Tue, Aug 20, 2013.
I'm gearing up for more music festival fun this weekend, as I'm MC'ing another event. This time it's the Summer's End Folk Festival in Grand Manan, happening Friday and Saturday. I have the honour of presenting on Saturday, a bill that includes Catherine MacLellan, Owen Steel, Jon McKiel, The Modern Grass, Old Man Luedecke and more. Unfortunately, I can't get there Friday night (ferries, working late, and such) so I'll miss out on Paper Beat Scissors, New Country Rehab, Michael Feuerstack and others. However, I have a back-up plan. Both Feuerstack and P.B.S. are playing a free show in Fredericton on Thursday, Aug. 22. It's the 2nd annual Shivering Songs BBQ, a summer fun party held at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre from 7 - 10 PM. The hope is for fine weather, in which case it's all outdoors, but rain won't mess things up, because they'll just move it indoors if that's the case. Except, I hope, the bbq part.
These will be Feuerstack's first gigs on the East Coast since the release of his solo album, Tambourine Death Bed, back in May. He's a big favourite here (more on that connection later), although there's a small chance you won't know him by this name. For the past two decades, he's used the Snailhouse name for his releases and concerts, including his regular appearances at Shivering Songs. But this latest saw that name retired, and his real one brought forward. It was also a heck of an album, his most focused and overall pleasing release, where all his songwriting came together. Speaking from his home in Montreal, getting ready for this Eastern swing, Feuerstack tried to explain the name change: "I wouldn't say there was a hard, quotable reason. It was just something that had been in my mind for a while, and I was ready to leave it (Snailhouse) behind. Phonetically, I was getting tired of it, and I wanted to encourage people to listen to this album with a difference, to expect something different."
It wasn't so much that he'd hit a wall with his music, as turned a corner. There would be new sounds, not far from his past, but not the same, either. "I felt like something was different," he goes on, "but I didn't know how to express it, so it gave people an open door to walk through. The response from people who like and know what I do has been really good, the reviews have been encouraging, they seem to have caught on that something deeper has connected between myself and my music. "It was fun to challenge myself to come up with new material, to start fresh and create a whole album with a difference."
Feuerstack always seems at ease locally, relaxing in solo shows and songwriter's events, and for good reason. It turns out he's a local. "I grew up in Moncton from grade 3 to high school, and I started playing music with all the gang that became Eric's Trip, my homies, although we did more skateboarding than music. And before that we lived in Nova Scotia. I love it there, my girlfriend and I were just at SappyFest (in Sackville), and went camping, so I even go there when I'm on vacation."
And really, a barbecue and a trip to Grand Manan? Sounds like a working vacation, at least.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).