Wil Mimnaugh’s new album refines raw sound 

Both Hands poised for radio play

What: CD release party for Wil Mimnaugh

Where: The Shack

When: Aug. 23, 10 p.m.

The evolution of rising talent is a beautiful thing to watch.

Even more beautiful, if you’re the talent.

"Music can change so fast – describing music is not really something you can do, not until it’s recorded and wrapped in cellophane!" says Calgary’s Wil Mimnaugh, guitarist and performer who plays Whistler seasonally.

He took a moment to chat about his new album, Both Hands . Mama will be the first single off the disc.

"The best thing about the album is that there is no common thread, and all songs are pretty listener friendly," he says.

Blue , Mimnaugh’s debut CD, was an "experimental explosion." This time around, he has a finished album ready for radio airplay.

Mimnaugh says he likes a raw, uncut sound, and if he has his druthers with the next album he’ll make it just that.

He has already written half the songs for that album, with plans to tour later this year.

All the original tunes on Both Hands were writtten by Mimnaugh, with the exception of the title track, which was penned by songwriter Jeff Leitl.

Twin Towers and One Sound were involved with the CD, producing a polished package. The album was engineered by Jared Kuemper and John Iaquinta, and mastered by Nick Blagona of Toronto’s Metalworks. The result should position Mimnaugh for new listeners on national radio.

"I prefer to have an album more strange-sounding," he muses, "but you can’t do too much obscurity right away.

"I’d have more of a wet sound (on drums), and make the sound a lot more naked."

The more artistic experimenting on an album might be on temporary hold, but he can wait.

This album took longer than expected, at 18 months, but produced a variety of themes in its sound. Mimnaugh mentions.one song took 100 hours to master, then had to be chucked and reworked.

He doesn’t sound frustrated as he tells that story, instead accepting that as par for the course with sound engineering.

"There’s this rule in the music business that you have to check your ego and your emotions at the door," says Mimnaugh.

"You have to work with friends," he adds, but says friends who give constructive feedback.

Come Home is about "how everyone gets so upset about being judged, but it doesn’t really matter, because there’s always going to be that group of people that (will say something) no matter what you do."

Mimnaugh, who started playing guitar at age seven, says he likes the songs that tell stories. Meanwhile 15 Years gets "Bonnie and Clyde-ish." The song follows the story of a couple who rob banks, then face "a test of their love."

His audience may surprise him with their response.

"Thunderbolt always makes women cry," he says, "and guys seem to like the energy of the live music, the way I move around way more than in some shows," says Mimnaugh.

Additional songs on the album include Feed the Dogs and Spitfire.

Co-band member for the CD is drummer Michael Bressanutti.

Mimnaugh’s influences include Chet Atkins and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and if he could open the stage for someone it would definitely be David Gray (White Ladder).

"I’d like to kick the shit out of the stage before he went on!" says Mimnaugh, who caught the British songwriter at Vancouver’s Commodore.

Joe Kovacs, of the Crab Shack, has a history of working with Mimnaugh. Kovacs was running the Rattlesnake Saloon in Calgary in 1995 when Mimnaugh wandered in, "With a guitar slung over his shoulder and asked me if he could play a gig, if I were to give him a chance to rock the house," says Kovacs.

"Wil’s talents were soon noticed by other bar managers," says Kovacs, "and in a short time he became one of the hottest bar acts in Calgary."

Kovacs spotted the unknown-in-Whistler Mimnaugh at the Cinnamon Bear in 1996.

"Wil played to an over-capacity crowd of Whistlerites that were literally speechless with his talents," recounts Kovacs.

In 1997, Kovacs began booking Mimnaugh, who was now writing his own music, at the Crab Shack. He has since appeared numerous times at the venue, so it was only appropriate to hold this release party there.

Mimnaugh’s professionalism has paid off, after years of "playing covers to pay the rent."

Of Mimnaugh Kovacs writes, "there are few times in your life when you meet a person with an unending source of talent, and with a personal and professional integrity that is unquestioned."

Mimnaugh plays the Shack tonight at 10 p.m. and appears at Crush in Vancouver on Aug. 25.

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