(Toronto, ON/Regina, SK)
Jeffery Straker is the happy result of a church organist and auctioneer falling in love, getting married and having children. The classically trained pianist swears he was born under the piano on the family farm. His clever, thoughtful songs often draw upon characters he encountered growing up in his 250-person Saskatchewan town, illuminating the lives of people like Mrs. Bell, from its sole South Asian family. A clever lyricist, his energetic piano-based folk pop is a reminder of the power of a singer/songwriter accompanying himself on the keyboard. Additional orchestration is welcome and adds to the fun, but ultimately it's the artist and the instrument, playing as a single organism, at the centre of it all.
Straker is an unabashedly Canadian artist. One of his albums, Vagabond, was recorded on a Glenn Gould Steinway grand piano, and produced by Festival alum composer/songwriter and producer Danny Michel. Regardless of his Canadian bona fides, Straker has a special storytelling ability and musical playfulness that creates a classic cabaret feel and almost theatrical sense of timing, adding humour and poignancy to his songs and dynamic performances.