MORRISBURG – On Saturday, February 9, the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage Intimate Acoustics concert will welcome “six exceptional musicians” to the stage at Upper Canada Playhouse at 7 p.m.
This evening of eclectic and exciting music, all performed by a group of talented and fascinating up-and-coming artists, should make it a memorable concert for audiences of all ages.
Ken Julien, whose ancestry is Ojibwa, is a Kemptville singer and songwriter influenced by his deep love of the outdoors. With an extensive musical background as a former member of the quartet Str8fix and the K. Towne Trio, his original compositions are fascinatingly diverse. They range from love songs to “Here I Am”, a gospel song inspired by his visit to a small church in Prescott.
Ken Julien’s folk/country rock musical style has won him a growing number of fans, and led to a CD Fishmatized. An enthusiastic performer, he’s been on stage in this, his home region, at many open mics and fundraising ventures.
London-based composer and singer Ben Heffernan, though just in his late teens, admits that his music has been strongly influenced by what might appear to be two widely divergent “camps of artists.”
He admires the lyrical singer/ songwriters like John Mayer and Donovan Woods, but he also finds himself drawn to the “massive anthemic sound” of classic rockers such as U2 and Bruce Springsteen.
“My goal as a songwriter is to kind of blend those two worlds together, to pack a little more energy and sound into singer/songwriter music,” he said.
He’s honed his performance skills at many concerts and festivals. Ben’s music often explores “being my age, and the good and bad things that come with that,” he said. “My age is all I really have to write about, and…my experiences can be just as valid as anything or anyone else.”
A dynamic young performer, Ben Heffernan’s song “Home” was nominated for a 2018 Canadian Folk Music Award.
Artist John Muirhead, also from London, claims that “no matter what the circumstances, I’m always happy with a guitar in my hand.”
A singer and teller of stories, he has often been described as a something of a troubadour. “Over the years, I’ve travelled as far west as Winnipeg and as far east as Halifax,” he explained. He’s played in living rooms and to crowds of thousands: his recent single, “I Can Sleep Anywhere” reflects a life living on the road as an artist.
“I’m in love with words,” John said. “I spend a lot of time crafting lyrics that tell a concise and powerful story. Over the years I’ve encountered some bizarre, hilarious and touching situations,” stories that he plans to share with his audience. With a musical style that ranges from introspective folk ballads, to upbeat “living in the moment” songs, John Muirhead’s “indie-folk sound” will strike a strong chord with the audience.
Jordan Hawn, who is a native son of South Dundas, played in a metal/hardcore band for eight years before the challenges and appeal of acoustic/fingerstyle guitar began to capture his interest.
With fellow artist Andrew Mulder, whose background is hip-hop/funk/rock, Jordan has been creating some very unique, and exciting instrumental music for audiences. This is reflected most particularly through their new project, Elmsley.
“Elmsley is an EP that is inspired by where we both came from and where we are now,” Jordan explained. “We wanted something that was catchy, technical, and songs that were as complete as possible from front to back.” Jordan’s sister Shannon, who is also filming their music video, “Homebound”, due for spring release, handles creative work for the duo.
Elmsley is a project Jordan and Andrew have been working on for some time. Their SLAS performance should spark a lot of attention from the audience.
“We typically come up with a catchy riff and build off it, adding parts as we go. As we are instrumental, we try our best to keep the songs interesting and fairly fast paced,” Jordan said. He is hoping to add more instrumental layers to his music, as their unique sound and style develop, perhaps even incorporating vocals into the mixture down the road.
Steph Coleman has appeared on the SLAS as a memorable solo artist in past concerts.
On February 9, she will be returning to the stage, but this time as part of a duo, appearing with Haley Coleman, and sharing their exciting new musical direction with the audience.
Originally drawn together by a deep and mutual love of music, now partners in life as well as on stage, Steph explains that “Haley’s harmonies are the perfect compliment to my style. This music is as much hers as it is mine. She has inspired much of my writing and it is a natural step for us to take to the stage as a duo.”
Steph describes their music as both “acoustic and rustic”. While they have been influenced by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Lucinda Williams and Canadian performers Royal Wood, Peter Katz and Jim Cuddy, as an artist and song writer, Steph remains musically one-of-a-kind, not confined to any particular genre.
“My style of writing has always been my own. I have a passion for acoustic song writing and I am happy to share this with Haley and get her collaboration as we move forward.”
Genevieve Lacroix of Cornwall played at the Stage several years ago, and is returning to the Morrisburg concert hall. She has just released her first CD, Sweetest Wine, 13 songs that have been described as “jazz-folk, poetic and spiritual,”
Sandra Whitworth of the SLAS stage puts it this way: “Gen’s music comes from the heart.”
“Honestly, that is a good way of describing my music,” Gen explained. “A lot of my music is created and played in improvisation, on the spot, in the spirit and from the heart. I let my heart and mind wander a bit, go in my bubble and let my soul speak.”
An accomplished singer in both English and French, Gen describes her lyrics as “things that I feel like I really need to tell the world, and especially those who are heart broken or suffering. I want to tell them they are loved, that things will be okay.”
For Genevieve Lacroix music is a bridge between the soul and the realities of this “complex, fast-paced, broken world.” Audiences will have an opportunity to feel this accomplished singer’s passion at the upcoming Morrisburg concert. “Singing for me is an artistic, vocal expression from the soul.”
The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage Intimate Acoustics concert, featuring six exceptional artists, will take place at Upper Canada Playhouse at 7 p.m. on February 9. Tickets are $10.