Stewart Legere's new album Quiet the Station has been garnering rave reviews, ardent fans and anticipation for seeing it performed live. The only question was when Toronto would get to experience it. "I've been working on a new theatre project where I collaborate with queer artists from every region of the country," says Legere. "I was chatting with Evalyn Parry at Buddies about it and she knew that I had a record coming out and she offered the space. 'If you're going to do a record release in Toronto, you should do it at Buddies.'"
They settle on Tuesday, June 20 and Legere is "really psyched because at Buddies it's Queer Pride month and there's a whole slew of events. Just before us is Johnnie Walker's show. He's a great friend of mine and he's doing a staged reading of his new show Shove It Down My Throat. We get to go early and see his show and then stay and play some music. And we're going to offer a deal for anyone who wants to stick around after Johnnie's show, there will be a discount. I love Buddies. It's always been a beacon of inspiration for me. Every time I come to Toronto I either go dancing there or see what's happening and see a show. At the Rhubarb Festival I've seen many, many shows. It's a favourite place of mine."
Legere knows his theatre. "I have a theatre company in Halifax called the Accidental Mechanics Group and I also work with a company called Zuppa. I've been doing theatre since I graduated from university here in 2005. So I've been making theatre and touring with theatre for years now." However he doesn't limit his creative urges to one medium. "I've been writing and touring music for five or six years as a solo singer-songwriter and I'm also in a band called The Heavy Blinkers. In the last six months I've been doing shows in support of the record release. I kind of have a bit of theatricality but it's about the music."
Legere explains that, "A lot of times in theatre I'm trying to push or provoke people. For these songs, I just hope that people come and have a really warm night. The show is pretty much a straight-up music show. Tanya Davis, a friend of mine, is coming from Montreal to open and there will be lovely guests and surprises in there. I love being moved by music. I just like creating a sort of warm atmosphere in the show. I want people to have real feelings. Feel free to be in a room that holds that energy. And hopefully walk away feeling steeled, better armed emotionally to go into the night. That's the hope," he laughs.
The other advantage of performing at Buddies during Pride is the joyful queerness of the space. "It's a complicated thing being a relatively new singer-songwriter on the scene," says Legere. "I've seen it with friends of mine who have been around for a long time, they don't necessarily want to admit it but the amount of homophobia and transphobia, and misogyny in the music industry, even in the tender area of the singer-songwriter, is still really pervasive. A friend of mine, when she was getting bigger, there was lots of pressure on all sides, to be quieter about herself. I'm always really proud when other musicians who are queer don't hide it. I think it's really important to support queer artists who don't hide behind the veil of a persona to please people. At the end of the day if the music is good, it will shine through. At the end of the day, at the end of my life I don't want to have a lot of regrets and keeping myself secret is not one I want to spend any time on either personally or professionally."