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Former balcony co-founder returns to stage and writes a solo song during cancer treatment

Former Balconies member Steve Neville returns to the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday as a solo, acoustic act with a new album full of songs written and recorded during the most harrowing experience of his life.
Former balcony member Steve Neville A new album full of songs written and recorded during the most tragic experience of his life, he will return to the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival as a solo acoustic act on Saturday. Amanda Lee Tully

Tim Houghtons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

June 24-26, Mooneys Bay Park

Admission is free

Friday, June 24

Frowning line, 8 pm

Saturday, June 25

Level 8:00 pm

Steve Neville is Tim Houghton's Ottawa Dragon this weekend Return to the boat festival. About 10 years after rocking the Moonies Bay stage on the balcony, his sister Jackie is a punchy band facing the front. .. 

This time, I'm a singer-songwriter guitarist born in Ottawa, and I'm 32 years old, but I'm on a completely different musical path. When he opens for Serena Ryder on Saturday, he will appear as a solo acoustic act armed with a brand new album called OffTrack. Released on Friday, this song is full of songs written and recorded in the most tragic experience of his life.

Last winter, Neville lived in Hamilton, married his little son, and media studies when he began to feel sick. I had a PhD in He initially thought he had COVID-19 and then streptococcal pharyngitis, but when the antibiotics didn't work and he didn't get better, he went to the emergency department. 

Within hours he was diagnosed with one of the most deadly cancers ⁠— Cute bone marrow Sexual leukemia. Doctors quickly urged him to intensive care at Hamilton's cancer treatment center, Durabinsky, and his chemotherapy began the same day. 

When the condition stabilized, Neville was hospitalized alone during the pandemic, limiting the number of visitors to one hour a day. Boredom soon began and he asked his partner to bring an acoustic guitar. 

"I felt I had hours of free time and I needed to be aware of something else." Neville said in an interview. "And soon, it wasn't about playing for fun. It started processing what I'm experiencing as a way to write some songs, deal with things, and understand things. Let's do it. " 

He initially hesitated to share songs with anyone, even with his family, but as the music took shape , He noticed that he was making a decent album. The day he left the hospital, he decided to try recording with his old friend Liam Jaeger. Liam Jaeger is a former member of Balcony, who is also a producer and recording engineer. The album, fleshed out with full-band instrumentation, expresses the raw emotions of the lyrics in a melodic and alto-pop setting. 

"I was very private about it. At first it was like a diary," Neville said of the songwriting. "But then I started thinking more about it, and I thought maybe the album might be good for other people. Much support for people with cancer is with cancer. It feels like fighting, being a warrior, inspiring, and being strong, but there are many dark aspects to this journey that no one talks about much.

"I feel that's what I'm trying to do with this album. I'm working on a real human theme. There are still moments of happy hope, but depression, There's also fear, anxiety, and anxiety. What happens to your body if you lose your hair, change your body, or get a transplant? I felt this album would help others handle the experience. 

Today, one year after transplantation, Neville replaced unhealthy stem cells with donor stem cells. Step up ⁠—and get used to his immunodeficiency. He needs to pay particular attention to where and how often he plays, and he mitigates the risk by playing a limited number of solo outdoor shows. 

The Dragon Boat Festival concert series is one of the few on his schedule this summer. He joined the amazing lineup including Wakefield's indie rocker Rebelle on Saturday, and Strumbellas will headline the big stage on Friday with a show introducing their new lead singer Jimmy Chaveau.  

For Neville, this festival is a reminder of the fun that can be enjoyed in Ottawa in the summer.  

"I've been to a dragon boat several times as a kid raised in Ottawa, and it's always a lot of fun." He said. "At that time, playing on the balcony was a very fun party. It's one of the best times of the year and it's a very beautiful environment in Moonies Bay, especially given the fact that it's a free open festival. It's a positive experience. It brings out people of all kinds. " 

In the future, Neville will include the equivalent of another EP on the track to be recorded. , Say there are more songs in the future. 

"To be honest, I can't stop composing songs now," he said. "I want to announce the next theme pretty quickly because I want to move on to a more hopeful and happy theme just to move forward and start a new chapter. I shake off all the energy from my body. , Ready to do something faster and a little lighter. "

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