The crowd at the Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill Saturday may not have been large, but Courtenay-based singer-songwriter Joey Clarkson still brought charm and Christmas cheer to the town.
Taking place at the same time as the Lions Club Turkey Bingo and the Portside Academy dance recital, Clarkson’s show was up against stiff competition.
But despite the relatively small audience, Clarkson rocked the house with her signature high-energy selection of pop/rock music. She was joined by “Some Guys”—guitarist Jesse McCloy, drummer Taylor Allum, and bass player Jacob Greggory. Clarkson’s cousin, Jessica Nixon, also took the stage with a fiddle for a few songs.
Clarkson was previously spotted at the Gate House in September, when she put on a youth musical theatre workshop. Clarkson’s first role is that of a music teacher, and she thoroughly enjoys her job. “I do it to support my music, but also to support upcoming artists,” she said Saturday.
Clarkon’s setlist was varied, with lyrics alternating between fun and lighthearted and passionate and emotional. She sang of ex-lovers, small towns, and nights she couldn’t remember. The fast-paced “Johnny the Radio” railed against mainstream radio in a pop punk rendition, while the softer “Raffi’s Song” was a heartfelt number written about a previous student of hers.
Clarkson ended the night with a few Christmas carols—including a version of “Frosty the Snowman” with a reggae spin.
Clarkson has performed at the Gate House as a solo artist, but this was her first show on the North Island with her new backing band. She has only played two gigs with them so far. “I’m hoping to tour with them more often,” said Clarkson. “I love playing with them, it’s so fun.”
Following the show, Clarkson stepped into the audience to chat with listeners. “With these smaller shows, you feel like it’s more personal,” she said. “You can talk to the audience and have them talk back.”
She does not mind playing for smaller crowds, and says she appreciates everyone who supports her music. “I’m just happy people left with smiles,” she said.