Fitzgeralds to open the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage concert season

MORRISBURG – “We’ve been waiting for two years to be back in a theatre again,” said Julie Fitzgerald, member of the dynamic, one-of-a-kind musical trio, The Fitzgeralds, coming to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage venue on Saturday, February 19. “And that very first concert is going to be right here in Morrisburg.”

It’s a concert that fans of this unique trio – who are three time Grandmaster Fiddle Champions and Ontario Open Step Dance Champions among other musical honours – are eagerly looking forward to as well. The Fitzgeralds – siblings Tom, Kerry and Julie – have been described as “standout musicians in our Canadian music industry” by Natalie McMaster. And they will be bringing a show that promises to be energetic, toe-tapping, and sheer musical fun to the stage at Upper Canada Playhouse this weekend.

I had the opportunity to chat with Julie about The Fitzgeralds’ upcoming concert, and about the changes her family of musicians has faced over several months.

“The last couple of years have been a challenge,” Julie said. “Just before the COVID shutdowns, we had been on a tour of the States. And then, suddenly, the live performing all stopped.”

Like many musicians, the Fitzgeralds began shifting to on line shows and virtual concerts during the lockdowns and closures. “While it wasn’t the same as playing live, it was a way to still connect to audiences.” And Tom, Kerry and Julie are also gifted teachers who were able to stay in touch with their students in music and dance on line and in virtual workshops. “Fortunately, before COVID, we already had programs set up on line,” Julie explained, “so in a way, this all worked out for us. However, no question, we are very excited to finally be doing a live show again. You really miss the involvement of the audience when you are a performer.”

The Fitzgeralds come by their incredible musical talents, and their love of East Coast, French Canadian and traditional fiddle styles quite naturally. As youngsters, they performed with their parents in a group called Everything Fitz, touring festivals and concert halls before they struck out on their own after college. All three are accomplished musicians. “And we get along well. We’re on the road for long stretches, so we can bounce ideas off each other: we’re not afraid to speak up,”Julie said. “And I think we all have our own strengths. We have all released solo albums, which keeps life interesting and also allows us other ways to channel our creativity. Tom, with his interest in other musical traditions like jazz often does arranging for our shows. I love to design dance, and Kerry, well, she does everything.” They released the album, A Canadian Christmas, before December where they explored winter themes, hockey themes “all those things that are Canadian.” Kerry created a beautiful instrumental piece called “Winter Walk” for the album, while, Julie added with a laugh, she created a new dance routine: “Step Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.”

All three are extraordinary singers, fiddlers, and dancers and play multiple other instruments. I asked Julie to talk about the strong audience appeal of their unique musical style.

“I really think there’s a down home feel to our music,” she said. “The music is simply so happy. There are no negative connotations. People just seem to take to it: there’s lots of toe-tapping at our concerts. And the audience is made up of all ages: nine to ninety, people come to hear us. And I really think our music is very right for these times especially. I also think,” she added, “that people love that we’re a family performing. They appreciate the whole idea of an actual family doing something they love together.”

As restrictions lift, shows are beginning to re-schedule. They expect to tour in the US in March and to be in Saskatchewan later in the spring.

However, The Fitzgeralds are particularly looking forward to their Morrisburg concert, Saturday, February 19 at 7 p.m.

“This show is going to be a mixture of old and new and everything else. And for this first concert, we are even bringing in something special, a bass player. It’s going to be wonderful to be back on stage, live. We are performers, and music is our focus, our lives.” said Julie Fitzgerald of The Fitzgeralds. “Life is never boring.”

The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage and Upper Canada Playhouse are thrilled to welcome audiences to the return of live musical concerts with The Fitzgeralds. Note that all mandatory safety and health guidelines will be in place.

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