A concert for the changing season

Altona folk artist Paul Bergman will be hosting an Autumn concert on Sunday, November 11 at the Altona United Church.

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Autumn is a time for reflection. While many dread the coming winter months, others anticipate them with delight. The brilliance of golden leaves and the crispness in the air can’t help but make you feel a little nostalgic.
It’s in the spirit of this season of change that local performing artist Paul Bergman will be hosting an Autumn concert.
Bergman will be accompanied by Manitoba musicians Derek Allard on the drums, Julian Bradford on the upright bass and Bill Western on the pedal-steel guitar.
“I’ve held an Autumn concert for the last couple of years, so I decided to just keep up this little tradition,” he says. “And the Altona United Church is such a lovely space for these performances.”
Bergman seeks out whichever artist is available to accompany him for these events. Last year, he sought out Altona native Andrew Braun.
“This time, I got a band of fellows from Winnipeg. So that will be kind of fun to have a full band. A different kind of vibe, particularly with Bill Western. There aren’t that many people around who still play pedal-steel guitar, so he’ll definitely add an extra level of interest to the night.”
The evening will include two sets of music, with an intermission, and will feature the best of Bergman’s original folk pieces.
“I’m always working on new songs, and they slowly evolve as I go. So some of those will be included in the concert for the first time, as well. Otherwise, it will be a mix of some of my familiar creations.”
Bergman says it’s often good to include an audience in the maturation process of songwriting, trying out different lyrics and styles, and looking for feedback. “It’s nice to see how well they work so they can eventually manifest. Something I do even just to keep myself interested in the pieces is to refresh a song I’ve been playing for a long time, bringing new light to them. Even some of the older songs may be revamped in a newer fashion, just to keep things fresh and creative.”
He’s been writing and recording his own music for the past 15 years, and is currently working on pieces for his second album.
“The arts are an interesting thing. On the one hand you want this to move people, but it’s often tough to gauge how people are responding. If I was performing dance music, it would be easy to recognize interest. If there was a crowd out there dancing, you’d know the music is serving its purpose. But with folk music, people can be extremely moved by something, but you don’t get the same visible reaction. They’ll clap regardless, so it is more about the artist themselves, feeling the gaps in the work.”
Performing has its own rewards. For Bergman, there are personal gifts he receives when he performs. Comparing the process to a painter producing a work of art, he says, “It forces the artist to look closer. To pay more attention. It’s not uncommon to have a greater appreciation and greater sense of awe and gratitude and wonder as you produce and perform music. So the value of art for the artist is significant – to simply learn more about life and existence. Hopefully, the songs can do this for the people who listen to them, as well.”
The Autumn concert will take place Sunday, November 11 (Remembrance Day) at 7 p.m. at the Altona United Church (45 3rd Ave. SE) Admission is $15 (or just pay what you can).