Linda McRae brings her incredible talent to Sooke for a Saturday concert.

Spirit of the West alumni, Linda McRae returns to Sooke

Folk society concert brings back McRae's porch-stomping style

Performing on clawhammer banjo, acoustic guitar, accordion and porchboard stompbox, Linda McRae combines old-time sounds with universal themes of heartbreak and redemption offering an intriguing sepia postcard from the past that is vibrant and alive in the present.

This month’s concert in the Sooke Folk Music Society’s Concert Series sees the long anticipated return of award winning and gifted artist, Linda McRae. It happens this Saturday, March 29 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church.

McRae is a Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who earned two platinum and three gold records during her eight-year tenure as bassist/accordionist with former Canadian Celtic/Roots group Spirit of the West from 1988 to1996.

Linda left the band to resume her solo career and has since released three critically acclaimed recordings. Flying Jenny, produced by Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, Emmy Lou Harris), which included guest performances from members of Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip and The Band, as well as Syd Staw and Gurf Morlix. The album showcased the songs McRae had written while with SOTW, Cryin’ Out Loud, produced by Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier) and McRae’s third release Carve It To The Heart, produced by McRae and Marc L’Esperance (Po’ Girl, Be Good Tanyas). All have received the highest praise from reviewers world-wide.

McRae has performed in venues as diverse as Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre with the Vancouver Symphony to New Folsom Prison’s Library with the inmate’s blues band. Playing guitar, banjo and accordion and with a voice equally warm and world-weary McRae’s stories are stand-alone gems sketching out solitary men as convincingly as forthright female romantics. One song breaks your heart and the next one puts it back together.

In addition, McRae has recently signed with seminal Canadian folk label Borealis Records and a new retrospective entitled 50 Shades of Red is due for release later this spring featuring songs from McRae’s previous four solo recordings and a recording of new material will be released in spring 2015.

McRae’s fourth, and  newest recording Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts was produced once again by McRae and Marc L’Esperance and featured The Sojourners, Doug Cox, Gurf Morlix, Ray Bonneville and Samantha Parton (Be Good Tanyas). The recent inclusion of Linda’s song Burning Bridges on the The Skydiggers most recent CD confirms the buzz is definitely building.

Back in 2007 McRae met and married her manager and co-writer James Whitmire. He urged her to go to Nashville to work on her music. Their time there lead her to the study of traditional roots music, studying clawhammer banjo with Brad Leftwich, and Appalachian vocal styles with Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz (New Lost City Ramblers, Hazel Dickens) and finger-style guitar with Juno winner Ken Hamm. She has also studied songwriting with Grammy winner Jon Vezner.

Recordings and performances with musical luminaries include Bruce Cockburn, Neko Case, Alejandro Escovedo, Gurf Morlix, and Ray Waylie Hubbard.

Colin Linden (Grammy nominee, producer, guitarist for Bruce Cockburn, Emmy Lou Harris, Krauss & Plant) had this to say about Linda.

“When all the trends fade and become dated, and all the music from the cutting edge becomes dull, Linda McRae will continue to stand tall, singing and playing music with honest soul and humility, cutting through the fog with her timeless clarity. Linda is one of the true, soulful pioneers of honest roots music. Her singing and playing brings honour to her heroes and to her friends and fans.”

McRae is a compelling entertainer and her personality and storytelling add an intimacy to her shows regardless of the size of venue. Her busy tour schedule reflects her love for performing having completed 200 shows last year alone. McRae also writes a monthly column for BC Musician’s Magazine entitled “This Winding Road.”

Please join us for what will prove to be an exciting evening of finely crafted music from this delightful and engaging artist.

It all happens Saturday, March 29 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church at 1962 Murray Road in Sooke. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the concert commencing at 8. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at Shopper’s Drug Mart in Sooke.

Contributed by Dave Gallant

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