In an upcoming performance, a Nanaimo singer-songwriter will take her audience on a journey of emotional peaks, valleys, and plenty of engagement.
Linda Lavender plays the Lighthouse Bistro and Pub alongside recent collaborator Kenny Brault on Thursday, March 9, as the duo’s second performance together.
Lavender first met Brault, whom she described as “one of Nanaimo’s finest musicians,” at one of Brault’s community songwriter circles shortly after pandemic related safety restrictions began to lift in the spring of 2022.
Having recently moved back to B.C. from Toronto, Lavender said she was thrilled to meet another artist she connected with.
“It’s quite a new relationship,” the songwriter said.
“And we’ve really clicked in our musical lives and worlds… The ones that you really click with and become a partner in your music – those are few and far in between, and they’re so precious,” Lavender said.
For their first formal performance together, the two musicians played at the Mt. Benson Legion about a month ago when Lavender asked Brault to join her. Previously, they had informally played together during Lavender’s summer gigs in Errington and Parksville.
Lavender considers her move to the Island and return to music as “coming full circle,” specifically in regards to the first song she ever wrote.
At 18 years old, the songwriter’s first-ever attempt at songwriting resulted in West Coast Back Roads after being gifted a guitar from “the boy next door.” Lavender said her first song, which tells the tale of a motorcycle road trip on the Lower Mainland with another young woman, wasn’t completely finished until she moved to the Island. She said finishing her first song after moving across the country was her sign to perform music full-time.
As Lavender and Brault are still planning their setlist for Thursday’s show, she said she’s not yet certain if she’ll play it during the upcoming performance.
The songwriter said she relates her craft to baking a cake.
“You’ve got the recipe, you’ve got the ingredients in your kitchen, you’ve got the oven and you’ve got your bowl that you start putting it all together in. Then throwing it in the pan and putting it in the oven and it rises and it becomes something completely different,” she said. “It’s like a chemical process, almost … We have our lives that we live every day, and our history of our lives, and our dream world and our subconscious and our unconscious. And then we have the song that we might want to write and the process takes place … And it might not end up being the song that you thought you were going to write … but you’ve made it work and it’s rarely what it started out to be.”
She said her music will often develop and change over time, and that the impact of the songs can be different when played in different venues and with different instruments, resulting in varied interpretations for audiences with each performance.
“The songs are kind of alive and they change as we grow, as we allow them to,” Lavender said.
Thursday’s show will include original works, as well as reinventions by the duo that blend genres.
One of Lavender’s most favoured reinventions is a “lounge-version” of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, which she said diverges from the famous riff that is “banned in guitar stores across the country” until the very end.
The songwriter said she always dedicates her version of the song to Nick Blagona, the sound engineer and producer of her last album, The Unforeseen, who was also the engineer for Deep Purple.
“[Blagona] lived the ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ phrase … He was one of those guys who was just constant in that world,” she said, and added that she felt privileged and honoured to have had the opportunity to work with him before his death.
Another reinvention Lavender said she intends on playing is a mash-up of Over the Rainbow with Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing.
The Lighthouse Bistro performance will include plenty of moments of engagement between the duo and their audience, since Lavender believes that aspect to be the best part of live music.
“I love to perform and the audience is a huge part of music and of my writing. Just being there and getting to know the audience and letting them in. I love that part.”
Further information on Lavender can be found on her Facebook page Linda Lavender Music. Her songs can be accessed online through YouTube and SoundCloud under the same name.