MORRISBURG – As Tony McCadden and Sandra Whitworth of the board of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage expressed it: “It’s going to be a powerful, exciting season in the fall, with talents ranging from singer/songwriters, to Cuban jazz, to comedic story tellers. We’ve got blues, and finger style guitarists. We’ll be introducing some new talents to audiences in our Showcase. People are going to love this season. This is a great line-up.”
Beginning in November, 2023, the SLAS returns to Upper Canada Playhouse for a new season of outstanding music, performed by some very exciting artists. Following the performance draught caused by COVID, “We have seen a return of our audiences in the 2022 season. Two of our concerts were sold-out. And,” Sandra and Tony said, “we are hoping those audiences will continue to build. Many newcomers have been discovering our series of artists and tickets for shows are already starting to move, particularly for the Steve Poltz and Danny Michel show. People can get season’s passes on our website for special rates. Of course there are individual tickets available for every show too. There’s just so much to look forward to at the Stage this year. And Upper Canada Playhouse, Donnie Bowes and the board, are incredibly supportive. Their professional technical support alone makes every show great to see and hear.”
Angelique Francis, a “multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist and multi-genre singer and songwriter” will open the SLAS season on November 4. “She’s a powerful soul and blues vocalist,” Tony McCadden said. A native of Ottawa, Angelique has become a bona fide star in the Canadian blues, jazz and folk scene. Her exciting, rich vocals just make the experience of seeing and hearing her perform even more exciting. And she is accomplished on the stand up bass, electric guitar and electric bass. Audiences can look forward to numbers from her 2022 album release, Long River, during her Morrisburg concert.
Next up, on November 25, will be the hilariously talented duo of Danny Michel and Steve Poltz. “Danny is a very well-known singer,” said Sandra, “and Steve is a comic talent and musician. Together, they’re dynamite.” Danny is one of Canada’s finest songwriters, an artist who is not limited to any one type of musical style. He’s been nominated for several Junos, and his single “Don’t be so hard on Yourself” was voted 2022 #1 Fan Song of the Year on CBC. Steve Poltz is a story-teller, who weaves his tales through his music. Associated Press dubbed this Halifax born talent “part Iggy Pop, part Robin Williams and a free-wheeling folkie with a big heart.” The collaboration of these two at their Stage concert is going to leave audiences amazed and thoroughly delighted.
January 13, 2024, will continue a tradition established by the SLAS board: offering up and coming young artists a professional showcase in which to perform. The Stage will welcome six emerging singers to the Intimate Acoustics Showcase. “The performers will be a mix of local and some travelling artists,” Tony and Sandra said. “We attend many festivals and events and see and hear many talented people. We really enjoy bringing some of them to Morrisburg to entertain our audiences.” The six performers in this Showcase will officially be announced at a later date.
February 17 sees a unique and very exciting duo coming to the Stage. Classically trained musicians, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne hail from Cuba and will delight audiences with their spectacular show. Together, they are called OKAN. With a Juno Award, and an Independent Music Award, they have garnered enormous fan followings. Their music fuses their “Afro-Cuban roots with Jazz, folk and global rhythms.”
“They are just outstanding performers,” Sandra and Tony said. “Bring your dancing shoes to their concert and get ready for a very exciting evening of great music.”
March 2 welcomes an old friend to the Stage as the opening act for the fantastic Les Rats d’Swompe. Morrisburg’s own Claude Plamondon will return to the Playhouse with his special brand of folk music. And then the stage will rock to the beat of “five plaid lumberjacks” from Ottawa, whose music echoes traditional violin and French-Canadian ‘chansons’ – with some rock, pop and a little punk tossed in just to keep things fun, different and very exciting. Les Rats are high energy, and exuberant on stage, often inviting audiences to take part in Call and Response songs. “These guys are totally entertaining, and great fun. They’re young, but they are all very experienced musicians, whose show will thrill everyone.”
Blending blues with soul and folk, Australia is sending one of her best musicians, Lloyd Spiegel, to Morrisburg for a March 23 performance. He is a master guitarist, a dynamic and powerful singer, who can spin a story that will leave his audiences demanding more. He also has “a wicked sense of humour.” He is a musician who has won numerous music awards in Australia, and has dazzled audiences from Japan to the United States. His approach to the blues is fresh and innovative. “He is a finger-style guitarist,” Tony said, “an award winner and just an exceptional musician. We are really excited to welcome Lloyd to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage.”
Julian Taylor has not one, but two Juno nominations behind him and has been nominated for Canada’s most prestigious musical accolade, the Polaris Music Prize. With musical credentials like these, Taylor’s concert on April 13 will thrill the audience. Based in Toronto, Taylor is well known on radio: he has led the band Staggered Crossing, and founded the Julian Taylor Band. He is also a noted solo artist. His music is a blend of soul and folk, and his new album, ‘Beyond the Reservoir,’ 2022, features hits like “Seeds,” “Wide Awake” and “Opening the Sky.” He has toured extensively and “his songs reflect emotions, and all the challenges and joys of life,” said Tony. “He is an incredible performer.”
Rounding out the 2023-24 St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage season will be the return of the fabulous musical group, Digging Roots, on May 4. Indigenous artists and two time Juno winners, led by ShoShona Kish and Raven Knaktakta, this six piece band, is going to electrify the audience. Her vocals and his incredible guitar work fuse blues, soul and rock n’ roll together for a concert that has few comparisons. Fans have described their performances as “exhilarating” and Sandra and Tony describe them as “utterly dynamic.” Their show weaves together cultures and finds healing and compassion and love through music.
St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage board members – volunteers Tony McCadden, Sandra Whitworth, Amanda Spink and Derek Hunter – are looking forward to presenting another season of the finest in musical entertainment. The SLAS is in its final year of a four year Federal government package through Heritage Canada, and has been invited to apply for a five year package. “We have also received funding for our 2023-24 season through the Ontario Arts Council,” Sandra explained, “and we are very pleased that South Dundas continues to support us. We have other funding packages out there as well. This support allows us to bring terrific musicians into our community to perform in a professional venue, and still keep our ticket prices low.”
The Board hopes to welcome audiences back in November to another season of spectacular artists and the very best in musical entertainment. Go to the SLAS website for ticket information.