Les Walker had a particular goal in mind when he teamed up with guitarist Clancy McInnis in 2009 to form the band, Common Knowledge.
He wanted to perform at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (CAMA) and have an album in nomination.
When the alt-rock group’s debut album, Colour Blind, came out this May, it brought Walker one step closer to that goal.
“After we recorded the album, I told everyone that my intention was to submit it to the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards,” he says.
A few weeks ago, there was another leap forward, when the band learned that Colour Blind was in nomination for no less than three awards at this year’s CAMA event: Best Album, Best Group, and Best Rock Album.
Walker is lead vocalist and songwriter, as well as playing acoustic guitar. When he and McInnis started working together, it didn’t take them long to find like-minded musicians in the diverse Whitehorse musical scene.
The band now includes Lane Currie on lead guitar, Adam Cripps on bass and Ted Lambert on drums.
“We all have other bands we’re part of… we’ve been playing music all our lives,” says Walker, who previously played with Fuller’s Earth.
“I’d already written a lot of the music, so basically they’re my songs, but it turned into more of a group thing, which is exactly what I wanted. It was something we could all contribute to.”
The band’s name, Common Knowledge, combined ideas from both the founding members.
Walker describes it as, “the connection that you have to all the knowledge you’d ever want. When I connect with that it’s like fully expressing yourself or your spirit. It’s the common wisdom that’s in all of us.”
With the group established, the music and recording process just seemed to flow naturally.
“Once we got the key people in place, it was easy to just put everything together,” he says. “Everyone was connected to the music, so it made it a lot easier to just throw down the tracks once we were in the studio.”
Many of those tracks have received regular airplay on local radio stations.
The group has also landed gigs at high-profile events such as this year’s Sunstroke Music Festival, the nine-day Adäka Cultural Festival and the recent BreakOut West festival.
“It’s a bit surreal how much attention we’ve been getting in the last few days. It’s everything I’ve been trying to work towards,” Walker says.
“We’re really humbled by the experience, but excited and thrilled, and full of gratitude.”
Besides being a musician, Walker is also a councillor with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN).
When it came time to submit Colour Blind for the aboriginal music awards, Natalie Oles of CAFN’s economic development office helped him put the application together.
“I sent in like 50 CDs and pictures and I applied for five or six different categories, so it was quite the process,” he says.
Needless to say, the triple nomination pleases him
“The band’s really honoured to be nominated for these awards,” he says.
“We have a sense of satisfaction as far as the work we’ve been doing to get here, that somebody noticed us and it’s good, we’re trying to get noticed. We’re one band in a million, and somebody noticed us and said, ‘These guys are worth taking a look at.'”
Walker also appreciates the support the group has received from the local community.
“Everyone’s really excited to see someone succeed at this,” he says “It’s really inspiring to be a part of that, because it helps people reconsider what they think is possible for themselves.”
Now, he hopes to raise enough funds for the whole band to attend the CAMA event in Toronto in mid-November.
“We’re hoping to make some connections at the awards show.”
And that, in turn, could help move Common Knowledge closer to Walker’s next goal.
“We’ve written another album, and we think it’s better than the first. We’re hoping that if we get some awards we’ll be able to get some funding to record it.”
After that, Walker hopes to go on tour with the two albums and “see where it takes us,” he says.
“I want to go on tour and travel the world and see what we can do with it. Anything’s really possible as far as I’m concerned. Once the dust settles we’ll try to develop some kind of plan, but for now we’re just enjoying the moment.”
This Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Common Knowledge will lead off the second night of the 2011 Blue Feather Concert at the Yukon Arts Centre.
More information about the group is available at http://www.facebook.com/CommonKnowledgeMusic.