Stef Paquette headlines at St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage

MORRISBURG – “I want people to leave my concert with one unique, unforgettable musical moment. I want them to see and hear one thing that they won’t see or hear anywhere else and take that away with them,” said Stef Paquette, award-winning singer, song writer, actor and radio personality, who will be the headliner at the next St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage concert.

Charismatic, comical and a gifted musician, Stef Paquette will be on stage at Upper Canada Playhouse at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 3. Opening for him at the concert is Jessica Pearson & The East Wind.

Paquette’s a “natural showman with a wacky sense of humour,” said Sandra Whitworth, president of the SLAS.

“Alone with his guitar and harmonica or along with his band, he’s been crisscrossing Canada for years, playing festivals, concerts and major events.”

2015 winner of French Ontario’s Trille Or award for Best Male Performer, winner of the Producer’s Choice award at the 2014 Cantact Ontario industry showcase, winner of the Trille Or award for Best Album, Paquette brings extensive and extraordinary talent to his concerts.

He was also one of the stars of the TV series Hard Rock Medical, playing Charlie Riviere for all four seasons.

“Describe my music?” he laughed.

“That’s actually a tough question. Style-wise I guess you’d say a mix of acoustic/pop/folk. I compose my pieces, and I have people who collaborate with me in bringing words and music together.

But in the end, I must go on stage by myself and become the vehicle of delivery for my songs. I often improvise when I am on stage because I don’t want to be bored or to sound like a ‘factory job’ in my shows. I have to be alive when I sing.”

He describes himself as primarily “a performer,” one who instinctively reads, and responds to each audience in a powerful and special way.

“Every audience is different, every mood created is different,” Paquette said. “The ‘same’ show over and over does not exist for me. It’s important to me to read a crowd and to sense their mood. I truly want my audiences to be part of the show, part of the music, and I guess that means that I have to be unique. That’s my signature,” he laughed.

He easily talks to audiences, and draws them in, banter and stories interspersed with his music.

He fell in love with the arts in high school, when he became involved in theatre improv. “I realized that I could be crazy and do crazy things, and people were actually laughing and applauding. I bought my first guitar in university and my choices solidified.”

Even twenty-five years later, he continues his musical love affair: he’s never looked back. “Although, after living a couple of years on the edge of poverty,” he added, with a laugh, “you could say that I reflected a few times about my career choices.”

Paquette’s musical themes reveal an on-going, deep and passionate love of the North, particularly Northern Ontario.

“I write about what I know, the North and its people. My mom is from Hearst, my wife is Ojibway and I make my home in northern Ontario. When you drive up north you see houses simply abandoned, communities getting smaller as the new generations go to the cities and don’t return. I wanted my songs to talk about that reality and the people facing it.”

He will be backed at his Morrisburg concert by four other musicians, artists he knows well and has worked with before.

He loves to travel, to meet new people, to entertain new audiences and he is looking forward to coming to the SLAS and Morrisburg.

At least where showman Stef Paquette is concerned, there is “simply nothing like being live on a stage.”

Equally passionate about music is Jessica Pearson and The East Wind, opening for Stef Paquette. Pearson first came to the notice of local audiences when she and The East Wind made their debut in an emerging artists showcase last year.

Noted for their rich and beautiful harmonies, Jessica Pearson talked about her group’s musical style and appeal.

“We call our music folk/Canadiana,” she said. “We celebrate our Canadian heritage, especially our East Coast roots. Our music is original, although we sometimes perform folk tunes as well, bringing those old songs back to life.

What I really like to write about is Canada, to explore our history, both the good and the bad, and to be inspired by it. In our music we hope to shed light on all aspects of our nation.”

Sandra Whitworth described Jessica’s voice as “melting honey on a summer’s eve.” Stef Paquette praised the artists for “beautiful voices, beautiful harmonies.”

Pearson, who grew up performing choral music, put it this way.

“I love multiple voices and the way they blend to create one beautiful sound. It is incredible to me how we can make such gorgeous melodies with our own voices and bodies.”

Pearson will be joined at the St. Lawrence concert by Graham Lindsey and Kristian Couteur.

She eagerly looks forward to performing with Stef and to returning to the Stage. “We’re very lively and we like to relate to the audience. Ours will be an intimate show, where we ask the audience to share our musical journey with us.”

Stef Paquette in concert at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, with Jessica Pearson & the East Wind opening, is November 3, 7 p.m. at Upper Canada Playhouse.

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