Fresh from Europe, Owen Steel returns to Shivering Songs

It’s mid January, a time when winter starts to sink in. All you want to do is curl up beside the fire, sip hot cocoa and contemplate your imminent move to the Bahamas.

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This reverie is almost complete, with the exception of a well-needed soundtrack.  Thankfully, the fifth annual Shivering Songs Festival offers just that. From Jan. 22 to 25, Fredericton will be able to take in some seriously good music in and around the downtown area, including New Brunswick’s own Owen Steel.

The St. Stephen-born musician is fresh off his first official musical tour through Europe.  He was working on a boat in Panama when he got a call from a friend in Paris inviting him to go on tour.

“I was taking time off playing music, wondering if I was cut out for it when the call came in.  It was too good to pass up,” says Steel.

The friend who made the call was David Simard. He and Steel had met back in 2010 at a music festival in Grand Manan, N.B. Simard now lives in Paris with his girlfriend and helps run the art residency, BAM, located in the middle of the city.

Simard is no stranger to playing Europe, he had been touring for a while before he called Steel, who says he pretty much just had to show up and start playing.

The tour began in Paris and eventually made its way to Stockholm. For the two musicians, downtime sometimes meant hiking, or in Steel’s case, recording an album in the French countryside.  Steel was blown away by Europe’s hospitality, but even more so by the reception at shows.

“It was encouraging to visit new countries, show up to play, and sometimes be told ‘Hey! Tonight is sold out!’  As a total unknown heading into new territory to perform, I was quite surprised by how well attended most of the shows were.  There was definitely a lot of support and interest from folks of all ages.”

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While preparing for this year, the folk artist is taking it pretty easy music-wise.  He’s got lots of ideas up his sleeve but will be nurturing them later into the year.

“There’s certainly a lot to be said for stepping out of one’s comfort zone, yet there’s also a lot to be said for holding on until something’s ready.  I’m still feeling my way back into things,” he says.

Steel’s show on Saturday, Jan. 24 at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre is sold out, but you can catch him in Officer’s Square from 5 to 6:30 p.m.