Sarah Jane Scouten: From Italy’s piazzas to Grizzly plaza

Folk singer/songwriter Sarah Jane Scouten is coming to Revelstoke's Grizzly Plaza, fresh off a tour of Europe.

Fresh off a European tour

Sarah Jane Scouten vividly remembers her first show in Revelstoke — an intimate show at Sangha Bean Cafe alongside her sister.

“Krista (Cadieux, the owner of Sangha Bean) turned the cafe into a tiny concert,” Scouten says. “I stop there every time I drive through Revelstoke. I can’t not go to Sangha Bean, it’s like a magnet.”

Since then, Scouten has performed in several other venues, but her first Revelstoke performance remains her most memorable.

She is returning here this Wednesday, Aug. 19, and Friday, Aug. 21, to play the Summer Street Festival in Grizzly Plaza. Both shows start at 6:30 p.m.

Fresh off the European leg of her tour, the musician, singer and songwriter is working her way through British Columbia. After a stint at the Robson Valley Music Festival in Dunster, B.C., Scouten will be rolling into Revelstoke.

Scouten is currently touring with her long time friend, Elise Boeur, a gifted fiddler who is on a free ride scholarship at Berklee School of Music in Boston. Scouten, who has a “semi secret obsession” with the fiddle, credits Boeur with improving Scouten’s own fiddling skills. “She plays my music well,” Scouten elaborates, “As well as any other style, including Scandinavian, Appalachian, and even Arabic.”

Scouten’s style is folk and all the variations the term “folk” can encompass, from string to bluegrass to honky tonk to maritime. She was a nominee for the 2014 Canadian Folk Music Awards for her critically acclaimed record The Cape.

“Traditional North American and British music takes me back to another time and my imagination can run wild,” says Scouten. “It feels akin to a soundtrack.”

When asked about the differences between performing in Europe and Canada, Scouten notes that in Europe, Americana music is hip, especially in Italy. “People couldn’t get enough, but didn’t understand a word,” she explains. “I literally had to travel with a translator.”

Records sold like hot cakes. She was, in her own words, rather a novelty.

The most dramatic moment of Scouten’s tour so far took place overseas.

“I was refused entry into Italy because my passport had less than three months until it expired,” she says. “I didn’t know that was a problem, especially as I had been allowed into the UK.”

With no alternative, Scouten headed for the embassy and was granted a temporary passport just in time to make her flight. “I was so happy I gave the passport agent a thank you card. I don’t think that was kosher, but I couldn’t care less, I was back on the road!”

Already working on new music since the launch of her tour, Scouten generally performs songs only when she starts to feel they are no longer her own. “Then they exist independently and I’m not so precious about them,” Scouten says.

Still, audiences should keep their ears open for one of her personal favourite songs, Black Strap Sadie.

Boeur and Scouten together have fun on the stage. “We sing together. We tell silly, somewhat confessional stories,” she says.

The performances will be undoubtedly worth watching.


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