Vince Vaccaro is bumming around the mountains. He has little more than an acoustic guitar in the cab of his truck, a bag of clothes perhaps, and a freewheeling attitude about this trip that an office-strapped reporter can't help but feel jealous of.
"Most indie bands and upcoming artists will stick to the common circuits," Vaccaro says, while passing through Nelson. "They'll stick to the highways, play the major towns like Calgary, Edmonton and all that stuff. I wanted to do something that's a little more personalized into what I'm into, the kind of living that I'm into, and these areas I thought would probably get what I'm doing a little more."
The Montreal-born, Victoria-based musician is travelling solo, playing stripped down sets in smaller venues across the province, and he prefers it that way. Playing the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver would end up a spectacular failure - acoustic shows don't translate as well in big clubs in big cities where the crowds typically aim to party.
"I have nothing against clubs," says Vaccaro. "I have played them and I will play them, it's just that what I'm doing isn't necessarily suited for that kind of audience, right now.
"There's a lot of power in bringing the songs back to their origin, which is how I write. I always write on my acoustic guitar, or on one instrument, so I thought I would bring it down to the roots."
Vaccaro has earned steady airplay on radio stations around the province over the last two years, and was one of 2010's Peak Performance winners, through the Peak radio station in Vancouver. During this time, he's kept busy recording his new album, whittling down a massive batch of songs to 26, which he is now working on choosing the tracks with the common vein that will work and fit on one CD, to be ready for a September release. He says he was aiming for May, but with that month now fast-approaching he says the songs aren't quite ready. And there's no point in rushing anything he does.
"If you do things quickly and you don't plan your game out, you're not going to have a very good reception," he says. "If you're doing something that means a lot to you and you rush through the process, it's probably not going to be the best outcome. So instead of rushing through anything, I'm just taking my own time. I'm on my own schedule. It doesn't matter, the album could be released next year, y'know?"
Vacarro's music has evolved from the Tom Petty-esque rock fare of his 2006 eponymous debut album, to hazy hippie jams of 2010's Lost in Time. He says the new album will sound nothing like either of these. It will be a roots-based album, similar in spirit to Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints, filled with both solo acoustic jams and full-band tracks that can be best described as nu-spirituals.
The new song "Little Candle (Voice of the Mountains)," recorded and released last year through his website, is as good an indication of what the album will sound like, a six-minute spiritual a la "Mother Nature's Son" but with scant instrumentation beyond the acoustic guitar, bass drum and a little harmonica as the song winds towards its near-seven-minute closing.
"Little Candle" marks a new stage of development in Vacarro's songwriting, where he plays from the gut - that is, he reaches down to the core of his being, trying to emulate nothing, feeling only what is in there and letting it flow, like the great rock gods improvising on stage, like Jack Johnson diddly-bopping all over that acoustic guitar, like Kurt Cobain howling primal rage into the microphone -he lets it bleed through his instrument, through his voice.
"I don't try anymore man," says Vacarro, "I just let it come, and if it's too hard then I stop. I go back later. I try to listen and try to feel out what's out there."