August’s Featured Artist is Chris Strei (pronounced “stray”), a country music singer/songwriter.
His music includes blues, bluegrass and even a bit of hard rock, and is inspired by Chris Stapleton, Johnny Cash and High Valley. As a songwriter, he finds inspiration within his own life challenges. He loves to share his music with others and feels personally rewarded when audience members sing along to his songs or find a personal connection to his lyrics. “Whether it’s from finishing a song and feeling like it could be a hit, to playing songs that are already hits and sharing the performance with an audience who loves them… I’m truly at home when I’m playing music on stage; that’s 100% my element and who I am.”
Strei does not have any family roots in the music industry, but credits his Grandma who had an extensive record collection of country legends like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and Conway Twitty for sparking his interest in music. He taught himself how to sing when he was 13, learned how to play guitar from a friend at 16, and shortly thereafter began writing his own songs.
Strei has a strong support system behind him, and credits three people in his personal life for their consistent encouragement: his mom, who bought him his first guitar and whose work ethic inspires him; his girlfriend, Natalie (his “forever human”) who is the “June to his Johnny”; and Kyle Furlong, who always has his back and is the best kind of friend he could wish for. He is also inspired by Jocelyn June, a Hamilton-based musician, whose work Strei simply describes as “wow.”After graduating from Recording Arts Canada’s Audio Engineering and Music Business program in his 20s, he worked out his path and identity as an artist; in 2017 he was invited by Jamie Stephens to open for The Trews at the BrantNow App Launch Party in December 2017. Since then, he decided to “go for broke” and seek out new musical opportunities, including a 2018 BlackBird Tour across Canada, frequent visits to Nashville, auditioning for The Shot (he placed in the top 25, which led to a showcase at Canadian Music Week 2019), and placing 2nd in an Nashville Songwriters Association International chapter challenge.
As he prepares for his first album release, Moonshine (produced by Iain McNally) in summer 2019, he is highlighting acoustic previews of the songs on his blog, The Moonshine Blog. He is also performing at Buck’s Tavern (541 Colborne Street, Brantford) with his band, The Dirt Road Travelers, on July 26. Other performances are updated on his website and on the BandsInTown app where you can sign up for notifications.
For more information about Chris Strei, visit his website, or follow him on Instagram and Facebook.
Photo credits: Cover image by Jill Nunn; content image by Iain McNally.