Straker’s sound evolves from loss to a success on new CD

Jeffery Straker brings piano, singer/ songwriter skills to Char's Landing July 17.

Jeffery Straker can't wait to get his hands on the baby grand piano at Char's Landing this Friday (July 17

When Jeffery Straker comes to Port Alberni to play Char’s Landing on Friday, July 17, the award-winning singer songwriter will be most excited to get his hands on the 1959 Baldwin baby grand piano in the converted church.

Originally from small-town Saskatchewan, the classically-trained pianist was raised by a church organist mother and auctioneer father. He swears he was born under the piano on the family farm.

After university, with singing far from his mind, Straker moved to Toronto “and for the first time discovered the singer songwriter scene.

“I was one of those people who plodded along. I was so into my classical piano studies but I never actually thought there were other people besides the ones on the radio singing and writing songs,” he said.

“It was amazing.”

Straker used open mic nights to test his material—and still does. He tries new material out on live audiences during his performances too.

He says his latest CD, North Star Falling, is a departure from what he usually writes.

“It’s certainly an evolution,” he said.

It’s an evolution that has been well received from the public: in the first couple of weeks after its release North Star Falling made it to the top 10 of iTunes summer songwriter chart for Canada, “which was a first for me,” he said.

A little bit of brash coupled with some ballads and slick musicianship has given Straker a winner. It wasn’t always looking that way.

In April 2014 thieves stole Straker’s laptop and two backup drives, which had 60 songs he had written for a new album.

He tried re-writing some of the material, but found “it just wasn’t working; I couldn’t get (back) into that head space.”

Straker decided it was best to let it go, and began creating new material on a 104-year-old Heintzman upright piano that was gifted to him last year.

“When I write the songs I’ll write them at the piano, so it’s me, my piano and my songs,” he explains. Then he searches for a producer “who surrounds my piano with something. I strategically pick these people.”

The differences in production techniques lend themselves to creating a new sound for each disc. Straker purposefully chose producer Dean Drouillard for this latest project. North Star Falling features electric guitars, horns, strings, acoustic guitar and banjo coupled with the piano.

“I kind of knew what he sounds like. I wondered what he plus me would sound like,” says Straker.

“He’s brought a certain maturity to the sound. Dean did bring a signature sound to it.”

Music critics liken Straker to Randy Newman, or even Elton John long before he became Sir.

This latest disc is a more mellow mix than live audiences typically see, leaning toward ballads.

“Straker covers a wide swath of musical territory on this new disc, keeping us wondering where we might go next, while never losing sight of the importance of a finely crafted tune,” said CBC Radio’s Mark Rheaume.

Listeners can expect Straker to throw in some new material along with established songs at Char’s.

“My live show is a real mix of up tempo songs and more mellow ballads,” he said.

Tickets for Straker’s performance are available at Char’s Landing or by calling 250-730-1636.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Merry Makers create new craft fair for Port Alberni

Hansen Hall fair begins as Work of Heart organizers retire

Port Alberni highland dancers invited to North American competition

Kali Nahorney received honourable mention medals in two categories

Government looks for public input on Cathedral Grove safety concerns

Port Alberni, Parksville info sessions invite public to help ‘shape future access’

ARTS AROUND: Enjoy magic and comedy at the Capitol Theatre

Transport yourself back in time for the McLean Mill Christmas Market

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh weighs in on Vancouver Island fishing ban

Singh and MacGregor say improving salmon abundance is important

Feds respond to sexual assault investigation at B.C. naval base

Report of Oct. 5 sexual assault on Vancouver Island base taken over by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.

Northern California fire death toll at 56; 130 missing

Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mixing business and family: Trudeau turns to Singapore ancestors to widen trade

Trudeau’s ancestor, Esther Bernard, born Farquhar (1796-1838) was the daughter of Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Most Read