Local journalist wins Calgary Folk Music Festival songwriting award

Kevin Maimann never planned to be a folkie. The local journalist and sometime GigCity writer – who was recently named editor of Sun Media’s free daily 24 Hours – is a metal dude who was “just fooling around” with an acoustic guitar.

Now he’s won a Calgary Folk Music Festival songwriting contest. After a finalist showcase in Calgary April 29, Maimann’s lovely death ditty Pretty Things was named No. 1 among 130 entrants in the “Untapped Newcomer” category – scoring the songwriter $2,000 in cash, a studio session at Up! radio in Calgary, and a show at the Ship & Anchor in conjunction with the Calgary folk fest on July 29.

“It was very surprising,” Maimann says. “I knew it was a strong song … but I never expected to win.”

Hearing the 25-year-old singer’s dulcet tones on Pretty Things, it’s hard to imagine Maimann doing the metalman’s growl, but he can do it – just maybe not in the same day, “maybe a week,” of singing the normal way. But his last metal band, Ways to Kill, had just broken up. He needed a creative outlet.

“I was never a big fan of folk or acoustic music,” says Maimann, who studied classical guitar before going metal. “It’s just something I started out of frustration with the whole band thing, to do something on my own, grab an acoustic guitar and write my own tunes.”

The lyrics in Pretty Things actually come off like a death metal song with the death metal removed – sample: “When they tell you that the world is ending, will you pray for all the pretty things?” On why he thinks his song bested 129 others, Maimann figures, “People maybe don’t expect to hear these kinds of lyrics in that sort of acoustic music. I guess that kind of threw people for a loop, and people liked that. Definitely a lot of my lyrics are similar to what I write in the metal band.”

Maimann says he’s not ready to give up being in a rock band quite yet – but maybe just for that one song.

One thinks of City and Colour, and how Dallas Green’s new acoustic project usurped his old metal band Alexisonfire, and how it all started with one song. And that, too, was a happy accident created by a musician who was “just fooling around.” Funny how that seems to happen.