WINCHESTER – Three-time Juno Award winning singer-songwriter Fred Penner will be gracing the stage at the Old Town Hall Fri., Sept. 15 at a sold-out show for the Ontario Festival of Small Halls tour.
The beloved childhood musician said the village should look forward to “reconnecting with an old friend,” during his first performance of the tour.
“I’m excited to meet the audience, and connecting with people who either grew up listening to my music or watching Fred Penner’s Place, and haven’t seen me in a long time,” said Penner in an interview with the Winchester Press. “I like the up-close-and-personal feel that can be generated by playing in a smaller venue. For me, that’s been my style for a long time.”
Penner’s diverse repertoire includes 12 children’s albums, countless packed live shows for audiences across North America, composing the music for APTN/YTV’s Tipi Tales, and writing the score and hosting the TV documentary The Simple Way.
The guy who crawled magically out of that hollow log for 12 seasons and nearly 900 episodes on the hit CBC TV show Fred Penner’s Place still receives fan mail to this day from some of the 55 million viewers.
He recently entered into his 45th year of providing family entertainment.
“The energy that I bring into my performances has been a part of my life for so long…This is what I do,” said Penner about his four-decade career. “It’s been consistent, and people have always supported me. But every performance has its own life. That inspires me to connect with the audience, to bring my music and stories into the space. It’s an exciting journey, and an honour to be allowed to do this for as long as I have.”
Penner’s experience working with physically and mentally challenged youth when he was in university set the stage for his lifelong mission of connecting with people, especially kids, in the universal language of music.
It wasn’t until his sister, who had Down Syndrome, and his father, both passed away within a year of each other that he decided to do some soul-searching, and eventually decided to become a performer.
“Music has always been part of my contact – it makes sense to connect with kids on that level,” he said. “My sister was a Down Syndrome child, and she was inspiring to me, watching her get consumed, literally, in music and pattern. It was a wonderful beginning of my awareness of the value of music in the life of a child. I’ve always held that in my heart.”
During the Friday night show, Penner will be performing a wide variety of songs from throughout his career – tunes from his early days in the 60s and 70s, as well as some newer, more introspective pieces he said he thinks will fit this type of event. He encourages the audience to “come and get to know Fred a little better.”
After 45 years, Penner could be forgiven for wanting to hang up his guitar and just relax – but he insisted that the word “retirement” is not a part of his vocabulary.
“The creative energy doesn’t stop,” he said. “It just takes new directions.”
The show will start at 7:30 pm, with Teagan McLaren making an appearance alongside Penner.