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Folk players on stage by request

Opening for other acts at points during the first three years of the Folk Night at the Registry series, three singer-songwriters whose performances resonated with audiences will headline the next show.

Laura Bird, Nonie Crete and Brad Nelson were selected by fans of the series, put together by The Old Chestnuts Song Circle.

Laura Bird (left) and Nonie Crete will be joined by Brad Nelson in a by-request show Jan. 30, the latest offering in the Folk Night at the Registry series.
Laura Bird (left) and Nonie Crete will be joined by Brad Nelson in a by-request show Jan. 30, the latest offering in the Folk Night at the Registry series.

“These artists proved to be very popular … when opening for other performers here – we decided they needed a show of their own,” said organizer Jack Cole.

The concert Jan. 30 will showcase their talents as singer-songwriters in the intimate space at the Registry Theatre, he explained.

Growing up as part of a musical family in Gananoque, Ontario, Laura Bird was steeped in the folk tradition at a young age. She got her first guitar at 10, and was performing by 11. She began attending the Mariposa Festival in the early ‘70s, taking in the sounds that would shape her own musical directions as an adult. Those early influences included the likes of Emmylou Harris, John Hartford, John Prine and Joni Mitchell.

By her mid-teens, Bird was playing in her first acoustic folk-roots/bluegrass band, making appearances at local fall fairs and The Wintario Show. Later in the ‘70s, as a student of fine arts and graphic design in Kingston, she made her first foray into songwriting and performing at college pubs.

Her arts studies are reflected in songs full of imagery. Now living in Orangeville, Bird has released two albums, Dreamwalker and The Water In Between, the latter included in Penguin Eggs magazine’s DJ top-ten favourites of 2008.

Where Bird’s sound is traditional, Nonie Crete combines a variety of genres in her performances. Strains of the blues, folk, Celtic music and Cajun rhythms run through her songs, which run the range from sorrowful to gritty.

Based in Fergus, many of her songs are influenced by place and community, along with themes woven from family, love and loss, and life’s discoveries – what she calls “the landscape of the heart.”

Her diverse influences and sounds have seen her perform and tour with a variety of players, from Clannad and Altan to Pamela Morgan and Lee Aaron, Tommy Makem to the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Crete has released seven albums, most recently 2008’s Comin’ Home.

A popular performer in a variety of area venues, Crete will be showcasing her storytelling and songwriting at the Registry show, punctuated by her harmonica and guitar playing.

Unlike the two women who’ll be sharing the stage, Brad Nelson has performed few public gigs in recent years. The Cambridge singer-songwriter has remained active, including taking part of the song circle.

Nelson has been playing folk music since he was 10. As part of the maritime folk group The Ferriers in the 1970s, he had the pleasure of joining Stan Rogers and others at a charity concert for an impromptu rendition of Barrett’s Privateers. Well known as an interpreter of songs, Nelson was part of the ensemble cast that presented Folk Night’s tribute to Stan Rogers in 2008.

“Brad is a guy that many people may not have seen, but he’s a great songwriter. He’s got that Celtic, East Coast sound going for him,” Cole explained.

Put together on the bill, the three performers will provide for an entertaining evening of folk music, he added.

“This is a diverse group of players. They’re a nice mix – complementing each other.”

The Encore! By Request show hits the stage Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener. Tickets are $14 ($16 at the door), available at the Centre in the Square box office by calling 578-1570 or toll free 1-800-265-8977 or online at www.centre-square.com. For more information, check out www.folknight.ca.

This is the second show in the Folk Night at the Registry series. Next up are Katherine Wheatley and Wendell Ferguson, who’ll perform Feb. 13.

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