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Fraser Valley gets folksy with concert series kickoff

 

 

Singer-songwriter John Statz’s (above) latest album, “Grounded,” was released in August 2021. The album features solo, acoustic songs that Statz composed during 2020.
Meg Soyars/Sky-Hi News

Denver-based folk musician John Statz has traveled the world with his guitar, playing everywhere from bustling cities like London and Dublin, to quaint mainland Europe towns in Germany and Italy. But on April 29, he was in Fraser to kick off Fraser Valley Folk’s spring concert series.

Statz’s melodies lifted out of Fraser’s intimate Historic Church as listeners swayed to his every note and every word. In original songs, Statz’s thoughtful lyrics on love and life’s tribulations piqued the listener’s imagination, putting them in scene he created. The smooth, melodic strumming from his guitar enhanced his storytelling.

Many of Statz’s songs are inspired by his travels as a musician. He sang of the loneliness and uncertainty that comes with life on the road, especially in his career’s early stages. His song “Tulsa” was inspired an “awful early gig” he had there. It was at a Christian coffee shop on a Monday night. “Working late into the mornings, sleeping through the afternoons, I still dream of Arizona, but I guess Tulsa has to do,” he crooned.



As with all artistic pursuits, there’s self-doubt, but Statz’s natural humor and optimism pulled him through many dark or stressful moments. Between sets, he told the audience of his former setbacks with a wry smile and dry punchline. During a tour years ago in the U.K., it rained almost the entire time he was there. His passion is hiking, so he couldn’t stay indoors.

“There was a window where it wasn’t raining; I went out and it started downpouring,” he said. “It was that kind of tour.”



Thankfully, during last month’s tour in the U.K., bluebird skies let him get in lots of hiking. Statz spoke of the joy he felt in being able to tour again after the pandemic. The people he’s met while touring also come to life in his lyrics.

“I steal their stories,” he joked to the crowd. “That’s my writing process.”

These songs describe nuances of relationships and missed opportunities.

Statz finished his set with the song, “Mom and Dad,” a tribute to his parents, Bambi and John Statz Sr. The song is about a fishing trip they took together.

“I feel love for them, and how they love each other…you can see their years of friendship even from a distant shore; with my love for them, somehow there’s more,” he sang. It was a fitting end to the night, since Bambi and John Sr. were the reason Statz was playing.

In 2015, Bambi and John Sr. were inspired to hold a folk concert in their home, with 40 people in attendance. Statz had introduced them to the concept of house concerts, performing for the appreciative crowd. That night, the couple came up with idea for Fraser Valley Folk. Statz helped get their idea off the ground.

Bambi and John Sr. had moved to Grand County a few years before their inaugural house concert.

“We loved the area and the people; we became familiar with the music venues up here and really appreciated them,” Bambi said. “We felt that opportunities for jazz, blues, rock and classical were great here, but didn’t see a consistent outlet for folk.”

They surveyed the guests who had attended their house concert and discovered many were interested in an ongoing series. The couple chose to hold it during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall), when live events drop off.

They chose the Fraser Historic Church as the home for their concert series, as the church’s small size and hushed ambiance was perfect for a “house concert” setting. Bambi, who is a quilter, decorated the backdrop of the stage with musically-themed quilts from around the country.

A quilt that hangs on the stage of the Fraser Historic Church created by Bambi Statz, who co-founded Fraser Valley Folk with her husband, John. Bambi sewed together row-by-row mini quilts to form the backdrop. She traveled all over the country and into Canada to collect musically-themed row-by-rows to add to her collection.
Meg Soyars/Sky-Hi News

“Everyone loves the acoustics here!” Bambi said. “It’s an intimate setting, and a very good listening venue…it’s satisfying for both the audience and the performers for this genre of music.”

The Statz’s have offered their concerts since 2015, with three in the fall and three in spring. They ask for a $15 donation at the door, with the funds going to the musicians, snack offerings and rent.

Lovers of folk music can look forward to both Jackson Emmer (playing May 20) and Sam Amstrong-Zickefoose (playing June 17) in the tucked away church. They also have the special opportunity to talk one-on-one to the musicians after their sets. For fans of John Statz who are ready to hear more songs and stories, his next concert will be on Sunday, June 5, in Jamestown, Colorado.

If you’re a professional folk artist with original music and you’d like to perform, email fraservalleyfolk@gmail.com. For information on upcoming events or to follow John, visit Fraser Valley Folk’s Facebook page or JohnStatz.com.

 


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