Braden Gates and Ken Stead

Jun 2015

From Edmonton, Alberta, Braden Gates is quickly becoming one of the most intriguing singer/songwriters in the province. A born raconteur in both his songwriting and song introductions, he is often compared to a young Loudon Wainwright: for his similar grimacing as he hits the notes and the sharpness of his observation and sly humor. Drawn to those with a story to tell, Gates aims to communicate these stories in a way that brings people together – which is often the case in one of his intimate live shows. Gates’ second album, Ferris Wheel, is a combination of intricate guitar work, driving fiddle playing and honest story telling. Engineered by celebrated recording engineer and producer, Miles Wilkinson — a man who’s worked on records by everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Guy Clark to Rosanne Cash, Gates’ latest work focuses on personal experiences as well as the stories of those that he has crossed paths with throughout his travels.

After five years in Michigan and Minnesota, Alberta singer songwriter Ken Stead has returned to Edmonton, a few thousand miles of road behind him, and a few hundred songs to be written on the road ahead.
Ken has always been a singer and a musician. At nine, he appeared in a Broadway version of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” alongside Donny Osmond. The money he earned from his appearances was used to purchase a much loved piano and he was soon playing tunes by ear. Piano eventually gave way to guitar and musical theatre evolved into something else initially – and with some family consternation-rap. Blond-haired kid, musical theatre, big, big voice, and… rap. Paints a picture, doesn’t it? Ken tells the story of being forced to go to the Edmonton Folk Fest as a punishment from his mother. He had no idea he was about to take a step into a world he had never quite imagined existed. And then he heard Eric Bibb perform, opening the door to that moment of magic that raised the hair on his skin and touched something deep in his soul. Ken’s life changed. He began to write music that takes us on journeys we do not expect when we first sit down to listen. We are drawn in by his smile, his quiet charm and gentle way of talking. Today he writes of his experiences, his joy with life and the world around him, his faith and hope that love and peace will always prevail.
This talented folk musician is inspired by family, friends, and the people he meets on the way. His songs reflect life’s experiences, his spiritual journey, and lessons he has learned on the road. He delivers in an uplifting and affirming manner that leaves an audience energized, connected, and knowing that life is better at the end of the evening than it was at the beginning. Ken writes with depth and insight and his strong voice takes his listeners on a journey along with him, drawing them in, lifting them up, and leaving them wanting to hear more when the song is over.
In 2008, Ken recorded “Start Over”, a three song EP. He was on CKUA Radio Network, was in demand at venues around town, and was a busy musician. After moving to Michigan, Ken performed both as an acoustic artist and with the folk group, “Ken Stead and the Messengers.” “Start Over” received radio play and Ken was on local television with his group. In 2011 he moved to Minnesota, started a new job, and continued to perform as an individual acoustic artist. Music has always been Ken’s first passion and he has returned to Edmonton to focus on writing and performing new material. Ken is also traveling around Alberta, mentoring other songwriters alongside Rhea March and the School of Song.
Ken’s first EP, “Start Over” is no longer available, but Ken is in the studio, recording a new CD. He is currently performing at venues in and around Edmonton. Find your way to a performance; once you have listened to this dynamic artist, it will stay with you, resonating, imploring you to listen again.