Continuing to carve out his niche as a powerful, compelling artist, local singer/songwriter/guitarist Steve Arsenault is gearing up for his appearance at the Central Music Festival later this month.
The family-oriented event, which runs Aug. 17-19, takes place in a natural outdoor amphitheatre located minutes north of the City – attendees can head north on Taylor Dr., cross Hwy. 11A and continue on the C&E Trail. Continue onto Township Rd. 392, turn left and the site is located just up the road.
Things kick off on the Friday at 6 p.m. The music runs Saturday from noon to midnight and on Sunday from noon until 5:30 p.m. Pretty much any genre can be heard, from blues, rock, country, folk, reggae, funk and jazz to Tex-Mex, Cajun, and bluegrass.
Born and raised in South Rustico, PEI, Arsenault is the youngest of four kids. Music was always a part of family life.
“Growing up, there was the occasional kitchen party at our house,” he recalls. “All our uncles played guitar, so there was always music around from early on.”
He grew up also listening to country music and rock and first picked up his sister’s abandoned guitar when he was 17. He had already been singing over the years, and once his guitar playing skills starting flourishing, his gifts as a powerful singer surfaced all the more as well.
It also wasn’t long before Arsenault to write his own songs. Winning many singing contests and playing with a band led him to further his career by moving to Alberta in 1999.
In 2001 he won The Q91 Search For The Stars talent search where he got the chance to go to Nashville to record an original song with the late Gary Buck. He also auditioned for Nashville Star 2004, making it to regional finals in Austin, Texas.
The experience inspired Arsenault to keep chasing his dream. Since then he has opened for such artists like Duane Steele, Johnny Reid, Trooper, Nazareth, Julian Austin, Billy Klippert and 54-40.
Country music has always been the best fit. “I just love the way country music has a story to it. It hits me. It’s easy to relate to it.”
Last year, he landed the role of lead guitarist for country star George Canyon.
The stint, which lasted about eight months, was a fantastic opportunity to connect with audiences across the country, play with some pretty big names in the biz and meet a range of influential industry insiders. They had a couple of gigs in Los Angeles and even flew to Switzerland for a show.
“It was a pretty cool experience.” The guys did about five shows with country star Toby Keith as well.
But ultimately, Arsenault wants to follow his own path when it comes to creating music, writing and performing. These days, the married father of two balances also his time between performing with his band, doing solo acoustic shows as well as teaching guitar.
This fall, he plans on heading to the studio to record a couple of new tunes to pitch to radio. The studio experience is always something of an adventure.
“It’s amazing how a song can change when you get in the studio,” he explains. “You can bring in a song that was demoed with an acoustic guitar and then bring all these other aspects into it, and it changes the song completely. The song totally comes alive.”
Meanwhile, there’s really no other path Arsenault can even imagine being on in terms of a career.
“There are those ‘down’ times when I think this is hard and why am I doing this, but when it comes right down to it, I love to play music. There is nothing else I would be happy doing.”
Other artists slated to perform at the Central Music Festival include Sista Monica, Heartbroke Heroes, Dick Damron, George Hamilton IV, the Amy Bishop Band, Morgan Davis, Steve Palmer and Scott Cook & the Long Weekends.
For complete details about the event including ticket information, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.