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Fred Penner returns to Vancouver Island for ‘The Cat Came Back’ 40th-anniversary tour

‘Catchy tunes and good times’ promised for May 22 matinee show at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre
Fred Penner returns to Nanaimo’s Port Theatre for a matinee performance Sunday, May 22, as part of the beloved entertainer’s 40th anniversary tour of his debut album, ‘The Cat Came Back.’ (Photo by Tyler Anderson)

In the continued celebration of the 40th anniversary of his first album, beloved children’s entertainer Fred Penner will stop in Nanaimo.

The four-time Juno award winner’s first album, The Cat Came Back, was released in 1979.

“We started about three years ago doing the national tour, we got about a third of the way through – as far as Edmonton. And then everything shut down,” said Penner.

His 40th anniversary tour began in 2020, and was unfortunately cut short due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As health restrictions ease, however, Penner is back on the road visiting communities across Canada.

He’ll play Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on Sunday, May 22, in a matinee show at 2 p.m., a rescheduling of a previously postponed performance.

“It’s a bit of a retrospect to the initial inspiration and songs that I brought on to that first album,” he said.

Alongside catchy tunes and good times, the audience can also expect to see a video presentation in which Penner sings along to the images.

“There are some stories that are very specific with the images, and there’s others that are more general. But the audience will be treated to both the visual and the audio component of my work,” he said.

Prior to the show’s start time, there will be an approximate 20-25 minute pre-show video depicting snippets of Penner’s life.

“Mostly it’s just going to be Fred and his guitar. There will be lots of participation and lots of interaction with the audience,” he said, and added that he’ll focus primarily on performing “a variety of tunes” from his early albums.

As much love as Penner gives to his multi-generational fanbase, he gets right back.

“Much of what I do comes from inspiration from the audience,” he said, adding that nearly every day, he receives correspondence from enthusiastic fans who tell him how much his music has impacted their lives.

“The contact that I have with my audience continues, even after decades. And as I age in this world, and slow down a little bit, I wanted to do a very specific tour with that album that really changed my life,” he said, and added he considers this tour as an honouring of the audience and its support throughout the years.

Although his last album, Hear the Music, came out five years ago, and he is currently touring across Canada until at least the end of July, the prospect of a new recording project might just be on Penner’s horizon.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last couple of years practising guitar and coming up with some really nice new patterns that are waiting to be taken into the next phase of actual songwriting,” he said.

In preparation for Sunday’s show, Penner said he is really looking forward to finally getting back to the Port Theatre and connecting with his Nanaimo audience once again.

“I have friends, lots of friends in that area. So it’ll be a good reconnection with those pals from the past. I encourage everyone to come and bring their singing voices and enjoy this journey,” he said.

Ticket’s for the show can be purchased online at

READ MORE: Magical music

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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