MORRISBURG – January 4, 2020, music lovers are in for a rare and wonderful treat: internationally renowned musical legends, Connie Kaldor and Garnet Rogers, are coming to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage for one concert only. The duo’s concert in Ottawa is already sold out, an indication of the huge fan following for two of Canada’s most charismatic singers and songwriters.
Connie Kaldor, a Prairie girl, is a writer, a singer, and a composer who has won three Juno awards for her music, and is a Member of the Order of Canada. Garnet Rogers, a singer/guitarist/song-writer, began his musical journey performing with his late brother Stan throughout Canada, then embarked on a wildly successful solo career in 1983. Garnet and Connie, old friends, have begun performing together, and for fans, it’s been a match made in musical heaven.
I had the opportunity to talk to both the artists about their upcoming concert on January 4 at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage. Connie Kaldor told me about the themes and ideas that have shaped her music over the years.
Her earlier songs often dealt with the challenges of love and losing love. However, kids, aging and a changing world now colour her music.
“There is one over-arching theme,” she said, “and that is to tell the stories that haven’t been told, the stories about the prairies and the west, both historical and personal, and the stories about women and their lives. There are so many songs about women and their lives that haven’t been sung.”
Kaldor’s works, Everyday Moments and Missing and Gone are “part of that tradition”, particularly one song, “Better Things to Do.” “I keep hoping that I can write a song that means something (about) where I am from and who I am as a Canadian woman at this time,”
Garnet Rogers began his career in the hard knock world of seedy night clubs, biker bars and back alley dives where the clientele had little interest in the “folk music” that he and brother Stan were performing – and were often willing to actively show their displeasure.
“We were playing folk in the Donna Summer disco era, and our music was often unwanted. Sometimes,” Rogers said, with that powerfully engaging sense of humour that characterizes his music and his attitude to life, “we’d find ourselves changing guitar strings in some grotty little dressing room, being paid in one dollar bills that might have been stuck in a stripper’s g-string.”
In a 2013 interview with The Leader he said he “explored the ‘big stuff,’ life, death, love, how we deal with them. I try to see the laughter even in the bleakness.”
“I approach my songs a bit differently now,” Rogers explained to me. “Nowadays I can be relaxed and happy in a concert. I approach that ‘big stuff’ in a different way too. I cared for both my parents in
their final days, and you come away with a more nuts and bolts understanding of life and the end of life from an experience like that. At my home in the country, I must care for my horses and often I then
walk out, looking at the skies, the trees, the seasons in an intimate way. I am far more aware of the natural world these days, and I think that finds expression in my music.”
Both Connie Kaldor and Garnet Rogers seek deep and welcome connections with their audiences. And a strong component of connecting, both in their music, and in the anecdotes and exchanges they share with audiences, is rooted in humour.
“Well, I am a woman from a country where the national animal is a beaver,” laughed Connie Kaldor, “so my sense of humour is to the bone. But every audience is different and every town and situation is
unique and so my music changes. My set may have many elements the same, but there is always something different. I can change my set list if I feel something is needed – and I often do, to the dismay of my band mates,” she added.
“What you get back from the audience is what fuels the show. I love discovering a different way to lead into a song. Where I’m from (the prairies) is a place that can be bleak and unforgiving and that always hones a sense of humour. I think too, being a woman in a male dominated business allows me to see the absurdity of the world around me.”
Garnet Rogers also seeks out a close relationship with his audiences. “I can’t remember garbage day,” he laughed, “but I can remember all the details of my life performing.” He has shared those stories of
“my whole ugly, lurid awful adventures” through his songs and audience anecdotes.
Establishing deep audience connections dates back to his earliest years on the road, years that the singer has also described in his published memoirs.
He described one gig, a few years back in his career, where he had driven alone through three snow-choked mountain passes, passed a horrific accident enroute, missed a connecting ferry and then was forced to lug all his musical equipment up a three story metal staircase.
“Why am I doing this?” he recalled asked himself, as he stood in the tiny dressing room.
“Then I stepped out on stage in front of an eager audience that night, and right then I knew the reason why.” he said. “An audience drives a show. Sometimes you have to court them. Sometimes an audience is kind of looney. Frankly, you prepare your songs, and then you go out on stage and ‘invite chaos in,”’ he laughed, “but this is welcome chaos.”
Kaldor and Rogers have been friends for many years, and performing together in concert just seemed to come naturally.
“Garnet is someone I respect as a musician, songwriter and a singer who always moves me,” Connie Kaldor said. “He has a wicked sense of humour that always makes me laugh. I consider it a privilege to share the stage with him.”
Rogers is equally pleased to be touring and performing with Connie.
“It’s a blast to be out there with her. We are both really looking forward to performing in this welcoming community. We’re planning to do a mixture of our old and new music. We won’t have a fixed set list, but,” he laughed, “the reality is that Connie always goes out on stage going full gangbusters.”
The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage welcomes these two fabulous singer/songwriters to Upper Canada Playhouse in Morrisburg on January 4, 2020, 7 p.m., for a once in a life time performance. Don’t miss Garnet Rogers and Connie Kaldor in concert.