Joe Nolan returns to the Shell Theatre on Nov.29.

It took a good amount of time and lots of planning to bring two local musicians together for a hometown performance at the Shell Theatre at the end of the month.

Joe Nolan and Braden Gates, both of Fort Saskatchewan, will be on stage together on November 29, promoting their new albums Cry Baby and Pictures of Us respectively.

Though Nolan and Gates’ music is uniquely theirs, both bring soul, raw experience and comforting artistry together within the folk genre.

For Nolan, playing in his hometown is just part of the homecoming that this album is all about.

“It came from a lot of personal experience and sort of this coming out of a dark time in life,” Nolan said. “It’s probably the most honest and vulnerable album I’ve made and the inspiration just came from living life as a full time musician.”

Cry Baby was recorded in Edmonton a few years back but Nolan sat on it for various reasons until it’s release just over a year ago.

“It’s the first album I’ve done that I felt I had total control of the end result and the vision of it,” he said. “It was really liberating making the album and also like a comeback because I kind of fell out of the scene for a while. It feels like it’s time to move on, almost.”

It’s been a few years since Nolan performed his “own stuff” in Fort Saskatchewan and he said he’s really looking forward to the Nov. 29 show.

“It’s something that Josh at the Shell Theatre and we have been wanting to do for a while so we all agreed on a date that would work,” he said. “Having Braden on it is what makes it really special because we’re both local born-and-raised Fort Sask kids who’ve gone out and made careers. It should be really cool.”

Braden Gates.

In addition to some of his older songs, Gates will also be playing music from his newest album, Pictures of Us, released around the same time as Nolan’s in September 2018. He has opened for Blue Rodeo in Banff and toured the world at music festivals and since starting his professional musical career five years ago.

With his guitar, and sometimes his fiddle, Gates brings a young yet mature and realized realness to his music both in lyrics and melody.

Like Nolan, it’s been a couple years since Gates performed in a formal capacity in Fort Saskatchewan and he’s looking forward to bringing people together at the show.

“I try to take everyday experiences and relate them to people or touch on things that may go unnoticed,” he said. “I think that sharing of ideas is what folk music is about.”

Though they haven’t performed together, Gates and Nolan have known one another for years, growing up in the same neighbourhood and playing together as kids.

“We went to the same school and Joe was always playing music and I looked up to him in that way,” Gates said. “We would play hockey together sometimes and play music a bit together then we got older and sort of went different ways but in the same realm of music.”

Gates said he’s currently working on his fifth album after a summer of touring the province with Jake Morley, a songwriter from the U.K.

Following their Fort Saskatchewan show, Gates will be taking a break until the near year, returning for three shows in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Edmonton and Fort McLeod in March 2020.

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