Serenade your sweetheart

Stephen Hardy Palmer will be at PHAC on Feb. 8.

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Pembina Hills Arts Council is the place to be as Valentine’s Day approaches.

The art gallery will be hosting Stephen Hardy Palmer on February 8, as he sings favourite love songs from 1985 and before.

“I guess I’m being a bit tongue in cheek when I say the 1985 thing,” Palmer said. “The songs are definitely on the older side, they’re classics. People can also request stuff, if I know them I’d be happy to sing them.”

That means no Ed Sheeran or Passenger, but you can expect to hear some Elvis and Willie Nelson.

Palmer has been playing gigs since 1966, and said he has been a music fan all his life. “I can remember as far back as being three years old and what songs were on the radio then,” he said. “The music always connected with me. When my brother-in-law saw how riveted I was to the family record player, he immediately dug around and found an old family guitar.”

When Palmer got to high school, he said all his friends were in bands, so he would be playing at weekend dances. He started as a guitar player but soon eased into singing.

“It gets to be more fun as you go along,” he said. “You’re writing your own music, you’re booking shows, you’re more and more in control of it.”

Palmer just released his fifth album and is currently touring.

“The highlight anywhere is having an audience, whether it’s 20 people or 200,” he said. “It’s just so much fun, and you get such a connection. The phrase I like is ‘the community of the moment.’ Everybody in that room at that time, you’re all involved in the same thing.”

“You’re all maybe sharing the memory of an old song or you’re involved in a new song,” he added. “I do a lot of songs where people can join in. They can sing along to it, they can clap along to it.”

Palmer said his concerts are like a conversation with the audience, and over his career he has many moments that stand out. “I sang a show for high school band kids,” he said. “About four or five hundred kids that are all in marching bands and choirs. They were the greatest audience, these 16-year-old kids.”

“When I announced I was going to do Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, they screamed,” he said. “It was like being in the Beatles for a brief moment.”

Palmer was recently inducted into the Edmonton Music Hall of Fame, which he said was definitely a highlight of his career.

“If you’re into music you’ll like my music,” he said. “People say that my music is for anyone with a pulse.”

Tickets are available at PHAC for $15. There will be a cash bar and snack options, and ticket purchase will include the chance to dedicate a song to your sweetheart.