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NextFest 2016: Camelot Folk

Camelot Folk

By Rebecca Lappa
Featuring: Rebecca Lappa, Janice Jacobs, Patrick Dunn, Evan Stewart, Madi Myhre, and Jonah Mallett

Remaining shows: June 9 @ 6:00 p.m.; June 10 @ 6:00 p.m.; June 12 @ 4:00 p.m.

Picture a campfire surrounded by people sitting around it, telling each other stories, exchanging gossip, and singing songs. Now picture that campfire in the fictional kingdom of Camelot. But with electric instruments. This is Camelot Folk, presented as part of NextFest 2016.

Camelot Folk takes its name from the idea of folk music being stories told by the… Folk. In this case, it’s the folk of Camelot who are warming themselves by the fire and gossiping and singing songs about the characters we know from the Arthurian legend. The piece is folk mainly in the sense of the folk telling stories, with the musicians and vocalists leaning more towards rock and jazz as opposed to what you might imagine when you hear “folk”. While I didn’t find a clear plot in Camelot Folk (with the songs being more character-based vignettes and only a few lines of banter between the songs), the music and complexity of the lyrics were well-developed and fun to listen to.

Camelot Folk was definitely different from any other show I’ve seen before, but I can see the piece going on to be part of a midevil theme night or even being further developed into a rock musical with more plot between or as part of the songs.

The run time of Camelot Folk is 40 minutes and remaining shows are June 9 and 10 at 6:00 p.m. and June 12 at 4:00 p.m. in the auditorium at Faculté St. Jean (8406 91 street). Tickets are $10 per show, $18 for a day pass or $40 for a festival pass and can be bought online, by phone (780.453.2440), or in-person at Faculté St. Jean 30 minutes before the performance.


 
Four New Musicals Emerge at Edmonton's Nextfest 2016

Four new musicals emerge at Edmonton's Nextfest 2016

The cast and crew of All That Grows, a new musical by Jacob and Zachary Mouallem, at Nextfest 2016 SUPPLIED

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It’s an unpredictable sort of festival. Nextfest is what happens when you ask the young and original “what’s next?”.

Starting Thursday for 11 days, Edmonton’s spirited and influential 21-year-old multi- disciplinary “emerging artist”  showcase is your chance to check out what the creativity of the next generation of artists looks and feels and sounds like.

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Unpredictable? At 20, Nextfest’s creativity was tested by fire, the blaze that destroyed its Roxy headquarters, the cradle of its civilization. The unexpected result? A record number of venues (29) and participants (750).

The 2016 all-South-Side edition gets creative with shows, events, “performance parties” concentrated at three venues — Theatre Network’s Roxy on Gateway, Campus St.-Jean, and a single gallery for visual art at the Bonnie Doon Centre. It has turned out to be The Year of the New Musical.  

There are no fewer than four on the Nextfest mainstage, each defining “musical” in an an original way. Here’s a glimpse.

ECHOES OF A LOST KING, “a new Dungeons and Dragons musical”

Leif Ingebrigtsen thinks nothing of improvising entire musicals. He had a touring theatre company, Outside Joke, devoted to that improbable achievement in his home town of Winnipeg. And the high-risk combo of improv and music is why he moved here, inspired by Rapid Fire Theatre.

Echoes of a Lost King has been three years in the making, says the 28-year-old Ingebrigtsen, its creator, director and sound designer. It’s his directing debut; “its most of my debuts,” he laughs. 

“I love musicals,” Ingebrigtsen says. And improvising them on the spot has given him an alert sense of “how to arc them, why songs happen at certain moments.”

“But I didn’t want (mine) to be normal people who break into song. It’s so perfect to sing in the Dungeons and Dragons world … adventure, heroes, monsters, life and death, so exciting!”

The cast of Echoes of a Lost King, a new musical by Leif Ingebrigtsen at Nextfest 2016, plays Dungeons and Dragons

The cast of Echoes of a Lost King, a musical by Leif Ingebrigtsen, plays Dungeons and Dragons. SUPPLIED

In Echoes of a Lost King, Ingebrigtsen’s five actors live in two worlds. They’re game players, and they jump into some 20 heroic character roles. His music matches this intricacy. “In the real world, it sounds Off-Broadway upbeat, with bass guitar, piano, drums. In the game world, it’s very stylized, instrument tones from lutes and guitars.” 

Writing a musical — which Ingebrigtsen does without using musical notation since, amazingly, he learns all music by ear — is “a mix of super-easy and super-hard,” he says cheerfully. “I went on a couple of writing retreats, just me and my keyboard.”  

“It’s started me on my way. I’m so excited; this is so energizing: I already have my next four projects in mind!”

HALF THE WORLD

 “It’s an important moment in Canadian history that people don’t know much about,” says Julia Stanski of the musical she and Sarah Dickson created with musician/composer Curtis Ward.

Half The World is set in 1913 Winnipeg, as the suffragette movement gains traction. Their 16-year-old protagonist Lily has just moved to the city from a small town to avoid an arranged marriage. Stanski and Dickson, in Grade 12 at Archbishop MacDonald High, originally wrote it for the school’s one-act festival. And Ellen Chorley, director of NextNextfest, the festival’s younger branch, was blown away. 

Musical historical fiction was a merger of inspiration and form, Stanski says. “We both understand musicals more than plays. And we’re both passionate feminists.” 

“Only the female characters sing, for reasons both theatrical and practical,” says Stanski. “It’s impossible to get boys to audition for anything, for one thing. And because the show is about the female condition, music, the more powerful means of expression,” should be theirs. 

Half The World isn’t a timid foray into musical theatre. Stanski and Dickson co-direct a cast of 12. They’re not in it, though. “We were careful not to write a star vehicle for ourselves.” 

ALL THAT GROWS

If Jacob Mouallem hadn’t seen Vigilante, the Catalyst rock musical, All That Grows might never have happened.

“I loved it! I was blown away by the storytelling!” declares Mouallem, who’s in Grade 12 at Ross Sheppard. “To see the way a musical could get stepped up, that musicals can be just as complex as other plays…. If it hadn’t been been for Vigilante, I’d probably have just written a story,” he says of a musical that’s “set in the world after the world ends.”

“A few people manage to survive. Their lives aren’t the best. Then somebody shows up on their doorstep, and everything changes — in ways you’ll have to see the show to find out,” he laughs. Yes, it’s a dark horror/thriller; yes, it has a black comic streak: that much I can reveal, along with the fact that Mouallem himself plays “an older character who’s decrepit and can’t work.”

Mouallem, who had the title role in Ross Shep’s musical The Wiz this year, wrote the book and lyrics. His 21-year-old brother Zachary wrote the music, in a variety of forms and styles tailored to the characters: “a love song, one that’s musical theatre-y, one that sounds almost folky.”

Is Mouallem headed for a career in theatre? As a musical-writing team The Mouallem Brothers has a nice ring. “I’m going into physics,” he says.

CAMELOT FOLK

Camelot Folk isn’t the first musical that Rebecca Lappa, age 19, has written. Three years ago she startled Nextfest audiences with a folk opera, The Earl, based on a long Tennyson poem. Two Nextfests ago there was a one-woman musical, The Great Edmonton Elephant Stampede of 1926, inspired by a bizarre event in Edmonton history.

Now, there’s a musical culled from the Camelot mythology, and written for three actor/singers (herself included) and a three-piece band. In its first outing, last year as a reading, Lappa had “a Gypsy telling stories about Camelot,” she says. “Now, it’s a couple of travellers, commoners, telling folk tales of what once was.”

The eight songs of the 45-minute piece, Lappa says, live on the folky to jazz spectrum. “We banter between songs, argue back and forth a little” about versions of the oft-told tales, Lancelot and Guinevere, for example. Since graduating from Victoria School of the Arts, she gravitated to MacEwan University’s music program. “All the cast are MacEwan students, and they’ve so great about lending us practise rooms and everything.” 

What sparked her interest in Camelot? Lappa, who has always combined music and theatre in an unusually intense way, laughs. “I’ve always been fascinated with hippies.” 

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A Quick Word With Rebecca Lappa by Tom Murray, Penguin Eggs Winter 2015

A Quick Word with Rebecca Lappa by Tom Murray

Penguin Eggs: Winter  2015

 

It’s a strange thing to consider someone to be a veteran performer when they’re only just turned 18, but singer-songwriter Rebecca Lapp can easily make that claim. 

The Edmonton resident has been writing songs since she was 10, supplementing these early artistic efforts by picking up gigs in both music and television during her pre-teen years.  It wasn’t too long after the multi-instrumentalist (keyboard, guitar, banjo) started writing that she was releasing EP’s of her early work, winning songwriting awards and popping up at Canadian folk festivals.  Her first nomination for a Young Performer of the Year award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards came with her debut full length album, 2011’s Not in Nederland, kicking off a run of nominations through the ensuring years. 

It seemed as though she might be doomed to staying a perpetual nominee, especially up against a strong field in 2015 that included Coastline, Robbie Bankes and Mira Meikle.  She finally pulled down the Penguin Eggs sponsored prize on her fifth try for her latest release, Tattered Rose, which was produced by Edmonton music legends Barry Allen and Gord Matthews.  Now studying music at MacEwan University, Lappa is considering her future in the industry and enjoying a much deserved win.

 

Tom Murray: You’ve been releasing an album a year since 2011’s Not in Neverland: are you already at work on a new one, and do you see it being different from Tattered Rose?

 

Rebecca: Well, I’ve been working on a project with (Calgary-based producer and guitarist) Russell Broom.  It’s a bit more contemporary, we’re thinking it’s probably going to end up maybe in the alt-pop genre which means I can do rock and other things.  I do like to try a lot of different stuff.

 

Tom Murray:  Do you feel constrained by being lumped into the folk music genre?

 

Rebecca:  No, I think I would say that, simply because there are so many different types of folk music out there, and it would depend on what type it is that you’re playing.

 

Tom Murray:  I take it that you like exploring different musical areas, though?

 

Rebecca:  Definitely, that’s a lot of fun.  I’d like to do more co-writing with lots of different people, write for a living and definitely tour once I’m out of college.  I’ve written a few songs with Olivia Wik, before, and I did some co-writing when I went to the SongRise Music Conference in Red Deer earlier this year.  I haven’t found that many people to do it with, though basically anybody who wants to co-write songs, I’m down with it.

 

Tom Murray: You’ve definitely got a distinctive style of songwriting, as evidence by 2014’s Ode to Tennyson, which was based around poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

 

Rebecca:  I’ve always been very into lyrics and vocal melodies; these are the things that I think of. I’m starting to take the music more seriously, though.

 

Tom Murray:  How did it feel to win the Young Performer of the Year award after so many years of being nominated?

 

Rebecca:  It was pretty amazing to finally get it after so many years.  I mean, finally! Everybody else in the category this year was amazing, which made it all the more special.  To be honest, I really didn’t think I was going to win, so I wasn’t prepared. I was wearing high heels that night, and I had them next to me while I was sitting down.  I was getting ready to clap for whoever won, and they were like “Rebecca”.  Uh-oh, now I had to put on my shoes to go accept it!

 

Tom Murray:  What are your plans for the next year or so?  Will your university studies cut into your budding career?

 

Rebecca: Well, there’s this recording that I’m working on with Russell.  If I get some grants for it and things go well, I may cut my program down form 4 years to 2.  It all depends, I haven’t decided yet.  The courses have been very helpful for me, though. I’m in a jazz-based program that has things like composition, writing charts and theory, which would help me develop some skills that I’m maybe not so good at, the sort of thinks that will help if I’m talking to a band.

 

Tom Murray:  You’re attempting to round out your skills so that you’re not just depending on being simply a singer-songwriter, I take it?

 

Rebecca:  What I’m trying to do is stick as many fingers into as many pies as I can. From talking to and watching other people in the music business that seems to be the way to go: like Alex Vissia, who is an amazing performer and also a graphic designer on the side.  She does things like album artwork.  I’m not skilled in that way, but I’m seeing what else I can do in the business to supplement what I really want to so.

 

 
#YEG Music Magazine "Tattered Rose" Review Nov 24, 2015

REBECCA LAPPA - TATTERED ROSE


ARTIST: REBECCA LAPPA | ALBUM: TATTERED ROSE | RELEASE DATE: JUNE 12, 2015


What do you do when you have to follow up a successful album that earned Edmonton Music Award for Adult Alternative Recording of the Year? You buckle down, enlist award winning producers Barry Allen and Gord Mathews, along with a host of strong musicians from the Edmonton and Calgary area and create something magical. Which is what Rebecca Lappa has done with her new album Tattered Rose. Leaning on her strong writing skills and powerful vocals, Rebecca delivers an amazing, fresh new folk record. Even with just seven songs, Rebecca manages to captivate the listener. Each song tells a story; a history lesson for some brought to life by angelic vocals and inspiring musicianship.



MUST LISTEN TO TRACKS: Anchor Tattoo & Pieces Of Me


3STARS
 
Local Canadian Folk Award Winner Busts Genres (Gigcity 2015/11/17)

Local Canadian folk award winner busts genres

Rebecca Lappa GigCity EdmontonThe evidence is piling up – that Rebecca Lappa is at the top of the class of great new artists from Edmonton. Now what to call her?

The 18-year-old singer-songwriter was the only local winner at the Canadian Folk Music Awards held in Edmonton on Nov. 8. She was named Young Performer of the Year. Earlier this year, Lappa’s latest album Tattered Rose was judged to be the “Adult Alternative Album of the Year” at the Edmonton Music Awards. Last year she was a finalist in the “Youth at the Blues” contest at the Beaumont Blues Festival. Coming next year is record of more “contemporary stuff,” Lappa says. In short, pop.

“I want to try everything,” she says, every style, every genre, with any co-writer who’s willing. Her topics and lyrics may be unconventional – her last album,Ode to Tennyson, was a collection of original songs based entirely on one poem by the 19thCentury poet – but her songs live in roots music. At the moment, anyway. She’s happy with the proliferation of folky music on the pop charts.

“That’s encouraging to me,” Lappa says, “because then I know I don’t have to be techno to get in pop radio.”

She’s tried electronic music, too, so don’t rule it out.

Lappa’s not so “new,” it turns out. She’s one of these child prodigies blessed with knowing exactly what she wanted to do from an early age. Tattered Rose is her fifth full-length album. She also has two EPs, the first coming out when she was 13. Grants and parents helped with recording expenses, and between finishing high school, Lappa also found the time for extensive vocal instruction, which she now continues at MacEwan University’s music program. She also plays piano, guitar and banjo. Fans rave about her voice: a rich, soft, soulful tone deployed with obvious technical proficiency. She could learn to let loose a little more, get a little grit, but there’s no doubt Lappa would impress the judges on The Voice.

If that’s what she wanted to do.

Being a singer isn’t her first goal. On how she found the time and energy to attain the career output of an artist twice her age, Lappa explains, “I’ve been writing music since around nine years old, and ever since then I’ve been trying to get out there and play. I’ve been working at this for a while. It’s what I love to do. I really enjoy writing music. It’s one of things I’d like to say that that I’m good at, and I enjoy singing. The reason I sing and pay for people is because I have music I want to share. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.”

Record labels and publishers: please commence the bidding war.

Catch Lappa at the Black Dog on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 4 pm. No cover.

 
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