“Let’s cut to the chase: Vagabond is one of the most faultlessly conceived and meticulously executed albums in any genre to come out of Canada in a long time… shifting moods and lyrics framed by thrilling chord changes, each one strikingly emphasized in (Danny) Michel’s production… There’s rarely a note, chord or word too many or too few”
- Toronto Star (Oct 9, 2012)
Singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Straker performs over 100 shows per year across Canada. He recently recorded for CBC radio’s ‘Canada Live’, and had a music video rise to the top 10 (#6) on Canada’s Much More Music. His album ‘Step Right Up’ was the #5 selling album in his home-land of Saskatchewan in August 2010, ahead of both Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. He’s sure neither of them cared. But he is sure that he, in fact, did. He launched a new album in 2011, ‘under the soles of my shoes’, and toured Canada in support of it with shows ranging from intimate house concerts to a sold-out orchestral debut with the full Regina Symphony Orchestra (Oct 2011). His songs have played on both CBC and commercial radio.
“Rufus Wainwright, as well as K.D. Lang are among the Canadians making essential and beautiful music. Add the name Jeffery Straker to that list”
– Chicago Free Press, Gregg Shapiro (Jan ‘09)
Straker has completed a new recording, ‘Vagabond’, released Oct 2 2012. The album was produced by Canadian multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter Danny Michel and they used one of Glenn Gould’s pianos at the CBC in Toronto for the project. The album debuted in the top 20 on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts, has charted in the top 10 on both Winnipeg & Halifax college radio and was a top 20 selling album in the province of Saskatchewan in it’s 2nd week. Michel’s skilled production and arrangement savvy lend the album an earthy, organic quality allowing the songs to breathe and wrap around the listener. The recording has left critics speaking very favourably.
Jeffery and his piano-folk-pop-cabaret music are often compared to a mixture of early Elton John, Ben Folds, Sarah Slean, and Harry Chapin. Originally from small town Saskatchewan, the classically trained pianist was raised by a church organist mother and an auctioneer father. He swears he was born under the piano on the family farm. All this might explain his ability to share songs with audiences. Highlights of his recent touring include: a debut performance at the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), his 4th invite to the Breakout West Festival (Western Canadian Music Awards), Regina Folk Festival performance, and showcasing at Canadian Music Week (Toronto). He has also performed at JunoFest and NXNE and recently toured in Ghana (Africa) in early 2012.
His songwriting has seen him become a national top 10 finalist in the Canadian Radiostar Songwriting Competition and a top 20 finalist in the global Unisong Competition as well as twice placing in the top 10 in the prestigious Mountain Stage Newsong contest.
Jeffery is a musical descendant of Beethoven through teacher-student lineage (seriously…see his website for the full story). He was a student of the Royal Conservatory of Music and received his licentiate diploma in piano performance from Trinity College, London when he was 19.
Jeffery thanks the Saskatchewan Arts Board and FACTOR for their support of his music.
THE BEETHOVEN CONNECTION:
His musical prowess and flare at the piano has an incredibly famous connection – it’s true. While studying at the conservatory of music at the University of Regina, Jeffery worked with one Frank Crumly, who had been taught by Thomas Manshardt, who previously had been taught by Howard Wells, who was a student of Leschetizky (acknowledged as the greatest teacher of all time), who was taught by Czerny, who, you guessed it, was taught by Beethoven. A similar lineage through Manshardt connects Jeffery to Chopin. Quite the piano pedigree.
Some interesting tidbits about Jeffery:
- He holds a degree (B.Sc.) in plant biology from the University of Saskatchewan
- Jeffery’s early album Songs from Highway 15 is a collection of 10 songs inspired by people and places in the Canadian prairies. Highway 15 is the road that runs past his parents farm.
- Jeffery has performed as far away as Ghana, Ireland, China, New York City, and Panama (with the Canadian Embassy). He performed in a mountain town in Panama where the venue was a cathedral and the whole first row was nuns in habits. This has never happened again since. It quite possibly never will.
- He traveled to Ghana, Africa in Feb 2012 and performed a series of 6 shows and conducted songwriting workshops with local musicians and school students.
- While recording part of Step Right Up in LA, Jeffery slept at the famed Alta Cienega Motel in room 32 where Jim Morrison slept during his Hollywood stint in the late 60’s (see photo page on his website site for pix)
- Jeffery’s first piano teacher was Vicky Young in Punnichy SK. Mrs Dawn Mctavish of Raynmore SK was his next teacher, followed by Frank Crumly at the Conservatory of Music, University of Regina
- Jeffery did do some vocal training in Toronto with the talented Elizabeth Davidson. She actually helped him ‘find’ about 12 new notes he didn’t know he could sing – up in his high range. It was a strange awakening. But Elizabeth works magic.
- Tykie is a real person! (see song ‘Tykie’s comin out’) Jeffery went to school with him.
- The song ‘Special K’ was inspired by a real incident in a WholeFoods grocery store in Toronto.
- Jeffery eats peanut butter out of the jar. It’s not pretty.
- Vagabond (2012)
- under the soles of my shoes (2011)
- Step Right Up (indie release 2008/full national release 2010)
- Songs from Highway 15 (2006)
- Petrified (2003)
- Middle of Somewhere (2002) (2-song single)