Shane Ghostkeeper in costume, hiding from Cindy Scott.
courtesy Jared Sych

Ghostkeeper haunted by first live show

Calgary musician tricked into playing his first performance

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Musician Shane Ghostkeeper got his start when friend and singer Cindy Scott "duped" him into playing at a festival after showing him around backstage before one of her shows. She had convinced him to bring his guitar as a back up in case she broke a string during her performance.

After playing a few songs, Ghostkeeper says Scott promised her audience a special treat from the far north -- a young Metis musician named Shane Ghostkeeper was going to play a few songs.

"I was just stunned because I'd never even been on a stage, never played with a mic or a PA or anything like that," Ghostkeeper recalls. "She walks off [the stage] and me and Sarah are just shocked and staring at each other, and then she says, 'Hey, what are you doing? Get your ass up there! The crowd's waiting for you, I just introduced you!' "

Ghostkeeper says getting tricked by his friend was the best tactic she could have used to get him out there.

"So I grabbed my guitar and put it on, and walked out and kept my eyes on my feet," he says. "I was so fucking nervous I was shaking. I remember coming out laughing, looking at Cindy, shaking my head. I'd never been duped like that before in my life. Ever since then, I made the decision that that's what I wanted to do."

When he's not getting tricked into performing in front of thousands of people, Ghostkeeper works long hours as an arbourist and points to the physical labour as the key to staying fresh when the band isn't filling the air with music.

"It's hard work, but it keeps me strong and healthy, and it's definitely a big part of my creative process," Ghostkeeper explains. "I tried taking a month off last year to focus on music . . . and my brain was mush from not doing any physical work. And the karma -- taking care of the trees is good for the karma and good for the creativity."

The band made it on the long-list of Polaris Prize nominees for their self-titled album released earlier this year and Ghostkeeper couldn't imagine doing anything else.

"We're really dedicated to our artistic evolution and agenda. We're going to be doing our own thing regardless, but it's definitely nice to know the critics and journalists are behind us."