By Joseph Blake
Monday Magazine contributor
Every summer Butchart Gardens offers nightly, live music from their outdoor stage. Free with admission to the Gardens, this year’s schedule includes a wide range of blues, folk, pop, rock, jazz, country, classical and world beat artists.
In that mix, the Gardens also offers special concerts by visiting stars. Los Texmaniacs and The Lone Star Amigos bring their high-octane, Tex-Mex conjunto rock to town July 10, while Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy performs solo material with his band on Aug. 15.
The other special concert on this year’s schedule sees multiple-Juno Award winner Serena Ryder make her first appearance at the Gardens on July 25, an experience she looks forward to.
“I’m so excited to be performing in Victoria outside at Butchart Gardens,” she said. “It’s very important to share my music outside in nature and my next three shows in western Canada are all outdoor events.”
Ryder, based in Toronto and Los Angeles, has had her music on North American charts since 2006. She has sold millions of records and earned six Junos in a career that has seen her share the stage with a range of international stars, including Kanye West, OneRepublic, HAIM, Pitbull and Melissa Etheridge.
Her biggest hits, “Stompa,” “What I Wouldn’t Do,” “Together We Are One” and “Got Your Number” showcase Ryder’s three-octave range and clever song crafting ability. Such addictive, radio-ready pop hits have been used in over 50 television shows and commercials.
Her last album was the jazz-influenced seasonal recording Christmas Kisses, released late last year. Prior to that she spent three years working in London, Nashville, Los Angeles and Toronto co-writing and recording the songs on 2017’s Utopia.
The 36-year old singer-songwriter recently opened Arthaus, a recording studio in Toronto, and she’s busy writing songs for her next album.
Ryder actively supports a long list of charity organizations and is expanding her role as an advocate for mental health. It’s a passion she shares as spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk and one that earned her plaudits at the 2018 gala fundraiser for Margaret’s, the women’s mental illness campaign founded in Toronto by Margaret Trudeau.
Working with KC Baker in Sedona, Arizona, Ryder is upgrading her ability to speak about healthy lifestyle practices, noting, “I’m learning more and more about mental health.”
“Just saying ‘yes’ and advocating for positive change in the world is simple and profound. I’m learning that (you can) care for the body and mind by paying attention to the food you eat, the water you drink, being active and getting back to the earth.”
Her 90-minute show at Butchart Gardens starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 25.
For any of the special entertainment events, it’s good to remember parking is limited. It’s recommended that you come early to enjoy the Gardens, maybe have a meal at one of Butchart’s critically acclaimed restaurants, and set out your spot to watch the show. Bring lawn chairs or blankets, as there is a limited number of benches and festival seating in front of the outdoor stage.
For more information on the live music schedule, visit butchartgardens.com/summer-entertainment.