The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is presenting the second concert in its stellar 2011-12 musical series on Saturday, October 29, 7 p.m., at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre.
Outstanding artist Del Barber, fresh from winning two Western Canada Music Awards just this week for his latest album Love Songs of the Last Twenty, will be performing one concert only at the St. Lawrence Stage. Audiences won’t want to miss this talented, critically acclaimed performer.
Although his music has been described as folk, folk rock, Americana, country and alt, Barber isn’t really interested in being ‘defined’.
“I think I am first and foremost a song-writer,” Barber told The Leader. “My goal is to let people describe me in a lot of ways, not to be placed into one genre. Some days, I’m more county, some days more folk. I like audiences to decide for themselves.”
Born in Winnipeg (and a proud Westerner), Del Barber began writing and singing from a very early age. With a growing critical reputation and fan base, he has turned to music full time. “I find now that I have to keep up to my work load,” he laughed. “Last year I did 200 concerts. But I love it. Music is the focus of my life.”
His Western roots keep him anchored and flavour his approach to song writing.
“I like to write about places,” he said, “about how we are all connected to history, about how history affects us. Home, places, the prairies themselves are strong themes for me. There is also, I think, a strong narrative in my writing because I want my songs to be accessible, understandable to people, familiar to them.
It bothers me when some writers are vague in what they are saying. I believe that musical stories are more moving, and in the end, a better way to make my points. And oh yes,” Barber added, laughing. “I write about hockey too. What Canadian doesn’t write about hockey?”
The Winnipeg Free Press described Barber as “sincere and heartfelt as the day is long” and wrote that his presence on stage is “electric.”
There is also an underlying humour to Barber’s music, maybe a little touch of cynicism.
“I think that people often leave my shows laughing. There is a light-heartedness, a bit of nostalgia to my songs,” he said, then added with a laugh, “I don’t want to be a whiner.”
Just turned 28, Barber describes his guitar as “his voice” and is looking forward to the intimacy of the St. Lawrence stage. “As a performer, I like to get a strong sense of my audience and Morrisburg will offer that.”
His reputation as an outstanding artist is steadily growing. In 2010, he was nominated for a Western Canada Music Award. In 2011, he was nominated for a Juno. This October, 2011, Barber won West Coast Music Awards for roots recording of the year, and independent recording of the year.
“All my chips are in. Music is my life. There’s risk in that, of course, but I like to be challenged,” Del Barber said.
No stranger to challenge herself, and an artist for whom music and performance is a “life direction”, Carleton Place singer Brea Lawrenson will open for Del Barber on the St. Lawrence Stage on October 29.
“I was so excited to be asked to open for Del,” Lawrenson told The Leader. “He’s an incredible writer and story teller, just a great performer. It is a very significant move for me to meet and work and share with an artist who is really succeeding.”
However, Brea Lawrenson seems on the brink of ‘breaking out’ herself.
A trained singer with a rich soprano voice, she has performed on the St. Lawrence Stage before in Intimate Acoustics, and has become an audience favourite. She finds her musical home in country, and has recently returned from Nashville where she was able to focus on writing and performing.
“I write from my own experiences,” Lawrenson said. “My music reflects my feelings. I felt unaccepted in high school, and had to find my own place.” The Red Cross eventually asked her and writing partner Braiden Turner to become official spokespersons for their anti-bullying campaign, RespectEd, and she was eager to help.
“Music is a strong venue for reaching out to people of all ages,” Lawrenson said. “It really is a universal language. I write about goals, and about pursing dreams, about the ups and downs of finding your way as an artist. On stage,” she added laughing, “I am a full body singer, very passionate, with lots of energy.”
With a new album, Somewhere to Go, produced by Keith Glass of Prairie Oysters, just out, Brea Lawrenson promises to be a memorable opening act for the upcoming concert.
Tickets for the Del Barber concert, October 29, at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, with opening act Brea Lawrenson, are $15 in advance, $18 at the door. They are available at Strung Out Guitars, The Basket Case, at 613-543-2514 or at www.st-lawrencestage.com