When singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards and author Iain Reid take the stage at the Grand Theatre on Tuesday evening for Holiday Helper: An Evening of Stories and Music, a fundraiser for Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee, it may be difficult to find anyone in the audience who is enjoying the performances more than the performers.
“I’m a big fan of Iain. He’s the most talked-about fiction writer in Canada,” says Edwards. “I’m super excited to be in his presence right now because of all the exciting things that are happening to him.”
Reid, for his part, is also a big Kathleen Edwards fan, having seen her perform many times solo and with a full band.
“It’s really different than most music shows and most literary events,” says Reid. “I love the opportunity to see Kathleen on her own. It’s a really cool thing for me.”
Both Edwards, who lives in Stittsville, and Reid, based in Kingston, have lots to look forward to in 2019. Edwards is coming off a four-year-long hiatus, during which she opened the aptly-named Quitters’ Cafe in Stittsville, and struggled through a crippling depression that severely limited her songwriting and performing abilities.
“I ended up getting a great doctor who knew how to prescribe antidepressants to help get me out the terrible abyss of darkness that I was in,” says Edwards. “I have a tremendous amount of gratitude because I’m well and I’m on the other side of it.”
The cafe is now well-established and in less need of her time, and through medication, therapy, and a break from the music business, the six-time Juno-nominee Edwards is feeling well enough to get back to focusing on her music career.
“I haven’t played much in the last few years, but in the last six months I’ve written a lot,” says Edwards. “This is the first and only time this year where I’ll play new songs in a very raw and unproduced format. I’ll play some old songs too. I probably won’t be playing any solo acoustic shows for the next year.”
For Reid, two of his novels are heading to Hollywood. I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Reid’s debut novel, will be adapted into a Netflix movie directed by Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich) and starring Brie Larson. This year’s novel Foe wasn’t even on shelves when it was announced that it would be produced by film studio Anonymous Content, which has produced Spotlight, The Revenant, and True Detective. Reid will serve as co-producer on I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and executive producer on Foe.
Tuesday’s show is a departure from how both Edwards and Reid typically perform, but it won’t be the first time. They’ve done this format before, but it’s the first time in Kingston. and the first time raising money for Sandy Pines.
While both Edwards and Reid have had lots of successes in 2018, the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre lost a barn to a fire in January.
“We had heard [of the fire] and it seemed like this year is a good year to shine a light on the work that they do,” says Reid. “It’s important work for the community. We both grew up with animals around and have an interest in wildlife. Because this year, in particular, was a rough year for them, we felt it was a suitable time for people in Kingston to be aware of them.”
“We aren’t doing our job if we don’t help these groups,” adds Edwards. “The work they do is a huge commitment, and I really value the people that have made that commitment.”
The performance will alternate between Edwards performing a few songs and Reid reading from his books. While live readings aren’t new to Reid, they still don’t come naturally to him.
“With writing, unlike music, there isn’t that inherent aspect of performance,” says Reid. “You don’t think about performing as you’re writing, you just become obsessed with the story, spending a few years alone at your desk. That’s where I’m comfortable. Now that I’m four books in, I’m not as nervous as I used to be, but it’s good for me to do because it gets me out of my comfort zone a bit. I do like hearing the immediate reactions, which you don’t get at your desk.”
Kathleen Edwards and Iain Reid perform at The Grand Theatre on Tuesday, December 11 at 7:30. Tickets are on sale at The Grand Theatre Box Office or online. All proceeds go to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre.