This week he will be in the chilly Southwest. Straker visited the South American country for the prestigious Vina del Mar song competition, where he picked up the first place trophy in the international category. He is just the second Canadian to win at the event, which began in 1960. Straker, who has performed several times in Shaunavon over the past few years, will be returning here for a special “home concert” at the gallery of the Grand Coteau Centre this Wednesday, March 5. The event was organized by Wendy Thienes, who is a huge fan of Straker’s music and riveting on-stage performances. “We have hosted this type of event in the past in cooperation with the Arts Council including Reed Miller and another one with Catherine Lewans and Adam Cosgrove,” said Thienes. “The gallery is a cozy, inviting space for a small, coffee house type of event. That’s really the same concept behind a house concert. Basically, all ticket money goes directly to the artist/s and those in attendance are treated to food and drink from the host. That’s exactly what will happen on Wednesday. Plus, we feel like we live here at the museum at times, so it’s really our second home! A few years ago we also had a piano donated and we’ve really been wanting to use it more. Jeffery will be bringing his own electric piano with him, but we’re hoping he’ll also try our acoustic one as well and we’re having it tuned on Tuesday, just in time for this event.” Tickets for the event can be purchased at the museum. Originally from Punnichy and now splitting his time between Regina and Toronto, Straker was one of six contestants in the international category at the competition, held in Vina Del Mar, Chile. He performed the song Hypnotized, from his 2008 album Step Right Up, for the competition. His first appearance was on Feb. 24 followed by a second performance on Feb. 26. Straker received the top mark from the judging panel on both nights, earning a spot in Thursday’s finale with two other competitors. Marking for the performances was out of seven. Straker topped the field on Feb. 24 with a mark of 5.9 and followed up with a 6.1 on Feb. 24, which again was the top score. Straker told the Regina Leader Post that he was a little disappointed that the scores for the final weren’t revealed. “They just announced my name. I actually wanted a score – I’m one of my own worst critics so I wanted to know, in their eyes, did I do better or did I do worse or what?,” Straker told the Regina Leader post in an interview. For winning the event, Straker received the Gaviota de Plata (Silver Seagull) trophy and $50,000 US. The competition was held at the 20,000-seat Quinta Vergara Amphitheater and televised throughout South America. It was held in conjunction with the Vina del Mar Festival. The weeklong celebration features the best and brightest of artists from throughout Latin America, along with international superstars. This year’s schedule included Ricky Martin and Rod Stewart.
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