Last year turned out to be a very good one for both Stephen Fearing and Oh Susannah.
Fearing released the highly acclaimed album, Every Soul’s A Sailor and was nominated for four Canadian Folk Music awards and won the award for “Contemporary Singer of the Year.”
Oh Susanna released A Girl In Teen City and was nominated for three Canadian Folk Music awards.
Both albums made it onto several influential Best of 2017 lists and both artists will be performing live for the Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society on Jan. 30 at the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre.
For Fearing, performing live has always been an integral part of his career. “Live music is so important,” he says. “What really matters to me is performing live in front of people. That’s the surefire way of seeing if my songs are connecting with people. There’s something really special about being in the moment, the response from the audience — it’s a real interaction.”
Although he has always loved performing live, Fearing says his attitude about entertaining has changed over the years.
“I spent the first 10 years of my career, thinking that entertainment was a bad word. I thought that if you were an entertainer, you weren’t an artist. But over the years, I’ve completely reversed that notion. I love to entertain an audience. I love to make them laugh. I love to be a goof. I love telling stories which is a big part of what I do,” he said.
“That’s what you’ll get at the show on January 30 — but you’ll also get to see me really stretch as a guitarist with the trio, Rob (Becker) on bass and Leon (Power from Salmon Arm) on drums — which will be really different from me playing solo.”
Playing in a trio is both challenging and exciting for Fearing.
“The beauty of a trio is that there’s a lot more variety possible. If you really want to lay down a groove, you can. Or you can get extremely sparse and quiet. That’s what I love about it- the dynamic range with a trio is huge,” Fearing.
“Having a bass and drums creates this motor that you can play to. But it also leaves this big hole where you have to fill it with sound- in this case, electric guitar. It’s about finding this sweet spot from what I’ve done for years on my own to what can be done with a trio.” Fearing continues, “So I think if you’re a fan and have seen me play solo- this will be something quite different. It’s still me and my songs but with more textures and lots more possibilities.”
Fearing also feels Jan. 30 will be a memorable evening because he gets to play with special guest Suzie Ungerleider, (aka Oh Susanna).
“I’ll do a few songs with Suzie in her set and vice versa,” he explained.
“Collaborations like that have always been interesting to me because that’s where the cool stuff happens. You never know exactly how it’s going to turn out and which direction it will take.That’s what’s so exciting about playing live with another artist.”
“What’s great about Oh Susanna, Fearing added, is that she doesn’t even “have to say a word.”
“As soon as she opens her mouth and starts singing, what you hear is so clear, clean and powerful,” he continued.
Fearing said he also appreciates her uniqueness.”I’ve always been a fan. She’s a great songwriter.The combination of her actual singing voice and her writing voice make for a compelling sound. She’s a very seasoned performer- she’s been around for years and is very good at her craft. When she’s singing, it’s obvious that she’s not trying to sound like anyone or imitate anything. She knows who she is and she really knows what she’s doing. It’ll be a delight to work with her again.”
Stephen Fearing and special guest Oh Susanna will be performing live for the Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre. Doors open at 6:30. Showtime is 7:30. (Beer, wine and food will be available.) Tickets are $35 and available through ticketseller.ca (250-549-7649), at the Bean Scene (Vernon) or at the door, if available. (Cash only.)
For more information, go to vernonfolkroots.com, check out the Facebook page or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.