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Mike Szabo kicks off Lacombe Performing Arts Centre’s Fall Concert Series

The Red Deer-based singer/songwriter performs Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.
Red Deer-based singer Mike Szabo kicks off Lacombe Performing Arts Centre’s Fall Series on Sept. 17. photo submitted

Mike Szabo is the kind of artist you hear where, even a few seconds into a given song, you can’t help but be struck by the uniqueness and strength of his artistry.

The singer/songwriter will be the first artist to hit the stage in Lacombe Performing Art Centre’s Fall Concert Series.

The performance starts at 7 p.m. with tickets available at or the Mary C. Moore Public Library.

“It’s really been five years now, but I feel like I’ve just started,” explained Szabo of his musical career during a recent chat. “I’ve been playing guitar around campfires my whole life, and I’ve been playing covers - but I’ve never followed anybody or been a music aficionado.”

Still, melodies and lyrics have had a way of always being close by.

“My earliest recollections as a child are of singing,” he said, and it was something his folks encouraged. Through the years, he honed his remarkable guitar-playing skills as well.

As the years passed, this creative richness just kept on bubbling up. And in greater momentum these days.

Szabo is getting busier with local performances, and he continues to collaborate with other artists across the region who have been intrinsic to helping him carve out his place on the musical landscape.

He started out on the local open mic circuit, and those experiences were foundational.

“It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to do this,” he recalled. “It also became something that I really, really looked forward to every week - being on stage, seeing how it went - just the whole experience.”

His first full-length disc, Take My Heart, was released in 2020.

From the opening cut A Song for Everyone, the project can be likened to walking into a warm and welcoming setting. Richly textured guitars meld naturally with Szabo’s exceptional vocal talent. It’s clear these songs are ‘his’ songs; they come from personal, reflective places.

In the Park, Immigrant’s Son, and Already Gone continue this pattern with Szabo ‘painting’ images through the poignant and insightful stories he’s telling.

The music? Terms like acoustic-folk come to mind, but he can’t be strictly labelled (for instance, the full-bodied Thank You is injected with a compelling and decidedly rockier edge).

Production is also top-notch thanks to the skills and musical instincts of Heath West, who has really nailed the kind of artist Szabo is.

As for his songwriting, Szabo is growing ever more prolific.

The months of the pandemic shut-down provided lots of time to be at home writing and playing. And the songs began to come fast and furious.

Stories will surface in his thoughts and he gets them down on paper, along with a melody.

“I think that the fact I didn’t have any rules governing me might have made a difference in it,” he explains of his approach to the craft.

“I also still got to go out and play a little outside, here and there.”

And now with COVID fading, and things opening, those opportunities are expanding.

“It’s all felt very, very natural,” he said. “I sing every day - happy, sad, mad in-between - whatever. It’s just there - it’s always in my head.”

Meanwhile, the future is indeed looking bright, as Szabo is currently teaming up with good friend and exemplary local musician Curtis Phagoo.

They’ve begun recording an EP and it’s proving a terrific season of continuing to grow as an artist, said Szabo. In fact, the first tune, Travelling, is set to be released to streaming platforms on Sept. 16.

Ultimately, Szabo is thankful for the doors that have opened. And there’s little doubt they will continue to.

“I’m at a place in my music career that I’d never dreamed I’d be at,” he observed.

“And the dream is still very much alive. That’s really what it boils down to,” he said. “I feel very lucky.”

Next up in the Fall Concert Series is Ten02 on Oct. 15 and Tandem Yam on Nov. 19.

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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