Categories: Entertainment

Port Cities navigates their ship to St. Albert’s harbour

Dylan Guthro, Carleton Stone and Breagh MacKinnon form Port Cities destined to play a concert at St. Albert's Arden Theatre on Oct. 18.

Port Cities
Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Arden Theatre
5 St. Anne Street
Tickets: $32. Call 780-459-1542 or online at http://www.ticketmaster.ca


Port Cities was relatively unknown to St. Albert until they opened for Rose Cousins on St. Patrick’s Day of this year at the Arden Theatre.

From the first chords of their three-part harmonies to the last note, Carleton Stone, Breagh MacKinnon and Dylan Guthro blew the audience away earning a standing ovation – a laurel usually saved for the top bill.

Due to audience demand, the folk-pop ensemble returns to the Arden on Oct. 18 as part of larger western tour.

“That (March 17) was one of the best shows of our tour,” said Stone. When you only have a 25-minute set and you get a standing ovation, that’s exciting. And we’re excited to be coming  back.”

The East Cost trio released their self-titled debut album in February with the blessing of Warner Music Canada. Fans and critics across the spectrum gave it the thumbs up.

One of many buoyant voices, reviewer Taryn McElheran from Canadian Beats wrote,”They have a unique sound without being abstract, yet also have a comforting sound that reminds you of your own experiences in life. It’s an album that will keep you dancing on your feet and swaying to the sounds that come from this talented trio.”

The eclectic album was applauded for its intelligent, well-crafted lyrics and original sounds that individualized each track, yet formed a complete vision.

Taking advantage of the album’s momentum, Port Cities spent the last six months playing festival circuits, touring Germany and England, and writing songs for a sophomore CD.

Their hectic month-long European tour first took them to Germany for a two-week co-writing camp with a dozen or so German songwriters followed by a showcase at Hamburg’s infamous Reeperbahn Festival.

“We loved it. The people were great. Most people speak English and communication was easy. The music market is big and people still pay money to see live shows,” said Stone adding that Germans aren’t that different from Canadians.

“The more places I travel, the more people are the same. They like to joke around, have a beer and have fun.”

Next up was a press tour of the United Kingdom to promote their 2017 self-titled album due for release across the pond next year.

“We were very well received from the beautiful BBC facilities to the smaller community radio stations. People like our brand of folk pop.”

This last year’s success is due in large part to the threesome’s personal and musical connection, balanced harmonies and the different skills brought to the table.

Carleton Stone is a longtime prolific writer, both for himself and others. Dylan Guthro, the son of Bruce Guthro, listened to music while in his mother’s womb and recently has collaborated on R&B/folk fusions. Lastly, Breagh MacKinnon is a triple threat jazz pianist, singer and songwriter.

As three solo writers, they met at the 2011 Gordie Sampson Songcamp in Cape Breton. Writing songs is a lonely process and they were keen to meet new people, collaborate and feed off each other’s creative juices.

“Afterwards we started playing in each other’s bands and each other’s shows. Once, when we were on our way to The Carleton in Halifax for a by-invitation industry gig, we arrived in three cars,” laughs Stone at the memory.

In a lightning bolt moment, they decided to join forces and Port Cities was formed in 2015. The name was chosen not only because of their closeness to water. Similar to a teeming port city filled with many cultures and histories, the three musicians were bringing diverse talents and fusing their styles to create a singular expression.

Port Cities’ sophomore album, as of yet untitled, is due for release in 2018. Guthro will engineer the production, and since the first CD was so well received on pop radio, the focus is on the pop vein.

As for next Wednesday’s concert, Stone says, “We’re looking forward to letting our personalities shine through. We want to meet everybody and hope everybody has as much fun as we do.”



Anna Borowiecki :Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.