Fred Penner brings songs for kids of all ages to Nelson

Fred Penner will be in Nelson this weekend with a grown-up show at Spiritbar on Saturday and a kid
Fred Penner will be in Nelson this weekend with a grown-up show at Spiritbar on Saturday and a kid's show at the Capitol on Sunday.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Fred Penner

Children of the 80s and 90s (and their parents) will remember Fred Penner from his television series Fred Penner's Place.

But long before he was a children's performer, the Winnipeg singer-songwriter toured the Canadian folk circuit, playing his guitar in bars and lounges. Now, at age 67, Penner has come full circle — the children who grew up watching him on television are now old enough to go to bars and are eager to reconnect with a childhood icon.

This Saturday night at Spiritbar the man who, on television, invited his young audience to following him through a log to escape the adult world will offer his grown up fans another chance to feel like a care-free kid.

He'll be singing his popular children's songs like "The Cat Came Back" and "Sandwiches," as well as some material that's not appropriate for his family concerts. And, of course, the audience will be expected to sing along.

"I'm from a generation of performers where it is about engaging the audience — rather than just getting up there and playing a couple songs and getting into a heavy jam," Penner told the Star. "It's about communication, and talking to the audience about things."

Penner has yet to encounter an audience he can't convince to sing along with him, from hip lounges to university pubs, he's a master of breaking down inhibitions and bringing a smile to the face of even the quietest wallflower.

"I come in and remind them of their exuberant younger days, before your beautiful childhood joy was squashed by the responsibilities of adult life," Penner said.

Between songs, expect some stories and ranting (don't get him started on cuts to elementary school arts programs!). And he'll be taking audience requests.

Penner will be performing with his longtime friend and touring buddy of 20 years, Paul O'Neill. Nelson funny man Lucas Myers will be MC for the night, with the help of some of his familiar characters (Randy from Creston will be there, the Cromoli Brothers and Cliv from DECK) and Rafferty Funksmith will be spinning later in the evening.

The grown-up Fred Penner show is at Spiritbar on Saturday, January 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the adult show are $10 in advance $15 at the door at the Hume Hotel or ticketweb.ca.

Penner and O’Neill will also have an all-ages show on Sunday, January 26 at 2 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets to that event are $15 for adult and $12 for students, available at the Capitol Theatre box office or capitoltheatre.bc.ca.

For every ticket sold to either the adult or children's event, $1 will be donated to Kootenay Kids Society.

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