Beatboxing meets acoustic guitar

'Modern one-man-band' Ray Connell returns to Whistler

To describe Ray Connell as a beatboxer would be like stopping at skiing when someone asks what there is to do in Whistler.

There's so much more going on.

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Yes, the South African musician uses his voice and mouth to recreate the sounds of a drum kit, but he also writes music, sings and plays guitar to make full songs all on his own. He calls himself "a modern one-man band."

He also goes by the stage name LoneRaynger -a nod to his solo -travelling, solo-musician ways.

"As far as beatboxing goes, I am fairly unconventional in the sense that I use it to facilitate playing full songs with guitar and vocal backing," he wrote in an email to The Question.

Connell uses sound equipment to loop and layer the various sounds and guitar lines, sewing together beats, vocal instrumentation, rhythm and lead guitars and vocals to make a full and interesting sound.

People in Whistler on Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 21 and 22) can discover first-hand just how he makes his music - Connell is performing free shows around the Village all weekend as part of the Whistler Arts Council's Street Entertainment program.

He promised audience members "something fresh that they have not heard before."

While beatboxing is typically associated with hip-hop music, Connell's sound falls more into the singer/songwriter genre. He names a wide range of influences: Incubus and Jack Johnson alongside Eminem and Everlast.

Connell has studied piano and jazz guitar, but he first started making a name for himself in beatbox battles. He won the Vocal Wars competition in Cape Town and finished second in another contest, but he said the battle scene wasn't for him.

"I didn't learn beatboxing to battle against other beatboxers for speed and technicality - I wanted to use it to make music," Connell wrote in his bio.

Instead of joining a band, he decided to maintain total creative control and make music on his own.

Whistler came into the equation in late 2007 when Connell arrived for a snowboarding holiday. He stayed for almost a year.

"I fell in love with the place and ended up doing very little travelling because I never wanted to leave," he said.

When the ski season was over, Connell started performing his unique music around town. Those who were in Whistler during the summer of 2008 might remember hearing him at the GLC, Crystal Lounge, Maxx Fish, the Firerock Lounge and other venues. He was also involved in the Street Entertainment program.

Though he's returning to Whistler, it will only be for about two weeks. He's also touring around B.C., with several gigs in Vancouver.

In addition to continuing to grow his music, Connell said he's working on a case study designed to understand how online users consume different types of content from different sites. Called Trans Media Storytelling, the experiment will see Connell generate regular content on various web platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a blog. He's also documenting the tour on video.

Check out facebook.com/loneraynger to find out more and link to Connell's various social media properties.

Find out what happens when beatboxing meets acoustic guitar with Ray Connell on Saturday and Sunday in Whistler Village. Connell is scheduled to play in Village Square at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, and at 4 and 6 p.m. on Saturday; 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday in the Village Commobn.

Other Street Entertainment offerings this weekend include live graffiti art by Liks and stilt walker Azimuth.

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