A ‘cosmic connection’ through music: Shivering Songs returns

The Shivering Songs festival returns for its ninth year with performances taking place in and around the downtown Fredericton area. (Submitted by Kyle Albright)

The Shivering Songs festival may have found the only reason to leave the house when it’s -20°C with a wind chill – live music in cozy spaces.

Centred around songwriting and storytelling, the festival will feature artists like two-time Juno Award winner Dan Mangan and 2018 Polaris Music Prize winner Jeremy Dutcher.

Brendan MaGee, the co-organizer of Shivering Songs, thinks the festival offers something for everybody.

“I think the wide-ranging nature of the storytelling that you can encounter at Shivering Songs is probably what makes it so interesting to people,” MaGee said.

Artists will perform in historic Fredericton buildings like the Wilmot United Church, Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market and the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. There will also be a free, outdoor stage on Carleton Street that will have a special performance by the Hot Garbage Players and other singer-songwriters.

Evan Leblanc plays by the fire in Officers’ Square for last year’s Shivering Songs. (Submitted by Kyle Albright)

Mangan will play with his new band at the Boyce Farmers Market on Saturday, Jan. 26. It’s his first time back in Fredericton since 2015. He took a break from touring and shows after he had two children, to reflect on his self and change in identity.

“While I was so focused on these babies, like, the world went on, everything’s still happening. I kind of re-emerged and you’re like, ‘OK, well who am I as an adult in the world now that my number one identity is dad,’” Mangan said.

Now, he’s paying attention to the world around him. He’s getting back on social media and writing about his experiences. He finds the process of songwriting cathartic.

“For me, songwriting is about trying to articulate something in a song that you would have a really hard time articulating just in regular words … you could say a couple words and it wouldn’t mean all that much, but you say it with a melody and all of a sudden it brings out all these various colours and subtext to it, it allows me to sort of make sense of things.”

Lydia Mainville performed at the Fredericton Playhouse for last year’s Songs of the City. (Submitted by Kyle Albright)

Other performers at this year’s festival include Greg Keelor, Bedouine, Erin Costelo, Beverly Glenn Copeland and local artists like Keith Hallett and The Hypochondriacs.

This is the longest running Shivering Songs yet, spanning for five days. MaGee said it’s just the way things folded out.

“It doesn’t change too much for us, but just the opportunity to stretch it out is also kind of fun and adds like a little more for patrons, which is nice.”

MaGee said they’re also excited to present Jeremy Dutcher in Kinsella Auditorium at St. Thomas University for a free, student-targeted show. They’ve never hosted a show outside of downtown before.

“It’s like a really nice tip of the cap to be able to have him at Songs of the City and at the STU event for folks who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see him,” MaGee said.

“[STU’s] helped us out year after year, it’s a really great relationship.”

Although Mangan has to leave after his show to continue on with his tour, he hopes to check out Shivering Songs on the day of his performance. He feels that songs have a way of bringing people together.

“Just having that cosmic connection through the song, people identifying with something that you’re identifying with makes us all feel a little bit less alone, a little bit relieved of our sort of ongoing anxieties or existential loneliness or what have you.”

The festival runs from Jan. 22 to 27.