Brian Campbell is a song-poet, dexterous finger-stylist, and impassioned, heart-felt singer. His sets are dynamic contrasts of serious and light, plainspoken and lyrical, with occasional flashes of satire and humour. Songwriting influences include Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, and such Latin American singer-songwriters as Pablo Milanés, Violeta Parra, and Silvio Rodriguez. His guitar playing is influenced not only by those artists but by such finger-style masters as John Renbourn, Pierre Bensusan and Phil Keaggy.
Campbell performs music regularly, mostly in the Montreal area. At Mariposa… le Café, he has been the featured performer at several Saturday evening concerts, where, sharing the bill with another singer-songwriter and accompanied by back-up musicians, he has packed the house with enthusiastic audiences. He has also been featured at The Side Door Coffee House in Pierrefonds, Quebec, at the NDG and Hudson Porchfests, at Words and Music in Westmount Park, and in The Acoustic Village concert series in Knowlton, Quebec. Campbell also frequently appears at Mariposa’s popular Thursday night open mikes, plays at the Depanneur Cafe Friday afternoons between 1 and 2, and at literary evenings such as the monthly lawn chair soirée, which he co-hosts in Montreal’s Mile End.
Brian Campbell has produced one full-length, multi-artist CD, The Courtier’s Manuscript. “To My Whimsical Love”, a song on that album, earned a Certificate of Achievement at the International Unisong contest (London/Hollywood, 2001). Feel free to explore it below; song mp3’s are to the right.
Brian also does house concerts. Here’s a brochure with more information. If you’d like to host a concert with Brian Campbell in your home, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
TO A SUNBEAM: On a dark, rainy day in a gloomy November week, a furtive beam of sun came in for the briefest moment, and lit the room…
ON THIS SHORE: Lyrics adapted from a poem by Imre de C. Nemeth and put to music by yours truly. Knowing he had not long to live, Imre, a personal friend, went to the Gulf of Mexico to see the ocean for the last time:
BY HEART BY HAND: A plain-spoken, uptempo song. The “by” is ambiguous, but then again, the song is “by” me, so I take full responsibility. Performed at Acoustic Village, Knowlton, Que. May 12, 2018
SYLPH: An adaptation of a poem of mine. The delights of shared experience live on in our smiles… even if the romance may be past or an issue of yearning, figment of imagination:
LULLABY FOR MY LOVE: “One of my first songs — maybe the very first I could call “original.” Since I have no children of my own, I’ve come to believe it’s addressed to the infant within myself:
SUMMERTIME, played by Brian Campbell & Jeff Deeprose @ Galerie Espace, Montreal June 30, 2018
DAY OF DAYS: A song of mine that celebrates the kind of special day that on the surface may seem rather ordinary, but which sustains us with its joy through all our days. Performed to a packed house at Mariposa Cafe in Montreal:
SI BAEG SI MHOR: A piece by the 18th c. Irish lute player and composer, Turlough O’Carolan — with a few improvs thrown in.
SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORD: The great 1930 blues standard by Walter Jacobs Vinson & Lonnie Chatmon.
BRIAN CAMPBELL ON SOUNDCLOUD
Hear more of his song tracks on Soundcloud.
Released in 2002 to an enthusiastic reception in Montreal, the Courtier’s Manuscript is a showcase for Brian Campbell’s poetic and socially-conscious lyrics, distinctly off-beat and impassioned vocals, and intricate finger-style guitar. Featuring 14 songs and one poem, five guest artists and an impressive array of subtle percussions and sound-design techniques, this album is an enticing blend of jazz-inflected folk-pop and worldbeat rhythms.
One song from the album, To My Whimsical Love, won a certificate of achievement from the 2001 International Unisong Competition. Reviews and comments compare Campbell’s songwriting to Paul Simon, Nick Drake and the Hum and the Quick.
“When I came up with the album title,” says Campbell, “I was thinking of The Book of the Courtier, the renaissance courtship manual for knights…and that whole tradition of the singer singing to a distant lover, high up on a balcony somewhere, or higher still, in his imagination.” In this album, that romantic theme is given a distinctly urban, contemporary twist.
The Courtier’s Manuscript continues to seduce and surprise with its celebration of love, longing and life.
BRIAN CAMPBELL The Courtier’s Manuscript CD (BeeDeeCee) Canadian singer/songwriter Brian Campbell is from a folk-based background, but is also unafraid to venture into other musical territories. His folk-influenced songs are truly excellent; I hear shades of various artists/bands popularly considered to be folk, such as The Incredible String Band and Nick Drake, as well as yer actual traditional folk music. He also explores a number of other styles, with equal sophistication and talent. If You’re Ever Around is like 80s alternative pop, but with a difference, due to its additional meandering psych-rock guitar soloing. Time Leadin’ Us On mixes together the music of various folk traditions, from the bluesy harmonica to the African-style percussion. To My Whimsical Love is sunshine pop with brass. Liliane is a classy pop song, a bit 60s, and with brass and woodwind. Sometimes Words blends folk, pop, bass clarinet, spacey guitar soloing and distinctive percussion. As A River Runs To The Sea features ethereal female backing vocals which have an almost choral quality. Plateau Weather Change begins with the sounds of a thunderstorm, and the song itself mixes American folk, world beat and quirky pop. Woman of Desire mixes rock, jazz, hiphop beats and even adds a tuba to all this. Chorus For Eurydice is a poem, with no musical accompaniment. Empty House is an atmospheric song, very well crafted, and impossible to describe in terms of genre.
If the name Hum & The Quick means anything to anyone, sometimes Campbell’s songwriting reminds me of them, though he has a different approach to arrangements. A more famous name he is sometimes reminiscent of is Paul Simon. Whilst most stuff here is sophisticated, The Essential Love Song comes across like a comedy song, with theatrical voices over minimal strummed guitar. Whilst it has novelty value, it’s definitely not representative of Campbell’s music. Elsewhere though, it is clear that Brian Campbell is a talented songwriter with an individualistic and creative approach.
Other comments on Campbell’s songwriting
“Campbell’s craftsmanship focuses on a return to traditional songwriting values. He has an innocent belief that good lyrics with simple melodies can move mountains. After listening, so will you.”
— Eric Alper, Slap Happy Records
“Campbell’s music brings us back to the days when songs had meaning.”
— Stan Asher, CINQ-FM Radio Centreville, Montreal
“Brian Campbell is a true song-poet.”
— Robert Priest (Poet/Songwriter)
Comments on Campbell’s musical performances
Brian Campbell’s singing and guitar playing flow like a summer river. Riveting, enchanting & always on the move … original content, original sound. A great hit with SunTaroTeaRoom audiences.
– Jason Bernard, SunTaroTeaRoom, Montreal
Brian Campbell always seems to coax the entire room into a collective reverie with his six-string symphonies. Positively meditational!
Carol Taylor, Montreal International Folk Festival