Steph Macpherson – prairie strings with island grooves

By Jennifer Smith – Kelowna Capital News



With all those ferry delays to cope with no one in their right mind would launch a music career from Victoria.


And yet, as places to write and seek inspiration go, Vancouver Island’s wet, wildly beguiling charm can outshine even a lurid lover affair as muse even from under its perpetual rain clouds.


“There’s this bay down by the Chinese cemetery and the walls of the rock cliff form an echo chamber like an outdoor amphitheatre,” says Steph Macpherson, a Vancouverite who has just released her first full-length CD, no doubt with plenty of accolades to follow.


Macpherson is really from Victoria, though she made the move to the big smoke three years ago in order to build her name and is nearly universally tabbed as hailing from Vancouver. To the city’s credit, one must admit the move worked. She’s already played Lilith Fair, the Rifflandia Festival, BreakOut West and been to Ottawa for JUNOfest.


And living first in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood, then just off Commercial Drive, she got a taste of the high-brow, earthy culture that’s branded B.C. musicians. Yet, even before one flips over her album cover to see Cordova Bay Records listed as her label (Cordova Bay is in Victoria), one might suspect this girl isn’t really from the neighbourhood.


There’s a connectedness to Macpherson’s sound, something like Sarah Harmer achieves with songs for the Niagara Escarpment, though without the activist element, that really leans toward the Island life.


And where Vancouver might not scream alt/country, the genre Macpherson claims, her home in the working-class suburb of Gordon Head in the provincial capital, fits perfectly with her down-home, almost Acadian feel.


Setting aside her ocean-touched trill, Macpherson admits she loves the country instrumentation. With a ukulele, banjo and mandolin in her collection, one can see she has clearly picked a direction and plans on sticking to it; although admittedly she’s still hoping a banjitar might somehow miraculously find its way into her living room so she can get all that down-home appeal without actually having to learn to strum the banjo.


Her parents originally put her in piano and voice lessons to stop the never-ending flow of Disney songs—particularly from the Little Mermaid—and while she’s managed to add guitar to the list, she’s fully ready to admit it could take a little time to add the full range of sounds she would like to see in her music.


Humorous, fun and interesting to chat with nonetheless, Macpherson’s impending show at Fernando’s Pub should be a charmer.


Steph Macpherson plays Fernando’s Pub on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna along with The Archers on May 5 at 9 p.m. There will be a $10 charge.
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