Arden has variety planned for 2014
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 04, 2014 06:00 am
The Arden Theatre in St. Albert jumps into the second half of its season with a couple of sold-out shows.
Ian Tyson, the quintessential Canadian cowboy troubadour, gets more popular every year as evidenced by how quickly tickets were snapped up for his Feb. 6 concert.
“Royal Wood is sold out and Josh Ritter has less than 15 tickets for his Friday (Jan. 31) show and less than five for his Saturday (Feb. 1) show,” said professional programming presenter Caitlin North.
From January to April, the Arden Theatre hosts 19 shows, with the heaviest number of performances slated for the first two months.
The Montreal-based PPS Danse kicks off Danse Lhasa Danse, a salute to singer-songwriter Lhasa de Sela. Although born in New York, de Sela made Quebec her home. Just as de Sela released her third album, she was diagnosed with cancer and passed away two years later.
“It really is a beautiful tribute. She was so well respected – both in her life and her music. She was just starting to get notoriety beyond the world community and turning heads. And it’s not often you bring into a dance show a full band performing with the dancers. It’s neat,” North said.
Canadian actor-writer-comedian Bruce McCulloch, best known for his work in The Kids in the Hall, is a last-minute addition appearing on Jan. 17. Now living in Los Angeles, the Edmonton raised McCulloch is performing his standup routine Young Drunk Punk.
“He’s coming off a week at Calgary’s High Performance Rodeo. This is a one-night stopover before he starts a week in Vancouver. His comedy proved to do so well in our community. It seemed like a natural fit for the season. He’s a smart writer and he’s funny.”
No longer do African and world music fans need to wait for the Edmonton Folk Festival to see Fatoumata Diawara. Singing in the Wassoulou language on Jan. 29, her sweet, smoky voice is a call for peace, hope and empowerment.
“I saw her at the Edmonton Folk Festival. She was so captivating and her band was so exciting to watch. It was an energy-filled performance. She gave off a lot. She was playful with the audience. She has a great sense of tradition while still doing her own thing.”
California Guitar Trio and Montreal Guitar team up as a sextet of sizzling strings on Feb. 8.
“I love how they bridge more popular music with classical sounds. It’s very easy to become a fan,” said North.
She also noted that the sextet is making a stop at the Arden, the only western Canadian visit on their itinerary.
Following on their heels is Turtle Island Quartet, a two-time Grammy Award winning string foursome. These mavericks present The Art of the Groove on Feb. 14.
“They’re probably one of the best string quartets in the world. And I don’t throw those words around loosely. They pull from all genres and it’s really interesting to see what they create.”
North personally curated Storytellers, a special one-night roots concert on Feb. 22 featuring four songbirds: Mary Gauthier, Lori McKenna, Rose Cousins and Edmonton-based Chloe Albert.
“They are all female troubadours. They write about persons they know, families and their songs are accessible to anyone. They’re a really exceptional group of women.”
On Feb. 28 sweet voices and lovely harmonies are the order of the day with a double bill featuring Winnipeg based Chic Gamine and Vancouver-based indie folk collective The Fugitives. The Fugitives replace Oh My Darling, who unfortunately had a scheduling conflict.
Eastern Canada is represented in Le Vent du Nord, a joyous blend of Celtic folk and Quebecois roots appearing on March 12.
“They are a much loved Quebecois group. They are about as lively as it gets. It will be a night of traditional Quebecois music. It will be something like a Celtic kitchen party. It’ll be a fun evening of eclectic, danceable music.”
One iconic singer-songwriter to stand the test of time is Tom Russell returning to the Arden on March 13 after nearly a four-year absence.
“Tom is an amazing Texas singer-songwriter and there’s a very distinct sound from Texas country writer. He’s not scared to take risks. He’s got a new album coming out, Aztec Jazz, that he recorded in Norway, a collaboration with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble.”
The Northwest Dance Project, an Oregon based modern dance company, makes its Arden debut on March 16.
“It’s going to be a program of different pieces. The dance style is modern, very fluid. The choreography moves beautifully and is very accessible. This is a good show for anyone to explore for the first time.”
Another area favourite is Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph. Fueled by passion and social awareness, his songs blend edginess, soul and charisma. His appearance on March 28 comes with Tyres Rushing By in the Rain, a new album of Bruce Springsteen covers.
“He’s another energetic performer that really cares and understands about the world of the working man and in the last decade has found success performing it.”
Immediately the following day on March 29, Battlefield Band brings a bit of Scotland to the Arden.
“They are one of Scotland’s oldest and most celebrated traditional bands. Their first lineup came together in 1969 and it’s evolved since then. They’re quite innovative but still pay tribute to the past.”
Maria Muldaur, a chanteuse with a multitude of musical styles notched in her belt, appears on April 4 to sing a traditional blues program.
Influenced by the queens of classic blues – Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Victoria Spivey – she will perform a tribute to female blues icons.
“It’ll be an acoustic night of music and she’ll be bringing a four-piece.”
Swinging into April 5, Maria Dunn and John Wort Hannam pair up for a double bill of roots music.
“They’re complimentary. And again it’s about working people. They reside in Alberta and what they write about is Alberta workers and Alberta history.”
Closing the season on April 23 is a touch of Americana with Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien. Both have performed in Edmonton separately. Long-time faces on the Nashville scene, Scott has written hits for the Dixie Chicks and O’Brien is a phenomenal instrumentalist bar none.
“When the two perform together there’s something about their harmonies and the way they play off each other that says they were made for each other.”
For North, this season is turning out to be the best yet with a strong crowd participation and new audiences visiting the theatre.
“There’s something for everyone. We are showcasing a wide variety of genres. We have people in from all over the world and they are the best at what they do. I encourage people to take a calendar or look on our website and see the new things we have.”
Visit the Arden Theatre website at www.ardentheatre.com.