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State of Emergency at Fortress of Louisbourg

The widely respected and popular songwriter, performer, musician and producer will perform Saturday night with his trio, Joel Plaskett Emergency, at the Fortress of Louisbourg, as part of LouisRocks, a concert series being hosted at the site as 300th anniversary celebrations continue.

“I’m pretty excited about it actually,” said the 38-year-old Plaskett, who was last at the fortress when he was a kid. “It’s unique, certainly, so I’m thrilled to be able to get into a new place, and as much as I like playing places that are familiar, I also like the idea of bringing a show to a new stage.”

Plaskett and bandmates Dave Marsh and Chris Pennell are also happy to have a chance to include the island on their summer schedule.

“Any opportunity to get to Cape Breton in the summer is awesome so being invited to Louisbourg is cool. It’s a unique venue for us but also I just love playing Cape Breton. I have history up there, my grandfather is from Sydney, and it feels like home as much as Halifax does in many respects. We’ve been there so many times and we have a long-standing history with the island,” he said.

Summer is typically festival-filled for Plaskett and this year is no exception — two of his most recent gigs were at Fort York Garrison Common at the Toronto Urban Roots Fest earlier this month, and last weekend at historic Victoria Row as part of a concert series in Charlottetown, P.E.I. — meaning the majority of his shows in July and August are outdoors.

“You’re at the mercy of the elements a little bit but I always enjoy it. The other night in Charlottetown was just perfect. Everyone was having a good time and it sounded good. When you can play outdoors in the summer and all the things line up it’s kind of like the perfect venue,” said Plaskett. “And even when it’s raining and stuff, we’ve done shows like that, and that’s really fun too. We try to bring our ‘A’ game no matter what.”

With numerous awards to his name, years of touring under his belt, and a long list of recording and producing projects to his credit, Plaskett continues to enjoy a diverse musical career, performing both with his rock band the Emergency, and as a solo artist.

“It keeps it interesting and fresh. I love my band but I also like to go and play solo shows because it means I can dig into some of the catalogue that I can’t get to with the band just because it’s a rock show,” he said.

On the recording side of things, Plaskett and the Emergency recorded, mixed, mastered, and released a song every week for 10 weeks last year, resulting in the release of rock album “Scrappy Happines,” Plaskett’s eighth recording. He said the intensive schedule was a challenge.

“Because there was a deadline my mind really didn’t relax for 10 weeks, so it was a little bit like writing papers or something,” he said. “But having said that, I thought it brought some spontaneity and a bit of an edge to the record that I don’t think I otherwise would have had if I hadn’t had to deliver.”

Plaskett noted he’s working on new material but hasn’t yet decided exactly what form his next album will take.

“I’ve been building a new studio in Dartmouth so the next record I know will be really informed by that new space and I’m really excited to make a record in there,” said Plaskett. “I’m pretty excited about (the new studio). A real focus of my last year has been setting myself up in there and just getting it to function in a way that I like to record.”

Saturday’s concert will get underway at 7:30 p.m. with openers Bella Rebellion. Tickets are $30 and are available through the Fortress of Louisbourg, online at, by phone at 562-5399, at the Louisbourg Playhouse, in Sydney at the Cape Breton Curiosity Shop, and in Cheticamp at Les Trois Pignons.