Singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Straker is preparing to tickle the ivories at the Dream Café on Nov. 23.
Originally from Saskatchewan, Straker said he’s excited to visit Penticton and bring his unique musical style with him.
“I have a few story-driven ballads in my catalogue, as well as a good number of uptempo songs too,” said Straker. “So I try to create a setlist for each of my shows that strikes a balance between the two.”
Straker’s genre can be described as country or folk, often being compared to young Billy Joel or John Elton. He believes his instrument of choice helps set him apart from similar musicians who choose to express themselves through stringed-instruments.
“There are way few singer-pianists out there then there are singer-guitarists. So it’s a bit of a help for us because we’re a bit of a rarer breed,” said Straker. “So if it’s something you’ve seen less of, audiences may engage a little more with that.”
Straker said he is always trying to push himself to develop his sound around the piano when he goes into the studio. This was his goal when producing and releasing his newest album “Dirt Road Confessional.”
“I’m sort of, maybe to a fault, someone who gets bored of doing the same thing all the time, so what I’ve made myself do is go over something a little bit differently with each recording I’ve done,” said Straker. “At the centre of each recording is piano and vocal – I am a piano balladeer at the end of the day – but what I surround that with has changed from album to album.
This time I was interested in taking it in much more of a folk-roots direction than I have gone before. So I’ve introduced sounds like dobro and banjo and acoustic guitar and things like that,” said Straker. “This time around it was about how I was feeling, and I thought the best way to serve these songs and stories was to clothe them as more folk-roots.”
But pianos can have their limitations compared to lighter instruments that can be moved or carried by musicians. Straker said this does not necessarily inhibit him, especially when he is performing live.
“When you’re a singer-pianist, you are unfortunately quite stationary and seated, so it’s a little trickier in that regard to engage the audience,” said Straker. “But what you have to do is rely on your songs and work on engaging with the audience between songs. So talking with them, letting them know about you so you create that atmosphere of intimacy that invites the listener in.”
He is particularly excited about the venue of the Dream Café due to its size, saying he’s accustomed to a range of smaller to medium-sized venues.
“I love smaller venues like this one … there’s something really magical about the smaller rooms. I can see the audience faces and they can see my hands and facial expressions,” said Straker. “At the end of the day, we’re humans and everything that we experience, we do it through multiple senses. And I think the closeness is part of that.”
“I just had a show with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra in Saskatoon, so it was a 2,000 seat room. So take away the orchestra and the show at the Dream Café will be essentially the same show because I treat each room almost as if it’s a living room,” said Straker. “It’s a challenge I do to see if I can recreate that intimacy regardless of where I am.”
Straker and his accompanying double bass player are set to perform at 8 p.m. on Nov. 23, doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 each for premium and $15 for wings.
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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