Concert series brings soul to Okotoks

Music: Church provides intimate venue

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 08:18 am

The Soul Café’s Jennifer Fulton, also a member of Okotoks band Standing Stones, is giving new and lesser-known musicians an opportunity to perform in a café setting at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church once a month through the new concert series.
The Soul Café’s Jennifer Fulton, also a member of Okotoks band Standing Stones, is giving new and lesser-known musicians an opportunity to perform in a café setting at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church once a month through the new concert series.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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An Okotoks band is promising good times to help those who may not have it so good.

Roots band Standing Stones created The Soul Café last fall to give new and lesser-known foothills and Calgary musicians a venue to perform at the third Friday of each month.

The idea came from Standing Stones singer/songwriter Jennifer Fulton, who wanted to bring the community together while giving to those in need. Rather than buy tickets, attendees can make a donation to the charity selected for the evening.

“That gives me more satisfaction than playing myself,” Fulton said. “It’s just an opportunity to hear artists share their heart and talent in an intimate stage setting. It’s an outreach to the community.”

As an artist, Fulton understands the struggles musicians go through to find good venues to perform at and hopes word of mouth gets around about The Soul Café in Okotoks.

The Soul Café supports artists who sing from the soul and heart and are inspirational in their lyrics and messages, she said.

“It’s an opportunity to really encourage original music,” she said. “I really like to hear what people are writing, what they are passionate about.”

Fulton said The Soul Cafe also brings musicians together under one roof, especially with three or more performing in one night.

“As a musician we get to meet other artists and listen to them and why they are writing the way they are writing and the kind of music they are doing,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for different musicians to learn from each other.”

Performances take place at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, which boasts high ceilings and effective acoustics, said Fulton.

“It’s a beautifully, acoustically crafted building,” she said. “The sound in there is fabulous.”

Although the foothills has a good selection of concert series, what sets The Soul Café apart from others is its unique atmosphere, said Fulton.

The room is set up with lounge couches and decorated with red and white table clothes topped with candles. She said the atmosphere lifts people’s spirits and attracts more than 100 people every month.

“The sofas make it really comfortable and the lighting creates a really nice atmosphere,” she said. “It allows people to relax after a long week of work.”

The format is also unique in that an emcee conducts interviews with the performers and a representative from the evening’s charity talks about their organization. Each night starts off with a short performance by the Standing Stones.

Like any café, food is in abundance with coffee, a variety of free snacks and wine for purchase. Brown Sugar Bake Shop in Okotoks is in attendance to sell a variety of favourites including cupcakes and cookies.

Brown Sugar Bake Shop owner Jane Cyr said she is glad to be a part of something that promotes the arts while supporting local charities. She enjoys the opportunity to take in the performances while selling her sweet treats.

“They’ve had some amazing local talent,” she said, adding The Highwood Shredders that performed this month were hilarious. “They don’t just play Christian stuff, it’s a whole variety. It’s a nice relaxing evening for people.”

Fulton said the performers are not paid and utilize The Soul Café as an opportunity to gain exposure.

“We’ve had 14-year-olds come in and sing with their dad and probably wouldn’t make the cut in the other groups, yet they are phenomenal artists,” he said. “We’ve had a number of really good groups over the last few Soul Cafes.”

Musicians interested in performing at The Soul Café or organizations and individuals needing a helping hand can contact Jennifer Fulton at 938-0867 or vanjen@shaw.ca

Learn more about The Soul Café at www.facebook/SoulCafeOkotoks.


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