Al Pachino said it in Scarface: "I always tell the truth; even when I lie."
For some reason, Nova Scotia hip-hop artist Buck 65—born Richard Terfry—lives that quote out each time he's asked him where he got his stage name. His responses are so quick and packed with so much detail, he oozes authenticity. In reality, he's simply channeling the talents of a great snake oil salesman.
He has attributed the name to the tendency of dads in his home town to refer to their sons as "Buck," jokingly designating himself number 65 out of countless Bucks in his community. He's also claimed his performing reliability earned him the nickname Buick '65, which was later misspelled on a concert poster.
Even in his promotional materials for Strange Famous Records, the artist says that the truth is that his father called him Buck 65 from the day he was born, then rebounds to say he has no idea where the name came from. Oh, and in the middle of that statement, he also admits to often lying about where the name comes from. The reason? "It's a boring question."
In my interview with the dark and baffling hip-hop artist—a genre he doesn't really fit into—Telfry doesn't disappoint, giving perhaps his best answer to date.
"There are probably a hundred stories," says Telfry. "Actually, the truth is, I stared out playing in a swing band called Buck's Dixie Jive. But early on, a promoter misheard and billed me as Buck 65. It stuck."
Apparently he still wants to keep his audience at arm's length.
That's par for the course for Telfry, his music is a close-but-not-quite representation of hip-hop. The rhymes—or more to the point, prose—he lays over classical music, jazz, pop, and even acoustic guitar are about the only hip-hop-like angle he takes. The sum of all the parts certainly keeps its distance from conventional rap, instead sounding like the musical equivalent of blowing up a library/art museum/symphony concert hall then gluing the pieces back together. Stylistically, Telfry has a lot of freedom because of it. In other ways, it's limiting.
"Well, it certainly limits my appeal, I think," said Telfry. "To be honest I don't sell millions of records or play sold out arenas and I never will. That's fine by me. But all the success and amazing opportunities I have had come from me being, well, unique, I guess."
Distance is a common theme for the self-proclaimed introvert; but one he says he is getting better at dealing with all the time.
"It was never my chief desire to be in the spotlight," Telfry admits. "My introversion led me to writing songs and it also made performing a daunting prospect. But I'd say I conquered that a long time ago. I don't get nervous and I love traveling and meeting new people. The hardest part is getting my photo taken after the shows. I've never been comfortable with that. But I know it's something that means a lot to people, so I always oblige."
If only he'd be as generous when answering for the true origin of that stage name.
9 pm Thursday, Sept. 26
51 NW Greenwood Ave.
Tickets $19 at bendticket.com