Historically speaking, many have come and gone before us without broad notice, despite having made significant impacts during their lives. These are the stories that Saltwater Hank sinks his teeth into, spinning them into timeless folk songs with a penchant for a jig. Born in Prince Rupert, BC and a member of the Gitga’at community, Tsimshian folk artist Saltwater Hank resurrects stories of the land, loss and absurd circumstance and shines them through a sepia lens, witnessing ageless characters with hearts and lives on the line.
Saltwater Hank’s debut album, Stories From the Northwest, is a stellar recording built upon the influence of Hanks before him. Saltwater Hank’s father Henry (also known as Hank) was his first and most influential exposure to music, and instilled in him a deep curiosity and love for the craft. From the his earliest memories of gingerly strumming his father’s guitar strings, to hearing him, his grandfather and uncles perform the songs of Hank Williams Sr. and other country favourites, the influence of these formative experiences is clear when listening to Saltwater Hank.
Recorded reel-to-reel in the basement of a church in Prince George, BC with some of the province’s best players, Stories From the Northwest is a collection of expertly played tunes with a nostalgic familiarity and a progressive tone. Recruiting Danny Bell and Amy Blanding (fellow members of retired folk-rock project, Black Spruce Bog), to accompany him on the album along with other esteemed Northern artists Naomi Kavka, Big Fancy, Brin Porter and Chloe Nakahara, Saltwater Hank built a sound unique to the Northern rustlings of the Cariboo region. Sustained by quality espresso, Naomi’s famous deer stew and some canned sockeye salmon from the traditional fishing grounds of his family on the Northwest Coast, Saltwater Hank and his crew came together to record Stories From the Northwest all in one night. Together not only as musical cohorts but as friends too, the album portrays their chemistry and camaraderie, all captured through a single ribbon microphone, true to the methods of eras gone by.
A true craftsman of song, Saltwater Hank delights in playing music for crowds all across Western Canada, delivering toe-tapping sets inspired and fuelled by the people, water and land that he calls home.