- Take Off Fridays at Vancouver International Airport Domestic & International Terminal, Departures Level. Every Friday from July 6 to Aug. 31, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
TINY tremors ran up and down the walls in the North Vancouver home as the jam session commenced.
His father's band would play Beatles' songs like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Let it Be," and just by listening, Ben Sigston took the first steps on his own long and winding road.
"I've always really been into The Beatles, just because of that," he says of his father's rock group.
Sigston, a singer/songwriter with a smooth sound that's too raucous for Radiohead and too introspective for a good mosh pit, is currently prepping for a July 6 show at YVR this summer as part of the Take-Off Fridays summer concert series at the airport.
Sigston's mother sang in a church choir but he says his passion for music came from his father.
"I think it rubbed off more from my dad, just from him having guitars around, and having a music room and a drum set," Sigston says. "We're always encouraged to jam."
Sigston's sound is the product of hours spent mining his father's guitar for sweet and sour notes.
"I totally learned from a non-educated way of playing," he says, explaining that "ear-training and improvisation" took the place of formal lessons.
Despite his musical youth, Sigston spent eight years wanting to do nothing but ride his bicycle.
"I went to Argyle, and we had this amazing coach there, Sam Scorda, and he really kicked off this high school cycling league," he says. "I got involved in that in Grade 8 and just raced all the way through school."
Eventually cycling at Midwestern State University in Texas, Sigston noticed the wheels coming loose on his dream.
"From 13 to 21, each year I got more into it," he says. "It was such a huge commitment . . . I just think I got burnout."
Sigston would later write a song called "Blind" about life transforming into a blur of confusion, partially inspired by this stage of his life.
While he was technically still an amateur, the program at Midwestern University felt like the elite level, and he couldn't seem to pedal fast enough to keep up, according to Sigston.
"When you're transitioning from amateur sport . . . it's a huge gap. For me, I didn't weather that gap very well," he says.
With his cycling dream deflated, Sigston transitioned to music.
"I'd been playing for about a year, and so at that point I thought, 'I think I'm going to try to focus on this music stuff more and see what happens,'" he says.
Despite his two-wheeled focus, Sigston never completely broke away from songwriting.
"I actually started writing songs, kind of before I knew how to play any instruments," he says. "There's just this really wonderful experience of writing songs and having no rules and just making up whatever you wanted to make up. It's a very liberating experience."
With songs to play, Sigston set out to find an audience for whom to play them. Playing in front of dimly-lit, half-soused strangers was a new experience for Sigston, but the feeling it created in him was familiar.
"Before a race I'd also get so worked up and be so focused and so nervous and then I found that exact same thing happening with music. When I first started to play I could barely even sit on stage and sing, it was terrifying," he remembers. "I still get a little bit of nerves here and there, depending on what the show is, and I think it's a good thing. It keeps you on your toes."
After spending a year undergoing the ego-assaulting crucible of amateur-nights and open-mics around Vancouver, Sigston found he'd built a reputation.
"Within a year or two of playing, I started to get some great advice and started to meet more people," he says.
One of those people was Jim Vallance, the songwriter behind Bryan Adams hits like "Cuts Like a Knife" and "Summer of '69."
Vallance, who's also collaborated with Aerosmith and Alice Cooper, offered Sigston advice on music and the music industry over coffee.
Boosted by the meeting, Sigston was able to record his first album in 2008, The Waiting Room, followed by Free Now in 2009.
Inspired by songwriters like Amos Lee and Ray LaMontagne, Sigston dredges for inspiration from relationships in his life as well as from books and movies.
"I wrote this one song called "Quiet Conversation" for my girlfriend, like four years ago," he says. "It was this love song about meeting someone and just being swept away, but being uncertain about it."
Conversely, Free Now also contains a tribute to the
women who have tangled with Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, and to a limited extent, George Lazenby.
"I wrote this song called "Cold Killer" about this femme fatale James Bond girl," he says. "It didn't really have an emotional connection."
A song doesn't have to be factual, but for Sigston, it does need to be honest.
"If you can write something that is kind of true to human nature and true to feelings in some or way or another, that's something people will grab onto," he says. "The stuff that I've had the best reaction to from people has been heartfelt songs with emotional content."