The final concert of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage’s 2011-2012 season is going to be one for the records.
Three great artists, Fraser Anderson, Tara Holloway and Ambre McLean, will be performing “in the round” on the St. Lawrence Stage, in a program that will be a true mix of styles: folk, blues, country and even a bit of pop.
“We’re the ones who have put them together in this mix,” explained Sandra Whitworth, on the board of the St. Lawrence Stage. “They don’t tour together. We’ve kind of thrown them together to see what happens.
What they all share, besides their impressive musicianship, are absolutely stunning vocals and song-writing chops. We think the synergy that gets going among them in an ‘in the round’ format is going to make for a spectacular end to our season on Saturday, May 26, at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre, at 7 p.m.”
The opportunity to talk to all three artists simply confirmed for me Whitworth’s prediction that this is going to be a great show.
Fraser Anderson, a renowned performer in his native Scotland, makes his home in France, where his music has been winning fans all over Europe. He is looking forward to Canada.
As an artist, Anderson refuses to be musically confined. “I wouldn’t like to even try to describe my style for fear of restricting something. I have always had a love of soul music and old school hip hop, so grooves and a vibe to make you nod your head is my music too sometimes.”
Anderson cannot recall a time when he wasn’t singing. “It always made me feel better inside.” A composer as well as a singer, he finds his themes in some unexpected places.
“I feel drawn to old men with their stories and wisdom. Whenever I see an old couple holding hands, I feel my eyes tear up a little. Just a little!”
He loves people watching and creating music about the individuals who cross his path. “I was once told to just write about what you know and that turned out to be very good advice.” He is currently writing lyrics for Terez Montcalm’s new album, a challenge he is enjoying.
I caught up with Tara Holloway while she was enroute to a rehearsal.
“As long as I’m able to travel, I’m going to stay a gypsy,” she laughed. “I have a blast standing in front of different audiences. The sharing of the music, the intensity of the moment are wonderful. You don’t get 10 tries to get it right. When you make that connection with an audience, it’s awesome.”
Like Anderson, she chooses not to be stereotyped.
“I’m one of those professionals who doesn’t like sounding the same every time, or doing a song the same way every time. I change songs vocally and melodically when I perform. I call it,” she added with a laugh, “my creative side. I simply love to sing, live to sing.”
As a lyricist, Holloway finds “the intimacy of life the basis for most of my writing. My music seems to come out of those challenging times in life.”
She is excited to be sharing the Stage with Fraser and Ambre. “This was a neat idea of the St. Lawrence board to put the three of us together. I suspect there may be some sort of combustion, maybe a magical moment when these song writers come together to sing.”
Music has always been part of Ambre McLean’s life, but she admits that she only made it her full time career in the last few years. With a mother who sang folk, a father who was a rock musician and a godmother who was a jazz singer in Toronto, McLean (trained classically herself) refuses to be “locked into a particular genre. How I perform, my style, may often be based on just how I’m feeling that day.”
Like many young artists, Ambre gained a lot of experience with the ViaRail “On Board Entertainment” program, which showcases up and coming Canadian musicians. She travelled throughout Canada, honing her musical skills, developing her unique voice.
“I write a lot from a very personal point of view. Feelings, and dealing with the emotional issues of life are reflected in my writing. Although,” McLean said, “as a very new mother, I have recently added lullabies to my repertoire. I often end up writing my songs on napkins or receipts or into my cell phone,” she laughed. “When musical inspiration strikes, it’s a right now thing with me.”
Past winner of a CBC song writing challenge, McLean loves the challenges of composition, and of performance. “I think my performance in Morrisburg may be a bit fluid, perhaps a little unexpected.”
Tickets for this spectacular final concert, in a series of stand-out shows this season at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, are $15 in advance or $18 at the door. The concert begins at 7 p.m at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre. Contact the Basket Case or Strung Out Guitars, or go on line at http://www.st-lawrencestage.com/shows.html