Toronto-based band The Jessica Stuart Few are heading west on a tour that includes a couple of local stints to promote their latest CD Two Sides to Every Story.
The band performs Aug. 9-10 at the One Eleven Grill in Red Deer. The band also performs at the annual Jazz at the Lake Festival at Sylvan Lake on Aug. 18.
The live band leaves audiences mesmerized with their remarkable sound; folk, rock and jazz dressed to the nines with Stuart’s proficiency on the koto, a traditional Japanese floor harp, as well as the guitar.
Drummer Tony Nesbitt-Larking and double bassist Charles James bring an charisma, killer chops and three-part vocal harmonies to every performance.
After several tours promoting 2010’s Kid Dream, The Jessica Stuart Few have emerged as one of Toronto’s hottest bands on the indie-folk scene.
Two Sides to Every Story features their signature indie-folk/jazz style while tapping into a plethora of fresh sounds fueled by the irresistibly catchy Don’t Ya. There are lots of other gems including their wonderful take on Here Comes the Rain, the sparkling title track and the reflective, softer tones of Heart Map.
It’s important for Stuart to retain that energetic ‘live’ feeling on a CD, so much of the project was recording ‘live off the floor’ as well.
Stuart was born into a musical family, so it was pretty much a given that it would be a huge part of her life. Both her parents have been and are very involved with the arts.
She also started violin lessons at age three, piano at five and it wasn’t long before her vocal talents began to surface as well.
“My older sister and I would do song and dance routines from musicals in old folks homes from the time I was two or three years old,” she recalls. “And when family or friends would come over, there would always be some kind of performance with my mother on the piano, and my sister and I doing our little song, dance and harmonies from the time we were very, very young.
“We very much enjoyed it. And even in our spare time, my sister and I would make up songs and dances and little musicals with our friends and perform them.”
In her high school years in Vancouver, she also discovered a love for writing music. Her parents, while of course supportive of her musical interests, had encouraged her to have a career to fall back on – just in case. But a growing love for rock music, combined with learning the guitar further cemented her passion for eventually getting into music on a full-time basis.
In 2007 she relocated to Toronto to delve into the city’s vibrant music scene.
She formed a band that same year with bassist Dan Fortin and the aforementioned Nesbitt-Larking. Their first CD, Kid Dream, The Jessica Stuart Few, was released in 2010.
Taking her music to a broader audience was a natural path to take.
Adding to the international, exotic sensibilities of her music is that she is also adept on the Koto.
“I’ve never had goals of fame and fortune, I’ve just wanted to support myself with music and I wanted to be able to have a name for myself in the music world.”
Meanwhile, Stuart is enjoying every aspect of her career. Taking her music on the road raises that level of excitement to newer heights.
And the future is bright. The band is heading to Japan this October for a tour, and Stuart is eyeing Europe and the U.S. as future performing possibilities for sure. The next CD is almost fully written. But for now, Stuart is relishing life on the road and connecting with her fan base. And reaching new listeners.
“We like improvising. We also always want to play our newest and our latest (material). That’s what we are most excited about.”