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St.Lawrence Acoustic Stage introduces sparkling new concert season.

 

 The volunteer board of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is eager to present its outstanding 2013-14 season.

“This is the first year that we have been able to have our entire concert year planned from the outset,” said board member Derek Hunter. “The financial support we gained this year has allowed us to set up and publicize the full series of 10 performances.”

“I think people are going to leap to their feet cheering for the line-up at the Stage this year,” added board member, Bill Carriere.

The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is now an officially registered charity (able to issue tax receipts). Board members are both excited and grateful to have earned the on-going financial support of the municipality of South Dundas, as well as two years funding from Heritage Canada. “Fingers crossed, we should hear any day now from the provincial funding people as well,” said board member Sandra Whitworth. “We have also been utterly flabbergasted at the financial response we have had from our local business community. The sponsorship of area businesses has been priceless.”

 In the 2012-13 concert season, the board saw a dramatic turn around in audience attendance after December. Audiences built to around 65-70 per cent capacity for each show, “very good news for us and for our funders, and for the future,” board members said.

Audiences are coming from the broader SD&G region, as well as from Cornwall, Ottawa and even from as far away as southern Ontario. Family groups are putting the Stage on their schedules: once introduced to the quality of the performers at the Stage, many young people are returning to other concerts, a trend the board is pleased to see. “We have an incredible mixture of shows scheduled, shows which will appeal to a wide range of tastes and ages,” said Whitworth.  “The St. Lawrence Stage is for everyone.”

“I think there is a confidence in us now,” Carriere said, “a confidence from the public that we are going to put on good shows. We have a predictability in the level of talent we present: the performers are outstanding. People really know that they will be attending first class shows.”

There can be little doubt that a first class line up of artists is coming to the Stage.

Opening the season on September 14,  is the phenomenal Shane Koyczan, who literally electrified all of North America and the world with his stunning piece in the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  “We have funding from the Eric Baker Family Foundation to thank for our ability to bring Shane here to Morrisburg,” Whitworth said. 

Singer/songwriters Ian Sherwood and Coco Love Alcorn are bringing their exciting show to the Stage in October. “They play multiple instruments, including horns,” said Carriere. “They have a great, great sound!” 

Artist Garnet Rogers will light up the stage in November. Rogers is regarded as one of the major folk talents of our time. He will be joined later in November by the big blues sound of the 24th Street Wailers, an explosive force on the North American festival scene, and recently featured, August 2, in the Ottawa Citizen’s Arts & Life section. In January look for the outstanding fingerstyle guitarist, Antoine Dufour, the Juno Award winning banjo playing of Old Man Luedecke in February and Chic Gamine out of Manitoba in March. With their Motown sound, and incredible four part harmonies, Chic Gamine was among the closing acts of the Vancouver Olympics. In April the band, Digging Roots, will bring the joyful energy of their hip hop, folk, reggae and blues sound to the Stage.

In keeping with their philosophy of giving up-and-coming artists a professional venue in which to perform, the St. Lawrence Stage will also present two Intimate Acoustics concerts in December and May, featuring future stars. 

As they continue to bring extraordinary music and talent to South Dundas, the board is going through a bit of a re-orientation itself. Whitworth, Hunter, Carriere and Tony McCadden have been in conference with Peter MacDonald, manager of Chamberfest in Ottawa, “who worked with us on thinking through issues and ideas to ensure that we continue to exist and to grow. Even though we remain made up of volunteers, we are putting together a more professional approach to the Stage. We hope to attract more people to the board who may have different kinds of expertise.”

Currently, the sale of season’s passes for the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage’s 2013-14 season has been extended to August 17. Check at www.st-lawrencestage.com to learn of exciting ticket options, and to book concert passes. 

It will be a great series.

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Funding announcement centre stage

 

 The St.  Lawrence Acoustic Stage was successful in its application to the Canada Arts Presentation Fund, local MP Guy Lauzon delivered the news at the beginning of the April 27th performance.

Lauzon announced that the St. Lawrence Stage will receive $20,000 government funding over the next two years.

“The Stage is a great opportunity for local residents and guests to experience how fortunate we are to have such a vibrant art and culture sector in our community,” said Lauzon. 

“It also provides a chance for new and emerging artists to hone their skills and gain important professional development opportunities.”

“This is the Stage’s fourth grant from Canadian Heritage and it is the first time we have received multi-year funding,”  said Sandra Whitworth, president of the board for the St. Lawrence Stage. “Knowing that we have two years of funding is enormously important in allowing us to plan our series well in advance and to continue to bring amazing musicians to Morrisburg and SD&G.”

Thanks to this funding, the Stage will be able to carry out its Music and Workshop Series project. 

St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage Performances is a specialized series presenter based in Morrisburg. 

The presenter’s programming focuses on acoustic guitar artists and singer songwriters performing in a variety of genres, including folk, fingerstyle, jazz, blues, roots and indie rock. 

The Stage usually presents nine to ten performances and two to three instrumental workshops per season. 

All activities take place at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre which has a 172 seats auditorium. 

About 1,000 people per year attend the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage.

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Fantastic concerts, outstanding workshops

 

The second half of the 2012-13 St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage season will kick off next week; an outstanding roster of musicians is coming to South Dundas. 

“We have such a varied and exciting line-up coming to town starting this month,” said Sandra Whitworth, on the board of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage.

The extraordinary Natalia Zuckerman will open the spring series on February 16, with  Juno award winner, Amelia Curran, appearing on March 2. April 6, the incredible alt country band, New Country Rehab, takes to the stage. Grammy award winning fingerstyle guitarist, Laurence Juber, best known to many as lead guitarist in Paul McCartney’s Wings, will perform on April 27. 

The stellar St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage season will close out with a showcase for up and coming artists, Intimate Acoustics, on May 25.

Sandra Whitworth is also delighted to welcome some new additions to the St. Lawrence Stage “family” this spring. 

Now joining long time Stage supporter, Coffey’s Coffee, in sponsoring the spring musical series, are these local businesses: the law firm of Horner and Pietersma, Riley’s Valumart, Thom Realty Ltd., Seaway Valley Pharmacy, Morrisburg Home Hardware and the Bank of Montreal, Morrisburg branch.

“It’s been very heartening to have local businesses come on board and support us. It does feel like an acknowledgement from the Morrisburg community of the work we are doing,” Whitworth said. 

This spring, the Stage is also offering a number of workshops to the community.

First up, New Yorker Natalia Zuckerman (she is the daughter of the NAC Orchestra conductor, Pinchas Zuckerman) will hold two workshops. The first will take place on Saturday, February 16, at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre from 2-4 p.m., before Zuckerman’s evening concert.

Zuckerman is a virtuoso slide and blues guitarist, as well as a visual artist. In her local workshop, she will help students try out different slide guitar techniques and alternate tuning. She’ll get students using various materials such as glass, metal and lap style. Participants should have some familiarity with the guitar, but it is not necessary to have prior experience playing slide guitar.

Zuckerman is also presenting a  second workshop on Sunday, February 17, again from 2-4 p.m., in Cornwall, in partnership with the Art Gallery Cornwall (168 Pitt Street).  “Song Writing with a Painter’s Eye,” is for both musicians and artists. No prior visual or musical background is required, just interest. Natalia will be showing students how to create image-based songs, and song-based images. Each two hour workshop is $25 (funds for all workshops go directly to the artists). 

A minimum enrollment of eight participants is required for the Morrisburg workshop to run. Register for it by February 13, at the latest, at info@st-lawrencestag.com.  

On April 27, Laurence Juber will direct a workshop in Morrisburg entitled “Beatles, Wings and Six Strings,” before his evening concert. 

He will work with students on techniques for arranging songs such as building moving parts from basic harmony, voicing and articulating the melody and adding bass and groove to create a satisfying performance.

The cost of this workshop is also $25. A minimum of eight participants is needed for the workshop to run.

The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is an exceptional venue for the performing arts in South Dundas. 

“We are trying to build a ‘community’ as much as just an audience,” Whitworth said. “Community, as we see it, means a shared openness to music, the willingness to be a bit surprized perhaps by a performer or style. We offer an intimate setting for audiences to enjoy the talents of extraordinary musicians, often at half the price these same performers might command in say, Ottawa.” 

Reach the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage at http://www.st-lawrencestage.com/shows.html.

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Evalyn Parry’s Spin is exciting show

A story teller has to amuse, to entice, to astonish an audience. In the process, she must also give her listeners something to think about.

Evalyn Parry is a story teller. 

And there was much to entice, amuse and astonish in her splendid, thought provoking show, Spin, performed at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on Saturday, November 24. 

Parry is an amazing, versatile performer, with a strong vocal range and an equally strong acting range. On Saturday night she shared her stage with fellow musician Brad Hart, and with an unexpected performer, a vintage 1972 CCM bicycle. 

I say ‘performer’ because the bike was an integral part of the Parry’s show, as its frame and wheels were made to ‘sing’ and to accompany her musically at intervals throughout the production. It was really a revelation to me, and I suspect to many in  the audience, to discover how a bike could be such an innovative force in a musical production.

But then, Evalyn Parry’s entire show revolved around bicycles. It also revolved around the extraordinary computer generated images on a stage screen behind her. 

Parry’s focus was the story of Annie Londonderry, a name clearly unknown to virtually all of us in the audience. 

Yet in 1892, this 23 year old mother of three left her husband and children to become the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world. She had numerous adventures, survived through every type of terrain, shrewdly sported the logos of several Victorian sponsors on her evolving riding costumes, and, in the process, could be said to have started a female ‘revolution.’

“What would you do for a fee?/

What would you do to be free?/

What would you do to prove what a woman can be?” Parry sang.

In Parry’s show, Annie and the bicycle become the metaphors for change. 

“…trying to stay free in a world spinning webs to catch us../

We’d never get anywhere without resistance like a foot on a pedal…”

Evalyn Parry’s show was unique, an exciting blend of music, of original vocals, of acting and of technology. She effortlessly slipped in and out of characters on the stage: the pompous businessmen who saw Annie as a kind of travelling billboard, the preachers thundering that bicycles meant the downfall of womankind, since the bicycle was a “sterility machine.”

Spin is full of music, full of sound, full of visual interest. With humour and insight it celebrates the awakening of the female spirit, still carrying on in women today.

Spin is a musical tour de force for artist and story teller, Evalyn Parry.

I have the feeling that she very firmly agrees with the words of H. G. Wells, which were projected on the screen behind her when the show opened.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” 

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New funding, exciting new season at St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage

The opening September 24th concert, which featured Juno-award winning, outstanding Canadian talent, Serena Ryder, was completely sold out. 

The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage has started off its 2011-12 performance series on a very high note.

The all volunteer board of the not-for-profit St. Lawrence Stage feels this may herald a new era for the company now entering its sixth year in the South Dundas community. 

“When we began, in 2007, to run a full concert season, we were drawing smaller crowds,” said board member, Sandra Whitworth, during an interview with The Leader.

“But the core of a dedicated audience also began building. Since then, we’ve seen a 30-35 per cent overall growth in our audience size. The more people are exposed to our concert series and to the stage, the more energy builds and the more people come out. We still need our dedicated core of enthusiasts, but we’re also working to attract new audience members.”

This year the St. Lawrence Stage has also received significant funding from a number of sources. 

The Stage has received funding from the Canadian Arts Presentation Fund, through Heritage Canada, for the last two years in the development category. This year, however, the company has qualified for the federal government’s established grant. 

“Essentially, the government studies a company like ours for two years to determine if we are viable and working, and if we are following our mandate,” Whitworth explained. “They look for an artistic vision, and examine our governance and management practices in detail. 

By moving the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage from development to more mainstream, established funding, the government is essentially saying, I hope, that we are here to stay.

We ensure our visiting artists have a positive experience of us as a venue, and of Morrisburg as a welcoming community.”

The Stage has received its third Ontario Trillium grant. These provincial funds are restricted to capital purchases in areas like sound and lighting, and cannot be used for operations. This year, a new, professional digital sound board  was purchased.

The South Dundas council has also continued to help fund the St. Lawrence Stage. 

However, two new and key sources of funding have brightened plans for the future.

“We have our very first Platinum sponsor,” Whitworth said. “ We are delighted that Coffey’s Coffee of Ingleside has signed on with us.” 

Also new in 2011 is a grant from the Eric Baker Family Foundation in Long Sault. 

“The Eric Baker Foundation is a private foundation which supports the arts, education and health,” Whitworth explained. “I found them when I was researching funding opportunities and the St. Lawrence Stage contacted them. We put together a package about the Stage, and their directors responded favourably. That support really allowed us to put on the Serena Ryder show. 

Bringing in the Ryder show was a bit of a calculated risk on  the board’s part. We wanted to test the waters, to bring in someone with definite name recognition, to see if new people would come to our venue.” 

A growing audience base is essential for the Stage’s hope of one day becoming self sustaining. 

Whitworth stressed that grants, especially from the government, will only continue to support an organization if it can prove that other sources of revenue like ticket sales and donations are in place. 

However, if the incredible line up of artists coming to Morrisburg’s St. Lawrence Stage this 2011-12 season is any indication, then the future should be a bright one. 

Appearing in October is  renowned artist Del Barber, a critically acclaimed, Juno nominated singer/songwriter. Opening for him will be Brea Lawrenson, who is building a name in country music. 

Coming in December is the Ben Henriques Jazz Quartet, whose fusion style is delighting fans across Canada. 

2012 starts off with a bang with the appearance of two time US Finger Style guitar champion, musician Don Ross. Opening for him will be Cornwall’s own Graham Greer. 

February will see the return to Morrisburg of noted award winning artist Lynn Miles. 

New and emerging talents will also find a showcase at the St. Lawrence Stage.

“The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage is becoming a vital part of South Dundas,” Whitworth said. “Our mandate is to expose audiences to different talents and different styles of music. I think our volunteer board and supporters are creating something amazing here. It’s exciting to bring this level of talent to our community.” 

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Serena Ryder concert sold out at St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage

“We are thrilled to get such a popular performer, Serena Ryder, to our venue,” said Jeanne Ward, a member of board of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage. “I think it is because of the reputation of the St. Lawrence Stage and its terrific audiences that we have been successful in getting this line up. Artists really want to play here.”

The St. Lawrence Stage is welcoming 2008 Juno Award winning Canadian singer-songwriter Serena Ryder to the Morrisburg stage on Saturday, September 24.

Ryder has taken the Canadian and international music scene by storm since her second album, If Memory Serves you Well, came out on the EMI label in November 2006. She opened for Aerosmith during their 2007 tour, jammed with Tim Hus and his Rocky Mountain Two in 2008 and recorded the duet, “You Can Always Come Home” with former American Idol contestant Jason Castro, for his first solo album, Jason Castro, in 2009.

Along the way she won the 2008 Juno for New Artist of the Year and her album Is It O.K. won the Juno for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. In 2010, Ryder won the Juno Award for Video of the Year with “Little Bit of Red.”

Ranging musically between folk, roots, country and adult contemporary music, Serena Ryder possesses a five octave vocal range and has toured in Australia and throughout North America. Reviewers have compared her voice to a “teenaged Aretha Franklin” (Elle) and noted her “impressive fearlessness” (Boston Globe).

“We are truly looking forward to her powerhouse vocals and musical energy,” Jeanne Ward said. “Fans are coming from all over, Montreal, Kingston, Ottawa to catch Serena in this intimate St. Lawrence Stage venue.”

Opening for Serena Ryder at the September 24 concert is newcomer to Canada, Matt Longo, a native of New York city, whose new album Lowlife is due to come out soon.

“Matt Longo’s music is honest and true,” said Ward. “His mix of New York folk pop is fresh and impressive. It’s no wonder Serena Ryder has chosen him to support her tour as the opening act.”

Longo told The Leader that he grew up with classic country, but there are other influences in his music as well. “I try not to think about genres,” Longo said. “I have no pre-conceived notions when I compose. However, I don’t get offended when anyone else describes my work a particular way,” he laughed. “I’m just flattered they’re listening.”

Longo finds inspiration for his music among those people who are or have been very close to him. “I’m sort of a people watcher, and people intrigue me. I write about pain or love, whatever is affecting me, and I think this focus on people resonates with audiences.

When I was younger, I went through a period of writing dark and brooding music, but who really wants to listen to that?” he laughed. “I see humour now in my songs. I find I can step back and see things differently.”

Lowlife was lovingly made in an old studio beneath the school in Harlem where Matt Longo teaches. “Every song went through revisions as my drummer and I got the sound we ultimately wanted. I’m excited about the release.”

He is also excited about sharing the acoustic stage with Serena Ryder.

“I haven’t worked with her before in actuality, but in my mind, many times. I’m a very big fan. I’m also looking forward to the St. Lawrence stage, to a concert where the audience is specifically coming to really listen and to enjoy the music. I will be performing numbers from my new album. I hope people enjoy the experience.”

While the Serena Ryder concert on September 24 is completely sold out, upcoming concerts at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage promise to be dynamic, exciting and popular.

For information or to book future shows contact www.st-lawrencestage.com.

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