Austin Belle will be performing at the Nanaimo Harvest Festival in the Old City Quarter on Saturday.

Austin Belle will be performing at the Nanaimo Harvest Festival in the Old City Quarter on Saturday.

Country duo shifting into top gear

Unlikely duo will perform in Nanaimo at the Harvest Festival in the Old City Quarter.

When country singer Stacey McKitrick decided to reach out to guitarist Jesse Wainwright a half-dozen years ago, she couldn’t have imagined where it would take her.

“He was a well-known writer who was co-writing with lots of people,” McKitrick told the News Bulletin.

At the time, Wainwright was the guitarist for alternative-rock band State of Shock, and McKitrick soon discovered that they had great musical chemistry together.

“We just got along really well and we wrote really well together,” McKitrick said.

In fact, the chemistry was so good that McKitrick eventually asked Wainwright if he would be her guitarist for her solo performances.

“It just worked out really well. The fans really really loved him,” McKitrick explained. “They thought what we were kind of doing was really neat.”

Last November, the unlikely duo decided to officially form a country band known as Austin Belle.

“We thought it might be smart if we did something about it and made a band together,” McKitrick said.

On Saturday (Sept. 20) Austin Belle will be making their first appearance in the Harbour City when they perform at the Nanaimo Harvest Festival.

“It’s our first time over, not actually visiting, but playing, so it is going to be exciting,” Wainwright said. “We are going to bring the full band have a good time.”

Earlier this week the country duo released their first record, a five-track EP titled Just Drive, to Cordova Bay Records.

“We are really excited about it. There is a mix of a lot of different sounds and inspirations behind it,” McKitrick said about Just Drive. “We’ve got kind of a pop-rock sound through most of it, but we’ve even got a tune that is a drinking song that I feel like it has a bit of a reggae sound to it.”

While McKitrick and Wainwright come from two completely different musical backgrounds, it hasn’t prevented them from finding success.

“We both like a wide variety of music and being songwriters it’s about writing music and sharing our stories,” Wainwright said.

Earlier this summer, the duo released a music video for their single, Just Drive. The video features the duo driving around southern Abbotsford in a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air.

“It was a lot of fun,” Wainwright said. “We borrowed my uncle’s ’56 Chevy and got to rip around in it all day.”

“Jesse is a great driver, but I think everyone felt nervous when I was driving the car,” McKitrick said laughing.

Earlier this month, Austin Belle were nominated on the second ballot for over five BCCMAs, including Group/Duo of the Year. Their music video for Just Drive was also nominated for Video of the Year.

“We’ve done things on our own but we’ve just sort of started this thing together not that long ago and to get that kind of recognition and support from our home is really great,” Wainwright said.

Austin Belle performs at the Nanaimo Harvest Festival on Wesley Street in the Old City Quarter on Sept. 20. They will play on the main stage at 1:20 p.m. For more information on the Nanaimo Harvest Festival please visit For more information on Austin Belle visit or follow them on Twitter at @AustinBelleBand.

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod