Known as the Great Plains, Saskia and Darrel Delaronde are headed to Parksville for a concert at the MAC on Jan. 12. — Submitted by Saskia Delaronde

Comox couple aim to make musical connection with Parksville audience

The Great Plains’ Saskia and Darrel to perform at the MAC Jan. 12

A pair of Prairie roots singers, songwriters and musicians now based in Comox Valley are looking to bring their audience where they need to go with their performance on Friday, Jan. 12 at the MAC.

Known as the Great Plains, Saskia and Darrel Delaronde are both lifelong musicians, with Saskia growing up in Europe and singing her way through the day, at school and in church.

With a Dutch background, Saskia is described as a new-age, alto-soprano, Celtic, folk, roots, singer. Darrel, a Saskatchewan, country-blues-rock guitar playing Métis, was obsessed with guitars from the beginning and soon found a passion for songwriting as well.

Together, the pair offer an eclectic mix that both blends together well, and allows one to support the other in their expression, said Saskia. To test that, check out their version of Ave Maria juxtaposed with another, such as Prairie Elevator (which can be found at www.reverbnation.com/saskiaanddarrel/songs).

“(Our music) has the Celtic flavour, it’s got the European flavour, it’s got a bit of a country flavour at times, it’s got some bluegrass feel to it, because of course we play the mandolin and we play the flutes and the penny-whistles, so it’s such a wide variety of feels, and yet it’s so cohesive in its own way,” said Saskia.

While music has always been a big part of their lives, they decided to throw caution to the wind about 17 years ago, sell their house and follow their dreams.

“The kids were out of school and everybody was on their feet… (so we) made an album and just went for it, and it’s been a whirlwind, absolute fun life every since,” Saskia said.

Over time they went from playing in bars and taverns to playing concerts to touring with Canadian country music singer/songwriter Gary Fjellgaard, and then off on their own for the past five years.

A turning point for the pair that happened during that time was discovering what they wanted to do with their music, said Saskia.

“We started realizing that it wasn’t about us and our big ego and all that kind of stuff,” she said.

Instead, it’s all about connecting with their audience.

“We went in and we connected with those people that were looking at us with bright eyes, and they needed to hear a message,” said Saskia. “That’s when the whole thing started coming together in a huge way. That’s when we knew why we were doing it. We were playing the music to connect, to make people happy, to open up their hearts to whatever, you know?

“Sometimes people are suffering, sometimes they’re sick, sometimes they’re happy, but they need an outlet for that and they need a connection, and through music a lot of people connect. Once we knew why we were doing it, that’s when we moved forward.”

With Saskia’s powerful, nuanced voice, Darrel’s guitar playing and their vocal harmonies (not to mention the various other instruments they use in some songs), the pair have a wide range of ways to connect.

For their upcoming performance at the MAC in Parksville on Friday, Jan. 12, as with all their shows, there’s not really a set-list, said Saskia.

“We look out in the audience and often our setlist kind of goes like, ‘Hmm, no, we’re going to play this instead. It looks like they need to hear this,’ or ‘they need to hear that.’

“So when we play, we play for our audiences. We check out the vibes and we take it from there.”

The performance takes place at 7 p.m., with tickets $18 each, or $15 for OCAC members.

They can be purchased at mcmillanartscentre.com/events/saskia-the-great-plains/.

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