Interview by Jason Setnyk | Submitted Photo
Cornwall, Ontario – Bruce Ciccarelli, a native of St. Catharines, Ontario, discovered his passion for music during his late teenage years. He started with a simple chart of 16 guitar chords and practiced diligently on a warped guitar that was kept in his closet until he could produce sound from its rusted strings. He then progressed to learning and playing songs by The Beatles and other artists. Next, he joined his church choir, which helped him to learn new chords, improve his timing, and develop his skills in singing harmonies and chord progressions. He soon began leading music for church masses, which allowed him to gain performing skills and vocal confidence. He expanded his musical horizons by purchasing his first electric guitar, joining a 3-piece rock group, and befriending a jazz musician.
In 1990, he married and relocated to Cornwall, Ontario, where he began teaching at St. Joseph’s Secondary School. There, he met John Earle, a recent high school graduate, and they formed the indie band Rapunzil’s Tower. This experience exposed Bruce to studio work and a focus on performing, which increased his knowledge of the technical aspects of sound. In the new millennium, he performed solo in pubs before teaming up with his talented friend Guy Lamarche to form a new musical duo project. They aim to bring a fresh sound to popular classics by combining their musical strengths.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – Did you learn music through classes schooling or were you self-taught?
“I was mostly self-taught. I always learn from the musicians I have played with over the years. While teaching at SJSS, I wrote my own guitar course for students so I would merge music theory with the guitar. There is no avoiding music theory if you want to continue to grow as a musician.”
2 – What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?
“There is a point when you’re playing the guitar and singing when you become one with the music. It has a zen-like quality; it’s effortless, and you become the vessel that the music flows through. You don’t get it all the time, but when it happens, it’s awesome.”
3 – Describe your creative process when you write new music.
“It’s very elusive. Sometimes you can sit there for hours and have nothing useable and other times I’ve written songs where I have gotten out of bed to write down my thoughts and music, then finished it the next morning with a total time of about an hour. So, it can be very frustrating and very magical at the same time.”
4 – Are there any musicians who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?
“I think diversity is the key to shaping who I am as a musician today. I’m all over the map as far as musical influences. I love the acoustic ambience of folk like James Taylor, the hard-hitting licks of rock like Boston, the ear candy of jazz progressions like Randy Bachman, the harmonies of church music, the song structures of the 70s like the Bee Gees and the Carpenters, and the soul of funk like Stevie Wonder. I listen to it all, so you can’t help but make it a part of your style.”
5 – Tell us about your last album or an upcoming album you started writing/recording.
“I have two CD’s released: “Finding id” and “Beyond the Illusion.” You can find videos and free downloads through my website. A third CD titled “Awaken” is on its way. Also, I recently started a duo with my good friend Guy Lamarche. Combining my 12-string style with his talent and versatility in playing keyboard, bass, and mandolin, we quickly gelled and found ourselves exploring music that expanded our reach beyond solo artists. We have established a style that adds textures to a variety of classics from the 70s to the present. We have been playing in pubs and private events locally and in the Ottawa area to great reviews and feedback. It’s nice to share the stage with a friend and challenge each other musically. It’s very exciting to see where this new venture will take us.”
Visit Bruce Ciccarelli’s website to watch videos, download free music, and learn about upcoming concerts.