MORRISBURG – It may be an embarrassment of riches this Saturday, November 25, at 7 p.m., when the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage presents its Intimate Acoustics concert. That evening, the Stage is welcoming six exciting, up-and-coming artists.
“Many of our regulars describe these Intimate Acoustic showcases as their favourite show in our season,” said Sandra Whitworth, president of the SLAS board.
Jack Pine & the Fire’s singer/songwriter/producer Gareth Auden-Hole is an “engaging and haunting songwriter and performer.”
While his musical themes range from the emotions of home to social commentary, “I write about whatever comes to mind when it comes to mind,” Gareth Auden-Hole explained. “Some songs are written in 20 minutes, others take 20 months. I’m always aware of writing for an audience, and I also keep a certain sound/esthetic in mind.”
He readily admits that he doesn’t fit into any one musical genre, nor does he want to.
“The band started with the intent of looking like a traditional folk string band while playing louder and harder than the old time American country music that I was in love with at the time.”
But Gareth has since chosen to break the mould.
“I don’t always sing in the same voice…or the same style, or on the same instruments.”
His music has been called “frantic”, “gritty”, and never boring. “I do my best to serve the song and to challenge my own assumptions. Anyway you put it,” Gareth added, no doubt with a smile, “this is not your grandmother’s folk singer.”
Montreal’s Lilah Woods, whose voice has sometimes been described as “ethereal” is also an explorer of genres and styles, with one unusual performance addition: in certain concerts she works in fire manipulation.
While she will not be employing “day poi and rechargeable lights” in Morrisburg, she has found new musical dimensions by using that technology in performance.
Lilah’s powerful songs are often a plea for our planet. “I cannot stand by as the world burns. I love the world and value all life too much. Music is one of my venues of activism and political effort towards a more sane and sustainable civilization.”
Her music is unique and unexpected.
“When I craft a new song or interpret a traditional ballad, somehow the result ends up clearly distinguishable as me. Elements of old and new are thrown together at will, to varying degrees in different pieces. Songs might simply convey a feeling: apart from the words, sounds themselves contribute to atmosphere, thought and sensitization.”
Bentley Young is a Cornwall singer/songwriter who grew up with the influences of artists like George Strait and The Eagles. He’s toured with members of the Country Legends, winning acclaim for his interpretation of George Strait. He’s been honoured as one of the top 20 country legend impersonators.
Young’s newest songs explore the struggles of becoming a father, and of working through PTSD. He has received a lot of air time on CKON 97.3 FM.
Also hailing from Cornwall is artist Christine Brady, who’s been passionate about singing since she was three years old. A social activist, she hopes to bring music into her classroom one day.
“My dream with my music has always been to give people hope,” Christine said. “A theme I return to again and again is a sense of home and belonging. There…are always brighter days coming and people who care.”
She has a powerful vocal style which expresses itself in “various styles and genres”, although her favourites are jazz and folk, with a hint of gospel on some songs. “I want my music to be easy to listen to and accessible to people.”
Her faith is a rich influence in her music. “I try to write as honestly as I can from my own experiences, hurts and victories. I want to write things that haven’t been written before or tell a story in a different way.”
Nathanael Larochette is a spoken word poet and youth educator, as well as a guitarist with the Neofolk ensemble Musk Ox, and the instrumental/progressive/metal band, The Night Watch.
This merely hints at the Ottawa native’s versatility.”
Asked to describe his style, he uses the word “dynamic. The sounds and moods I explore can range from quiet and peaceful to heavy and aggressive, sometimes,” he added, “in the same song.”
Nathanael invites listeners to explore with him.
“The beautiful thing about music without words is that the images or ideas evoked are specific to each listener. I tend to see my music as one would perceive a film: there are action scenes, romantic scenes, sorrowful scenes and triumphant scenes.”
Nathanael finds himself drawn to themes relating to nature, death and rebirth, themes which appear “in all of my work, whether poetry or music. We are all inextricably linked to this vast and magnificent cycle of life. I hope my music is able to connect listeners to that sense of awe, if only for a brief moment.”
Jessica Pearson & the East Wind are a “very fun and upbeat trio” who feature fiddle, stand-up bass, guitar and mandolin in their performances, along with “powerful harmonies.”
“We describe our music as Canadiana Folk,” Jessica said. “We love to research traditional Canadian tunes and bring them back to life, as well as creating our own original pieces that have an east coast feel.”
The three artists draw from their individual backgrounds and experiences to create their special sound. “This includes classic country and folk stories, blue grass and Acadian music and Celtic tunes. We are big on taking themes from our heritage and own musical experiences to create our unique sound.”
They love to get their audiences involved in their shows. “We want everyone to feel they are in their living rooms, having an intimate show where we are talking directly to them. By taking them on a journey through our music and story telling, we want them to feel, learn and have fun while being part of our show.”
The SLAS is offering a “impressive line up” of artists, with music from some “incredible up-and-coming performers,” said Sandra Whitworth.
Tickets for the Intimate Acoustics Showcase at Upper Canada Playhouse, Saturday, November 25, at 7 p.m. are $10.