Nova Scotia's adopted son back home for August 10 concert
Jonathan Edwards performs at King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal on Saturday, August 10 at 8 p.m.
By Lawrence Powell
Jonathan Edwards is back in Nova Scotia and he’s brought his daughter Grace to the place where she was born. August 10 he’ll be at King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal and a big crowd is expected given the fact Edwards is a folk legend and an adopted Nova Scotia son.
“I first heard of JE's music in the ‘70s,” said King’s Theatre manager Geoff Keymer. “He became a bit of a hero to us at that time, singing songs of the time - protest songs and love songs. In fact I first learned about the Nova Scotia Acadians because of his song Evangeline. I was an Ontario boy. I knew very little about Nova Scotia. Knowing that JE lived here for a while gave it a certain cachet.”
Edwards was a hero to a lot of people, penning the song Sunshine in response to the still-ongoing war in Vietnam. Edwards has described it as “an angry little song.” It was a million seller and launched him to star status. Edwards has been writing song ever since – whether it be from his one-time ‘70s farm refuge in Nova Scotia’s Pictou County or his native America. And he’s been no one-hit wonder. His songs about life and love continue to flow from that inner place that the singer himself says was shaped and defined by living on the land in Nova Scotia.
“After I got into bluegrass music I bumped into JE once again,” said Keymer. “He replaced the singer in the band Seldom Scene - one of my faves at the time.”
August 10 will be special for a lot of King’s Theatre patrons. Jonathan Edwards is part of their memories and a performer of renown – especially in intimate settings such as King’s. For Keymer it’s like a long wait is finally over.
“I've been trying to get JE up here for a couple of years,” he said. “When I saw that he was performing in Maine I got on the phone to his agent. I helped organize a couple of other dates in the province to make the tour work.”
Anyone who grew up in the 1960 and ‘70s will have an affinity with Edwards’ work. But his timeless lyrics make him a bard for all ages as he taps into those things that are common to all in any age.
“He's a fabulous songwriter and a great stage performer,” said Keymer. “He speaks directly to each audience member.”
Warm As Sunshine
Warm as summer sunshine, real as the truth, intimate as a long overdue visit between old friends … such is a Jonathan Edwards concert. Four decades into a stellar career of uncompromising musical integrity, the man simply delivers, night after night – songs of passion, songs of insight, songs of humor, all rendered in that pure and powerful tenor which, like fine wine, has only grown sweeter with age.
This is one veteran performer who is neither grizzled nor nostalgic. These days Jonathan Edwards, a vital and relevant artist in today’s folk and Americana scenes, is most likely to be found on the road with longtime accompanist Stuart Schulman on bass, piano, fiddle, and vocals and Taylor Armerding, formerly of Northern Lights, on mandolin and high-tenor vocals. “I’ve been … doing what I do best, which is playing live in front of people. I’ve been concentrating on that and loving it,” he says.
“He became a bit of a hero to us at that time, singing songs of the time - protest songs and love songs. In fact I first learned about the Nova Scotia Acadians because of his song Evangeline." Geoff Keymer
An artist who measures his success by his ability to attract and take good care of an audience for four decades, Jonathan maintains that it is the feedback he receives after his shows that keeps him going.
“It is really gratifying to hear [someone say], ‘Your stuff has meant a lot to me over the years.’”
The “stuff” he’s referring to is a highly respected repertoire that includes such classics as “Honky Tonk Stardust Cowboy,” “Sometimes,” “One Day Closer,” “Don’t Cry Blue,” “Emma,” “Everybody Knows Her,” “Athens County,” and everyone’s favorite ode to putting a good buzz on, “Shanty.” And then, of course, there’s the anthemic “Sunshine (Go Away Today),” that fierce proclamation of protest and independence that resonated with thousands and thousands of frustrated and angry young men and women when it was first released in 1971. Almost 40 years later, at show after show, the song continues to be embraced by faithful followers and new fans alike.
Since 1971, Jonathan has released 15 albums, including Blue Ridge, his standard-setting collaboration with bluegrass favorites the Seldom Scene, and Little Hands, his collection of children’s songs, which was honored with a National Library Association award.
As for album #16, Jonathan says, “Young people that are getting back to the land and trying to get off the power grid encourage me. My next studio album will reflect some of those themes.”
Concert: Jonathan Edwards, Saturday, Aug. 10, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $22 in advance, $20 for members, $24 at the door, $5 for youth. Tickets can be obtained from King's Theatre box office (Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), or by calling the box office at 532-7704, or through our on-line ticket service at www.kingstheatre.ca.
About King’s Theatre: King's Theatre is a Not-For-Profit organization run by members of the community. Our aim is to present vibrant, diverse and accessible performances of drama, music and dance, plus our popular film screenings, to both local residents and visitors to Annapolis Royal. Visit our web site at www.kingstheatre.ca or call the box office at 532-7704 for details on live show discounts and other member benefits.
With information supplied by King’s Theatre.