Andrew Allen headlines Steveston Salmon Fest stage

Singer-songwriter Andrew Allen will headline the Main Stage entertainment at Steveston Salmon Festival July 1.  - Jennifer Gauthier file photo
Singer-songwriter Andrew Allen will headline the Main Stage entertainment at Steveston Salmon Festival July 1.
— image credit: Jennifer Gauthier file photo

It’s a land of freeways, beaches and a population quite literally 100 times greater than Andrew Allen’s hometown in Canada.

And it’s here, in Los Angeles, that the singer-songwriter is now sharing his music—a growing repertoire of songs that include “Loving You Tonight,” which landed him a record deal. But Allen is still a Canadian kid, and he’ll be north of the 49th parallel July 1 to help celebrate Canada’s biggest little birthday party.

Headlining the Steveston Salmon Festival on Canada Day, Allen will follow up his performance with another, at Coquitlam’s LaFarge Lake Park, to continue his tribute to Our Home and Native Land.

These days Allen is known for keeping a busy schedule, one that includes plenty of studio work. His latest pop song, an upbeat boy-meets-girl single, is scheduled for release this week.

He’s also committed to his fans. Allen has a big online presence and updates followers on his life each week in an online video. In the weekly video blog, he also answers questions thrown at him, including one this week about how he overcomes stage fright.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m always nervous before I go and play, but it makes it that much more fun.”

Since jumping head first into a music career five years ago, Allen has been busy making a name for himself through tours in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. This while collecting awards, chart spots and fans. With similarities to Jason Mraz, Maroon 5 and and John Mayer, Allen has opened for big acts like Bruno Mars, OneRepublic and Train.

He was last in Richmond a year ago, performing at RichCity Idol, the annual high school singing competition at Gateway Theatre for which Allen also served as a judge. His advice to young performers? Breathe it in.

“If there’s any way to get up on stage and take a big deep breath first—and be able to experience all the people who are there watching you and supporting you—then as soon as that song’s done, that’ll always be a part of your memory,” he said in a recent interview with The Richmond Review.

It was 2008 when Allen and wife Julia quit their jobs and sold their house and belongings. They bought a minivan and Allen took his music on the road, performing 210 shows a year. That hard work paid off with “Loving You Tonight,” a song he wrote in Nashville and played for his wife via Skype.

“I could tell right away it definitely had those special components to it. Every now and again you write a song (that) has something different. That was definitely one of those songs,” he said.

He recorded it and independently released it to Canadian radio. The song picked up steam on the charts and the Epic Records label noticed, signing Allen, releasing the song in the U.S. and bankrolling a video. The song exploded and was featured in the 2011 Taylor Lautner film Abduction.

“It ended up being much more than this cute little song I had written for the love of my life, and instead had blown up into this thing that a lot of people could identify with.”

His newer songs carry a similar buzz—and he’s got a lot more tunes he’s eager to share.

“I think that there’s an honesty to my writing, and I think there’s an identifiable character with a lot of them,” he said. “To tell an old school love story in a song is a new concept in this day and age, so I’d love to see myself carry that torch and sing at that top level, but I’d also like to be able to write those songs for other people.”

When Allen plays in Steveston July 1, he’ll likely have his go-to guitar with him—a Duncan Africa—built in Uganda to support a village and finely-tuned by Surrey-based guitar master Jay Duncan.

Said Allen: “It still smells like wood. It wasn’t made in a factory. There’s extra glue in some parts, extra resin here and there, little cracks. I just think it’s so cool.”

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