After a great first year in their new home at Upper Canada Playhouse, the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is excited to announce its new season of incredible artists, all coming to the Stage in 2016-17.
Board members Tony McCadden and board chair Sandra Whitworth sat down to share news about the stellar line up of performers scheduled for this year.
“Our season is 99.9 per cent set,” laughed Whitworth. “We are still awaiting final confirmation on just one of our performers, but the rest of the shows are in place.
Intimate Acoustics is also returning to the line up. Part of the mandate of the St. Lawrence Stage is to promote new, up and coming artists. At the Stage they have an opportunity to work in a professional setting, performing for a great, live audience.”
Many young artists who have appeared at the Stage in an Intimate Acoustics showcase have since gone on to professional careers.
“We often link these young musicians with our established artists,” Whitworth said. “They may perform as opening acts for a particular concert, which is a really important experience for them.”
The 2016-17 season at SLAS will bring audiences the same top flight entertainment, with that distinctly eclectic flair for which the Stage is noted, that they have come to expect.
First concert up, in October, is Small Glories, a show Tony McCadden and Sandra Whitworth describe as “beautiful.” Featuring Cara Luft, formerly of the Wailing Jennys and JD Edwards (who performed at the Stage with Suzie Vinnick) they create a unique sound.
Guitarist Andy McKee is the headliner for the November concert. “It’s taken a long time to get him here,” said Tony McCadden, “but at last he will be on our stage.” Tickets for this internationally renowned finger style guitarist are already going fast.
January sees Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar at the Stage. Complete with a five piece band, Sugar will bring blues, soul and gospel-style music (with a little country seasoning) to Morrisburg, and audiences are going to be thrilled.
Union Duke explodes on stage in February with a “slightly bluegrass, slightly country, slightly rougher version of New Country Rehab,” McCadden laughed. “They’re really great, and one of the band members is from Alexandria.”
The Intimate Acoustics Showcase is in early March while late March sees Coco Love Alcorn return to the St. Lawrence Stage backed by a three piece band. Jazzy, soulful and just a bit pop, Alcorn will light up the Playhouse setting.
The seventh show of the season, in April, is still “in negotiations”, but it will be “terrific” Whitworth said.
Rounding out the concert season is Juno nominated Kinnie Starr, appearing in May. She’s an Aboriginal musician, whose stunning concert will feature an exciting and eclectic mix of the spoken word, folk, jazz and hip hop.
The members of the board couldn’t be more excited about the 2016-17 season.
“Our ticket sales were up 12 per cent last year,” said Whitworth, “The Bruce Cockburn show was a huge draw. And our audience is coming from Cornwall, Kingston, Quebec, Southwestern Ontario and the States.”
“I think people are really beginning to trust our judgement as a board,” McCadden said. “Even if they have never heard of a particular artist, they seem ready to come out for the new experience.
One of the amazing things about putting on these concerts is hearing people talk about a show. Any type of performance builds community, I think, and music is something to share.”
The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is also building a well-served reputation within the artistic community itself.
“Tony and I make a point of trying to see potential performers live before we book them,” Whitworth said. “We want to judge their appeal and their stage presence. However, we now find that booking agents are telling us how many of their clients have heard of the Stage and want to perform here.”
Part of the growing appeal of the SLAS is its home at Upper Canada Playhouse.
“We absolutely love the Playhouse,” Whitworth said. “It allows us the space and the technical ability to put on outstanding musical shows. Audiences (and the performers) love it here too. The atmosphere is so welcoming and accommodating under the direction of Donnie Bowes and his staff.”
The St. Lawrence Stage has just learned that it received an Ontario Arts Council Grant: the board was delighted to note that the amount has been increased this year.
“The 5B Family Foundation is a consistent supporter of the concert series,” said Whitworth. “We are also in our second year of a Canadian Heritage Grant, and they have actually invited us to apply for a three year grant, telling us that what we are doing, ‘we are doing very successfully, in a way no one else is.’”
The continued financial support and encouragement of local businesses, the South Dundas municipality and individuals is tremendously important to the Stage as their geographic draw continues to grow.
As soon as the final show is confirmed, tickets for the entire St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage concert season will immediately go on sale. (Andy McKee tickets are already available on the website.)
It’s going to be an exciting and dynamic new season 2016-17 at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage. As Sandra Whitworth and Tony McCadden put it, “We definitely have ideas for the future. The Stage is going to be a force in this community for years to come.”