Ethan Cole
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Ethan Cole

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012

Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Alternative Folk




"Calgary playwright Ethan Cole takes on new role as folk-pop singer-songwriter"

A role he was born to play?

Well, Ethan Cole won’t go that far, but it’s one that he’s interested if not a little nervous and excited to see where it will take him.

The award-winning Calgary playwright and composer is finally stepping out from the wings and taking centre stage with a role that he’s been wanting to write, score, direct and cast himself in for some time now: That of singer-songwriter.

“I’ve just been really looking for an opportunity to get back into music,” says Cole, sitting outside on a sunny, summer weekday behind Beltline coffee shop Caffe Beano.

“I really wanted to get back to music in a way that was separate or different, I suppose, from theatre. So this I saw as an opportunity to put out an album and get some momentum going.”

He’ll begin what he’s hoping will be a recurring role on Saturday at the Unitarian Church, when he releases his solo debut Hazlewood Pines, an airy and understatedly pretty swath of prairie fields folk-pop.

The 10 tracks were culled from material he’s been crafting for the past four years or more, but his ambitions to take on a starring role go back much further, he says, noting that in the late ’90s, early 2000s he was part of local duo Bliss Frequency.

True, writing for such Betty Award-winning and -nominated productions such as In the Wake and The Astonishing Adventures of Awesome Girl and Radical Boy allowed him to tap into that musical side, but only recently did he think he was ready to take the leap.

Helping, of course, was something very important in the world of art, no matter the discipline, and that was a grant — this from the folks at local radio station Up 97.7.

Putting that grant and his songs to good use, he turned to producer Lorrie Matheson, someone whose work Cole admired and with which he was well-acquainted through his friend Rae Spoon, a frequent collaborator with Matheson.

Cole says he and the producer were on the same page when it came to how Hazlewood Pines should sound, due in large part to the songwriter sending Matheson a playlist of songs from such notables as Nick Drake, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell to more contemporary acts such as Lavender Diamond and Edith Frost.

“All had the same esthetic I was somewhat striving for,” he says, frequently returning to the word “pastoral.”

“I didn’t want to sound like those bands or those artists, but I certainly look up to (them).”

Also aiding to bring his creation to life while adding welcome sonic layers and atmosphere to the natural, acoustic set pieces was a supporting and supportive cast of friends from both the local theatre and music worlds, including guitarists Lawrence Nasen and James Dangerous, violinist Laura Reid, vocalist Dolly Sillito and drummer Chris Dadge.

Still, it’s Cole, his songs and his voice that take on the starring role in Hazlewood Pines.

He admits putting himself out there, not just as a solo artist but without being able to hide behind another, more fictional character, was a somewhat “scary” prospect, especially when it came to such personal fare as the jaunty Josephine, a wistful remembrance of romances past. But he also says that it was somewhat liberating knowing that the only story plot that the songs were serving and furthering was his own.

“What I like about writing in the folk-pop idiom as opposed to the theatre realm is that you have far more freedom to go completely outside of the narrative structure and still try to tell the story but do it in a way that’s far more unconventional ...,” Cole says, admitting he approaches each song as its own, short work.

“It gives you much more freedom, your palette gets bigger in terms of how you can tell the story.”

And he’s hoping to continue to expand that palette as he continues to write his own story and further flesh out that role of singer-songwriter. He’s hoping more opportunities will arise and more venues will be willing to stage Hazlewood Pines and whatever sequels follow.

That said, he’s not quite willing to turn his back on his previous part, one that he’s had a great amount of success with and that continues to offer its own rewards.

“It’s something that I grapple with all the time, because theatre is a great love and a great career and a great passion and I’ve been very fortunate to have a really good career in theatre. I feel like the Calgary theatre community is one of the best places you could work in theatre in this country — hands down,” he says.

“So I certainly am not turning a corner completely and going from music to theatre. It’s more like I think once I establish a good basis of more of an active career in music I’ll be able to dial them both back up without cancelling the other one out.” - Mike Bell, Calgary Herald


Hazlewood Pines - Ethan Cole (2014)



Ethan is a songwriter, musician, singer and playwright.  He lives in Calgary, Alberta. 

With melodies that will transport you and invite you to hum along, Ethan’s theatre music has won numerous awards. Now he is bringing his songs to the nightclub, with the upcoming release of his debut solo record, Hazlewood Pines, produced by Lorrie Matheson.  Ethan’s music arrives at the intersection of pop and roots music, with memorable tunes, vivid lyrics and flavourful guitar hooks.

In 2001, Ethan's previous band Bliss Frequency released The Novelty Wears Thin, to positive critical buzz.   Ethan’s musicals The Astonishing Adventures of Awesome Girl and Radical Boy and Peril In Paris have won numerous awards, and received universal acclaim from audiences and critics alike. 

Ethan’s music is steeped in acoustic guitar, and graced with flourishes of violin, percussion, mandolin, and fluid lead guitar.  His lyrics feature rich, vibrant and often surprising imagery, intricate rhyming and wordplay, and a subtle sense of humour.

Band Members