Exciting new artists will star at SLAS Intimate Acoustics concert

Upcoming musical stars are the exciting focus of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage Intimate Acoustics concert taking place at Upper Canada Playhouse on Saturday, January 9, 2016, at 7 p.m. 

There is no doubt that audiences are in for a fascinating and varied evening of outstanding performances by these artists, who are, as Sandra Whitworth, president of the Stage puts it, “bringing their best to Morrisburg.”

Kristine St.-Pierre has been described as a bilingual “folk chansonniere with soul searching ballads and a rollicking bluesy charm.” 

She began performing in Ottawa in 2006, and has released two bilingual CDs. Blessed with a beautiful voice, she is, Whitworth says, “a terrific song writer.” 

Others have said her musical style is both “fresh and new”, speaking of her repertoire as made up of “beautifully crafted songs.”

Two of Saturday’s young performers are from the youth mentor program at Folk Music Ontario. Mira Meikle has already been nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award, while Braden Phelan is an incredibly polished songwriter and performer. 

“According to my parents, I listened to Melissa Etheridge constantly when I was five, got obsessed with musical theatre, and when I was 11 wrote my first song,” Mira explained. 

She has studied with Linda Fletcher, and is already on her way to becoming a seasoned performer. She sang at the Festival of Friends in Ancaster, and shared a song circle with David Bradstreet, who has supported her musically and produced her album. Her future lies in music, but she will go where that music takes her. “I see music as something to surrender to, not to limit (myself) in a goal.”

Braden Phelan was the recipient of the 2015 Taylor Mitchell award, and has produced his first CD. 

“‘The tune always comes first’ (is) in the forefront of my mind when I am writing. I have an almost superstitious respect for songs,” Braden said. “Something I’m exploring to an increasing degree in my compositions is playing with the elements of narrative.”

Braden laughs that he was a “late bloomer in music” who now regrets that he didn’t make himself practice more as a kid. But “music was always on in the house.” 

While he does not describe his music as purely folk, “there are undeniable splashes of that tradition all over my work. My music often features elements drawn from old school rock n’ roll, blues, alternative country and the like.” 

Despite his work as a solo artist, he is a “huge proponent of collaborating” and will be joined in Morrisburg by the “incredible Liv Cazzola.”

Among the very youngest performers at the Intimate Acoustics Concert will be Chesterville brothers Conor (16), Liam (14) and Gavin (12) Veinotte, otherwise known as The Sons of Gord. 

Each is an accomplished musician. 

The trio has already appeared at such varied venues as the Ottawa Children’s Festival, the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, the International Plowing Match, and in a number of local settings. 

Their music, they say, is “Canadiana-based, but will stray if needed. We are a healthy mix of roots rock, alternative and traditional.”

The brothers write all their songs in collaboration. 

“Conor is great at riffs, Liam can write poetic lyrics and Gavin is a natural arranger, so we all have our strengths. On stage we generally like to turn towards each other and feed off each other’s energy.” 

Eric Pietersma of the SLAS has seen Sons of Gord perform, and describes them as “a lot of fun.” 

The boys echo this when they admit that “we like to laugh at each other.” 

Pamela Cumming is a Cornwall based singer/violinist and Berklee College of Music graduate in Violin Performance. 

She appeared at the Stage last year, opening for Tracy Lalonde, and is excited to be returning in her own right. 

Recently she has been working on a duo EP with Emily Anderson. 

“Our musical tastes and energies (work) so well together.” The EP is entitled We Are Pamily, a take-off, Pamela laughs, “on the Sister Sledge song.” She will perform original selections from that EP in Morrisburg.

As an accomplished violinist, Pamela says that she often approaches “songs from a melodic point of view, but I really have been exploring different sounds and techniques on my violin in order to use it as accompaniment. I love finding new ways to accompany myself while I sing.” She strives for “a warm and pure sound” when she sings, and listens to a wide variety of artists such as Feist, Andrew Bird and The Civil Wars, in the on going process of creating her own unique style of music.

Kev Corbett is coming to the St. Lawrence Stage by way of Halifax. Sandra Whitworth describes him as a performer who “doesn’t sound like anybody else, a wordy guy with a big heart.” Kev is a very seasoned musician and a multi-instrumentalist sideman, who has worked with many acts in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Some have even compared his vocal style to that of Bob Dylan.

“I guess the crux of that comparison is the story-telling side,” Kev Corbett explained. “A lot of the songs have a story before them or in the middle. Sometimes I do ‘topical’, you know, the nightly news, which Dylan (also) learned from Woody Gurthrie.”

His Down East heritage naturally leads to questions of Celtic influence. 

“I don’t really pretend to come out of Celtic music,” he said, “but being from Nova Scotia definitely figures into song narratives. But if anything, being a sideman for the last 20 years probably taught me to find the song, and then get out of the way. Story songs are so universal. I find them everywhere. Thunder Bay, Canmore, Winnipeg and I let them tell their own story.”

The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage Intimate Acoustics concert on January 9, 2016, is going to be an evening of outstanding, and varied musical entertainment for the audience. Tickets are just $10, and can be purchased at Strung Out Guitars and online at www.st-lawrencestage.com.

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