An upcoming intimate concert with acclaimed Canadian musician Steven Page will allow local music lovers to experience some nostalgia and catch up on Page’s current creative pursuits.
Page co-founded the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies and was the primary songwriter. He’s been working on his solo career for about 10 years, he’s released five solo albums, and he’s getting great feedback from his current tour.
“The feedback I get that means the most to me are the people who come and feel like it’s catching up with an old friend,” said Page. “The material all kind of sticks together, it actually all works together.”
Page is on a Canada-wide tour and The NEWS caught up with him recently during a stop in Paris, Ont. He will wrap up his Canadian tour at Knox United Church in Parksville on June 1. At the show, Page will be playing music from his early days with Barenaked Ladies, along with music from his solo albums.
Last year Page was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame with fellow Barenaked Ladies bandmates, honouring their lifetime achievement in music.
“It was pretty big to be included in that group of musicians,” Page said, explaining that the band went to Calgary for the official induction and saw plaques of other Hall of Famers on the wall. “Whether it’s Rush or Neil Young or Oscar Peterson or Glenn Gould—at that point there were maybe 55 others [who were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame] apart from us, so it was pretty amazing to be included in that.”
Barenaked Ladies has sold nearly 15 million albums, won several JUNO Awards and sold out gigantic venues like Madison Square Garden.
During the Hall of Fame award presentation at the JUNO awards last year, Page’s children could be seen looking proud and emotional in the audience. Page explained that his music career was a big part of his kids’ lives when they were growing up, and that came to an end when he stopped being in the band about 10 years ago.
“My oldest was 12 then, and now they are all adults, so I think it was a nice little moment of closure for them.”
Page also grew up with music around him. His dad played the drums as a hobby, and although Steven was forced to take piano lessons, he wasn’t forced to practise, he said. His dad would give him sheet music from time to time and two would jam together. “I’d kind of poke my way through it and not play very well, but it certainly helped prepare me for playing with other musicians,” Steven said.
Page always loved live music, he sang in choirs and said music was a big part of his life in university. But he wasn’t quite sure pursuing music was the right path for him
“I honestly never thought I was good enough at anything to be a musician,” he revealed. “And then when I started playing with Ed Robertson and we started Barenaked Ladies, we loved it so much, but even then, we didn’t treat it as something real. The joke was it was a fake band and we were pretending to be a band.”
But people responded in a big way to their music, and soon they busy with gigs and touring.
“I dropped out of university in my last year, and [Ed Robertson] dropped out, and we devoted all our time to the band and never looked back really.”
After 20 years with Barenaked Ladies, Page parted ways with the band and began work on his solo career. In recent years that has picked up in pace and he said he’s now doing longer tours.
“It’s pretty non-stop, I can’t complain because I’ve been incredibly busy for the last few years,” he said.
Page said he feels his most recent album Discipline: Heal Thyself, Part II is “the best it’s been” with his music. “I feel the most comfortable in it and I like the fact that I’m able to attempt and hopefully properly execute a lot of different genres as well.”
He likes that it sounds like a “big album”, the kind he grew up loving, he said, which is harder and potentially much more expensive to make these days. But he was able to draw on his musical connections and “some really talented friends” and he’s very excited he’s still able to do that, he said.
After his show in Parksville he will head back to the United States for several shows. He’s also booked to do a couple of tours in the United Kingdom. He’s working on music for his next record and said he’s looking forward to doing more shows with symphony orchestras in the future. “Being able to write some of the orchestrations for some of those shows has been a great challenge.”
Page has also written a musical with Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor and hopes to have that on stage within the next year.
Vince Ditrich and Knox Theatre will present ‘An Evening with Steven Page’ at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 1. Steven will be joined by Canadian musician and composer Craig Northey (of Odds).
Tickets are $40 or $45 at the door, available from Cranky Dog Music in Parksville, Mulberry Bush Bookstores in Parksville and Qualicum Beach, Close to You Fashions in Parksville, or online through Eventbrite.ca.