Carving an Impression in Whitehorse

Angel Hall has only recently started coming into Peggy Hanifan’s Whitewater Wednesday Jam Night at Flipper’s Pub, but she’s already making an impression.

She stands tall and confident at the mike and captures the crowd with a unique guitar style and quirky songs, including The Mothership, a surf-rock song she’s recording for Yukon Women In Music’s upcoming CD.

I talk to her at her work at Sundog Carving Centre while she’s carving a headdress for a traditional Tlingit dancer: “I’m in the beginner’s program right now,” she explains. “I went to Ottawa for Winterlude as a snow carver representing the Yukon Territory.

“I’m also learning the business side of being an artist here.”

She turns the mask over and starts hollowing it out as she talks about her musical career: “I’ve been playing guitar since I was a teenager. My parents are strict born-again Christians, so all I could listen to was Christian music. It inspired nothing in me.

“It wasn’t until I was a teenager in Vancouver that I rebelled and got into grunge and the west coast music scene. That’s when I learned to play guitar and ripped my jeans. I’ve been writing songs since the moment I could put three chords together. I think that’s more a part of me than any other music trait.

I ended up in Whitehorse through a series of unfortunate events, leading to there being no other alternatives. I came up to the Yukon to make money for school, but then decided I wasn’t interested in going back to school.”

I worked in Dawson City at the women’s shelter for a while. I was taking a big road trip south when my car broke down 63 kilometres outside of Whitehorse and had to get towed into town.

“So the road trip ended when I had to get a job to pay for the repairs. It turned out to be just some simple thing wrong, but then I got my job at Sundog and I’ve settled in Whitehorse. So I’m here by misadventure.

“As for performing, it took me a long time to get through to myself that I could do it. I used to suffer really badly from stage fright. As a child, I was in a couple of Christmas productions with only one line, but I’d stand there and cry,” she laughs, and shakes the sawdust out of her lap.

“It was a long time before I could feel entitled to being on stage, especially as a female musician. As soon as I gave myself permission, I could relax and enjoy being there, interacting with the audience and now I love it. Being on stage is my favourite thing in the world.

“I hope I’ll be able to tour with YWIM for our upcoming CD.

“The song I’m recording, The Mothership, is about aliens … on a surface level. The more obvious subtext is about there are different interpretations of things we can all sense and how ridiculous it is to think we know anything, especially about the future.

“Another subtext is how weird the dogma I was brought up with at such an early age really is.”

Hall recently performed at International Women’s Day with Adam Pop and Wayne Garrett. She’s talks excitedly about her experience, not even noticing the fleck of sawdust that’s perched on her eyebrow.

“We had only three days to practice up. It was a real rush, in both senses of the word. It was pretty amazing what we put together in such a short time. People seemed to really enjoy the show, especially our greasy white-trash cruise ship wedding song. The whole experience was really fun and raw. I’m planning on continuing to play with these two awesome guys and I am super honoured to do so.”

Since arriving in Whitehorse after a road trip from Dawson City ended abruptly 63 kilometres outside the city, Hall has been carving out a place for herself, both at Sundog Carving and in the Yukon music scene.

Keep an eye out for her on the Yukon Women in Music’s CD this fall and at Whitewater Wednesday at Flipper’s Pub.

Five Things You Should Know About Angel Hall

1. She changes her hairdo once every two months, slightly more often than she changes her name.

2. She used to work at Larrivée as a sander helping handmake acoustic guitars.

3. She’s actually quite sensitive, though it might not seem that way.

4. She’s married, her husband lives in Israel; but she’s still single and available.

5. She co-wrote and directed a play at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in 2001.

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