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St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage moving to UCP in the fall

 

The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage has received word that the OETIO/Morrisburg Meeting Centre is no longer able to rent their facilities to them as of the end of June, 2015.

Member of the board, Sandra Whitworth said, “As our audience, musicians and supporters know, the stage at the OETIO facility has beautiful acoustics and is uniquely suited to musical performances. We have been proud to be able to make use of it since 2007 to bring so many amazing musicians and performers to this community.

But, as the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens.” 

Whitworth went on to say that when the Upper Canada Playhouse learned that the Stage was faced with the loss of its home in Morrisburg, UCP stepped up. Artistic director Donnie Bowes and the Upper Canada Playhouse board have found dates in their already very busy schedule next year so that the Stage can remain in this community and continue to present live original music in Morrisburg. 

The 2015-2016 St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage lineup will be  housed at Morrisburg’s fabulous Upper Canada Playhouse. 

This comfortable 275 seat theatre has many of the same intimate features Stage audiences expect, in a setting designed to be inviting to audience members and performers alike.

The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage will announce next year’s lineup as dates and performers are confirmed. For now, the Stage is delighted to have found a new and welcoming home that keeps them in South Dundas. 

“Our thanks to everyone at the Upper Canada Playhouse who helped make this happen,” said Board member, Sandra Whitworth.

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The Blues Take Centre Stage at Harry Manx concert

 

What is it about a blues man?

He seems to have a laid back, comfortable, almost folksy way of talking: yet one soon senses the passion, the wealth of life experiences and the powerful sense of humour hovering just beneath this easy-going surface. 

And when a blues man actually picks up his guitar, strums that first chord, and starts to sing, well, like another guitarist once told me, “The blues, the blues is life.”

One of Canada’s greatest blues men is coming to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on Saturday, March 7, at 7 p.m. Harry Manx, known to many as the “Mysticssippi” blues man, the artist who has built a bridge linking the music of East and West, is performing an intimate concert right here in Morrisburg. And fans are clearly overjoyed. Currently, Manx’s concert is sold out, although there is a waiting list.

Harry Manx has dozens of awards and award nominations to his name. He’s a prolific blues artist whose 14th album in 14 years, 20 Strings and Truth, was just released on February 10, 2015. 

Manx’s blues style is absolutely unique. He started in the blues clubs of Toronto, playing the slide guitar.  Eventually, he studied a number of years with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the Indian master who invented the 20 stringed Mohan Veena, now the signature instrument of Harry Manx. Manx’s blending of two disparate approaches to music has resulted in an unrivalled sound, one that deeply appeals to Manx’s legions of fans, and to critics alike.

“What comes out of us musically is what we put into it,” Manx said. “I like many forms of music, but the two styles that make up my true passion are blues and West Indian. Perhaps I might be forcing that relationship,” he laughed, “but I look for the common ground between the two, and I bring them together when I write. The combination of the two seems to really intrigue people. Exotic sound, I suppose you could say.” 

Although he was born on the Isle of Man, Manx immigrated to Canada when he was a child. Music took hold of him early on. “It was a kind of intuitive pull,” he said. “I knew even as a child that music was drawing me in. When you pursue music, I believe the whole world opens up to you, and takes you to a lot of places. Of course, I love to travel.” Then he paused and added with a laugh, “Almost as much as I love music. Maybe I took up music just for the opportunity to travel.”

Manx is often described as a definitive Canadian artist. “Like most kids, I grew up with exposure to Canadian music. Gordon Lightfoot was, and still is, a big hero to me. I would say that a kind of Canadian veneer has crept into my music. I find it in my attraction to certain rhythmic styles and notes: that is the Canadiana effect.”

“It’s an interesting thing. You can always hear the musician in the music. When he performs, an artist always tells you something about his nature. His music becomes an insightful tour into the soul of that artist. All his experiences, everything that makes him unique, it’s all revealed the moment he picks up his guitar.”

An intense connection with his listeners lies at the heart of Harry Manx’s music.

“I have a goal to inspire people with my words. I write music in the language of the heart. Emotions and life situations interest me. And I always write of things that actually have had an impact on me: I’m not a fiction writer.”

His twelve years living in India, learning to meditate, studying Eastern music, have coloured his compositions. “When I write, I have to keep my music and words separate. I write poetry, then find the music and marry the two, like two hearts beating as one. You might say I take the maple syrup of words, distill it and find the essence of my song. Performing music is what I fit at, and what feels right. That keeps the passion alive for me. And over the years, touring has helped me get better at my art, I believe. I feel good about how I’m playing now.” He did share one anecdote about those long months on tour, separated from his wife and child.

“I once received this email from my wife saying ‘Don’t forget to miss me.’” He paused. “Never have decided whether that was affection or a threat,” he laughed. “But it did lead me to a song I called Don’t Forget to Miss Me that has become very popular.”

Fans are going to be very glad not to “miss” the Morrisburg concert by the incomparable Harry Manx.

The board of the directors of the SLAS has received some big news. Scotiabank Morrisburg, is partnering with the Stage at the Manx concert March 7, to help with a fund raising event for the Stage. “Bank staff will be present at the show collecting donations for us both before the show and during intermission. Everything collected from the audience members will be matched by the branch,” said board member, Sandra Whitworth. “We’re very excited about this opportunity and very grateful to Scotiabank Morrisburg for offering to support our not-for-profit music series this way.”

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St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage names new board members

 

“We have welcomed two new members on to our board,” said Sandra Whitworth of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, “and we are delighted that Anna and Eric have joined us.” Eric Pietersma and Anna Boisvenue have joined the three current SLAS board members, as the outstanding 2015 season at the Stage continues. “Anna has a background in accounting and Eric has legal expertise and so they expand the skill set on the board in a range of important areas. We started a planning process a year-and-a-half ago to try to begin to move from  an operational board to a more properly governance board,” Whitworth said. With artists like the Young Novelists, Harry Manx, Chick Gamine and Madison Violet coming to the Stage this winter and spring, the volunteer members of the board are hard-working and clearly dedicated to bringing great music to South Dundas. Some of the musicians who perform at the Stage have also led workshops with elementary children at the Akwasasne Mohawk School. One of the SLAS board’s long term goals is to make such outstanding workshops in many types of music available to other students in the South Dundas area. Pictured, l-r, are board members Eric Pietersma, Derek Hunter, Sandra Whitworth, Tony McCadden and Anna Boisvenue. 

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Adrian Legg in Concert at St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage

 

All a person has to do is just mention the name of guitarist Adrian Legg. 

Immediately music lovers explode into rapturous descriptions of his multi genre style, his extraordinary and original compositions, his legendary showmanship, his infectious joie de vivre. In short, they love this transplanted Englishman and artist, who will be lighting up the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage in concert on Saturday, November 15, at 7 p.m.

“I have been fortunate enough to have seen Adrian Legg in concert twice – and would gladly see him nightly…” said Eric Thom (a former Morrisburg resident who writes music reviews for Maverick, Sing Out, Roots Music Canada among others). “(Legg’s) standalone style combines with elements of classical, jazz, folk, rock and even country, to create something altogether other-worldly and completely captivating.” 

Adrian Legg has built an international reputation based on his completely unique finger style approach to the guitar. Recipient of numerous musical awards, and consistently on top of musical polls, Legg performs on a custom guitar that is a hybrid of electronic and acoustic. I asked him about “inventing” his instrument.

“The guitar wouldn’t do what I wanted,” he said, “so I changed it. For me, the American guitar goes from Elizabeth Cotten to Lonnie Mack, taking in banjo and steel guitar. While others devotedly tend individual trees, I just love the whole wood. I need an instrument that can come close to reflecting that.” 

A teacher and mentor to other artists, Legg has just released his 12th album, Dead Bankers, to great acclaim. I asked him where the inspirational ideas for his music come from. “Tunes have a technical vehicle and an emotional idea. Sometimes they meet and work, sometimes they don’t…sometimes the music just arrives. I don’t really see music as a business. I keep learning. I have to, I keep writing things I can’t play,” he laughed. “We have to learn new words sometimes to say more clearly what we want to communicate, and so it is with music.”

His on stage versatility is the stuff of legend. “(My heart) lies in the moment…Sometimes music is very simple. A good piece of pop can tell a human story very quickly and simply. Sometimes the story is more complex and there are more layers to discover and understand. How can anyone lose a passion for music? That must be a kind of death.”

Live performance is Legg’s forte. He loves an audience. As he once wrote, “Playing live is the whole point. Everyone makes a journey:..we all come together to share this wonderful, universal, human emotional interaction. This is where music lives.”

And, as Eric Thom puts it, Adrian Legg’s sense of humour is as infectious as his music. “This warm, completely affable Brit…generously provides hilarious banter along the way. (Concert-goers) are in for one unforgettable experience.” 

Opening for Adrian Legg on Saturday evening will be a young guitarist who is just beginning to make his mark on the Canadian music scene. Chris Thompson first appeared on the Stage in an Intimate Acoustics show case in 2011. A finger style guitarist himself, Thompson said that he is “excited and honoured to be sharing a stage with a musician as talented and decorated as Adrian. He’s a true genius and a guitar master.”

Thompson has two albums to his name now, and is a composer who “tries to write songs that meet a balance between catchy and melodic, while still being musically and visually exciting.” About two years ago, he went back to basics, focusing more on “building a strong melody and recognizable cohesiveness to my music.” He’s been working on improvisation, blues and jazz. Like Adrian Legg, Chris Thompson loves live performance. 

“I really feel strongly that music should always be genuine and from the heart. Part of what makes music performance so powerful is its power to connect you with people. When you’re singing or playing a song that really hits home to an audience member, that’s when the magic happens. The fact that you can tell a story, evoke emotion, and share a connection with someone over some sounds on a guitar is beautifully fascinating to me.”

Tickets for Adrian Legg in concert at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m. are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Contact the Stage website at www.st-lawrencestage.com/shows.

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Powerhouse of Performers at Babes 4 Breasts

 

 Four outstanding artists are coming to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage. 

On Saturday, October 25, at 7 p.m,  Ana Miura, Annabelle Chvostek, Amanda Rheaume and Graham Greer will take to the St. Lawrence stage to present a one-of-a-kind concert, Babes 4 Breasts. Like-minded Canadian recording artists, who have come together to fight breast cancer through music, these four outstanding singers will dedicate their Morrisburg concert to helping to raise funds for the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre, which integrates traditional medicine, alternate therapies, research and development, life style and cancer coaches.

And funds raised from the SLAS show will be specifically earmarked for members of the South Dundas community who use the Centre. 

“There will be some touching moments in the concert,” said Ana Miura, who came up with the Babes 4 Breasts concept back in 2003, “but this is a show that is uplifting, and really a lot of fun. We strive to fight sorrow with joy.”

Since the B4B concerts began appearing across Canada after 2007, featuring a wide range of talented musicians, the program has raised  $100,000 for charity. 

Ana Miura explained that the whole idea of using music to raise funds originally came from the grief she felt when a very close friend lost her mother to cancer.

“I thought, I have to do something. This kind of sorrow has to be combatted.”

She had originally intended to do only one concert, but between 2007 and 2009, the B4B concerts,  featuring artists “who may never have shared a stage before or since,” travelled all across Canada. Many of these artists also came together to create compilation albums, the most recent of which just came out this October. 

What the October 25 concert musicians have in common is an intense care for their communities, and a strong determination to fight breast cancer in every way possible.

“We perform in a song circle on stage,” Miura explained, “where we take turns singing. We musicians are one half of the circle, the audience forms the other half. The audience hears a very unique concert of original songs, and there is always that organic moment when the musicians join in each other’s songs… and we fill up the sound, improvising on stage.” 

The artists coming to Morrisburg are an eclectic and multi-talented group.

Miura  is an international touring star who has shared the stage with the likes of Bruce Cockburn and Joel Plaskett.

Métis singer-songwriter, Amanda Rheaume’s 2013 CD, Keep a Fire, was Juno nominated. 

Annabelle Chvostek, a former member of the Wailin’ Jennys,  saw her CD, Rise, nominated for both a Juno and a Canadian Music Award.

Cornwall’s Graham Greer, one of the original Barstool Prophets,  is also an award winning, hugely popular solo artist.

The talented Steph McAlear of Cornwall will also join the four musicians on percussion October 25.

I asked Graham, Amanda and Annabelle to share some of their personal views of the upcoming concert.

Graham, who is very proud to be an honourary “babe,” said he is “really looking forward to the spontaneous interactions and harmonizing that results from four talented folks together in a wonderful environment in front of a warm and appreciative audience.”

“What makes this concert incredibly special is that it is a one time opportunity,” Amanda said. “There won’t be another show with these exact artists on stage singing songs and contributing to an evening all together.”

“The format of the Babes is always a joy, kind of a metaphor for the working together it takes to make changes,” Annabelle said. “It’s always been such a magical and spontaneous collaboration…filled with humour and good old entertainment.”

The Morrisburg Meeting Centre is waiving its rental fee for the show, the tickets were printed free, the sound tech is contributing part of his fee, the Morrisburg Leader is making a donation to the show, and the artists are all performing at a fraction of the fees they might normally command.

“I’m hoping we get a sold out crowd, and that by the time we get to show night we can direct every penny we make on the tickets, maybe even more, to B4B,” said SLAS board member, Sandra Whitworth.

Don’t miss the chance to see some fabulous Babes present a night of extraordinary music: fight the sorrow of cancer with joy.

Tickets are $18 in advance, or $20 at the door. Contact www.st-lawrencestage.com.

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Phenomenal Great Lake Swimmers open St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage season

The Great Lake Swimmers like to do things a little differently. 

While other artists spend most of their time recording in closed, high tech studios, where the sound is strenuously manipulated, this innovative five man band chooses to record in some unusual settings. They put an album together in an empty grain silo. They taped deep in the woods. They’ve even recorded in an abandoned subway station. 

“To me, playing and recording in unusual sites harnesses a certain energy and draws special performances from the musicians,” explained Tony Dekker, lead guitar and vocalist with the Swimmers. “When we first began recording like this I was surprised at the environmental sounds we picked up, the wind, crickets, and, instead of erasing them, we began to embrace them in our music. Our music became a kind of document about a certain place and time.”

Audiences at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, the Morrisburg Meeting Centre, will have the opportunity to experience first hand the critically acclaimed Great Lake Swimmers when they kick off the SLAS season on Saturday, September 20, at 7 p.m. With the multi-talented Musettes opening for them, one thing is certain: this is going to be quite a concert, and a great start to the 2014-15 year at the Stage. 

The Great Lake Swimmers is composed of Tony Dekker, Erik Arnesen, Bret Higgins Joshua Van Tassel and Miranda Mulholland.

“We’ve been a band now for about 11 years,” said Dekker, “with the cast evolving a bit over the years. But this group is, I guess you could say, the final cut. What draws us together is the music itself, and wanting to bring that music to life.” 

The Swimmers are generating growing interest among fans and critics alike. Nominated for two Junos and other musical awards, their latest album (not yet named) is being developed right now, for release in early 2015.

The group resists being conveniently labelled.

“We come at some elements of folk in our work, but ours is, I think, a younger approach to that music. We have an acute respect for the folk tradition, but I believe we come at it with an “Indie” feel, maybe even a “neo-folk” approach, What we really create,” Dekker laughed, “is a unique Swimmers sound.”

Their bold, exciting melodies and vocal strengths have a deep appeal to audiences. They have performed everywhere from Massey Hall, to venues like a small night club in Gravenhurst. The intimacy of the St. Lawerence Stage setting is one they are looking forward to.

Tony Dekker is the chief lyricist of the group. 

“The idea for songs can come from a melody, or a phrase or a rhythm which comes to me. But there has to be a good combination of words there. I go in to the band with a finished thought and we work together on the musical arrangements that make the finished piece.”

Not surprisingly (he was raised on a farm, and has strong rural roots) Dekker finds themes for his writing in the “natural world. Finding spirituality in nature inspires music. I like to draw metaphors from the environment: just feeling the silence of a forest can give me a unique perspective which I can bring to the lyrics I write.” The mythology of the Great Lakes (which inspired the band’s name) fascinates him as well.

He is pleased at the steady rise in the band’s career. “People are still learning about us, but that’s alright. We’d rather be a slow burn than a brief flash in the pan,” he laughed.

Opening for Great Lake Swimmers is a trio of young artists who literally exploded on to the stage during an Intimate Acoustics concert last season. The Musettes, made up of Meaghan LaGrandeur, Rachel Harrison and Brigit O’Reagan (sitting in for regular Lora Bidner, who is currently on a solo project) have a sound and a range that will astound audiences. 

“Our songs are very eclectic, and all are quite different,” said Meaghan LaGrandeur. “We all write, although Rachel, who is a brilliant song writer, can create songs that range from Sea Shanties to love to high adventure. I tend more to story telling and history. I think we take my songs and ‘folksy/popify’ them,” she laughed.

Accomplished artists all, who have been singing together since they met at Ottawa’s Canterbury High School, they, like the Swimmers, don’t really label their musical style. “We love music old and new from Judy Garland to the Andrews Sisters, to modern folk singers,” LaGrandeur explained. “If I did pick an umbrella genre, it would be folk, with pop influences.”

The Musettes just had a huge CD launch party in June filling St. Luke’s Church in Ottawa. Their new album Wanderlust is garnering praise and a lot of fan attention. They have an extensive touring schedule arranged for next year.

With The Musettes as the opener, and the Great Lake Swimmers on stage, September 20, 7 p.m., is going to be a memorable opening concert at the Stage. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Contact www.st-lawrencestage.com 

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Digging Roots will thrill at St. Lawrence Stage

 

“Music, I think, comes out our pores, and expresses itself in all sorts of ways,” laughed Raven Kanatakta, who, with partner and wife ShoShona Kish, is part of an extraordinary  multi-member musical group, Digging Roots, which will perform at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m. “Music is like food to us,” he added.

Digging Roots, which originally formed in 2004, has garnered extensive critical and popular praise. Nominated for numerous awards, the group won a Juno in 2010 for Best Aboriginal Album of the Year, Best Pop Recording at the 12th annual Native American Awards and Best Blues CD at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards.

Bill Carriere, on the board of the SLAS, is simply awed by the musical versatility and talent of the band.

“One number finds you immersed in reggae, the next…the music is clearly blues with vocals and guitar working together. Next up one hears something that might have…been done by the Fifth Dimension. Then you’ll be treated to something that is clearly contemporary hip hop. Terrific voices, amazing harmonies…it all comes together beautifully.” 

I asked Raven about the band’s eclectic approach to music.

“Well, I come from the 70’s generation, a kind of ‘hippy child’ on the Rez,” he explained, laughing. “I was always listening to the Beatles, to rock bands, jug bands, classical music. It was the same for ShoShona, growing up in Toronto. 

I was attracted to a wide variety of music. Listening to music, playing music, and travelling (Digging Roots has toured throughout North America, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand), all these influences come out in our music.” 

I asked Raven about the themes, the ideas, the group find themselves exploring through their compositions and performances. 

“We spend a lot of time on identity and understanding the world around us. ShoShona and I fell in love in Hawaii, and one Christmas I bought her a ukelele. A uke just seems to lend itself to love songs, and we wrote a whole series of those.”

However, reflecting  their rich heritage, Raven and ShoShona have also begun working on a traditional form of composition called Song Lines.

“The Anishinabe were  nomadic people who often followed the rivers and waterways, camping at night on the beaches. People sang by the water, sometimes just to hand drums. By the waterside, you could look out, right or left, and see the landscape spread before you, mountains, hills, valleys, forests, and the melodies literally followed the contours of the scenery, rising and falling. 

Modern chord progressions allow us to take the same approach, creating songs from the land. We take panoramic photos wherever we go to inspire our melodies. I always say that we are nomadic ourselves in our musical travels.”

Raven and ShoShona are strong advocates of the importance of introducing children to music and the arts. 

On Friday afternoon, April 12, in collaboration with the St. Lawrence Stage, and with the support of the Akwesasne Mohawk School Board, they will be performing with, and for, grades 6-8 students at the Akwesasne Mohawk School.

“Holding workshops with students is vitally important,” Raven said. “This is the next generation, and the education children get dictates the kind of adults they become. I believe that exposure to music, dance, culture is important. We need to bring creativity to our schools.”

Finally, I asked Raven the origin of the band’s name.

“Well, Digging Roots is about understanding where we came from. But it also has a symbolic meaning for us as well.” 

For seven years, despite conventional medical therapies, Raven’s hands caused him serious health issues. Finally he approached a medicine person on a Northern Reservation. “He took me into the bush, and said to bring a shovel.”  Directed to dig up certain roots and plants, (“some in the middle of a bog!”), Raven made a special tea and began drinking it regularly. “In two months, my hands were back to normal and I was playing again. That is also why we chose our name.”

With a new album, For the Light, due to be released in June of 2014, and a cross Canada tour scheduled for the summer, Digging Roots has a very busy schedule. “We are really looking forward to the intimacy of the St. Lawrence Stage, to doing numbers from the new album. It will be fantastic,” said Raven Kanatakta.

Tickets to the Digging Roots concert April 12 are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Contact www.st-lawrencestage.com

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Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards at Stage

 

MORRISBURG – “Audience members will want to bring their toe-tapping shoes when Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards come to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage March 22,” said Bill Carriere. “It’s going to be a fabulous evening of American roots music. And with engaging, spunky and versatile musician Melanie Brulée opening for Laura, well, what a night.”

It was a challenge to catch Laura Cortese actually at home. 

Since February, she and band members Valerie Thompson and Mariel Vandersteel have been on a tour that has taken them from India to Uzbekistan. They were chosen to be one of ten bands sent abroad as members of the State Department’s American Music Abroad Program.

“The tour took us to a lot of exotic places: what we learned is that music really is a language that every culture speaks. Music allows you to connect with people at a much deeper level. The experience made me want to continue to develop that connection.” 

An extensive tour, Cortese pointed out, “reminds you of how much you really love your own home and community.”

Home for Cortese was originally San Francisco, and later, to study at Berklee School of Music, Boston. Her true American roots, are part of her band’s critical and popular appeal.

“We are Americans,” Cortese laughed, “and we do go back and forth between a one/two punch of introspection and asking people to clap along with us. Our music is cheerful and exuberant, but in another moment can reflect something deeper.”

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards are noted for their American roots style, but she claims that there are “so many shades of American music” that labels are perhaps limiting.

Her band mates and she grew up “experiencing different styles of traditional music. Certainly Appalachian music has inspired all three of us: it’s the root of American music, particularly country and blue grass.” 

Cortese began with the violin.

“But I quickly realized that I didn’t like standing staring at a music stand.” A performance camp experience introduced her to the fiddle. She found her musical love.

“I learned that you could create on the fiddle even with others all around you. The fiddle brought humanity to music for me, connecting me with many, many people. The genre is never as important to me as the people.”

The band’s widely acclaimed 2013 album, Into the Dark, reflects themes that seem to intrigue and inspire the band. “Relationships, love, heartbreak; the human connection is vital to me.” Out of an early album, Acoustic Project, “I brought musicians together to explore what I felt was a unique sound, what a string ensemble can do if there are not so many rules, if it is allowed to explore the fringes.”

Valerie and Mariel joined her and “the team energy was phenomenal.”

Connecting with her audiences is itself an energizing experience for Laura Cortese. “We plan to put Saturday’s audience to work clapping and singing,” she laughed. “We want to connect that electrical circuit”

Melanie Brulée, opening for Cortese, “has a special place in our hearts” according to Bill Carriere. The Stage is where she feels she truly got her professional start. “It was the bouncing board to where I am now.”

Brulée is an up and coming, versatile, exciting young artist. From rock (General Electryk) to blue grass to cabaret, to country, “all these genres reflect me. They are all parts of my personality that I can explore musically. I don’t fit in boxes.”

An artist in both french and english, Brulée can do “over the top cabaret, or folksy music, or my new works, perhaps more mature, a bit softer, a bit darker. But,” she laughed, “don’t get attached. My music can change in a minute.”

Studying and performing in Paris, she wrote poetry, and has found in her poems, and those of others, inspiration for her compositions. “My songs are about what I saw, experienced, felt. (She has recently released the EP Sucré/Salé). One of the joys of music is making a connection with others.”

Audiences can make their connection with Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, and Melanie Brulée on Saturday, March 22, at 7 p.m. at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Contact www.st-lawrencestage.com.

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Old Man Luedecke Headlines at St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage

“I’ve been captivated by his ability to take simple, everyday things and develop them as metaphors for something much greater. His music is humourous, heartfelt and highly entertaining,” said Bill Carriere, a member of the board of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage. 

He is describing, in these glowing terms, the artist who will be coming to the Stage on Saturday, February 15, at 7.m.,  Old Man Luedecke. 

Winner of multiple Juno awards, a musician who has toured extensively, a singer and song-writer whose most recent (and sixth) CD,  Tender is the Night, was long listed for the Polaris Prize, Luedecke is charming, warm and an extraordinary performer.

On Saturday night, audiences will also have the opportunity to enjoy a performance by the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter (and proud Aussie), Jordie Lane, who will open for Luedecke. Lane is also an international award winner. He and Old Man are just completing a tour together which took them to Australia and back to North America. “Jordie is a wonderful singer, charming, who tells great stories,” Luedecke said. 

I talked to Chris Luedecke (his real name) about his upcoming concert in Morrisburg. But first, I had to ask how such a young musician has come to be known by the moniker of “Old Man.”

“It’s a name I like, and it gives me a kind of focus,” Luedecke explained. “I admire the old time things, and the old story tellers. From an early age I admired the stars of Grand Ole Opry, especially those who played banjos and told stories. Many of them were called “Old Man” so I thought that name would be fitting and colourful (and maybe a little more interesting than Chris). I could retain my true identity, but still have a traditional link.”

Although he is multi instrumental, Luedecke’s par-ticular passion for the banjo has carried strongly into his life as a performer.

“I love the rhythm of that instrument,” he said. “I feel it has been under used as a song writing tool. A banjo sort of accompanies itself. The moment you play it, you want to move. It also seems to me that lyrics are well placed on the banjo, that they are married to its drive.” 

Luedecke’s style has been glowingly described as roots, folk, bluegrass, pop, country, traditional and completely non-traditional.

He laughed. “Those various labels are all very nice and they do fit to some degree. But I am not a heritage performer (he is from Chester, Nova Scotia), and I am not performing the stylized music of the past. Instead, I am creating new music, unique music, and I have a real affinity for the folk approach. 

At the same time, I love country, the old time country. I find, within reason of course, that I enjoy things simple and stripped down to the basics. I try to get to the heart of a story.”

Old Man Luedecke is a prolific writer and composer. Over the years he has written hundreds of songs, although only some of them ever make it on to albums.

“I was listening to Pete Seeger, an old interview from maybe 10 or 15 years ago. He did get involved in environmental concerns, but his basic approach was ‘the meek inherit the earth.’ That’s a theme I have found in many of my most successful songs. I would say I don’t sing for the winners, but rather for the people trying to make life work.”

Luedecke has a reputation as a warm, good natured performer on stage.

“I actually think I am a fairly serious person,” he said. “I try to approach subtle subjects, but I often mask them with humour. I want my songs poignant, humourous and engaging. People come to a concert to be entertained.”

He will have mandolin, violin, and upright bass backing him up at Saturday’s concert. He is looking forward to the St. Lawrence Stage.

“If you open yourself musically up on stage, and the crowd lets you in, well there is this terrific flow. I’ll be playing classic pieces so audiences can see how I got to where I now am musically. I hope they will appeal. And of course, there are new wonderful songs which I’ve written.” he added with a laugh, “that we’ll also perform. If people are excited to be at my concert, then there’s magic!”

The Old Man Luedecke concert, with Jordie Lane opening, is one night only at the Meeting Centre, the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, February 15, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. They are available from the Basket Case, Strung Out Guitars or at www.st-lawrencestage.com

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Entertainment

Six artists

What better musical gift to enjoy this time of year than a concert at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage featuring six exciting artists.

The board of directors of the Stage promise it will be a memorable musical show case Saturday, December 14,  at 7 p.m., at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre.

Returning to the Stage are area musicians Stephanie Coleman and Claude Plamondon.

“I hope to be showcasing all new songs,” said Stephanie Coleman. “My songs are related to every day life and relationships; I tend to write from a more real place and often have personal feelings or experiences embedded within a song. I feel that my style of writing lyrics has grown. And I’m extremely glad to be coming back to the Stage.”

Claude Plamondon looks “forward to getting back to the Stage since it’s been a while and that venue is pretty special.” 

Plamondon describes his sound as composite. “I grew up with many different genres of music… but I do have a strong liking for harmonies and guitar music. I’m performing some of my original songs (joined on stage by accordionist Bill Sypes), I hope the audience will enjoy. I find that as I write songs, I feel a need to sing them, especially if the subject matter is personal and close to home.” Claude has been  recording, and performing with Cornwall’s Winston Marley.

Sandra Whitworth of the Stage describes local musician Keegan Larose as “a bit folk and a bit pop.” Still a very up and coming young artist, Larose began playing guitar in grade seven, eventually graduating to solo work in 2008. He has performed at both open mics and organized venues in the Cornwall area. He now does mostly solo work, and will bring his unique sound to his debut at the Morrisburg stage.

Jamie Heath, who also hales from Cornwall, is a “blues man.”  “I play the blues because I love the groove,” Heath explained. “The images that appear in my mind when I sing and play the blues are tangible. In other words, I feel the blues in my bones. The blues is my form of expression.” 

A professional musician for over 20 years, Heath recorded with the MAMMOTH Blues Band and Black Egg Blues, and teaches at Limelight Music Academy. 

“Blues is about the truth of real feelings, feelings of love and loss, feelings of happiness and joy, in fact every human emotion.” 

Musician Amanda Bon, who will be joined on stage by gifted guitarist Danny Artuso, comes from Ottawa. She formed her own band, The Outskirts, in 2010.

While critics and audiences might seek to define Bon’s sound, she has her own unique view. “We take equal parts folk, country and bluegrass and throw them in a blender. (My music) is none of those things, but all of those things at the same time.  I am guilty (I say that jokingly) of continuing the long standing tradition of often writing about love in one way or another.   But my new album has a theme of “homeness”, coming home, being home. I  also write about broader themes of life, people and relationships.” 

She finds it difficult to describe her vocal style, but has heard words like soothing, pure and gentle applied to her voice. She laughs that she is more like “old fashioned country singers, minus the southern accent,”

Debuting at the St. Lawrence Stage, from Port Elgin, is Ben Turcotte, just in his late teens, and, according to Sandra Whitworth, “winning song writing and other awards all over the place.” 

His style has been described as a mix of genres. “I really enjoy many types of music. I play in a Blues-Rock band: I also play a lot of Jazz: I just finished producing a track for a friend’s rap mixtape. I really do enjoy folk and blues the most, and I think that’s where most of my songs start.”

Studying music at university, Turcotte finds the inspiration for his original writing by exploring the “many different layers to dark things. The things I learn usually come out in my songs. Many other songs come from dreams. Dreams are fascinating.”

Tickets for the St. Lawrence Intimate Acoustics concert  on December 14, 7 p.m., are all $10. Contact www.st-lawrencestage.com for information.

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