Blackie and the Rodeo Kings member Stephen Fearing is back in the Okanagan on his solo tour and performs at Paddlewheel Park Hall in Vernon on Saturday

Stephen Fearing brings long-awaited solo tour to Vernon

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings' Fearing returns for solo performance at next Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society concert, Nov. 21.

It’s been a while since Stephen Fearing stepped foot on this soil.

The respected Canadian singer-songwriter last played the Okanagan more than a decade ago as a solo artist when he toured in support of the former George Ryga Centre.

A lot has happened since then, as locals will soon learn and hear when Fearing returns as the Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society’s next guest, Nov. 21.

You could say Fearing, who recently moved from one coast to the other, that being Halifax to Victoria, has been keeping busy as of late.

He not only has a new album coming out in 2016 with his side project, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, he has been hitting the road hard. He has just been overseas to perform in the U.K. as well as the Netherlands, and is now crossing this country for a number of solo shows.

“I’ve been on the road almost constantly now for two months so the show is pretty well greased at this point,” said Fearing.

Known for the band he co-founded with former Junkhouse lead singer Tom Wilson and famed Nashville producer/Canadian musician Colin Linden, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings came about in 1996 in what was supposed to be a one-off tribute album to the great Canadian songwriter Willie P. Bennett.

That side project soon turned into a full-fledged band that would go on to attract fans around the world and win awards, including a Juno in 1998 for Best Roots and Traditional Album (Kings Of Love).

Fearing already had a successful solo career before Blackie. His entry into music came years before – with some doubts and piano lessons.

“For years, I thought I was a black sheep in my family because my father was a classically trained pianist, organist, and conductor. My mother is a trained soprano, so my youth was spent around a lot of choir meetings and recitals,” he said.

“I hated the discipline of (piano lessons). It didn’t speak to me. I think, like a lot of people my age, the guitar was a way into music that referenced what I was hearing on the radio.”

Fearing spent a lot of time moving in his youth – from Canada to Ireland when he was six years old and then back to Canada when he was 17.

At the time of his re-arrival, he was listening to punk, new wave, rock and pop – whatever was on Top 40 radio.

Fearing says he had a hard time seeing himself performing that kind of music, especially on a gut-string classical guitar or a steel-string acoustic.

Eventually, Fearing found the singer-songwriter world when he started listening to Paul Simon and his ilk. Then one day his sister, Jane, gave him the Willie P. Bennett album Hobo’s Taunt, and Fearing heard the acoustic guitar. It had a profound influence.

“I felt a connection and kept practising,” he said. “I was kind of like the typical awkward teenager sitting upstairs in his room for hours with the guitar; the singer-songwriters spoke to me.”

Fearing felt drawn to perform in front of people, mostly in coffee houses. Eventually, he started writing songs, and remembers the first song he ever wrote was while travelling from Minneapolis, where he lived for two years, to Canada on a Greyhound bus.

“I thought if I can’t write a song on a Greyhound bus, I’m an idiot. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.

The rest, they say, is history and Fearing has not only won accolades for his eight studio recordings, and one live album, but awards, including a Juno in 2007 for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year for the album Yellowjacket, and a 2006 Canadian Folk Music Awards for Best Songwriter.

His last solo release was 2013’s Between Hurricanes.

Audiences can expect a combination of older and newer material and maybe a couple of brand, new songs when Fearing performs in Vernon.

“I tell a lot of stories and I love performing solo. Being solo gives me the opportunity to really interact with an audience. I just love to perform, so hopefully people will pick up on that,” he said.

The Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society presents Fearing live at the Paddlewheel Park Hall on Okanagan Landing Road, Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Opening act is Vernon’s own Amistad. Tickets are $25 or $20 for members,  available at the Ticket Seller (250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca), vernonfolkroots.com, the Bean Scene or at the door.

With interview files from Paul Tessier, with the VFRMS.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ditched vehicle off highway sends Vernon crews on multiple calls

Vernon Fire Rescue Services has had repeated calls about the vehicle between Vernon and Kelowna

Kal Rotary Club donates funds to fix up aging Vernon nature centre

Allan Brooks Nature Centre receives $45,000 for renovations from Kal Rotary Dream Auction

Vernon dusts off old grad dresses and tuxes for first ever Adult Prom

Literacy Society of North Okanagan “fun-raiser” brings back puffy sleeves and blue tuxedos

Our history in pictures

Vernon’s first home built in 1860s

Vernon City Hall now a pub

The building, built in 1903, is now where Marten Brewing Co. is

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Ethical errors proving costly for baseball

Paltry punishment, gag orders opposite of what’s needed; house cleaning, real justice in order

A Gardener’s Diary: Not too soon to think of spring in Vernon

Jocelyne Sewell gives advice on getting a leg up on gardening

LETTER: Worst customer service award goes to…

To the Editor, Worst customer service award: And the Winner is….. BC… Continue reading

LETTER: Beard can’t hide PM Trudeau’s soiled reputation

To the editor, The Prime Minister’s scruffy beard: Justin Trudeau recently reappeared… Continue reading

LETTER: Feds must invest to widen Trans-Canada

To the editor, After being closed for more than 19 hours, the… Continue reading

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read