Picnic in the Park delivers appetizing musical entrée
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
Picnics are a great way to enjoy the leisurely days of summer whether you’re roasting hot dogs on a fire pit or nibbling pate de foie gras on a blanket.
While food gets its fair share of attention, the fun cranks into high gear with equally appetizing entertainment.
This year St. Albert’s third annual Picnic in the Park on Sunday, Aug. 25 brings out the full flavour of summer with two high profile voices – country balladeer Kira Lynn Hladun and contemporary folk troubadour Martin Kerr.
A nominee at the 2013 Edmonton Music Awards, Hladun grew up in Edmonton and graduated from the Grant MacEwan music program.
A marketing manager’s dream, with a beautiful face and pure voice, Hladun has raised her profile performing at numerous events ranging from Edmonton Eskimos games and the Oilers Christmas Bureau to Festival of Trees and the Mayor’s Luncheon.
Perhaps her most watched gig was as a guest on E-Talk discussing the release of her latest album Something Like Love.
“It was awesome. I didn’t know what to expect. I thought they might shoot a short clip, if anything, but I got an interview and I got to sing a song,” says Hladun.
For the picnic, Hladun is contracted to sing two sets and she’ll be pouring her heart into a combo of old and new originals.
She started in the entertainment business as a dancer. Ballet, jazz, lyrical – you name it she was into it.
But music gradually took over giving her a purpose in life. Sarah McLachlan and Adele are favourite idols.
“I have a studio in my room. There I find my serenity, my happy zone. I think people should do what they love to do and they’ll be happiest.”
Rawlco Radio agreed and provided funding to finance Something Like Love, produced in Calgary under the wing of producer Russell Broom, a Jann Arden favourite.
“I write about love. It expresses what I think.”
Martin Kerr, on the other hand, is one of the St. Albert Farmers’ Market’s most popular buskers. Sporting irresistible red hair, an affable personality and commanding vocals, he naturally attracts people’s interest.
Originally from England, Kerr taught music for one year in China and has put down roots in Edmonton.
“I came here eight years ago. I met a girl from Edmonton while in China and I got to know her by email. She sent me mixed tapes. They were like romantic letters,” he says describing the early days of courtship.
His humour really bubbles to the surface when describing the early days of composing tunes.
“I got my start writing romantic love songs for girls that didn’t like me. I was 13. I had things to say and I put it in songs. There’s always been a strong romantic feeling in my songs. As I became older, I branched out with songs of travel and spirituality and philosophy.”
But in all things Kerr strives to resonate with his audience.
“I want to be personal and inclusive and that’s what makes drawing on the universal tricky.”
He has not only survived on the local music scene. He has thrived. He’s produced an award-winning album I Know You’re Out There and reached the top 16 competitors on Canadian Idol.
The guitar-slinger’s best selling record Drop in the Sea featured 11 acoustic covers inspired by classic hits – Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic and Paul McCartney’s Blackbird.
The follow-up album, Awake, is the one he’s introducing to the picnic concert. The acoustic CD salutes the artists from the United Kingdom he grew up listening to voices such as Robbie Williams, Coldplay and Sinead O’Connor.
Kerr is also bringing old friend Kyle Swinson for support on saxophone and djembe.
“Bring your friends. Bring your kids. Bring a Frisbee and a picnic basket. Get comfortable and enjoy a long day of fun.”
Hosted by Spirit of St. Albert, Picnic in the Park runs from noon to 4 p.m. at Lions Park, Sir Winston Churchill Avenue.