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Yukon singer charms audience on a cold night

Sarah MacDougall came to Moose Jaw for the first time and earned a standing ovation at the Mae Wilson Theatre

The cold weather didn't help attendance at the Mae Wilson Theatre Wednesday, but Sarah MacDougall's music was an ideal soundtrack to a cold, dark, blustery night.

The singer-songwriter grew up in Malmö, Sweden with a Swedish mother and Canadian father. She moved to Canada after high school and after living in Vancouver moved to Whitehorse. 

MacDougall cites "the dark beauty of Scandinavia the vastness of the Yukon" as influences in her music and you can hear it in her songs.

MacDougall played 15 songs during two sets that comprised her 95-minute performance. After playing her first four songs solo with her guitar, MacDougall was joined by Christopher Wong for the rest of the evening. Wong played keyboard and drums -- occasionally in the same song -- and also offered some atmospheric electronic elements backing MacDougall.

A two-time winner of the Western Canadian Music Awards for Roots Solo Album of the Year, MacDougall's fourth album All The Hours I Have Left To Tell You Anything, sees her move in a new direction with hints of dance music and electronica.

They opened the second set with an uptempo "Empire," the first single off of All The Hours I Have Left To Tell You Anything. "Bleeding on the Dancefloor" was another highlight off of her new album as was the first song of the night, the quiet, intricate "Baby, I Know."

MacDougall even sang one song in her native tongue "Malmö i mitt hjärta" an ode about her love-hate relationship with her hometown.

During the concert MacDougall related that she initially went to the Yukon to play two weeks of shows. At the end of that run she had an offer to live in a cabin rent-free for four months from another musician and a part-time job from an employer who wanted to work around her musical career. MacDougall never left.

She played "Permafrost," a song she wrote during her time staying in that remote cabin in Golden Horn, Yukon. After a bear sighting in the area, she stayed confined to the house and only ventured out to use the outhouse during the two hours of daylight between noon and 2 p.m.

MacDougall related a story about the time she performed for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- Prince William and Kate Middleton -- with a group of local artists in Whitehorse. The Royals were effusive with their praise of the show. When they said it was the best concert they had ever seen, MacDougall recalled thinking "Ever? Really? You need to get out more," she related with a laugh.

The Duchess spoke to MacDougall in a receiving line and complimented her guitar playing. She said someone had just gifted her a guitar and asked MacDougall for tips. MacDougall replied that if she built up the calluses on her fingers, it wouldn't hurt to play. "She touched the calluses on my fingers and I could see on the look on her face that she would never touch that guitar again," MacDougall said.

MacDougall closed her first set with a song dedicated to her grandmother that had the crowd singing "We're all going to blow away someday" along with MacDougall.

It may have been frigid outside, but MacDougall received a warm reception on her first trip to the city -- a standing ovation after the final song.

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