Jon Shrier has an issue with being judged. And so he should.
There were three men sitting in the corner of Crystal Lounge last Tuesday, rating his performance for Whistler's Got Talent - actually judging the dude in the strictest sense of the word. And for what reason? A guitar? Boasting rights? It's not an easy thing to deal with.
"Judging kind of messes with my mind," Shrier says. "It's the same if I was in the Olympics. These people break their times during practice - they kill it - but when it comes time for the actual lights on, camera, action, then, I don't know. The best people can separate themselves from it."
If the Montreal-born performer was as nervous as he said he was, he didn't let on. He beat out two other musicians in the first round of the competition and will compete in the finals on Oct. 21 for a brand new (and very shiny) acoustic guitar.
Not that Shrier's even thinking about that.
"It would be great to win that guitar but I haven't even looked at it," he said. "I don't need that image in my head. What's important is just making yourself comfortable. When I think about it, I'm a nervous, anxious... I'm just a mess."
But he says participating in these types of competitions is good for him. They thicken his skin. He competed in last year's competition and lost to Rachel Thom, which he says is bittersweet. Yeah, he lost, but he lost to a friend. Competing against these folks - particularly Thom, who he speaks about like she's a loveable arch nemesis - forces him to become the best musician he can be.
"I'm not worried. Challenged. I like that. It puts me in my place. It makes me practice and it makes me shoot for a goal. Otherwise I'm just happy to entertain. I'm very happy up there. I'm uncomfortable off the stage."
Everything he plays is rooted in 1950s rock 'n' roll, so whether he's playing American Pie or Mrs. Robinson, he'll throw it out like Buddy Holly would have. No fluff. Straight energy. That's what gets the crowd going.
"I don't want to shave and dress," Shrier says, "or have the perfect instrument or sing perfectly. I don't think that's music. I need it to be raw and nervous. I need to be hung over. I need to be pissed off or over excited."
He says he won last week's competition with a few originals and a Ben Harper cover - songs that don't exactly bleed hardcore rock 'n' roll - but he plays to the crowd. He knows Whistler bars attract an eclectic mix of locals and older German people, where one might want to hear some Simon and Garfunkel while the others may be aching for Sublime. He needs to appeal to everyone.
"I just love Whistler because it's transient," he says. "I could be playing in Vancouver but I'd be playing for an audience that's more established. Here people are on vacation. They're happy, you know, they're more into the moment."
Whatever the case, Shrier says he has big plans for his set in the finals. What will those entail? Come and see! The Whistler's Got Talent competition resumes tonight (Thursday, Oct. 14) at 9 p.m. at the Crystal Lounge.