Phil Vernon has just released his new CD entitled Kitale Road, his first full-length album in over twenty years. Together with his friend Jay Johnson he set up some mic’s at home and in four intense days captured all the tracks for the CD.
Several songs are from a recent trip to Kenya where he volunteered on an HIV-AIDS education project and met garment workers in the Export Processing Zone outside Nairobi. He’s been supporting a project there since, raising funds by performing multimedia presentations with his partner Maggie, combining songs, stories and images.
Other songs on the album reflect local themes, recognizing Canada’s troubled history in regards to Japanese Canadians (Ganbaru), First Nations’ cultural rights (The Reefnet) as well as the global issues of food sovereignty (Red Fife Wheat) and climate change (Climate Blues).
Phil’s previous release - a fundraiser for the campaign to make his home province of British Columbia a GE free zone – features his “seed songs” supporting the fight against genetically-modified seeds: GE Free, The Ballad of Percy Schmeiser (featured in the film, Genetic Matrix) and Something’s In The Garden, a song about Terminator seeds that he's published online at banterminator.org.
In 2003 Phil created ÆTHM MUSIC to self-publish The Ballad of Percy Schmeiser, and continues to produce his music on the label. In 2007 he also published a CD album of songs written and performed by young women and men living in Kibera, a sprawling slum outside Nairobi, Kenya. From sales of the CD in Canada he’s been able to manufacture additional copies of the CD and deliver them to the Kibera Music and Media Project on his last trip to Kenya.
Writing songs and performing for over two decades, Phil started out singing on picket lines and in union halls around Vancouver, BC. A founding member of the cultural festival Mayworks, Phil recorded his debut album Fellow Worker at Mushroom Studios in 1987 and contributed to numerous benefit recordings.
Tracing his roots back through Woody to the diverse mix of North American folk culture, Phil finds himself at home in a contemporary songwriting tradition – one that looks out at the world and, in sharing songs and stories, helps brings people together.