Hanging onto life by a guitar string 

Juno-Award-winning guitarists make spirited music together out of life’s trials and tribulations

click to enlarge FRIENDS IN MUSIC AND LIFE Fold artist James Keelaghan and Latin guitarist Oscar Lopez unite musically Sunday at MY MIllennium Place.
  • FRIENDS IN MUSIC AND LIFE Fold artist James Keelaghan and Latin guitarist Oscar Lopez unite musically Sunday at MY MIllennium Place.

What: Compadres

When: Sunday, Nov. 25, 8 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Tickets: $22/$19

A decade passed before Juno-award-winning folk artist James Keelaghan and Juno-nominee Latin guitarist Oscar Lopez sat down to compose their second collaborative album.

A lot can happen in a decade.

Since the release of their late 1990s indie album Compadres , which was nominated for Best Roots and Traditional album, Lopez and Keelaghan have gone their separate ways professionally with solo careers, although the two remained friends.

Keelaghan released four solo albums, survived divorce, remarried, lost both his parents and is now father to his 21-month-old little boy.

Lopez carried on under contractual obligation to produce music. However, illness and a three-year hiatus from performing due to anxiety cut his career short.

“It’s been a long twisted path,” Keelaghan said. “It’s been a topsy turvy road in terms of life… Oscar got really sick with crippling depression and anxiety. He didn’t step on a stage for three years.”

Thanks to Keelaghan inviting Lopez on a trip to Australia for a holiday, the Latin guitarist began sharing the stage with his longtime friend. Two years later, the two returned to the land down under, only this time to write. And from long nights and days hanging out on beaches came a new album, called Buddy Where You Been? It’s the compilation of a decade of the duo’s ups and downs into one heartfelt and passionate recording, and it’s coming to Whistler on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. at MY Millennium Place.

“It’s about healing and getting back together with friends, playing the music and kicking it out,” Keelaghan said.

Keelaghan and Lopez were kicking it out from the start. The album Compadres launched Vancouver’s Jericho Beach Music Label, now home to Wailin’ Jennys and Tanya Tagaq among other renowned Canadian acts.

Compadres fused together what the two half-jokingly dubbed their hybrid of Celtic and Latino called “Celtino”. The two carried on in their tradition of contributing to Webster’s Dictionary with this latest album’s hybrid, called “instru-vocals” or “voc-umental”.

Keelaghan chuckles to himself at the “catchy phrases”.

These boys are not without humour.

The album tribute to the musical friendship that helped both artists recover from personal and creative setbacks is anything but grey. The album opens with a rip-roaring anthem called Rumba Compadres before moving into the title track with its illusions of traveling “to the gates of hell”.

The response to Buddy Where You Been? has been overwhelming.

On the Western Canadian leg of their album tour, Lopez and Keelaghan played to a full house of 1,700 fans at the Calgary show while the Edmonton show sold out a month in advance. The Whistler show will wrap up the tour.

The Compadres is part of the Performance Series presented by the Whistler Arts Council.

Tickets are now on sale at MY Millennium Place or are available by visiting ticketmaster.ca. Tickets are $22 for adults and $19 for students, seniors and Whistler Arts Council members.

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