Solo musicians head to foothills
Music: Stephen Fearing and Braden Gates performing for A Room Full of Sound
Wednesday, Apr 08, 2015 08:33 am
Two Canadian solo musicians are stepping on stage with a guitar and talent for telling stories in a double bill performance this weekend.
Juno award-winner Stephen Fearing from Halifax and Edmonton rising star Braden Gates are performing for a room full of fans at the Old Church Theatre, formerly the RPAC, on April 11 at 7 p.m. for the A Room Full of Sound Concert Series.
“The nature of being a solo performer is there is a lot of interaction with the audience, which I love,” said Fearing. “I love the intimacy of it. There is a real dynamic range which is a little harder to do as a band.”
Fearing has been a professional musician since the mid-’80s and is known for his Americana, folk and roots sound.
“It’s been a family thing for many, many generations and so without really realizing it I was falling in the family business,” he said. “I am by nature a singer-songwriter.”
Fearing is also a member of the multiple Juno Award-winning Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, as well as Fearing & White.
“I split back and forth with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Fearing & White,” he said. “It changes from year to year. Next year Blackie and the Rodeo Kings will have a new album out. I anticipate spending more time with the band and then towards the end of the year will put out a solo record and switch back.”
Fearing is currently touring Canada and Okotoks is stop 18 for the Halifax musician.
“What I’ve been doing on this tour that I’m currently on is asking my audience, ‘What songs do you want me to play?’” he said. “I’m basically doing by-request shows. The day before the show I tend to get a flood of emails and Facebooks.”
Fearing says performing solo has its own unique experience.
“I’ve been playing solo since I started,” he said. “That’s been the constant, but I’m pretty comfortable switching around. With the Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Fearing & White there is certainly interaction, but there is other people on stage and you stand back a little bit more.”
Fearing said he performs in Alberta once or twice a year.
It was while living in British Columbia that he was introduced to the Alberta music market through folk festivals.
“That circuit and the folk club circuit, which is very strong in Alberta, particularly in Calgary, is a very strong community of people,” he said. “It’s a real welcoming place. It’s always been very positive.”
Many of Gates’ performances take place in Alberta, having spent his four-year music career in Edmonton, with the majority of his gigs being house concerts, pubs, cafes, folk festivals and concert series.
This weekend’s performance marks the second for Gates with A Room Full of Sound Concert Series.
Although fans may remember his folk and roots tunes from two years ago, Gates said he will introduce new material from his latest album Ferris Wheel, released last year, to the stage.
“It’s lighthearted at times and there’s some dark patches,” he said.
For instance, one song is about a drunk driving accident that occurred in Edmonton and another is inspired by a man Gates met at an old blues club, who said he was an ex-bank robber in Chicago and kept repeating the phrase ‘Life is like a picture, it fades away.’”
“You get those moments where something happens and you know you want to put it into a song,” he said. “I try to put in ordinary experiences or every day situations into songs.”
Gates doesn’t remember a moment when music wasn’t part of his life. He began playing the fiddle at age five and 10 years later started writing songs and playing the guitar.
He began his professional music career immediately after high school four years ago and has been performing at folk clubs and concert series across the province, with a couple trips a year to other provinces.
“People seem to like it,” he said. “It really grabs people.”
Gates said he often switches it up between the guitar and fiddle. The guitar is more suited for the serious songs and the fiddle for the more lighthearted tunes.
“I try and bring the fiddle in as much as possible,” he said.
“It’s a great instrument to play. I grew up in fiddle circles in Alberta so I’m involved in that community. It seems to bring people together very easily and it’s great to dance to. People love it.”
Tickets to see the double bill performance costs $30 in advance by going to www.okotoksculture.ca or calling 403-938-3204. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $35.