the visual & verbal & musical art of
Joel D Canfield
I started reading the year the Beatles’ first album came out. I was 4.
I started writing not long after that.
Over the past decade I’ve written over 150 songs, 9 business books,
6 8 (?) mysteries, 1 children’s book, and about a million words on various blogs.
I revere Raymond Chandler. Love Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries (oh, to be Archie Goodwin.) Dick Francis. Isaac Asimov and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
In 2017 Best Beloved and our Little One and I moved from a beautiful house on a lake in the frozen north (Wisconsin, 2 hours due south of the western tip of Lake Superior) to Queen Creek, Arizona, almost as far south as you can get.
At night we can see the stars and hear the coyotes.
My books are literary noir. Chandleresque. Introspective. A lighter shade of dark.
The stories touch on dark themes. Betrayal. Our own gut-wrenching fears. Family. (Yes, family. You’ll see.) Depression.
The people in my mysteries share the same shadows we all suffer. The stories shine lights. The darkness doesn’t have to win.
They’re about people, not puzzles.
I started focusing on visual design in October of 2019. Since then I’ve created over 1,000 pieces, from abstracts to landscapes to typographical design.
Music has been a force in my life for as long as I can remember. My father played any instrument you handed him. I thought everyone played a musical instrument, and that they all wanted to be Hank Williams or Jimmie Rodgers when they grew up. No astronaut or cowboy dreams for me. I wanted to be a musician.
A door opened in my head when I realized I could create it, not just listen to it. One night driving home from work a song idea came to me. Before long the entire song was in my head, but I had no idea how to write down the music, or even how to figure out the chords.
Eventually I discovered a songwriting community that helped me sort the details, and since 2006 I’ve studied music theory and songwriting and practiced enough on my instruments to feel like I have a clue.
It’s part country, part rock, with folk and jazz influences. Americana, except that label is too vague.
Imagine Bob Dylan meeting Chris Isaak for drinks at Roger Miller’s house, or if you’re more musically eclectic, Jude Cole and David Gray backstage with Dylan. (It will always circle around Dylan, but as a student and admirer, not in emulation.)
Of course, you could always just go listen to a song or two and decide for yourself what it is.
Sometimes there’ll be surprises. Arabic trance. Children’s songs. Raging electric rock. Vocal experiments from doo-wop to monastic-sounding chants.
But mostly cowboy stuff because that’s the people I come from.
These recordings are first draft demos unless the notes say otherwise.