Nothing about Augusta singer-songwriter Galen Kipar's music is expected. It twists and turns, leading listeners through the back country of Mr. Kipar's psyche.
He narrates the tour in a clear, crisp tenor, accented by an uncommon chiming guitar style that melodically mixes bluegrass-style picking, sultry blues slide work and percussive strumming. His stories eschew the standard verse-chorus-verse format, instead unfurling like tales passed around an imagined campfire.
"I want people to feel everything - every feeling of life," Mr. Kipar said. "The music should be like a roller coaster. I want people to feel great, to feel sad and I want to touch each person in a way that relates to them in particular. That's the thing. It's all about connection."
A fan of live performance, Mr. Kipar traces his musical development to his family, all of whom are avid music listeners, and a definitive event.
"I went to a camp, a church camp, in probably 1994," he said. "On the third day they had little skits we all performed. I wrote this cheesy song and played it in chapel, and the yelling and clapping I got was just piercing. I think that pretty much clinched it for me. What other people get from my music still keeps me going."
Rather than write lyrics that slide neatly into the melodies playing in his head, Mr. Kipar works in reverse, adding music only after the words are done.
"When you write songs where you fit the music around the words, you can pretty much do anything you want," he said. "You can say anything you want. I mean, the world is a pretty screwed up place, so I go into the mountains to find peace. I want my music to feel the same way, to be something that gives peace."
While Mr. Kipar said he loves going to see bands plug in, amp up and perform, he believes that the classic singer-songwriter format (a performer and a guitar) offers something, musically speaking, that can't be found anywhere else.
"I think the appeal of the single artist, standing there alone, is that they have to be pretty good to fill up that space," he said. "An audience should be able to see the music come out of them. Theirs should be music that they have lived every second of, and when it is it's really something to see."
It's an operating procedure that Mr. Kipar tries to keep with him every time he steps on a stage and begins to sing.
"Everything I go through should end up in that performance," he said. "All the things that happen influence me and my style. That's how it evolves."
You can hear Galen Kipar's Scared to Swim from his self-titled CD by clicking the above link. You can also hear a snippet of the song by calling INFOLINE at 442-4444, then dialing 8101.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.