A grin on his face and a winding Montana road behind him, Colin Ruloff extended his arms toward the sun.
The moment is captured on the cover of the artist’s posthumous album, Doxology, released last week.
Colin died in a dirt bike accident on island just over a year ago. He was 23.
Mere days before dying, Colin, a country musician raised on Bowen, recorded the album in a warehouse in East Vancouver.
“He got every song of his 10 songs first take,” Colin’s friend and sometimes bandmate Sky Lambourne told CBC’s Gloria Macarenko last week.
After Colin’s death, his friends had to decide what to do with Colin’s final musical contribution: release the tracks as they were or overdub them.
“We had been talking. He had wanted to go in the direction of having a band, and that’s what we were working towards,” Sky told Macarenko. So Sky and three other friends spent the next year finishing the record. Through a Gofundme page, friends, family and islanders raised more than $8,500 for the project.
“Part of it is just him and his boys and other parts of it have tracks overdubbed after his death by musicians that he had worked with while he was alive,” Sky told Macarenko.
Cloe Logan, another one of Colin’s friends, is part of the team that put together the record. She’s also the one who snapped the Doxology cover photo.
The photo was taken on a road trip back from New Orleans a few years ago.
Cloe met Colin when she was living in a house that hosted “Sunday Classics,” where a bunch of pals would share food and play jazz music every weekend. “I’m pretty sure Colin just started coming to those,” Cloe told the Undercurrent.
It was about a year later the two were sitting in her living room, by chance, and decided to head to Louisiana.
“A bunch of our pals had already gone down to New Orleans and both of us wanted to go,” Cloe explained to the Undercurrent. And so they decided to head down together.
“Before that trip I wouldn’t say that we were a likely pair to go on a six-month road trip just the two of us,” said Cloe. “But we went and we had a really, really great time.
“I’m so grateful that I got that time with that him.”
“I feel like it was kind of it was just by chance that we ended up going on that trip together. I’m so happy that that’s the way it happened,” she said.
It was also on that trip Colin and Cloe met New Orleans musician Chris Acker.
Chris was from Washington and decided to drive back out West with Colin and Cloe. The three would jam nearly every day, singing covers and their own compositions.
“I think that that trip was a really big deal for Colin because I think Chris Acker introduced him to a lot of the country music that he was inspired by, and the song writing and that he was inspired by,” Sky told Macarenko.
Another one of Colin’s friends, Cody Turple did the album design. Jonathan Evans did the initial recording of the album and is the lap steel player – he’s the fourth member of the team that took on the Doxology project.
After a year of back and forths, organizing musicians, finetuning mixes, all the while dealing with the emotional weight of such a project, Sky, Cloe, Cody and Jonathan released Doxology at Wise Hall in Vancouver last Thursday.
The event was a musical celebration, family and friends playing Doxology and other meaningful songs for a crowd of islanders and Vancouverites alike. Ted Spear, founder of Island Pacific School and one of Colin’s past principals, wrote a song for Colin and his family, which he played.
For those who donated to the Gofundme campaign, Doxology albums are available at the Union Steamship Marina store (there’s a list). For those who want to purchase an album, it’s available for $25 (cash) at the same store (it’s not being sold through the store so they can’t accept credit or debit cards). The album is also available for purchase on Bandcamp.
“We want this music to be heard and be kind of like, appreciated for what it is,” said Cloe.
“I really hope people listen to and appreciate it for being really good song writing.”