Electric City Live

LINDSAY BARR: OWNING THE STAGE

A life in music, art, and performance

BY GABE POLLOCK +/- UPDATED APRIL 3, 2018


When I saw Lindsay Barr on stage in the local production of Evil Dead: The Musical in October of last year, it felt like the arrival of a new whirlwind force on the local theatre scene. In a production full of big performances and wild, over-the-top moments, she shone bright. Her character, the bookish Shelly, is (spoiler alert) the first to be transformed into a foul-mouthed, unhinged, undead ‘deadite,’ and spends most of the rest of the play locked in the basement, popping out occasionally to viciously mock the rest of the cast, spray blood at the audience, and generally chew the scenery.
“I was like, this is my dream coming true!” Lindsay says of the production. “I feel like my whole life people have been telling me to tone it down. Every class I’ve been in. My personality is very large, and somehow I’ve found that theatre encourages that.”

But of course, while Evil Dead was Lindsay’s first play since high school, it was far from the first time she’s performed in Peterborough. She’s been a fixture of the local music scene for most of a decade, her big personality finding voice in grimy, visceral blues-rock. When Lindsay is on stage, she owns it wholly. She struts and screams and dances around. “I enjoy watching someone who demands your attention,” she says. “I don’t understand why you’d do it any other way.”
This big persona isn’t just an act: Lindsay has lived life to its fullest, diving headlong into art, cutting her teeth on the discerning stages of St John’s, Newfoundland, releasing three albums, and even making it onto Canadian Idol.
And while Lindsay has been away from the spotlight for a couple years, she is currently planning a major comeback, writing and performing as the lead in A Musical Journey With Janis Joplin this month, and working on new music to be released this summer. There is no stopping this tireless performer.
 

Lindsay Barr was born in Labrador, but soon moved with her family to Port Hope, and then, in high school, to Peterborough, where she attended PCVS.
Her home was always full of music. Her parents, both teachers who were highly encouraging of her art, introduced her to blues music, while her brother Geoff gave her an early education in punk and metal, frequently blasting Dead Kennedys at 8:30 in the morning.

Lindsay cites the songwriting of Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin as particularly inspiring, helping her to realize that “you can say things not everybody always likes.” By age 12, she was joining her brother at local punk shows in Port Hope. “It was very male dominated, but I didn’t care. It was so ignited with energy! People think it’s aggressive and it’s all these things, but there was something inside me that was answered by these very visceral, very physical performances.”
Up until then, Lindsay had been following a path of athletics, as a competitive figure skater and gymnast, “but I had this pull. I loved to write and draw and sing. My style was different than my girlfriends. I had an aversion to pink. I distinctly remember going, am I a jock or am I a freak?”
At age 13, she made her choice: she shaved her head and dove headlong into art. It wasn’t long before she taught herself to play guitar and started singing. “I was very interested in poetry prior to that. Put one and one together, and boom you’re a songwriter.”
Then, tragedy struck when Lindsay was 20, as her brother passed away suddenly. Geoff had always been a free spirit, who was reading Nietzsche when he was 10, quit school at 14, and eventually moved to British Columbia’s Kootenays, where he built a house himself on the side of a mountain and lived off the land. Says Lindsay, “I wonder if, in some way, somehow, he knew he only had 22 years.”
One day, while out sapping birch trees, Geoff’s boat capsized in a frigid mountain lake. “We didn’t find out he was dead for a couple days,” says Lindsay. “Fuckin nuts. That shit really makes you take life a little bit seriously. Go have fun, but spend time with the people you want to spend time with; do the things you want to do.”
At the time, Lindsay was scheduled to start studying Fine Art at York University, “but when Geoff died, I was like, I’m going to go do what I really want to do.” So, she packed up and moved to St John’s, where her family was originally from, to pursue a career in music full time.

George Street in St John’s is two straight blocks of nothing but bars, pubs, and restaurants, with live music in the air every night. It’s a mecca for musicians, full of boundless opportunities for performance, but also a relentless meritocracy, where the fans know good music and there’s always another show a few doors down. “I cut my teeth on the scene there,” says Lindsay. “They really taught me what’s what. You smarten up real quick when you start hanging out with Newfoundland musicians, because they’re so talented.”
She had a bit of a rocky start. A friend suggested she try an open mic, and when she got there, she found a room crowded with hundreds of people. “I got through a song and a half, and I realized I wasn’t demanding anyone’s attention. Something happened inside me.” She handed the guitar back to the host, grabbed her jacket, and walked out the door. “As I was walking home, I thought, that’s never going to happen again—ever. From then on, I knew my shit, I presented music that was good, and I slowly started performing more.”

She kept doing open mics, and was soon approached by the owner of a local bar. “He said, ‘Know lots of songs?’ I said, ‘I know so many songs!’” In reality, her repertoire at the time consisted of just a few cover songs, but “I went home and learned every cover.” She quickly built a three-hour set, and started playing every Saturday night on George Street.
She formed a “ska-rock-blues-ish” band, the Firewires, where she was frontwoman and songwriter. They opened for Sam Roberts and Our Lady Peace, but just as they were getting ready to release their debut album, they had a falling out and broke up.
At the time, Lindsay was getting ready to start a Fine Arts degree at Halifax’s NSCAD, and she decided, “Like shit I’m leaving the island with nothing! I marched my ass down to the bank and took out a line of credit. In Newfoundland, one thing they taught me was, why the fuck are you waiting for someone else to do this for you? I poached the best musicians from every band and I put ‘em together and formed a power band and got them to sing my songs.”
The resulting album was 2007’s Devils of Pride, released under her own name. It was a moderate success, with songs on the East Coast Countdown, a MuchFACT-produced music video for “Riot Queen,” and a number of gigs and small tours while Lindsay attended NSCAD.


Soon, Lindsay moved back to Peterborough. It was supposed to be a short-term thing: “I just thought I was coming back for a couple weeks. Shoved all my stuff on my parents’ deck and covered it in a tarp. Eight years later…”
Again, Lindsay dove in head-first. “I just fell in love with it. It had been eight or nine years since I’d been here, and I hadn’t really played outside open mics here, so people didn’t know me, but I was equipped.” She already had a band lined up before she even arrived, and within a month, the Lindsay Barr Band had another regular gig, playing every Thursday at the Dobro.
Her well-honed musicianship and dynamic stage presence made her a local favourite. She released another two albums, 2011’s Dove and Dagger and 2013’s Time to Let Go; performed regularly at Dobro, Black Horse, and other bars; and was even a rare local headliner on the Peterborough Musicfest stage. “When I look back I’m proud of my work and I’m thankful to be able to have done it, and have the balls to do it. A lot of people hem and haw, but it either is or it isn’t.”

The last couple years have been relatively quiet for Lindsay. The grind of pursuing a career in music was taking its toll, and Lindsay made the decision to take time off for herself. “Something needed to give,” she says. “I was chasing something that a million other musicians and actors and whatever are chasing. And I learned on my time off that I don’t have to chase anything. I don’t have to be anything other than I already am, and I’m comfortable with that. I was always looking for bigger, bigger, better, better. Just to be able to create is enough for me. It’s been a great experience. I feel more well rounded… however, I’m thirsty.”

Her role in Evil Dead helped reignite something in her. She’s taking those lessons into a new project, A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin, which she’s writing and starring in. It’s not hard to see the parallels between Lindsay and Janis, the bombastic, full-throated singer and wildwoman who brought grimy blues to the stages of Woodstock and Monterey Pop in the late 60s. Indeed, Lindsay first sang Janis in high school, when a music teacher saw something in her and suggested she perform “Piece of My Heart.”
“I really started listening to her then, but now I’m studying her—two very different things. I really do feel like, yes her performance is aggressive, but she was a very fragile person. Everyone thinks she didn’t give a shit about anything. She cared deeply about how people felt about her and how people treated her. She’s raw and all these things, but have you heard ‘Summertime,’ or ‘Maybe,’ or ‘My Baby?’ These songs…”
The show will marry Lindsay’s love of music and theatre, with songs broken up by ‘theatrical moments’ that chronicle important moments in Janis’ tragically short career. “I’m Janis all night. I don’t break character. I am embodying her, as much as I hope I can.” She’ll be joined by an all-star local band, and Emily Burgess Band’s Rico Browne serves as the show’s musical director. Barbara Mills’ Scene Productions is producing the show.

When I ask Lindsay if she’s continued writing during her break, she responds flatly, “That was the break.” Creating art seems to be a compulsion for her. She’ll frequently wake up in the middle of the night to write poetry, paint, or work on songs. “I’m always coming up with little bits here and there. Maybe think of a chorus, and put it through the microphone, send it to my producer, like is this even worth pursuing?”
Working with producer Adam Newcomb and her guitarist and husband Denis Goggin, she’s been in and out of the studio, “really listening. Would this sound better with this behind it? We’ll put in horns and take ‘em out. We’re not married to the music, so it becomes all about the songs, which is a really interesting process.”

The result is six songs that Lindsay is planning to start releasing over the summer. She describes the songs as more “pop-oriented” than her previous material, and with them, she’s hoping to return to the scene in a big way, with a series of singles and music videos.
“Living in Peterborough I feel support. I feel really at home here. I’m sticking around for a while. I really just want to be immersed back in the arts scene, back on stage. I want to focus on putting some music out, gain some people who are interested in my music.”
For the moment, Lindsay is focused on A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin, which happens April 13, as well as her next theatrical endeavour, a role as Captain Hook in the St James Players’ production of Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure, which happens April 27 to 29. “But then come May—woo! Spring cleaning and making music.”
Her theatrical projects and art-making have clearly been exceptional creative outlets for Lindsay, but when she talks about returning to music, she seems to vibrate with excitement.
“There’s a release,” she says. “It’s calisthenics at its finest. You’re using your natural instrument, and then you have an instrument on. So you’re accessing different parts of your brain. And then you’re also reacting to the music physiologically. You’re bouncing around. It’s an all-encompassing thing to me. The next day I feel this lovely experience of energy expenditure, where you’re just, like, satisfied. It’s coming from within, and from outside of you, and the whole bit.”
She pauses, seemingly worked up by her own description, and gives a broad smile. “God, I just want to go sing in the street!”
 
See Lindsay Barr in A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin, April 13 at Market Hall (more info), and in Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure, April 27 to 29 at St James United Church

 

Photo By Karol Orzechowski

KAWARTHA NOW!-

Lindsay Barr shares a piece of her heart in two new shows in April

Well-known Peterborough musician turned actor performs as Janis Joplin and then as Captain Hook
 

By Sam Tweedle -
Published April 2, 2018
       

Musician and actor Lindsay Barr performs the hits of Janis Joplin and recreates key moments in iconic 1960s singer's tragic life in "A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin" at Peterborough's Market Hall on April 13, 2018. She will then take on the role of Captain Hook in the St. James Players production of "eter Pan: A Musical Adventure" from April 27 to 29, 2018. (Photo: Denis Goggin)
As a celebrated award-winning musician, Lindsay Barr has been a familiar name in the Peterborough music scene for years. With her thoughtful lyrics and high-energy performance style, Lindsay has held a healthy fan base for a long time. But these days, Lindsay can be seen combining her music with a new interest in acting which has her starring in two new shows in April.
On Friday, April 13th, Lindsay takes the stage in the role of tragic rock icon Janis Joplin in A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin at Peterborough’s Market Hall. Then, three weeks later, she takes the stage in the role of the villainous Captain Hook in St. James Players family production of Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure from April 27th to 29th. This is an opportunity to see two very different sides of Lindsay in two very different types of shows.
I'm so excited I have the ability to morph into acting and do music because it satisfies both sides of my soul.

“I’m so excited I have the ability to morph into acting and do music because it satisfies both sides of my soul,” says Lindsay. “However, they are vastly different beasts. The idea of doing a show, working on it, and presenting it on a set block of dates and then moving on to the next one is exciting to me. It’s a never-ending cycle of creativity.”
Although she officially made her acting debut in 2016 in a tiny cameo in the St. James Players production of Princess Whatshername, Lindsay caught the acting bug when she took on the part of Shelly Williams in Killer Tree Production’s presentation of Evil Dead: The Musical in October 2017.
Using her energetic stage presence to her advantage, Lindsay created one of the most memorable roles of the year, prompting me to note her as the best new actor in the Kawarthas of 2017. Evil Dead was such an enjoyable role for Lindsay that she has committed herself to exploring theatre at this point in her career.

Although Lindsay Barr officially made her acting debut in the 2016 St. James Players production of “Princess Whatshername”, her break-out role came in October 2017 as Shelly Williams in Killer Tree Production’s presentation of “Evil Dead: The Musical”. (Photo: Sam Tweedle / kawarthaNOW.com)
“It was a different way of working for me,” Lindsay says of her Evil Dead role. “I seem to be attracted to villainous characters or darker characters. I’ve very jovial and happy in my own life, so being able to play someone other than my own self was very interesting. When you’re a singer-songwriter you’re playing yourself, so being able to develop a different character was very exciting for me.”
For her next project, Lindsay is meshing music and theatre in an all-new original production developed by Rico Browne, Denis Goggin, and herself that celebrates the life and music of Janis Joplin. Called A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin, the show is a hybrid of music and theatrical performance that goes far beyond a tribute show: Lindsay is harnessing the spirit and soul of one of rock and roll’s most beloved, and most tragic, performers.
“My husband Denis and I were talking about doing a project together to get back into music and we were shooting around some artists that we could cover,” Lindsay says. “When Denis said Janis, I knew he had landed on something. Originally we were thinking of a bar gig, but it snowballed really quickly. Before I knew it, I was on the phone with Market Hall and I had booked a three-hundred seater.
“Rico Browne is the musical director and I let him put the band together. Denis is on keys and organ. We also have Bruce Francis on bass, Marcus Browne on drums, Jim Usher on saxophone, and Ben Foss on lead guitar.”
A proclaimed lifelong fan of Joplin, Lindsay’s relationship with the singer goes back to her childhood.
My Dad had Janis Joplin's Pearl album in his record collection. I'd hear it as a little girl and I'd think how no other woman sang like that.

“My Dad had Janis Joplin’s Pearl album in his record collection,” Lindsay recalls. “I’d hear it as a little girl and I’d think how no other woman sang like that. Here was this woman who was impressive in her performance and her vocal approach, and I really got off on that.
“Then, in my teens, I was in a rock orchestra and my music teacher was my musical director in high school, and he put me on Piece of My Heart. The first time I sang it I was amazed that I could sing it. But my teacher knew, before I knew, that I would be able to sing it. That’s when I really started investing my time exploring her music.
“I identify with some of Janis’ aggressive movements and vocal stylistics and stage presence. But now that I’ve not just listened to her but have studied her, I have come to know there is a very gentle side to Janis as well — she’s not just a screamer. I’ve had to learn that, and I’ve learned it by realizing she is using all facets of her voice and she is using all ranges. She is truly a gifted artist.”
One of the most unique and iconic female performers in the history of music, Joplin mixed soul, blues, and psychedelic rock with a powerful and unmistakably original vocal style, making her one of the biggest icons of the late 1960s. However, underneath the fortune and glory was a sad and lonely woman who tried to ease her pain with drugs, liquor, and a constant party that never ended.

“A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin”, with Lindsay Barr singing Janis Joplin, is much more than just a tribute concert: it will be recreating moments of Joplin’s public life on stage as well. (Photo: Denis Goggin)
Born and raised in Texas, Joplin began singing while studying art at the University of Texas in 1962. In 1963, she moved to San Francisco where she struggled to make it as a singer. She then spent some time in New York, but her drinking and drug use didn’t help her musical career and, in 1965, she returned home to Texas to take a break from music and get herself together.
The next year, she auditioned for Big Brother and the Holding Company, a new psychedelic rock band based in San Francisco. She began singing with the band, whose performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 catapulted them to fame, with Joplin’s incredible vocals receiving most of the acclaim.
Joplin decided to leave Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1968 to embark on a solo career. After a historic performance at Woodstock in 1969, she released I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!.
The record received mixed reviews, which distressed Joplin, who was also struggling with alcohol and drugs, including an addiction to heroin. She was in the process of recording her next album, Pearl, when she was found dead in a Hollywood hotel room of a heroin overdose on October 4, 1970. She was only 27 years old.
Completed by Joplin’s producer, Pearl was released after her death in 1971. It would not only be her biggest-selling album, but her recording of “Me and Bobby McGee” (written by Kris Kristofferson, a former love of Joplin’s) would be her only Billboard number one hit.
“All she wanted was steady love,” Lindsay says of Joplin’s tragic story. “She was all over the place with love affairs, but she really just wanted a man to love and to love her. I’m the opposite end of that. I’m in a committed and loving marriage, and I didn’t have the same problems that she had in school. She was repelled by the popular people, and she wasn’t very popular among the men in her early days. I think we are a contrast, but with a lot of similarities.”
With 16 songs from throughout Joplin’s career, Lindsay’s set list includes classic songs such as “Summertime”, “Piece of My Heart”, “Move Over”, “Cry Baby”, and “Ball and Chain”. But the show is much more than just a tribute concert: it will also be recreating moments of Joplin’s public life on stage.
We are recreating moments from her career. It's more interesting than just performing song after song after song.

“There are people on stage as the audience, and we have actors who play Dick Cavett and Ed Sullivan and the hosts from Hollywood Palace,” Lindsay explains. “We have the iconic moment before her Woodstock performance where the gentleman talks about the brown acid. We are recreating moments from her career. It’s more interesting than just performing song after song after song.”

Lindsay Barr will be starring as a female Captain Hook in the St. James Players production of “Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure” from April 27 to 29, 2018.
After the Joplin show, Lindsay will be putting on a very different hat for a very different kind of show when she takes on the role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure. Although the St. James Players’ spring production is always a family-friendy show, Lindsay decided to audition for it right after her appearance in the family-unfriendly Evil Dead.
“The next audition in town after Evil Dead was Peter Pan,” Lindsay says. “I went in and they only gave me the role of Captain Hook to read. I did the audition as a male and I was a bit savage in it. They liked it, they thought it was funny, and I got the call that they wanted me to be Hook.
“That’s when they said they wanted me to play it as a woman, which threw me for a bit of a loop. I get to be crazy and over the top and be all these things that I love to be, and I can get away with it.”
I get to be crazy and over the top and be all these things that I love to be, and I can get away with it.

With Lindsay in the role of the classic villain, her co-pirates are all played by adult men while the rest of the cast are all kids. This marks the first time in her career that Lindsay has worked with children.
“I’m forging new relationships with a very innocent side of our community,” Lindsay observes. “I’ve never worked with them before. I mind my p’s and q’s and keep the f-bombs on the down low. I am really learning to work professionally in every walk of life.
“I’ve got to admit that you can learn something from people from every aspect of their life spans. The kids are studious, and a lot of them have vocal coaches and dance instructors. A lot of them are thinking about carrying on in theatre. The youngest member of the cast is a girl named Emma, and she’s five. She plays Tinkerbell and she’s a special kid.”

In addition to her work as an actor, Lindsay Barr has released three albums to date (Devils of Pride, Dove and Dagger, and Time to Let Go) and is working on a new one. (Photo: Denis Goggin)
In the short time I have known Lindsay Barr, she has become one of my favourite performers in Peterborough. Extremely animated and articulate, she has a huge personality, magnetic stage presence, and self confidence. I am captivated by Lindsay, whether she takes the stage as a singer or an actress, and believe she is a magnificent performer. While I’ve become a fan of her music, I am excited to see where her theatrical pursuits will take her next.
“I’m enjoying this journey,” Lindsay says. “I’m still fresh and not jaded. It’s new for me, so I’m not doing something that I’ve done for so many years. I’ve just gotten into it and I’ve been supported in so many ways.”
A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin will be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 13th at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (140 Charlotte St., Peterborough, 705-749-1146). Tickets are $25 ($30 for assigned cabaret table seating) and are available the Market Hall Box Office or online at markethall.org. Tickets are also available (cash only) at Moondance (425 George St. N., Peterborough, 705-742-9425).
Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure runs from Friday, April 27th to Sunday, April 29th at St. James United Church (221 Romaine St., Peterborough). Shows start at 6:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on April 28th and 29th. Tickets will go on sale on Sunday, April 7th and cost $10 for adults and $9 for children (or $12 all ages for preferred seating in the first three rows). For tickets, visit stjamesplayers.ca.

Have a gory good time at ‘Evil Dead The Musical’
Award-winning cult horror musical comedy runs at Peterborough's Market Hall from October 18 to 20
By Sam Tweedle -
Published October 18, 2017

Quote From Article

"However, the break-out star of the show is definitely Lindsay Barr as Ash’s sister Cheryl. Making her acting debut, the popular Peterborough musician steals every scene. Lindsay has great comedic timing, first as a prudish and dorky kid sister with a slurpy lisp, and then as a creepy possessed pun-sprouting demon that taunts Ash and company with some of the silliest lines of the night. Lindsay is simultaneously terrifying and hilarious and a total delight to watch. As someone who knows how to already work an audience, she has taken this ability and applied it to what will hopefully become a continuing acting career. Her performance is a blast".

Local musician Lindsay Barr knocks it out of the musical theatre park in her role as Ash’s dorky sister Cheryl. After she suddenly turns into a demon, her friends chain her in the cellar. (Photo: Sam Tweedle / kawarthaNOW.com)
 

Best New Actor in the Kawarthas

Although she is no stranger to the Peterborough stage, it’s hard to believe award-winning musician Lindsay Barr had never acted in theatre before she took on the role of Cheryl in Killer Trees Production’s Evil Dead: The Musical.

Highly animated and with expert comic timing, Lindsay just “killed it” as Ash’s pun-spouting demon-possessed kid sister in a role as hilarious as it was terrifying. With one of the most spirited performances in the show, Lindsay obviously found a new calling as she is slated for two more shows in 2018 — including playing the villainous Captain Hook in St. James Player’s upcoming production of Peter Pan, and recreating the music and the passion of rock icon Janis Joplin in a new musical revue she is producing at Market Hall.

I am excited to see more stage performance by Lindsay in 2018, and I think we’ll be seeing her more and more on the theatre stage for a long time to come.

Lindsay Barr made her theatrical debut as Cheryl in “Evil Dead: The Musical”. In 2018, she will be starring as Captain Hook in St. James Player’s spring musical “Peter Pan” as well as bringing Janis Joplin to life in her own musical revue celebrating the late singer’s musical legacy. 


 

Sam Tweedle- Peterborough Theatre Lovers

Everybody who missed Lindsay Barr as Janis Joplin last night at Market Hall missed a show that could actually be termed "epic" in proportion (epic being an overused term that I usually shy away from). I have never seen Market Hall that full, and the energy was a powder keg exploding. Lindsay and the boys in her band just killed it with a powerful and emotional night of music, with each number being more dynamic than the next Lindsay Barr brought Janis Joplin back to life. It was such an incredible night and nobody in the audience wanted it to end. Standing ovations and cheers from a crowd that ranged in age from teenagers to seniors. A Musical Journey with Janis Joplin is a hell of a production that NEEDS to be performed again and TAKEN ON THE ROAD! Congratulations to the actors, the musicians, the producers and, of course, Lindsay Barr for an incredible and unforgettable night!

The Scene Review: Crowd: Just about every table in the intimate venue was full. The mature 30years+ plus crowd was appreciative and unpretentious. So muchso that a small crowd danced for every number. Sex Appeal: Tattooed rocker chick with a velvety smooth voice that throws back to the divas of ballroom Jazz. Total rank: 9/10 – It’s clear to me that Mrs. Barr has done her homework and has at-least one Ella Fitzgerald album in her collection. That’s enough to garner massive respect from THE SCENE. http://www.thescenemagazine.ca/linsday-barr-resvoir-lounge-toronto-live-review/”

Review:

http://www.thewolf.ca/blogs/LostWeekend/blogentry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10331056

“Although Lindsay has been playing Peterborough for a number of years, I only finally caught one of her shows just recently.  What struck me right away about her was the stage show.  Lindsay is the definition of a performer, which will draw in even the most casual fan of the Blues Rock inspired music she performs.”

-Vince Bierworth- Wolf radio 101.5 FM

EMC Entertainment –

From high-energy rock and soul to bluegrass to Ottawa Valley fiddle music with a modern twist, the 2011 Smiths Falls Canal Railway Festival has it all.

From Friday, July 15 to Sunday, July 17 the main stage at Centennial Park will welcome up and coming talent from as far away as Nova Scotia, as well as some perennial local favourites.

Performing Friday night at 5 p.m. is singer/songwriter Lindsay Barr. The first time Barr sang O Canada with her public school classmates, she realized her voice stood out from the crowd. “My voice was more powerful than the other students,” she recalled. “I had zero control over it, so I was more of a gadfly than a help.”

Perfectly suited to the mix of country, rock and soul she specializes in today, Barr’s voice still stands out from the crowd. She made it into the top 20 in the final season of Canadian Idol in 2008, and has received awards as best female vocalist in 2010 and best songwriter in 2011. One of her songs, ‘Riot Queen’, received a nomination for hip hop single of the year in the East Coast Music Awards.

A native of Labrador, Barr now lives in Peterborough, Ont., where she has established a solid base of fans through regular gigs at local venues. She recorded her debut album, ‘Devils of Pride’, in 2006 and released it the following year.

“I grew up in a family where art and music was forefront,” Barr told the EMC in a recent interview. “I always sang at home, my family was very musical.”

By the time she was 12, Barr was beginning to write poetry, and turned this into a talent for composing song lyrics. She also learned to play the guitar, inspired by an older brother. She would borrow his guitar while he was out of the house, and teach herself to play. When her brother tragically died at the age of 22 in a drowning accident, Barr decided to take art and music more seriously, having learned the lesson that “You live once, and that’s it.”

Barr attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, where she met two other musicians she decided were talented and committed enough to form a successful band. She decided to leave university and move back to Ontario. “I just packed up and took a risk and moved back.”

Participating in the 2008 Canadian Idol competition, Barr recalled, was “nerve-wracking in a lot of different ways,” but was “a very enriching experience.”