Ottawa indie pop artist Glenn Nuotio is thrilled to be part of the Prairie Scene Festival celebrating all forms of cultural arts from Central Canada, but he isn’t about to split a milkshake with Randy Bachman at a Winnipeg diner anytime soon.
“No. I’d take his industry contacts, but I think with his beard and him slurping on a milkshake [it] would be unattractive.”
Opening for Saskatchewan’s Jeffery Straker on May 5 at the National Arts Centre, Nuotio says that out of the events, “this is the gayest show,” and he is eager to hear Straker’s songs about “lust and love” as a queer singer/songwriter hailing from the Prairies.
“The Prairie Festival is dispelling stereotypes and offering a chance to see artists you wouldn’t normally see,” Nuotio explains.
After spending the winter writing and making ambient noise, Nuotio says that this is an amazing opportunity.
“I’m still at the level where if I don’t put up posters, I feel like no one will come. They have people for that, though!” he laughs.
With such a wide audience demographic, Nuotio feels some pressure.
“It keeps raising the bar for the type of songwriter I am and the things I sing about that aren’t trendy. In some way I’m moving away from accessible pop audiences,” he says.
While the Newfoundland native’s early life experiences with Central Canada were limited to a high school band trip to a small town in Manitoba with a penchant for pro-life billboards, he has a true appreciation for the music that has emerged from the region.
“Obviously Joni Mitchell is a huge influence,” he explains. “But if I could follow the career arc of anyone, it would be Christine Fellows. She has an amazing approach to storytelling in songs and has been an inspiration.”
The set list for the gig has not yet been finalized.
“As an opening act I can get a few new small songs in,” says Nuotio.
Unlike his performances in smaller Ottawa venues like Raw Sugar or the Manx, Nuotio will be performing solo at Prairie Scene.
“I think it’s going to be a piano show for me,” he says. “I might have to curb some of my political songs. Maybe I’ll write a pro-choice, tomato-eating crop-dusting song before the show?” He rethinks the thought: “I think I’ll have to [play them]. [They’re] my better songs lately and set me apart.”
As for sitting at a grand piano to play, Nuotio says he hasn’t put much thought into what he’s going to wear yet, but it won’t be a tuxedo. “I’m definitely getting a haircut. I’ll probably just borrow clothes from my boyfriend.”
The Prairie Scene Festival continues until May 8 at various venues across the city, with more than 500 Saskatchewan and Manitoba musicians, actors, choreographers, visual and media artists, filmmakers, writers and master chefs taking over the capital to showcase their talent.
“I always thought of Winnipeg as a cultural capital of North America,” says Nuotio.