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Royal Wood and Jeffrey Straker team up for Piano Men Tour

The two award-winning singer-songwriter-pianists perform at the Arden Theatre on March 27.
Royal Wood (left) and Jeffrey Straker play a concert at the Arden Theatre on March 27 as part of the 2024 Piano Men Tour.

East meets west as Ontario’s Royal Wood and Saskatchewan’s Jeffrey Straker play a double bill at the Arden Theatre on Wednesday, March 27. 

The long-time Canadian singer-songwriters with multiple awards to their name are currently on the western leg of the 2024 Piano Men’s Tour. 

Held in high esteem by his American counterparts, Wood’s 2021 album What Tomorrow Brings was long-listed for the Grammy Awards. In October 2023, he released his 13th album, Just Another Day. Wood’s soulful lyrics of love and loss pair with a blend of country, Americana and adult contemporary music. 

Straker, however, grew up on a Saskatchewan grain farm listening to country music. He studied the classical piano playing Beethoven and Grieg.  At the urging of Joni Mitchell, he started writing his own material. Currently the power of his rootsy storytelling and music has taken him from intimate concerts in Canada’s north to arena shows in South America. 

The two pianists first met in Los Angeles in 2017 when their publishers arranged a song-writing session for the duo. 

“Sometimes when you’re put in a room by a publisher there isn’t a connection. But you do your best. It’s your job. But we enjoyed working together and kept in touch,” said Wood. 

On the surface the two appear as complete opposites. Wood’s image is that of a trendy, sophisticated urban force. Straker instead exudes a down-home country vibe. 

“We have a lot in common. I was raised on a cattle farm in Ontario. Our closest neighbour was a 15-minute walk. I was a small-town kid who got a scholarship and ended up playing jazz clubs in Montreal. And from there I went to Toronto and Los Angeles. But I also bought a 100-acre organic farm where I live and can raise my kids. Jeffrey’s partner runs a farm and when we’re together pretty much all we talk about is repairing and growing things,” said Wood. 

But music and stories bind them in a special way. 

“Because we’re close enough in age, we were raised on the same musical foundation in the 70s. And we started the Piano Men Tour because we admire the greats like Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Elton John. All those California sounds – we soaked it in,” Wood said. “They (pianist-songwriters) weren't just performers. They were storytellers. When we perform, we don’t go from song-to-song. We tell stories and there’s a through-line.” 

Straker will perform the first set with his guitarist Bryn Bessy and Wood picks it up for the second set accompanied by bass player Steve Zsirai. In addition, the twosome pair up for the grand finale. 

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $51.25 online at or by calling 780-459-1542. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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