After a short time away from performing and recording, local singer/songwriter Steve Arsenault is pumped about showcasing some brand new tunes and hitting the stage again.
The immensely talented Arsenault, who was born and raised in South Rustico, PEI, has had a passion for music from his early days.
“I was pretty much influenced by my oldest brother and my dad. Dad was a fiddle player but he never liked playing in front of people,” recalls Arsenault with a smile. “You’d hear him in his bedroom practicing – going over and over a song.
“Then my oldest brother was always into music – he never played an instrument but he loved to sing. And he was a great, great country singer.”
It also wasn’t long before Arsenault began 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.
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.
Over the years, there’s also been a number of highlights including landing 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.
But ultimately, the married father of two wanted to follow his own path when it comes to creating music, writing and performing.
He was part of a band called Freetown for awhile, but the guys ultimately went their separate ways.
“We started writing songs and we started recording, and pretty much got them done.” But unfortunately, the experience didn’t extend much beyond that.
After that, Arsenault, feeling a bit discouraged, decided to take something of a break. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with life, with work or with music,” he explains. So he delved into landscaping on a full-time basis in a leadership role.
“I took the year off (from music) which was good – I needed that break. I needed to figure things out. And it was also good because it gave me a new outlook on what I really want to do.”
A passion for music, performing and writing proved simply unstoppable. A creative fire was lit once again, and Arsenault hasn’t looked back.
He’s found a great balance – landscaping work, music and being a busy dad and husband are indeed plenty to keep his days full. And to that end, he’s been collaborating with some other first-rate musicians such as the aforementioned country singer Steele who also calls Red Deer home.
“I’ve been writing with Duane quite a bit. And before you knew it, we had three or four really good songs written,” he said, adding another tune was penned with Steele and fellow Canadian country singer Jamie Warren.
“Between co-writing with Duane and Jamie and another guy from Calgary – Jake Mathews – it just really got me excited.”
From there, it was time to get some tracks laid down. Arsenault got in touch with Calgary-based producer Justin Kudding who agreed to come onboard. The guys ultimately recorded a couple of tracks and Arsenault couldn’t be happier with the results. One of those cuts will be released shortly.
“I’m planning on releasing a single, probably around the end of July or into August,” he said of the tune, Heart and Soul, which Arsenault describes as an uptempo love song.
Ultimately, collaborating brings all kinds of unique creative opportunities, he added. “That’s why I like co-writing because others can bring out an idea that you would never have thought of. It’s so cool to have someone else’s ears on it.”
Meanwhile, he’s looking forward to getting the new music out there and stirring things up once again. He’s got a slate of gigs set for Calgary’s Wild Horse Saloon during the Stampede as well.
As mentioned earlier, Arsenault moved out west with his sights set on music. He had meant to settle in Calgary but decided to call Red Deer home instead. It wasn’t long before local music fans began to take note of his extraordinary natural talent. “I got tied in with a band pretty quick.”
For Arsenault, there’s really no other path he can even imagine being on in terms of a career.
But now that he’s a dad, family time is of course at the top of the priority list.
“Music is what I want to do and it’s who I am, but my family is who I am, too.” He also credits his wife Selena and family with providing him with such solid support over the years in pursuing his dreams.
As for his creative vision, he knows all the more who he is and where he wants to go. These days, he describes his style as kind of getting a bit more traditional and rootsy, and tapping into that 90s country sound a bit as well. Trends come and go, but Arsenault has a self-assurance that bodes well for making music with plenty of heart and authenticity.
“I’m also going to make the music that I love to make.”