Centennial Theatre presents Play, Pie & Pint – A Lunchtime Theatre Experience featuring the Siobhan Walsh Group - Wednesday, Sept. 19, noon.
Whether it’s morning or evening, Siobhan Walsh loves to connect with her audience – performing live is where she is most at home as a musician.
Jazz, blues, roots and gospel are all intertwined in her music that draws inspiration from a wide range of talent – David Bowie, Nora Jones and, of course, Aretha Franklin. Walsh will perform on Sept. 19 as part of the noon-hour Play, Pie & Pint series at Centennial Theatre, with Tilden Webb on keyboard and Chris Couto on drums to make up the Siobhan Walsh Group. This concert is in anticipation of her Aretha Franklin tribute concert that she’ll perform in April at the same venue.
While Walsh has started writing her own original songs this year and is planning to record her first EP later this fall, she loves to sing for an audience in a live venue.
“Performing live is my favourite thing to do – live is where I thrive,” she said, laughing at her own rhyme.
Music is healing for her and she hopes it is healing for those who have come to see her show. When she connects with her audience, there is a shared feeling – shared joy, pain, love and sorrow, a connection with other humans. “If I do that, my job is done.”
She describes performing for an audience “like coming home,” and each live performance is a unique time, being present in a moment that “will never be the same again.”
“It’s there and then it’s gone,” she said.
When Walsh is in front of an audience, she tries to get a sense of the vibe in the room and thinks to herself “What can I do with this crowd?” And she loves to involve the audience in her music, to participate in the music.
“It’s a beautiful shift in the energy – even one little line, it changes the feeling,” she said.
Walsh trained as a jazz vocalist at the Malaspina University (now Vancouver Island University), but since then she has integrated different sounds into her music, opening her up to a broad range of musical genres, like her musical hero, Aretha Franklin.
“I love that rootsy, soul, gospel, bluesy kind of sound,” she explained.
Walsh moved from Vancouver Island to the mainland four years ago to pursue her music career in earnest, after co-running a landscaping company and performing in the Courtenay-Comox-Cumberland area. It was time for her to expand her musical community and have a bigger musical base, she said.
“It’s hard to get moving and get the ball rolling remotely,” she said about living on the island. “You have to be in the community and go to shows and meet people.”
It’s taken her a few years to get accustomed to the city and its music scene. Her first few years were spent just going to concerts and meeting people.
Later this year, Walsh will be performing an Aretha Franklin tribute concert at the Centennial Theatre, which will include background singers and a full horn section.
“I’ve loved Aretha and I’ve sung her music since I was 15 years old,” Walsh said.
At the beginning of this year, as she experienced a lot of life changes, she started writing her own music.
“The best writing comes out of the ebb and flow of life – the hard times, the joys and pain,” she said. And after much relationship-building in the Vancouver music scene, she is starting to collaborate with other musicians to write music.
For the hour-long Play, Pie & Pint performance, Walsh will be joined by keyboardist Tilden Webb with whom she’s performed with as a jazz duo in the past, and Chris Couto whom she calls a “troubadour.” Both are also well entrenched in the Vancouver music scene and perform with a variety of groups.
The Play, Pie & Pint series, returning to Centennial Theatre this fall, is inspired by a Scottish theatre series that started at the Oran Mor Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland.
The Siobhan Walsh Group performs on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at noon at the Centennial Theatre, 2300 Lonsdale Ave. The performance will be followed by a hot and savoury meat or veggie pie for lunch, provided by the Aussie Pie Guy, and a beverage in the theatre lobby.
Upcoming Play, Pie & Pint noon-hour performances
Oct. 31: Teapot in the Tuba
Dec. 19: Rio Samaya – Feliz Navidad
Feb. 6: The Sax of Us
April 3: Saxalamode
Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the door or three shows or more for $20 each. Tickets are available by phoning 604-984-4484 or going to tickets.centennialthatre.com.