The Next Chapter·Bedside Books

How Steve Rigby of Nunavut band The Jerry Cans felt connected to this YA novel set in the Arctic

The percussionist's latest bedside book is Those Who Dwell Below by Aviaq Johnston.
Steve Rigby is a member of Nunavut-based band The Jerry Cans. (Jen Squires, Inhabit Media)

This interview originally aired on Nov. 2, 2019.

Steve Rigby is the drummer for The Jerry Cans, a band from Iqaluit, known for their unique blend of traditional Inuit throat singing with folk and country music. The band's name stems from Rigby once trying to build a drum set out of old jerry cans.

Rigby said his most recent bedside book is Those Who Dwell Below by Aviaq Johnston.

"I am reading the book Those Who Dwell Below by Aviaq Johnston which is the second book in a series, the first book being Those Who Run in the Sky. Aviaq Johnston is actually a friend of mine. The series is about a young man who has to take on the responsibility of becoming the shaman of his community.

"It's based in the traditional camp lifestyle so it's a glimpse into what traditional life might have been like, but then it's also a story of fantasy and adventures in the spirit world.

"In this book, [the main character's] returned from his first journey into the spirit world. The spirits have come and told him of a village in trouble and he has to go and help. In some traditional fantasy stories there might be a kid getting bullied and chased by the football team through a suburb or a forest and stumble across something. This is the exact opposite.

"You don't have forests and things like that —  it's about dealing with the cold and the elements, the ice blizzards and even the tundra. The book accurately describes the land in this region. So when I'm reading the book, it's something that feels familiar. For someone else, I think would be an introduction to a world that not a lot of people know about."

Steve Rigby's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

The Jerry Cans perform their song Atauttikkut on stage for q live in Iqaluit.

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