Updated: Aug 5
By Will Yannacoulias
Prince Albert born singer-songwriter Matt Remenda returned to his hometown July 23, performing an hour long set to kick off the EARCandy Music Festival at the EA Rawlinson Center. The Matt Remenda Ensemble’s open air set was energetic, smooth and well attended despite the early afternoon time slot, a relaxed, flawless show from a group that performs well over a hundred shows a year. NSMZ caught up with the band immediately afterwards to chat about the show, the future, and what it’s like coming home to perform.
“It’s the first time I’ve been back in Prince Albert for at least three years” Remenda said, fresh off the Rawlinson stage. “The last time was to play the first Chester Fest in 2019. I’ve lived in Saskatoon for at least a decade now so coming back to the Rawlinson Center to play, going back in the green room, these are the old stomping grounds. It’s definitely cathartic to return here to perform.”
The Ensemble performed the entirety of their 2019 EP First The Heart, several new unreleased songs, and surprised with a chill, fun cover of Gnarles Barkley’s funk/soul classic “Crazy”. “That’s why we do that one and why we do it at the end of the set” keyboard playerCameron Baribeau shared, “because it’s so unexpected. We probably enjoy that one a little too much!”
Onstage the band was rounded out by drummer Nathan Abramyk, who performed as the entire rhythm section as he brilliantly filled in for bassist Michael Stankowski at the same time, handling both instruments with ease. “That syncopation is just how my brain is wired” Abramyk reflected. “The guy who inspired me to do it is a guy from New York named Nate Wood, the stuff he does is crazy. Our bass player is taking a step back for a while so instead of trying to find someone who could fit the group I thought ‘I have a bass, I’ve been practicing, let’s see if this could work’”.
Despite the promising new material performed on the EARCandy stage, live commitments have kept the Matt Remenda Ensemble from getting back into the studio. “Not a lot of recording but we’ve done a lot of writing” Remenda explained. “We’ve been really fortunate during COVID because there’s a few outdoor venues around Saskatoon we’ve been able to continue to play with, so we play three times a week, and it’s been that way all through the pandemic. We played almost seventy shows already in 2022, and lots more to come.”
First The Heart is available on all streaming services. The Matt Remenda Ensemble will next perform at Saskatoon’s Black Fox July 24th.