It promises to be a night of music that is both unexpected and exhilarating.
On Saturday, October 27, at 7 p.m., artist Kevin Fox will bring his fresh and delightful sound to the St. Lawrence Stage. David Simard, first introduced in an Emerging Artists showcase in 2010, to much praise, will open.
Kevin Fox, whose extensive body of work has been described by the Halifax Chronicle as a “set of glowing acoustic pop gems” and by Cadence Magazine as “poetic and even romantic,” has a unique background and an equally unique musical sound.
He has arranged music for Justin Bieber and Kathleen Edwards, recorded with Celine Dion and toured with Chantal Kreviazuk, Steven Page and Olivia Newton-John.
“I think his (release) Songs for Voice and Cello” is stellar, and his live performance is incredible,” said board member Sandra Whitworth.
Unusually, Fox has made the cello, most often restricted to classical music, the unique focus of his pop/folk approach.
“I believe that a cello is actually a kindred spirit to the human voice,” Fox explained. “When I sing and bow or pluck the cello, the sound resonates with my voice. There is simply great beauty in this string instrument.”
Fox added, with a laugh, that his unusual choice of instrument should be blamed on the fantastic music program that used to exist in the Maritimes. “In every grade, students were introduced to a musical instrument. Every year there was a new classical instrument and a new sound. The cello became my musical voice.”
A graduate of McGill in classical composition, Fox says that “song writing and arranging have always been part of me. You could say that I speak both pop and classical music. I describe my career by saying there have been many cookie jars on the shelf that I’ve dipped my hand into. I love arranging for the stage. I love arranging for the studio. And I love singing. Music has been the focus of my life since I was 10.”
I asked him about his songs.
“I have this interest in beauty. I seek beauty through my music, seeking out the colours that make me feel good, or reflect my mood. Then I want to put this unique beauty I have found down on pages to share. I also tend to believe that artists look inward and find a wealth of things that they can share with others.”
Kevin Fox released Set Right in 2011, an album that audiences are loving. “I wanted this one to have a collaborative element,” he said, explaining he had used several instruments and musicians in this work. “ But I did add lots of cello parts too,” Fox laughed.
David Simard is looking forward to his return to the Stage. “It’s such a treat to perform in that setting filled with people genuinely enjoying the music.”
Simard has been touring, but he finds that he loves “the rhythm of life on the road. It lets me focus all my energy toward music, which is exactly what I want to do.”
Generally, Simard prefers to stay away from labels. “I just say I’m a folk singer, straight up.” But he has been given one label that he finds intriguing, that of “avant-garde folk singer.”
“It comes from an album review in Italy. It said I was avant-garde because I was ‘a folksinger who’s rooted in the past, and looking to the future’. I do sing traditional folk music, but I am always trying to create something new and progressive in my music.”
The influence of cabaret has been part of that creative process.
“At one time, while I was living and working in Montreal and Victoria, I performed with aerialists, contortionists and dancers, with circus people: they were always looking for music and musicians. That experience led me to try and fit a kind of theatrical edge to my music. It is a style I would like to explore again.”
The theme of movement is a strong component of a lot of Simard’s compositions. “I’ve moved all my life. On tour I constantly move, crossing new geographic regions, always arriving, always leaving, maybe staying a short time in one spot. That theme appears in my music. I write about life, I guess. I love music. Music is my life.”
With upcoming artist David Simard opening for him, Kevin Fox will be in concert at the St. Lawrence Stage on Saturday, October 27.
Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door available at the Basket Case, Strung Out Guitars and Compact Music or at www.st-lawrencestage.com/shows.html