Scarves, argyle sweaters and pea-coats congregated at the Wilmot United Church Saturday afternoon.
With a crisp January sun peeking lazily through the windows, five story-tellers of varying looks and styles take to stools in front of a half-packed crowd.
It was Forward Music’s inaugural Shivering Songs festival was held. The Fredericton-based record label was celebrating the release of Olympic Symphonium’s new record The City Won’t Have Time To Fight.
The day was split in to three different styled shows.
The festival kicked off with a songwriting and story-telling performance hosted by Fredericton home-town hero David Myles at Wilmot United Church. Myles was a natural choice for MC with his comfortable stage presence and his voice, which recalled soulful crooner music.
The Shivering Songs festival is a pleasant anomaly in Fredericton: a winter celebration that Myles happily announces will be an annual event.
Isaac and Blewett w/ Olympic Symphonium
The day is punctuated by pleasant, if light, performances by Forward Music artists and other groups from around the Maritimes.
The song-writers included Halifax-by-way-of-Ottawa songwriter Gianna Lauren, Tim Walker of Grand Theft Bus and Canadian indie-rock-icon Snailhouse (aka Mike Feuerstack). They were accentuated by the full-bodied acoustics of the church.
The story-telling was taken care of by CBC Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence, whose first book Adventures in Solitude is a hilarious retelling of his time at his parent’s cabin in Desolation Sound, a scarcely populated island outside of Vancouver.
These two different means of story-telling combined to illuminate the importance of story in lyrics. Feuerstack’s first song stood out, as he sang about the importance of detail and precise word choice – cleverly bashing song-writers who ride on flash without substantive lyrics.
The next show was Olympic Symphonium’s album release show at the Wilmot church. They were joined by Isaac and Blewett, the New Brunswick bluegrass legends. The Symphonium’s lush harmonies were underlined by their acoustic guitar and cello. The new songs expound on their delicate tendencies and soft, gorgeous rock.
They were followed by Catherine Maclellan, accompanied by Chris Gautier on guitar, who harmonised so softly he was barely whispering over her choruses. Maclellan’s soft voice is perfectly undercut by Gautier’s steel-pedal and unobtrusive soloing.
The evening was capped with a packed showcase at the Capital Complex. Opened by Olenka Krakus of Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, a last-minute cancellation led to a full-band set by Snailhouse. The full band is rounded out by Forward Music and Olympic Symphonium members like Kyle Cunjak and Nick Cobham.
The closing set was performed by Halifax band the Belle Comedians. Led by front-man Benjamin Ross, the band hammered through a crowd-pleasing set of classics right before they release their first EP. Outside, Ross tells me they plan to tour these songs until the Without A Sound EP drops, and they can effectively put them to bed and come back with a fresh set of songs.
The Shivering Songs festival is a celebration of Maritime indie music. It’s not an attempt to push anything down anyone’s throat, or ride on a gimmick or trend. Simply musicians performing because they love to perform, and people paying for music they love. With such a simple ethos it should be easy to reproduce such a pleasant afternoon and talented bill for years to come.
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