Musicians David Myles, James Hill, and Jenn Grant will be joined by poet/musician Tanya Davis and actor Jeremy Webb and for an evening showcasing these five Canadian performing artists, their unique offerings, and the connections between their artistic traditions and North Carolina’s artistic traditions.
Myles is a multi-instrumentalist who released a new album this month called Into the Sun, his fifth studio recording and his sixth album. This record uses world music rhythms from Brazilian and African music, two of his long-time loves. Myles has played trumpet since he was 10 years old, and he bought his first guitar in 2001 while living in China. Myles is no stranger to North Carolina – in 2008, he won the annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest with his song “When it Comes My Turn,” from his 2006 album Things Have Changed. That song and album went on to win him countless other awards and acclaim.
Hill is a ukulele player who also released a new album earlier this year, titled Man With a Love Song, which combines original songwriting with elements of jazz, bluegrass, old-time and folk influences. The story of how a kid from Canada became what the Honolulu Star-Bulletin calls a “rare peer” of Hawaii’s premier ukulele players begins in an elementary school classroom in the town of Langley, British Columbia, where he began learning the instrument in fourth grade. For young Hill, the ukulele’s potential seemed limitless, and he was hooked. Hill quickly became known for his genre-busting ukulele playing, and he won a Canadian Folk Music Award for True Love Don’t Weep, an album he recorded in 2009 in collaboration with cellist Anne Davison. Hill began to stretch his songwriter’s wings with three original songs for True Love, and Man With a Love Song continues where his prior album left off.
Grant may be best recognized for her track “Everybody Loves You” (from her sophomore Echoes album), which was featured on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. Her new album, Honeymoon Punch, released earlier this year, marks a transition from her past folk aesthetic to the incorporation of more Motown tunes with a bit of pop thrown in. This songstress was born on Prince Edward Island and moved to Halifax with her mother. Stage fright kept her from performing when she was younger; she didn’t dive into music until her late 20s. Her first album, Orchestra for the Moon, proved that she was a talented songwriter and a great musician. Her next album, Echoes, had a similar sound but gained ground with the media outlets. Trading her guitar for a synthesizer keyboard on the new album offers a nod to Kate Bush, who Grant cites as an influence, and it has allowed Grant to explore new directions in her music.
Davis fuses music, poetry and storytelling into an art form greater than the sum of its parts. She released her third album, Clocks and Hearts Keep Going, last year. Since bursting onto the Halifax music scene in 2006 with her debut Make a List, a collection of songs and poems over music she composed and produced herself, she has garnered multiple award nominations, including one for her sophomore release, Gorgeous Morning, for the 2009 ECMA Female Recording of the Year. She is a two-time winner in the CBC National Poetry Face-off as well as the Canadian Winner of the 2008 Mountain Stage NewSong contest. In 2009, with support from Bravo, she collaborated with independent filmmaker Andrea Dorfman to produce a short videopoem entitled "How to Be Alone;" the short has since been featured at numerous film festivals, including The Vancouver Film Fest, The Worldwide Short Film Festival, and the VideoPoetry Festival (Berlin). It also has 1.8 million views on YouTube. In addition to performing at writers festivals, conferences, rallies, workshops, and schools, Davis often performs poetry for unsuspecting music audiences, either in the midst of her musical sets or through collaboration with her peers in both live settings and on recordings. She is currently working on a manuscript for her poetry, as well collaborations in video, sound, and music.
Actor and playwright Webb will perform an excerpt from his original comedy Shakespeare on Trial, in which writer Bill Shakespeare encounters four of his own most famous characters: MacBeth, Iago, Hamlet and Juliet up-close, personal, and angry. Shakespeare On Trial explores the Bard’s accessibility and relevance in the world today by having Shakespeare defend his own writing as the four fictional characters challenge him to write in a modern way, arguing that no one understands them anymore. Webb grew up in the UK and moved to Canada in 1998. In March 2009, Webb won a Best Actor Merritt Award for his portrayal of Iago in Othello for Shakespeare by the Sea. That same year, he founded Off the Leash, which produces theatre, film, the written word, photographs, and other events. He has won a variety of acting awards and appeared in numerous productions, from Othello to Beowulf to The Wizard of Oz.
Over the past few years the North Carolina Presenters Consortium (of which PineCone is a member) has been cultivating connections to the Atlantic Presenters Association (APA) in Nova Scotia, Canada. The APA, which organizes an annual performing arts conference based in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada called Contact East, is working toward the goal of introducing Atlantic Canadian artists to North Carolina presenters and facilitating more cross-border artist exchanges.
Building on this relationship, the Department of Nova Scotia Communities, Culture and Heritage has approved funding to the APA to help organize a performing arts “trade mission” to North Carolina during the week of October 23-28. The delegation from Nova Scotia will include Sue Urquhart of APA, five performing artists, three presenters, and several government officials from the region.
The delegation will be visiting arts administrators across the state, with stops in the Raleigh area, Charlotte area, and Asheville area. The goals of the trade mission are to network with industry professionals in North Carolina and to provide opportunities for several Atlantic Canadian artists to perform before NC presenters and the general public. Performances by the Nova Scotia artists are made possible through a partnership between the North Carolina Presenters Consortium, the Atlantic Presenters Association and the Province of Nova Scotia.
October 24 @ 7:00 p.m., Garner Performing Arts Center (formerly Garner Historic Auditorium), Garner, NC
October 26 @ 7:30 p.m., Davis Theatre, Concord, NC
October 27 @ 7:00 p.m., Diana Wortham Theatre, Asheville, NC
(Asheville's program includes a pre-show showcase plus full length “Shakespeare on Trial” by Jeremy Webb)
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PineCone—the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, is a private, nonprofit, charitable membership organization dedicated to preserving, presenting and promoting traditional music, dance and other folk performing arts.