All you need is foodclothingshelter

New Brunswick collective goes grassroots at Evolve.

Last summer, Owen Steel was unpacking at his dad's place. His friend was over. He had things to do---but instead, he checked his email, found one unread message, and learned that he would soon be playing his first-ever set at the Evolve music festival. "I got really excited," he recalls. "I think I jumped off the bed and ran downstairs and I called my band immediately."

Now 22, Steel's prepping for his second year playing the Antigonish fest. He's one of two artists there representing foodclothingshelter music, a two-year-old artistic collective (read: a group of musical friends from St. Andrews, New Brunswick). Co-founder Luke Macdonald calls it a "support system" for rising Atlantic musicians; Steel calls it "a big bucket of inspiration," but struggles to really define it: "I've always been a little confused as to what foodclothingshelter really is. I don't think any of us really know... It's basically a group of friends who've played music together growing up, and put a name on it."

Steel's style fits the foodclothingshelter bill: His songs, mostly acoustic, ooze with a youthful optimism that only a Maritime kid could have. You hear it in "VW Van," where he yearns to afford a real VW: "It's got a tape player and a kitchenette/It's the best summer time that we haven't had yet." It's light, but his raspy voice---groovy like Waits, slurry like Dylan---gives him a sound well beyond his 22 years.

"I want to stomp my foot really hard," he says, describing his musical aspirations. "I want to have a tambourine around my ankle; I wanna have a gritty-sounding guitar; I wanna sing songs about dogs and...and lightning."

But Macdonald's plans for the future are more practical: bring on more artists to foodclothingshelter from across Canada, and get serious financial backing. "We're very sort of at a grassroots level right now," he says. "We started it as a group of friends, but obviously it can't be that. It has to be more."

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