Folk musician up next for arts council

Stephen Fearing is one of Canada’s finest songwriters and has developed a national and international audience

Folk musician Stephen Fearing will be in town April 14 performing as part of the Stars for Saskatchewan series.

Kenneth Brown
of The Clarion

Well-travelled folk singer-songwriter and guitarist Stephen Fearing is performing in Kindersley this weekend as part of the annual arts council series.

Fearing, a founding member of the folk-rock band Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, hits the stage at the Norman Ritchie Community Centre on April 14 starting at 8 p.m. The concert is being presented by the Kindersley & District Arts Council as part of its Stars for Saskatchewan series.

The show on Saturday will mark the seventh of eight concerts in the arts council’s series for 2017-18 with the final concert featuring Hillsburn set to take place on April 26. Fearing has won several JUNO Awards and Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Tickets for arts council concerts are available at Lela’s Music Centre, LaBelle Boutique and Integra Tire. Tickets are also available online at www.ticketpro.ca and at the door if the show has not already sold out.

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Fearing was born in Vancouver and raised in Dublin, Ireland. He immersed himself in the music scene after moving to Minneapolis, Minn., in 1981, and he moved back to Vancouver in 1984 at a time when he was determined to become a professional musician.

As stated in a biography, Fearing has since been named as one of Canada’s finest songwriters and he has developed a national and international audience after performing across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. He helped to found Blackie and the Rodeo Kings in 1996 with Colin Linden and Tom Wilson.

In an interview, Fearing said he has three concerts coming up in rural Saskatchewan. The concerts are in Canora, Rosthern and Kindersley, and the singer-songwriter said he really looks forward to his performances because he has never been to any of those communities.

He noted that he sits down every couple of years and takes a look at parts of Canada where he has not toured much. He then looks for opportunities to perform in the areas. Fearing said rural Saskatchewan is one of those areas.

Fearing performed at an Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils (OSAC) showcase. He said he has performed in Regina and Saskatoon several times in the past and he might also perform in another city such as Lloydminster, but that was it for Saskatchewan. He knew there had to be more places to play.

“I did that showcase really with that in mind and hence these shows,” he said of concerts in Kindersley, Canora and Rosthern, recognizing that he later added performances in Saskatoon, Regina and two in Manitoba.

Fearing, who is touring in support of his ninth solo album, Every Soul’s a Sailor, said for people who are familiar with the work of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, his solo performances are more intimate. His passion for storytelling is part of what makes his shows an intimate experience for audiences.

He noted that he always tries to find ways to connect with his audience whether he is performing somewhere in Canada or out on the road in Europe. For the singer-songwriter, it is all part of performing and being an entertainer.

“I want to take them on a little journey with me,” he said of his audiences, recognizing he wants people in the audience to feel like they have been to a real show. “It’s definitely a performance. I play. I sing. I talk. It’s me and a guitar.”

Fearing said performing in all types and sizes of communities is what musicians have to do, so playing in places from hamlets to major cities is nothing new for him. The OSAC showcase opened up an opportunity for him to finally branch out to parts of rural Saskatchewan, he said.

He grew up listening to a wide range of music, part of it due to his upbringing in Ireland, and he said he gravitated toward songwriters such as Gordon Lightfoot after he picked up the guitar and started to learn his craft.

The singer-songwriter said he is driving through the prairies in a car, but he is not living in a bubble. He added that he knows people across Saskatchewan are dealing with the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, so he hopes his performances are able to help provide comfort to people who need it.

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