Colleen Eccleston
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Colleen Eccleston

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | SELF | AFM

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | SELF | AFM
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"A Musical Journey"

A musical journey

Colleen Eccleston's career has covered everything from Celtic to kids music



Colleen Eccleston will perform on Saturday at Metro Studio Theatre in support of her new recording, The Garden of Chaos.
Photograph by: Laura Akers
Colleen Eccleston performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Metro Studio Theatre (1411 Quadra St.) Tickets are $22.

Colleen Eccleston is a permanent fixture on stages around Victoria, having appeared in theatre productions and with a variety of musical groups for the better part of 30 years.

But for a number of reasons, most of which involve the juggling of multiple projects at once, the Calgary native rarely appears in concert on her home turf under her own name. Eccleston, 52, is righting that wrong on Saturday with a concert at the Metro Studio Theatre in support of her new solo offering, The Garden of Chaos.

The mother of three got to thinking about balance and the delicate dichotomy of one's life, a theme around which her solo recording was eventually based.

While it has a "lot of bopping '60s rhythms," as she puts it, the recording also has some political content and songs that deal with death. "I love the contrast in it," Eccleston said. "Because overall, it's quite a poppy record."

Eccleston moved to Vancouver Island in 1982 as a first-year student in the University of Victoria's theatre program. It was the latest in a line of adventures: Eccleston, though barely out of high school, had lived quite a life to that point, residing in more than 40 different locations with her family.

Her father, an English professor, had a habit of taking jobs in unusual places, so the Eccleston clan was constantly on the move, even during his time off in the summer months. "Every summer we'd camp and keep travelling," she said. "I loved it."

She traces her musical evolution back to her youth, which was spent mostly in Newfoundland. Her musical talent was evident early, and had become a legitimate pursuit for Eccleston by the time she was 12.

The choir at her Catholic elementary school in Newfoundland performed a song Eccleston wrote at the age of 11. That same year, she began playing gigs around town. Eventually, she was asked to write songs for a documentary that aired on her local CBC station.

All of it, Eccleston says, can be traced back to the eureka moment she had at a very young age. "I saw Buffy Sainte-Marie on television and just knew — like a lightning bolt — what I would do with my life. I've been playing ever since."

She played in a number of rock bands (Grand Union, Under the Moss, Rattle in the Dash) both after high school and following her time at UVic, and spent a few years chasing her dream of being an actress with an unfulfilling stint in Vancouver.

Eccleston came back to Victoria in the early 1990s and started with her bass-playing younger brother Kelt a Celtic-inspired folk group. Along with percussionist Greg Madill, this hot new trio — named, appropriately, the Ecclestons — began making a name for itself around B.C. The group continues to this day, though gigs by the band (which is no longer a recording entity) are much fewer than in the past.

Family life put Eccleston's musical career on hold for a time, as the bulk of her energy went into raising her three sons (she was married to Hugh McMillan of Spirit of the West; the couple split five years ago). Being a mom didn't keep her from making new music, however. In addition to the Ecclestons, she also formed (again with her brother, Kelt) the Fairy Tale Players, a children's group.

"I saw a lot of stuff that was really condescending to kids. We wanted to do something that didn't do that — something that was intelligent, and appealed to parents as much as kids."

The group continued for about 10 years before other projects brought it to an end, Eccleston says, though it remains something of which she's extremely proud. "We saw this hole that needed to be filled with something real."

She makes her living as a musician, but acting and writing are important outlets as well, Eccleston says. She has appeared, both as an actress and singer, in local productions of Good Timber: Songs and Stories of the Western Logger, Urinetown, Moodyville Tales and The Victoria Show, among others, and recently finished her first novel, As the Snow Flies. She is also working on another book, one about songwriting, and continues her teaching at UVic with two music department-related courses, The History of Rock and Roll and The History of the Beatles.

"Who knew I would be into that?" she said, noting the symmetry between her job as an instructor and her father's profession of choice. "But I love teaching, love being with people at that time in their lives. Being in university is such a great thing, and I love the energy."

Eccleston will perform a song Saturday at her concert in honour of her - The Times Colonist

"The Garden of Chaos"

"I compared Colleen’s vocals to those of the fabled Sirens with her first solo release “In Essence,” and I wasn’t wrong. In fact she’s still holding true, with a voice that will lure you in and hold on until the last note has come to a close. A dangerous blend of skillful song writing and gorgeous vocals makes Colleen an artist whose work is timeless and a must have for any true music aficionado’s collection." - Linear Reflections Naomi DeBruyn

"The Rogue Folk"

"Victoria's Colleen Eccleston is a remarkable singer. She is a gifted songwriter and a very strong rhythm guitarist. Her on-stage ebullience makes her concerts a delight, but she can switch from a carefree song about life on the road to a sobering tale of environmental or interpersonal damage with consumate ease" - The Rogue Folk Review Vancouver

"Tom Harrison"

Vancouver Island's Colleen Eccleston is a versatile singer and writer who has never settled on a single identifiable style and appears to have given up trying. Good. She is as at home with a pure folk tune as with blues, as comfortable singing in a smooth pop voice as an abrasive rock howl. . . .
Eccleston can be a lilting Islander . . and then turn on the jets and become a rocker. . . Its not predictable and that's part of the appeal. - The Province Vancouver BC

"In Essence -- Colleen Eccleston"

Colleen has been a mainstay of the Canadian folk scene for a good many years. She is a singer/songwriter of
exceptional quality, with a powerful, rich voice. Her introspective songs deeply touch on the emotions of love and caring, celebrating life with all its ups and downs. - The Ocean Magazine


I am pleased to announce the completion of The Garden of Chaos featuring solo songwriting, guitar and vocals. Also the brilliant bass playing of Scott White, Guitars and colour commentating Marc Atkinson and Lester Quitzau. Joby Baker recorded mixed and co produced as well as played drums, guitar, bass and keys.
The Garden of Chaos is now out in the world. I am performing with pianist extraordinaire Karel Roessingh and bassist Scott White.
The songs are ready for the next record. Stay tuned!
Here is a link to a live performance on Saltspring Island

We are set to play the Vancouver Folk Festival July 14th and 15th 2012

Under the Sun is featured on The Everyday Music Project



She is all about melody and rhythm, word play and humour and it is a rare and wonderful experience to see this woman doing what she is so obviously meant to do. Her emotional range is riveting and her voice will leave you breathless. Her love of life nothing short of contagious!

Colleen has also performed and recorded extensively as a solo artist.
She has fronted a rock band, been actively an environmentalist and peace activist, she has a degree in acting and is a Rock and Roll, Beatles and Songwriting professor.
She has also toured withThe Ecclestons, James Keelaghan, Under the Moss, Rattle in the Dash, Grand Union, Sandy Scofield and Jenny Allen as the SAE band and Valdy to name a few.
She has appeared in concert with Lucie blue Tremblay
Christine Lavin, Garnet Rogers, Sue Medley, Mae Moore, John Gorka,
Paul Horn and Morrie Stearns, Ron Hynes and the list goes on . . . .