Music is circling back around to the beginning for pianist, singer, songwriter Jeffery Straker, just as demand for his performances is growing.
Straker is set to play at the MAC (The McMillan Arts Centre at 133 McMillan St. in Parksville) on Friday, April 20 where much of the music will be from his latest album — Dirt Road Confessional.
With many of the songs serving to chronicle parts of his life reflected upon while on the road, the album ended up taking on a different style than he’s used to — one that reflects, instead, his start in music with his family.
Though usually having a folk/pop feel to his music, Straker went with a roots/folk influence this time around, bringing in guitarists, banjo players and others to perform alongside his singing and piano playing.
“It’s kind of funny because, in all reality, it’s how I began,” he said of the album’s different feel.
“I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, and, though I was studying classical piano for my formal studies, my mom was a piano player by ear, and my dad played five-string banjo.
“My grandpa played the fiddle and all these neighbours would bring their traditional instruments over to our house and play old-time and traditional songs on the weekend evenings, so I was immersed in that as a kid and a teenager. That was the live music I heard the most,” said Straker.
Bringing in that style and those musicians was a fun and unexpected turn, he said. The album began as his others have, with Straker writing his songs and music for voice and piano, “But I just felt that this time around that this sort of roots/folk way was the way I wanted to present these songs,” he said.
Straker credits the new album and years of persistence for the uptick in interest he’s getting recently, he said, with an upcoming debut at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in November, and a concert with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.
At Straker’s show at the MAC, the new album and music from his catalogue of originals will make of the setlist, though he notes the songs are not the only reason to check out the concert.
“The shows that I go to and love the most that are singer/songwriter shows are not the ones where the singer/songwriter gets up there and literally just sings and sort of grunts between the songs. For that, I could just go on Spotify and have that experience. But for me, the reason I go to a live show is I want to get to know the artist a bit or maybe get a bit of background on songs, or maybe just understand where they’re coming from.
“I try to create this experience in my show, the experience that I like to have going to a show.”
Those interested in Straker’s music and his stories can check out his performance at the MAC on Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18, or $15 for OCAC members.
They can be purchased at the MAC, or online at mcmillanartscentre.com/events/jeffrey-straker/.