Estevan’s Orpheum Theatre hosted the Evening with Michelle Wright on Saturday.
Her career started almost 38 years ago. The first time she hit the road was in 1980 when she told her mother that she would just try it for the summer.
Many great songs, performances and miles later, Wright, one of the most recognized Canadian country singers, came to Estevan to tell her stories and play the best of her music to her fans.
Estevan Mercury had a chance to talk to the country music star prior to her Estevan Evening with Michelle Wright.
You were on the road for many years. How did it feel to once again leave home?
Admittedly leaving home has its moments, because my husband and I are not going to be together for a few days. And our dogs have to be taken care of and all the rest without me there. But I’m really happy to be out here. I’ve got a wonderful group of guys around me and it’s always fun to play music and to be out here, so I kind of psychologically shift all my mind a little bit as soon as I get out here and start setting up the stage. Of course I speak to my husband around 15 times a day, OK, and now I’m doing this. This trip is a little shorter than a lot of them, so it wasn’t too hard to get used to.
Your first stop of this tour was Regina. How did the concert go?
It was really great. We’ve got a great bunch of musicians around me and a great team of people, so I was pretty relaxed.
When did you arrive in Estevan?
We got in last night (March 15), we all had a nice meal together and then I went and slept for a few hours. And then I got up today, got a work out in, and came here, got set up for the show.
Quite a few people praised the acoustics of the Orpheum Theatre before. What do you think about it?
My sound engineer is just giggling; he just loves this whole venue. Really enjoying the history of it first of all, he is a real history buff and he is somebody who really enjoys indulging in some of the history of the towns we go to… He was just talking to me backstage about how excited he was about how great the sound was in this venue. You got complete control of the sound (snaps fingers). Here it’s dead but it’s warm at the same time.
What do you expect from this night?
Always expect the unexpected. I just look forward for sharing music with the audience tonight and hopefully they will laugh along with me and just the memories themselves… In Regina people in the autograph line were coming sharing stories, ‘I remember the first time I came and saw you was ta-ta-ta…’ One lady who used to bartend at a club I used to play at, it was 1983-84, she was in the lineup sharing with me that she remembers bartending at that place called The Pump in Regina when I used to come through there. Nowadays it’s a kind of fun to share hits with the audience and know how much they appreciate hearing them. Sharing new stuff with the audience as well. They like to hear new songs and like to hear little stories around them. And I’m enjoying the fact that people are coming through the lineup and sharing a lot of memories with me.
You plan on having more similar tours travelling across Canada and the U.S. this year. What kind of value do these types of concerts have for you?
The importance to me and the value that I get out of this as an artist is just a sort of a dialling it back and just settling in to the music and the songs in a way that is different than when you are out there running from one end of stage to the other. I have to stand still, that’s not the easiest thing for me to do. It’s actually a bit of the discipline. This requires a different kind of discipline than other shows do. So you have to think about that, and you have to be present and be in that discipline.
And Wright was present through this entire show that went just as she hoped. The theatre was full. People came from Estevan and the area to listen to great hits and new compositions.
Three songs into the concert and the auditorium started to move along. Five songs in and people started singing along.
A lot of grey haired spectators, and some younger fans, they all seemed to enjoy a sincere, open, a bit playful and very soulful performance. In the autograph lineup some people did share how they first fell for Wright’s music even before she received recognition. And Wright thanked the crowd for allowing her to do what she loves through all these years and for making her songs No. 1 hits.
Wright and her band also said that they were very impressed with the warm hospitality they received in Estevan. They enjoyed the venue, the wonderful audience and said they hope they can come back again.
The Orpheum theatre was also pleased with the show and the turnout.
“It was a great night. There was also a Bruins playoff game, and we were still very pleased with the turnout. There were about 350 people there,” said Jocelyn Dougherty, who owns the Orpheum Theatre along with her husband Alan.
Now they plan on hosting a Yuk-Yuk’s comedy night on May 25 and also hope to have a few more live musical events this year.