Steven Palmer: Folksinging road survivor

Sooke Folk Music Society coffee house event on February 21

It’s time once again for the Sooke Folk Music Society’s monthly coffee house. This Saturday evening, February 21, sees the return of Steve Palmer to our stage. It’s been a while since Steve has been with us and it’s a real pleasure to welcome him back.

Raised on gospel, country and the blues, the old time influences on a young prairie picker with a love of Doc Watson made him a good fit for psychedelic folk-rock bands. He was touring and playing support for most of the big name suspects during the ‘60s UK invasion. Then more steady dues were paid as guitarist-for-hire in country bands working the rural Alberta bar scene.

He started using his voice only in the ‘80s, when he’d picked some West Coast time to study music a bit more formally. But it wasn’t ‘til he returned home to care for his mother that he found personal respite and freedom in becoming a solo performer.

Originally from Edmonton, Alberta Palmer is now based in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (“The most Canadian of all cities,” Peter Gzowski). He travels a troubadour circuit around Western Canada and the Northwestern U.S.

In 2003 Palmer recorded his first original album, the country influenced  From Here To Nashville. That lead to performing his own concerts. While living on Vancouver Island he then recorded Roots and Strings and Morning Road — two albums of Original and Traditional folk featuring Pallmer on acoustic guitar and vocals with super guest pickers John Reischman and Nick Hornbuckle sitting in. These albums opened up his Western Canadian touring. In 2014 Palmer released his fourth album Prairie Airs and that led to even more Western Canadian touring and his first Maritime and Ontario concerts.

“I’ve been pickin’ and singin’ and writin’ songs for a long time now, but these last few years have been the most fun of all” said Palmer. “My biggest acoustic guitar influences are Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Maybelle Carter, and Tony Rice. My songwriting style is a little more varied — Lightfoot, Ian Tyson, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan are heavy influences.”

Sometimes compared to Hoyt Axton, Leonard Cohen, or John Prine, the echoes of Doc Watson remain clear on his albums, Prairie Airs, Roots and Strings and Morning Road.

Forty years as a traveling musician is a lot of road, and Palmer is still playing and still touring. He has grown enough to sing about life and simple pleasures with all the unhurried authority of a quiet and simple folk-singing road-survivor.

So be sure to join us this Saturday evening, February 21 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Murray Road for a great night of music with this travelling troubadour. Doors open at 7 p.m. with open stage at 7:30 with Steve Palmer hitting the stage at 9.

Dave Gallant