What fun we had at Horizon Stage with the Arrogant Worms on St. Patrick’s Day! The audience showed off their creative green accessories and clothes, and laughter was the order of the day. We are thankful to the audience for purchasing our special “Worm” treats, and raising over $200 for the Parkland Food Bank. The band played for some lucky elementary school students the next morning, and the kids were delighted to sing along with The Last Saskatchewan Pirate. Thanks to the gentlemen for providing a lovely couple of shows on their Cross-Canada tour (mostly Alberta and Saskatchewan, as their tour shirt said). Oh – and how exciting, we were listed on their tour shirt – it’s not very often Spruce Grove has been on a tour shirt!
Today I am excited to share more information about our Emerging Artists Showcase on April 9. You already know that Nuela Charles is headlining the show, and we’ve been playing her music for you in our pre-show videos. She has twice been nominated for a Juno in the Adult Contemporary category, but that darn Michael Bublé keeps winning. In any case, that’s pretty good company she’s keeping, and we’re happy to have her on our stage.
The idea of the Emerging Artists evening is to introduce you to some new talent, and to support that talent in a performing arts venue. There are many different places a musician can play, and as we’ve discussed before, each one has its own unique challenges and benefits. One of our challenges is the schedule. People often ask me why we don’t do opening acts. We do, occasionally, but honestly it is a bit tricky. If the opening act plays for about 20 or 25 minutes, we would need to take the intermission after them. Then the headliner has to play straight through without a break. Usually the audience isn’t ready for an intermission that early, but they’re really ready for one about the middle of the headliner’s set. You can see why that would be a concern, since the theatre is not set up for coming and going like what happens at arena shows. So, that is one of the primary reasons we don’t typically schedule opening acts.
On April 9, however, we’re going to give you a lot of opening acts. The way it’s going to work is this: each of the three acts before intermission is going to have 15 minutes to play for you. Then we’re going to take a few minutes to reset the stage and introduce you to the next artist. If you need to get up and stretch your legs, you are welcome to do so, or you can stay in your seat. After the third artist we’ll take a proper intermission where you are invited to come to the lobby to hear our fourth and final emerging artist. To entice you to come out and listen, you will also find a nice little selection of dessert treats to enjoy. After the intermission and you’re all back in your seats, it will be time for Nuela Charles, and following that, all the artists will be in the lobby to say hello to you and have a quick chat. All in all, it should be a fairly smooth evening with a lot of variety of music. I’m looking forward to the event, as it’s been percolating in my mind for a couple of years how we could best do this.
Let’s take a quick look at the artists. First up, Keltie is from Sherwood Park. She won the Rising Star award at the Edmonton Music Awards in 2018, and has won several songwriting awards. Her debut EP has done very well, and we’re happy to bring her Indie-Folk sounds to Horizon Stage. Next up will be Hack, a small alternative rock band originally out of the Westlock area. They have performed at the Hollywood Jamboree at Jarvie over the last three years and have played at Stage North in Slave Lake. They play music from different styles, and for our show they are going to share a few upbeat acoustic originals and a couple covers. The last act before intermission will be Hewson Grey from Edmonton. This band is harder to pin down into one genre. One quote says, " Hewson Grey’s got this super-cool vibe, a complex mesh of indie, alternative, bluesy rock, and ambient psych” which I’m sure helps you understand my difficulty choosing one thing to say. They have been playing lots of festivals around Alberta, and their 2018 single has received airplay on college radio stations as well as Now Radio Edmonton. Our intermission entertainer comes to us from Sylvan Lake, and is currently attending Red Deer College. Brianna Lizotte released her first CD entitled Scratch ‘em in 2018, and she works as a teaching artist with the Music Alive Program. Brianna is deeply proud of her Metis heritage, and displays that by performing, teaching, and volunteering at many cultural and fiddle events. Our headliner Nuela Charles is from Edmonton, and her soulful voice and charisma make her a great way to end our evening. She has been described as a “sass-pot” which of course makes her golden in my eyes, since I seem to surround myself with sassy ladies. She has played at the Edmonton Jazz Festival, opened for Ziggy Marley, and landed a song on the hit show “Jane the Virgin”. I have to warn you though, her song Crumbling Down is going to get stuck in your head!
As you can see, the evening is full of diversity. The only things you need to bring with you are an open mind, and maybe some cash to show our artists some merchandise love. We’ve priced the show so that you can support these artists, be an appreciative audience, and hear new sounds you might otherwise miss. Tickets are just $15 all ages, and are available online or at the City Hall Ticket Centre. I can’t wait to have all these talented people in one place at one time. Please join us for this first-of-its-kind evening at Horizon Stage.
-Brandi Watson, Theatre Manager