“I found that little blue Olivetti typewriter in a little antique store near Margaree. It was shoved under an old dresser and I spotted a corner of its blue vinyl case peaking out. I bought it for twenty bucks and became obsessed with writing on it,” singer/songwriter Carmel Mikol says. “Later, when I brought it home to my Mom’s place to spend some time writing, my mother told me that my father owned this exact model when she first met him in 1969.
That typewriter graces the cover of Mikol’s lastest album, Creature. That album with its rootsy blend of social consciousness and soul baring intimacy has earned rave reviews since its release in the spring of this year. At the same time, she released a beautifully illustrated book talking about her search for her father among the greats of the Beat Generation.
Mikol will be at the Cape Breton Fudge Company, promoting her CD on Saturday, November 12, 7 pm to 9 pm ($10 in advance $12 at the door).
This past weekend, she was in Yarmouth for the Music Nova Scotia weekend where she had an official showcase.
“These events are designed to provide networking and showcasing opportunities to get your music in front of Canadian and International buyers. It’s also a time to celebrate the accomplishments of your peers in the past year,” Mikol says. “For me, the opportunity to present my music to a wider audience is invaluable, but it’s also important to strengthen the camaraderie between your fellow musicians.”
About the political content of her songs and the book looking at her father’s life, Mikol says:
“The sixties take on an almost mythical quality for me. From my perspective, that decade’s heroes laid the foundation for songwriters, folk singers and activists. For a while there was overt idealism: social change, anti-establishment sentiment, equality and civil rights, freedom of expression. And they did change the world. But, eventually, even that ideal movement sort of lost its luster and some people got lost in the culture of limitless freedom. Disillusionment resulted from the serial assassinations and I think something broke in people after Bobby was shot.
“This intersection of idealism and cynicism is where my work lies. I’m in a constant tug-of-war with the light and dark sides of the human experience, and in truth, I find human suffering most fascinating.”
And while her songwriting recalls some of the poeticism of early Dylan, Mikol has more contemporary acts that she draws inspiration from.
“The American band, Bright Eyes, put out a song called ‘Land Locked Blues’ a few years back. It’s a duet with Emmy Lou Harris and it’s one of the songs that gave me the courage to write with a political voice. But most of my influence stems songwriters from the sixties and seventies.”
And the typewriter plays a big role in her stage performances.
“I’ve been schlepping that little typewriter all across the US and Canada while I tour, leaving it in public places and inviting people to answer the question: what kind of creature are you?” she explains. “People have been generous, leaving words of wisdom, cryptic quotations, sentimental expressions, and poignant little stories. Most of all what I’ve noticed so far, is people’s desire to express their collective loneliness and fear of the future.”
“I will be bringing the typewriter with me to the show at the Fudge Company and look forward to seeing what people have to say after they’re all sugared up on fudge!”