“This is going to be our greatest concert season yet,” said St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage board members, Sandra Whitworth (president and treasurer) and Derek Hunter (vice president). “The stage is a place where the audience and the performers can strike up a real relationship. People know that in our musical line ups, there will be something in the season that will delight them.”
Fresh from setting up their new office at the OETIO (Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario), site of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, Whitworth and Hunter shared funding and performance news about the 2012-2013 season.
This is the St. Lawrence’s Stage’s seventh year in Morrisburg. In May of this year, MP Guy Lauzon presented the Stage with a Heritage grant. The board also learned that the Ontario Arts Council would continue to maintain the Stage’s Arts Council grant, while the Township of South Dundas will also continue its support.
These grants are vital to the Stage’s ability to book performers early, and to establish a season.
“When we first began this venture,” Whitworth explained, “we could only plan our concerts one show at a time. Even three years ago, we were not able to set up a full fall line up in advance. This funding allows us now to create the fall and the winter concerts, and to book performers ahead. We have the security now of being able to envision different types of music and to seek out interesting performers.”
The ongoing support of platinum sponsor Coffey’s Coffee also ensures the kind of quality concerts the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is becoming well known for. “We hope to increase our business support for the Stage,” Whitworth said. “This is an area we are seriously exploring.”
Whitworth reports that audience sizes have doubled in the last couple of years at the Stage, with two shows, Serena Ryder and Don Ross, actually sold out. The board hopes this trend will continue in 2012-13, as more people realize the incredible musical jewel right on their doorstep.
Joining the 2012-13 volunteer board, which also includes Bill Carriere, is Tony McCadden, a Morrisburg resident, who plays in the Ottawa-based percussion ensemble, Kunundrum.
Jeanne Ward, “the last of the original founding members of the St. Lawrence Stage,” said Derek Hunter, “and our former president, had to leave the board this year. While she has moved out of the SD&G area, she has promised to attend our shows.” To honour her dedication and hard work for over seven years, the Stage presented Ward with a special plaque and gave her a “life time” pass to all future St. Lawrence Stage concerts.
And if the concerts booked for this fall are any indication, audiences can look for premier entertainment at the Stage.
Those who attended Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe at the Playhouse this winter, will be delighted to hear that Jadea Kelly (who appeared on that show) is opening for Catherine MacLellan on September 15.
“Jadea has a pristine voice, clear as a bell,” said Whitworth. “And Catherine MacLellan (whose father Gene wrote Snow Bird) is an established, versatile performer with a dark, husky voice. The two will be a dynamic singer/songwriter combination on the stage.”
In October, the phenomenal Kevin Fox, (“our first cellist,” Whitworth laughed) will headline. He is a singer/writer/composer of note, who performs both original music and covers, using a looping pedal to create a full, rich sound. His CD, Songs for Cello and Voice, is truly “an experience.”
Opening for Fox is Dave Simard, first seen at the Stage in an emerging artists show case in 2010-2011, where he drew audience raves. Simard has since gone on to build a strong career with his unusual approach to music. He even created his own term for it, “avant-garde folk.”
Terra Hazelton and Her Easy Answers explode on stage in November when she brings her jazz/swing band (with a taste of blues added to the mix) to the St. Lawrence Stage. Jeff Healey’s vocalist of choice with his jazz band, Hazelton and her quartet will perform a wide range of exciting music from classic to modern jazz.
Unique in performance and unique to the St. Lawrence Stage is the second performer in November, Evalyn Parry and her show, Spin.
“I saw Evalyn Parry perform Spin, and she was simply an incredible presence on stage,” Whitworth explained. “Her show actually uses a bicycle both as a metaphor and an instrument. Her concert will involve the spoken word, wonderful music and theatre. She literally draws audiences in. What a show hers will be!”
The winter line-up at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is being finalized, but tickets for the outstanding fall season (as well as season passes) are available at www.st-lawrencestage.com. The Basket Case, Strung Out Guitars and Compact Music also carry tickets.
Some of the best musical entertainment in Eastern Ontario is here at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage.