Friday October 31, 2014

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Jeffery Straker takes it from intimate to international

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From intimate to international stages, Jeffery Straker is sure to strike a chord with the audience.

The Saskatchewan singer-songwriter will be performing in Weyburn at the Grace United Church before an intimate audience just prior to taking the international stage at the Vina del Mar Festival in Chile.

As part of the Weyburn Concert Series, Straker will perform on Monday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. Straker will be accompanied by a guitarist and his sister as backing vocals.

"It's a sound that will work well in the church," said Straker, adding he will be playing a few new songs.

His mother was a piano player and wanted her children to try an instrument. Straker began piano lessons at the age of six.

"She wanted us to at least have the opportunity to play. I liked it off the hop," he said. "If she wanted me to practice for half an hour, I'd practice for an hour."

He took lessons until he was 19 and then received a degree in piano, which is something Straker said isn't needed to play, but he did it anyway.

He came to the realization he didn't want to become a classical pianist and stumbled upon the singer-songwriter scene in Toronto.

"I started dabbling in it. You could say curiosity killed the cat. I started playing at open mics and singing songs to see which ones were getting the room's attention," he said.

Before long, Straker had a following and more and more people would attend his shows. He quit his job and lived "very poorly" on a musician's salary, promising himself to give it a year to see what would happen.

"I told myself whether I succeeded or failed, at least I gave it my best shot," he said. "It was really encouraging when I started having decent audiences across the country."

He also caught the attention of the organizers of the Vina del Mar Festival a few years ago and was asked to apply.

Vina del Mar is the biggest song festival in the Spanish speaking world, however, at the time of being asked, Straker said he thought it sounded like a hoax.

"My mantra in the music business is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," he said.

It was true and unfortunately, Straker had to decline due to the possibility of serving jury duty.

He had been pre-chosen this year and will be playing four times during the week-long festival which begins February 22.

The audience is known as "El Monstruo" or The Monster. Earning acceptance from "El Monstruo" usually has a direct impact on an artist's popularity.

"I've heard the audience is like that. They don't have influence on the voting process," said Straker. "But the reality is an audience does have the influence to affect performances."

The Vina del Mar festival began in 1959 and is held in the Quinta Vergara Amphitheatre which seats 20,000.

Recently, Straker performed the sold-out debut of his new music with the Regina Symphony Orcherstra with a review raving: "Straker was simply spectacular…demonstrating showmanship in every sense of the word."

Audience members are in for a night of wonderful music and intimacy with who Canadian Music Magazine has said is "very much an artist to watch."

"I'm looking forward to playing (in Weyburn), and equally excited to talk with the audience," said Straker.


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