Steven Page revamps musical classics through ‘Songbook’

Steven Page (submitted photo)

Reimagining great popular music of the past 40 years is the goal of Songbook: Steven Page and the Art of Time Ensemble, coming to Scottsdale this February.

Mr. Page, co-founder and former lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, and Art of Time, an acoustic instrumental ensemble, will present their takes on contemporary songs at the Virginia G. Piper Theater at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9.

The Toronto-based musicians will perform inventive arrangements of well-known rock and pop songs, according to a press release.

While “The Great American Songbook” is the name given to the pre-rock songs of such writers as Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, Mr. Page’s “Songbook” expands the concept to focus on the songs of rock and post-rock writers such as Randy Newman, Radiohead, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen and Mr. Page himself. It’s a kind of Great American Songbook, Vol. II.

Mr. Page’s vocals and the unique instrumental treatments of the Art of Time Ensemble frame the songs in what has been called “chamber music for the modern era,” the press release stated.

Mr. Page co-founded Barenaked Ladies in 1989 and led the iconic band for 20 years.

In 2009, following the release in 2005 of an experimental solo album called The Vanity Project, Mr. Page struck out on his own, singing originals and covers on tour and in a series of albums, among them two that Mr. Page produced with Art of Time: The Singer Must Die and Sgt. Pepper.

The latter was a rethinking of the Beatles’ landmark Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Since leaving Barenaked Ladies, Mr. Page has focused on performing songs by his contemporaries, as well as writing new material.

The Art of Time Ensemble deploys a range of instruments, from bowed strings and piano to a variety of wind instruments. It specializes in arranging songs in unexpected ways, including classical, jazz and world music-inspired settings.

Mr. Page is also well known for his stand favoring free Internet access to music, the press release stated.

“I think suing our fans is the wrong path to take when we’re trying to nurture our fan base,” he said in a prepared statement. “Studies show that people who share music online are more apt to spend more money on music.”

Tickets: $59 (M $51) / $39 / $29. Visit www.ScottsdalePerformingArts.org/visit/tickets-discounts/

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