Oliver Miguel ready to explore his creativity with special Arts Commons concerts

As all great opportunities do, it begins with Fred.

Just Fred.

That’s all you need to know and that’s all Oliver Miguel remembers anyway, so don’t bother asking for more.

“It’s Fred,” Miguel says with a hearty laugh as he sits on the patio of the Wild Rose Taproom. “I don’t even know what he does.”

Well, he does know that said Fred is a big music lover, is a huge fan of the music that Miguel makes and is also involved with the fine folks at Arts Commons.

That relationship then led to an introduction to Niels Hagen, manager of customer service and events at the downtown arts hub, which then led to a three-concert artist development residency in the Commons’ Engineered Air Theatre this season that kicks off Saturday night.

“I can do my thing, whatever I want musically — explore my creativity and express that to my audience,” Miguel says.

And he’s throwing himself into it by putting on a capital “s” Show.

Musically, it will be Miguel’s melting pot of world music — original material that’s a mix of Latin, jazz, flamenco and pop.

But there will also be something of a twist. Something that the musician has only done a handful of times in public.

“It’s nothing illegal,” he says with another bright, buoyant laugh.

He’ll be bringing to life his Oneness Project — a YouTube experiment which had the incredibly gifted musician recording himself playing all of the parts to one track on 10 instruments, including his most notable tool, the saxophone, along with bass, piano, guitar, percussion and more, and then putting them together for a single performance.

“Right after my first one, I remember my father asking me, he’s like, ’That’s great. How would you do that live?” he says. “So I thought about it for a long time … and thanks to technology and a fancy looper and creativity and about two years of doing that in my head, letting it cycle, I said, ‘OK, I think I’m ready to try this.”

His first couple of attempts were while he was busking on Stephen Avenue Walk and at Eau Claire, and he says they were met with a “great response.”

He did it on a grander scale and to the same reaction at Expo Latino a couple of weeks ago.

“It went off great,” Miguel says. “The audience was dancing, I had a conga line going, I was just having a blast.”

So, yes, on Saturday night at the Engineered Air Theatre the Oneness Project will be part of it, but he’ll also be integrating his full band into it for added oomph.

“They provide an energy and support that is incomparable to just loops,” he says, noting the crackling presence of bassist Lisa Jacobs.

There will also be a handful of other special guests throughout the night, including a singer-songwriter named Carolina Slim, who he met on a trip to Mexico, as well as a young ballerina who will interpret some of his songs in dance, and even more surprises.

He’s hoping to set the bar pretty high for his Arts Commons coming out.

As for his two other shows, one of them is a Christmas concert, Dec. 15, where he’ll do holiday favourites, including, of course, Feliz Navidad — “But the coolest version you’ve ever heard,” he promises with a laugh — and the other event will be one in spring.

Again, he’s just enjoying what the opportunity has allowed him to do and hopefully let him reach more people, make new fans.

“I’m very lucky, I guess,” he says. “It all came about from the right people and just making time to hang out with them.”


Just Fred.

Oliver Miguel performs Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Engineered Air Theatre. For tickets please click here