretch sounds tired but in high spirits.

“It was for sure the best tour we’ve ever done,” he says. “I was really happy with how the band sounded.”

Their latest album, Rattlesnake Dream, was released June 2. It changed the vibe of the tour, Stretch says. “Having the new record out made it feel special, it gave it a different energy.”

The Lethbridge-based band was asked to come play a show in Toronto, at Canadian Music Week in June, their first show in the city and just days after their album release. It’s been a busy summer for the band.

“It feels like a new high for us,” Stretch says. “I think it’s partly the new record. We feel really strongly about it. We made it ourselves and everybody was able to have their voice heard.”

He means it when he says they made it themselves. They recorded it in Stretch’s living room. The band conveniently has a sound engineer in their midst i.e. guitarist Joel Gray.

“I don’t think we would have attempted to self-record without him at the helm,” says Stretch.

They spent a week recording drums and bass. After that, nearly every weekend for six months was spent on vocals, guitars and keys. “The clock wasn’t ticking, nobody was being paid by the hour. We could take a whole day and play around with the sound,” he says. “Because of that I think it’s a stronger record than others I’ve worked on.”

Rattlesnake Dream has been on the CKUA Top 30 chart for a solid month now, with two weeks in the #2 spot.

“When I was a kid my grandpa had CKUA on all day, every day. It’s a frequency that I’ve been tuned into literally my whole life,” says Stretch. “Personally it means a lot to me that our songs are getting lots of play on the sacred CKUA airwaves.”

You can catch Starpainter’s original folk rock next on August 3 through Lethbridge’s Upside Downtown series.