Sarah Macdougall performs at the first Highway 19 concert at Rivercity Stage in May 2019. Photo contributed

Live music returns to Rivercity Stage in Campbell River

After two years of forced hiatus, the Highway 19 concert series is set to return with three concerts in March and April at Rivercity Stage.

The series was created by Lucas Schuller in 2019 to bring national-level touring artists to Campbell River to perform at the intimate 96-seat theatre at 1080 Hemlock Street.

“From the moment I first set foot in that room, I wanted to see live music there,” said Schuller. “It’s such a great size where every seat is so close to the artists, it’s almost like a house concert, but you have the comfort and amenities and presentation of a concert hall.”

The series included six memorable concerts in 2019 spanning genres from indie-pop and bluegrass to traditional folk and Latin jazz, and was slated to continue in 2020 when the pandemic hit, cancelling a planned chamber music performance in March and putting other plans on hold until now.

Highway 19 Concerts is relaunching with three award-winning, and world-travelled acts, two-and-a-half of whom call B.C. home, yet have never performed in Campbell River.

It all starts on Friday, March 4 with Musica Intima vocal ensemble, a conductorless chamber choir who are led instead by the outstanding musicianship of each singer, and their commitment to giving life to new works by Canadians, and under-represented composers, and beautiful and unusual arrangements of popular songs. The ensemble has released 10 recordings, earning two Juno Awards and have commissioned 20 new works from composers, several of which will be performed at Rivercity Stage.

On Thursday, March 31 singer-songwriter Suzie Ungerleider, formerly known as Oh Susanna, takes the stage accompanied by electric guitar ace Paul Pigat. In 2021 the American-born, Canadian-raised artist released the 10th album of her distinguished career, but My Name is Suzie Ungerleider is the first under her birth name. The new album features her characteristic storytelling, strong melodic sense, and powerfully honest voice, but with a new and mature honesty that emerged with 2017’s highly personal love letter to Vancouver, A Girl in Teen City.

Two weeks later, on Sunday, April 10, audiences will be treated to an intimate concert by Big Little Lions, the duo comprised of Vancouver Island’s own Helen Austin, and Ohio’s Paul Otten. The two formed Big Little Lions in 2014 and have been cranking out infectious folk-pop songs ever since, racking up awards, nominations, accolades, and a lot of radio play in the process. Despite living on opposite sides of a closed border, the pandemic hasn’t slowed their productivity any, and they are very excited to be appearing together on stage in front of a live audience again.

Highway 19 Concerts continues to encourage and welcome families and youth to all the concerts, and are offering free tickets for children accompanied by a paying adult, and $5 tickets for teens, by emailing hwy19concerts@gmail.com.

With the current public health orders in place, Rivercity Stage is limited to 50 per cent capacity, so tickets are limited. Masks are required when not actively eating or drinking, and everyone 12-and-older must show proof of vaccination to attend. Tickets for all shows are available through the Tidemark box-office by phone, online or in-person.

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