Feature

James Keelaghan, Live 8:00 PM EDT

It gives us great pleasure to present Juno Award winning singer-songwriter James Keelaghan, live from Kitchener, Ontario’s Registry Theatre, Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 8:00 PM.

James is joined by the multi-talented David Woodhead.  Opening the show is special guest, Juanita Wilkins.  As you can see by their bios below, these are a pair of remarkable performers playing to a sold-out theatre.

This free broadcast is made possible by Roots Music Canada’s unique three-HD-camera, live director mix, combined with soundboard audio, and pushed out to you via UStream. Camera operators are Kate Adach, Robert Howard and Andy Frank. Director is Rick Scicluna, and you can chat with Helen Crouch by signing in to UStream (free) below. Enjoy the show!!

James Keelaghan Bio (from James Keelaghan SPK)

James 11th CD, House of cards was released on October 12 2009 by Borealis records. 10 new originals, some of them co-writes with such folk luminaries as David Francey, Karine Polwart and Rose Cousins make it one of his best yet. Called Canada’s finest singer-songwriter by one of the most respected music journalists of the last 50 years, James Keelaghan is an artist who has proven to be a man for all seasons. As the calendar pages have turned, for almost a quarter of a century now, this poet laureate of the folk and roots music world has gone about his work with a combination of passion, curiosity intent and intensity.

His masterful story telling has, over the course of nine recordings, been part of the bedrock of his success, earning Keelaghan nominations and awards – including a Juno (Canada’s Grammy) – and acclaim from Australia to Scandinavia. Possessed of an insatiable appetite for finding the next unique story line, Keelaghan forges his pieces with brilliant craftsmanship and monogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices on both the Canadian and international singer-songwriter scenes.

His journey has attracted fans of literate and layered songwriting to join him on his artistic expeditions, some of which weave their way through marvelously etched historical stories with underlying universal themes, others of which mine the depths of the soul and the emotional trails of human relations. His songbook has enlightened, enthralled, and been embraced, by audiences around the world.

“I’ve always had the urge to write,” says the Calgary native who has been calling Winnipeg home for the past few years. “Some things weren’t being said in the way I wanted to say them, some thing were not being written about at all. That’s why i started to write the historical material. That led me to writing my own personal narratives as well.” .

Keelaghan is a disciplined visionary with several aces up his sleeve.  He loves language and history, a subject in which he earned a degree; he is a skilled thespian, which explains his ability to make an immediate connection with a live audience; and he has an ear for memorable melodies and harmonies that make those melodies glisten.

Says Keelaghan, “I’m good for 80 or so books a year, mostly history and non-fiction, but inspiration can come in many forms. I’m always on the lookout for a good story or idea. My sister told me the story that became Kiri’s Piano, a  song that visits a dark chapter in Canadian history: Japanese interment camps in the Second World War. The image of someone sacrificing their prized possession in order to maintain their dignity was too powerful to ignore.”

Not only does Keelaghan lay claim to a deep catalogue of timeless originals like Kiri’s Piano, Fires of Calais, Cold Missouri Waters, Jenny Bryce, and Hillcrest Mine, he is also a possessive interpreter of outside material, a fine example being his gripping take on Gordon Lightfoot’s epic Canadian Railroad Trilogy from the Lighfoot tribute disc Beautiful. There are also a number of illustrations of his interpretive skills on his 2006 recording A Few Simple Verses, an homage to his roots in traditional music. The closing tune on that spellbinding set, My Blood, written with Jez Lowe, is one of many examples from Keelaghan’s career of his inviting collaboration into his creative process.

“I was at the Celtic Colors Festival in 2008,” says Keelaghan, “and the producers locked six of us in a house for a week, and the company included Dave Gunning, David Francey, and Rose Cousins, it was an amazing experience. At the end of it, we had enough material for a complete show.“

Keelaghan has never shied away from collaboration in his live and recorded performances, touring and tracking with master musicians like Oliver Schroer, Oscar Lopez and Hugh McMillan. “If you work with people who are better than you, you become better,” he observes.

The sparks of collaboration and the batting of melodies back and forth have produced some wonderful results, says Keelaghan, who is always finding a balance between examining the lighter and heavier sides of life. He ties it all together with a powerful vocal delivery and a commanding stage presence.

Admiration and respect for his work amongst his peers is reflected in the words of David Francey who recently stated that “James Keelaghan is a voice in contemporary Canadian songwriting that has helped us define who we are as a people. He writes with great humanity and honesty, with an eye to the past and a vision of the future. He has chronicled his times with powerful and abiding songs, with heart and eyes wide open.”

Terry Wickham, the producer of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, is one of many longtime admirers of Keelaghan’s music, and he sums up the artists appeal by saying, “James has become the complete artist. A brilliant tunesmith who has become one of the most engaging performers of our time. You always know the journey with James is going to be great, you just never know what all the destinations are. That is why the curve on his career continues to rise.”

It was Dave Marsh, the award-winning American music critic and historian who not so long ago stated that James Keelaghan is “Canada’s finest songwriter.”  Those few but powerful words of praise say it all about an artist who continues to set the bar at a lofty height.

website

Juanita Wilkins Biography – from Juanita Wilkins website

Juanita Wilkins is a roots artist with a mission – to tell the stories of rural Ontario – and her new recording project “Four Corner Town”, is doing just that. Working with James Gordon at Pipe Street Studios in Guelph, Ontario, Juanita has achieved a clean, pure sound which showcases the touching and relevant songs she’s written about the life and times of rural South Western Ontario. And these songs, written with her trademark writing style of intelligent lyrics and hummable melodies are the perfect vehicle for the voice that has been described in turns as pure and beautiful to smoky and sexy. With a three octave range, and the ability to sing everything from folk to country to blues and jazz, Juanita’s stage show offers something for everyone – while disappointing no-one. Juanita has recently paired up with Mississauga guitarist and singer/songwriter Bill Candy, and the pairing is divine! Whether in the studio or on the stage, they have a lovely musical chemistry. Recent appearances at concerts, such as the Georgian Bay Folk Society’s Winter Concert series, has had audiences spellbound and enthusiastically cheering for more. Some great news: One of Juanita’s new songs, “Never Going Back”, featured in this EPK, recently placed in the top ten in the OCFF’s “Songs From The Heart” competition, and was submitted by the judges from that competetion to the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award.

Not one to be pinned to a single genre, Juanita’s songwriting reflects her eclectic tastes in music – thoughtfully, and sometimes humourously, exploring relationships, world events, the human condition, and, especially close to her heart, the lives of women who work the farms in her rural neighbourhood. Looking to the rich history of Canadian Singer/Songwriters, Juanita feels that she has been guided and influenced by the likes of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Fred Eaglesmith, Stephen Fearing, Lynn Miles, to name a few. Her first solo CD ‘Stronger’ is just that – a strong foray into the indie music scene. Juanita has opened for such artists as Stephen Fearing, Ray Bonneville, Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers, and was chosen by Jane Harbury to be one of four performers at her “Discoveries” show at Hugh’s Room in Toronto on February 13, 2007. Juanita continues to impress audiences with her insightful songs, playing to sold out houses in a series of songwriter showcases, such as the Glen Williams Songwriter’s Circle in Georgetown, and the Museum on the Boyne’s Songwriter’s Showcase.

Juanita keeps her hand and heart in her local community volunteering as the Music Director for the Minto Arts Council in Wellington County – bringing in top Canadian Talent to concert events that function as important fundraisers for this awardwinning volunteer organization which promotes the arts in her locality. Juanita’s dedication to live music shows in all aspects of her life, whether performing herself, or organizing live music events for others. Juanita is proud of her “Rural Roots”!

Juanita is also a proud member of ACTRA Toronto Performers, and does commercial vocal work; and recently was chosen from amongst a large number of candidates to be the national “voice” of Home Hardware.

Discography

Full length (12 track) indie release of “Stronger”, with several tracks receiving airplay on Ontario radio stations: CKNX AM 920 Wingham, Ont., CKNX FM 102 Wingham, Ontario; Country 93 FM, Owen Sound, Ontario;Country 1510, Tillsonburg, Ontario; Easy 101.3, Tillsonburg, Ontario; CJCS, Stratford, Ontario

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