Stu Larsen: In Person
On May 4, 2015, I met the lovely Stu Larsen again. Who is he? An amazing artist, I must say. Born and raised in Australia, Larsen was going to be a farmer, but found another passion: music. He decided to pursue the world with one suitcase and a guitar, stealing hearts along the way. You might’ve seen him with Mike Rosenberg (aka Passenger), the folk singer of “Let Her Go” fame. Larsen toured with Passenger in 2012 and 2014 across Europe and North America, warming up fans with his incredible performance, and they’re currently touring again in Europe through August.
Stu has two EP’s, Ryeford–that makes you want to crawl in your bed with clean sheets and warm tea–and Stu Larsen & Natsuki Kurai, which makes you want to grab a suitcase and go where life will take you (he has a song called “This Train”–it never fails to make me want to hop on a train just for the hell of it). Natsuki Kurai is his adorable friend whom I had the opportunity to meet as well–but you’ll hear about that later. Stu met Natsuki in Japan; they bonded right away over music and decided to collaborate and tour the world.
The Aussie has also released two albums, The Black Tree and most recently Vagabond, both extremely stunning. His single from Vagabond, “Thirteen Sad Farewells”, has won over many people; it was initially written for a friend to play, until Larsen decided to make it his own. I’m glad he did, and if you listen to it (which I strongly suggest), you will be glad he did, too.
My first time meeting Stu was in 2013, and he pretty much knew who I was already, because I would tweet him often and we’d engage in conversation. After our initial encounter, I met him again three more times, and before I knew it, it was like we were friends, casually hanging out each time he came back to Montreal.
“Hey, can you come out before your gig?”
“Sure,” and boom–we would chat before every gig, or after, sometimes both if all was good.
But back to May 4th–After skipping appointments and taking the train (unfortunately I had reset my phone, so I was not listening to his song, sigh), I ask my friend to tag along while looking for the venue. Montrealers often party at Café Campus, in the old port and middle of our gorgeous city. Inside, there’s a small room called “petit campus”, where they house shows. It’s cozy and intimate.
After finally arriving–I don’t know what to do. Go in? Tweet him, and tell him I’m here? Screw it–I walk in and recognize him right away. We hug and chat for a while, happy to see each other. He invites me to tag along while he goes to get things in his car, and I talk to him about the night’s gig.
“I’m nervous,” he confesses. It’s his biggest show in North America to date, three hundred people attending. I was surprised–I mean, did he not see how talented he was? I wouldn’t have been surprised if he sold out the Corona Theatre–a stunning venue in Montreal—all by himself. (He mentions that he would love to make a gig of his own, not just as a supporting act.)
Stu decides we should take pictures, to remember the moment, and even takes the time to make a sweet video for my friend, who hasn’t had the chance to see him live yet. While heading back to the venue, he admits that he loves Montreal to bits–but always gets lost. “The Mile End,”–(a venue where he last performed)—“Is it near here or the opposite side of the city?” Clueless, I admit I have no idea, even though I practically live in this area. We can’t help but laugh.
At the venue, Stu goes backstage and shouts, ‘’Natsuki, come meet some friends!” He introduces me to Natsuki and Matt Sanders—another lovely folk singer from Tennessee. I am a bit shy, but they are all really sweet.
If you know a little about Quebec, you are probably aware that poutine here is a big thing. It’s basically french fries, squeaky cheese and gravy. It’s bloody delicious. Even the lovely Ed Sheeran tasted it back in Sept. 2012 when he visited, sharing his love for the dish on social media.
After chatting and taking a few more pictures, I hung around for sound check since I couldn’t stay for the gig (yay college!! Not). I listened to a few songs, which felt like heaven. If I can perfectly put into words the feeling I get whenever I listen to him play–I’d say his voice feels like a warm blanket that someone wraps around you when you’re cold, and if you weren’t cold, you get a warm feeling inside that you didn’t know you could have. Eventually, I had to get down from my own little cloud, but it didn’t stop me from smiling all the way back home, to the point that my cheeks were still hurting the next day. I strongly recommend every human being on this planet to go see this brilliant performer live, and if you have the opportunity to meet him, take it right away. Oh, and if you happen to be in Canada, taste poutine, too. You won’t regret that, either.