Stephen Fearing at the Carleton

I journeyed out to the Carleton again this Sunday evening, this time to see Stephen Fearing.  I’d had one of those melancholy days we all have from time to time, so this show was just the right thing to pick up my spirits.


In addition to being a brilliant songwriter, this man who married music, is also a wonderful show man.  Throughout his performance Stephen shared some of life lessons.  To be nicer to our neighbours for example, or that there is a time to cry about love gone wrong, and a time to stop.


His lyrics are sometimes succinct, and sometimes drawn out, but always brilliant in their poignancy.  While encompassing many musical genres, he plays the guitar as though it were his own tiny orchestra backing him.  The delightful instrumental, Whoville, was a fun surprise too.


I’m not a musician, but I do find Stephen’s songs very structurally interesting and multi-layered.  This prompted a wikipedia lookup  where I learned there many elements that can comprise a song, in addition to the chorus we are all familiar with.  A song can have an intro, pre-chorus, bridge, collision, vocal runs, outro, and ad lib.  Wow…who knew?  I think it’s likely that his songs touch on all of these elements.  Just for fun, my plan is to take voice lessons from Kim Wempe soon.  Maybe she and I can study Stephen’s songs as part of the musical theory portion, as they seem to be such great examples.


I love so many songs from his vast repertoire, but a standout for me in this performance was one of his newer songs, Johnny’s Lament, which was written for Johnny Cash.  And also a special highlight for me was his seamless segue from his own song, Man O’War, into a John Martyn song, I don’t want to know.


Just like a good book you can’t put down, and are sad when it’s finished, the show seemed to be over as soon as it began.  I can’t imagine how many hours he would have had to play to accommodate all the requests from the crowd.   He left us with Goodnight Moon, an impossibly pretty send off.


Last week in an interview on, Stephen said he wanted to plug in and have a beer with some of his musical friends here in Halifax.  I guess they heard the call because a who’s who of local musicians showed up during this first show in Halifax since moving here last summer.  He’s quite an addition to the East Coast and so many are happy he has chosen to be here, and came out to embrace him.


There’s never any shortage of generosity and good spirit in our music community, and there is a growing trend among artists to become involved with World Vision.  Stephen is one of these special people, as are Garnet Rogers and many other musicians.


Throughout the evening he managed to find sponsors for two of the three children whose stories he shared with us, and I’m sure the third child will not be long in finding a sponsor at Stephen’s prompting.  He was also encouraging his musician friends on to get on board, which is a worthy cause to discuss over beer indeed.


I am thankful I had the opportunity to be part of this warm Halifax welcome for Stephen Fearing.  Let’s hear it for many more wonderful shows!

Collaborate or Collapse

Five Boxes Full