Ken Yates will put the ‘rising star’ in Starstop Series when he takes the stage at Ellena’s Cafe in Napanee tomorrow night.
The London, Ont. native singer songwriter appears poised to breakout in the folk music scene after earning the 2017 Canadian Folk Award for Best English Songwriter and Best Emerging Artist.
“That was a huge surprise, I definitely didn’t expect to win that one,” Yates told the Beaver while traveling to his next show in Chicago. “I was shocked. Since winning it I’ve booked some shows at venues that I haven’t played at before. The day after the Napanee show I’ll be at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, which I haven’t been to before.”
He’s also been added to a handful of lineups at some summer festivals across Ontario as well.
“It’s kind of nice to get a boost of confidence from some of your peers and people you really respect,” he said of earning the award. “That goes a long way.”
Tomorrow’s show will mark a return for Yates, who has played the Star Stop Concert Series once before.
When asked to put himself into a musical category, he says he’d fit into the singer-songwriter bill.
“I’m just a guy with a guitar telling stories,” he said.
He followed up his 2013 full-length debut with his second album titled Huntsville, which he released in 2016. He says over that time his songwriting has evolved.
“In my earlier songwriting, I was more writing as being an observer in situations I had seen other people in,” said Yates. “My last album, a lot of the writing was experiences I’d had being on the road. After a lot of time travelling and being on the road, you get a lot more inspiration from your own personal experiences. Going forward on my next record, a lot of the stuff is a lot more personal.”
Admittedly, he says playing the more personal songs requires a bit more courage than some of the other songs, but it also helps build a much deeper connection with the audiences as well.
“Once you play to a listening audience I find you really make the connection with the audience and you feel them connecting with you on it,” said Yates. “That’s really what it’s all about. That makes those live experiences more worthwhile. I think that’s why people like seeing live music, because of that personal connection.”