by Laura Feeney
Fredericton’s Third Annual Shivering Songs Festival provided patrons with more than just shelter from freezing temperatures this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, I made the last minute decision to check out a show called Storytellers and Songwriters.
True to its name, the afternoon show started off with local architect John Leroux sharing a few well-paced stories of the architecture, art, and history of the venue. Understanding its history gave me a newfound appreciation for the beautiful Wilmot Church and added to the intimate atmosphere.
The four singer-songwriters then took the stage and took turns performing for a captivated audience.
Rose Cousins acted as the show’s hostess – providing introductions and maintaining a dialogue through the show. Originally from PEI, her music combines storytelling and her clear powerful vocals. Her songs are beautiful, heartfelt, and honest.
I was pleased to see Mo Kenney on the set list – I loved her opening act for Joel Plaskett on his Scrappy Happiness Tour. She melds her gorgeous voice with quirky lyrics, creating songs with rising tension broken by softer moments, just like a good story.
New Brunswick’s own Owen Steel shared upbeat folk-blues songs with great stories. His music featured bouncy guitar riffs and harmonica solos, but I particularly enjoyed his humorous introductions and rough vocals.
A late addition to the set, Royal Wood rounded out the set with pop-rock songs and charm. His solo performance highlighted his rich vocals, which have incredible depth and elegance. He shared a couple ballads with Rose Cousins, their combined voices were a highlight of the afternoon.
The pairing of young and experienced singer-songwriters gave the audience a look at four very different takes on a similar theme. It was truly a wonderful way to escape the winter doldrums, and proved once again that even small places like New Brunswick are home to worthwhile festivals.