Steven Morel holds the spoils of his Grey County Reads victory, $100 worth of gift certificates for Casero Kitchen Table restaurant in Owen Sound.
A versatile entertainer, local arts and literature lover, Steven Morel seems to move seemlessly from one creative gig to another. South Grey News recently caught up with him, fresh off his 2019 Grey County Reads victory, advocating for Waubgeshig Rice’s Moon of the Crusted Snow.
“I was happy to see a local Wasauksing lad win it,” he said, feeling kinship with the author who grew up near Morel’s boyhood home in Parry Sound. “I was also happy for the community,” he said, noting West Grey Library’s coincidental prize of $200 worth of books, awarded during the same five week contest and donated by Speaking Volumes Books and Audio in Flesherton.
Reminiscing about his choice to read Rice’s work of fiction, he explained how he almost chose another book on which to advocate. “I had read Bellevue Square and I thought about choosing it,” Steven said. “It was a phenomenal book and I don’t know how Terry did it,” he said, referring to Terry Burns detailed Grey County Reads advocacy of Michael Redhill’s tour-de-force literary work.
“It was great to engage with Waub too!” he said, beginning the correspondence with Moon of the Crusted Snow’s author via email and expressing delight at Rice’s responsive comments on a Grey County Reads Youtube video.
What’s next for Steven Morel? “What isn’t?” might be the best answer to that. He is currently working away at some minor renovations to the Jest Arts Gallery building in downtown Durham, a space he has shared with his talented mural-painting wife Jenny Parsons. Steven also looks ahead to continued collaborations and performances with the Sauntering Band (working name) that came together last Fall as a kind of New Orleans funeral-procession-style wandering jazz band which has played with upwards of 20 members at a time.
But as drummer for local funk/r&b/soul-sters, Higher FunKtion, Steven seems most boastful. In addition to himself, the group consists of Randy Martin, Jaret Koop, Larry White and the H-F horns – Wayne McGrath, Ian Harper & Chris 'Bonehead' Palmer but has also seen many other talented local musicians grace the stage with them.
Higher FunKtion will be performing at Marsh Street Centre in Thornbury on May 17 and Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound on June 1.
Steven spent over 20 years in the entertainment industry as a comic actor, performer, writer, producer and director, working up through the ranks of the famed comedy institution The Second City. He has appeared on stage and television, as well as musically at Summerfolk and recently playing with local funk band, Higher FunKtion. Currently, Steven is the Arts Administrator at The Durham Art Gallery, where he has enjoyed working with artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers in continuing to bring contemporary arts of all kinds into a vibrant, rural setting. Steven lives in bustling downtown Durham, with his wife, Jenny and sweet dog, Bootsie T. Collie.
I chose the novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, by Waubgeshig Rice, as I wished to support an indigenous writer who grew up in Wasauksing experiencing the same spectacular winters around Parry Sound that I did! And, I smiled at the jacket quote, "Chilling in the best possible way." - Eden Robinson
Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. His first short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, was inspired by his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community, and won an Independent Publishers Book Award in 2012. His debut novel, Legacy, followed in 2014. A French translation was published in 2017. His latest novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was released in October 2018.
He got his first taste of journalism in 1996 as an exchange student in Germany, writing articles about being an Anishinaabe teen in a foreign country for newspapers back in Canada. He graduated from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2002. He currently works as a multi-platform journalist for CBC News in Sudbury, where he lives with his wife and son. In 2014, he received the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nation Storytelling.
Grey County Reads is a county-wide reading program involving seven local libraries, including Grey Highlands, Hanover, Meaford, Owen Sound, Southgate, Town of Blue Mountains and West Grey. Five local celebrities will advocate for five Canadian books beginning in January.
Readers are encouraged to follow along with the contest, consider each book and it’s celebrity endorsement. Pick up your own copy of one or more of these books and give us your opinion too. Books are available in limited quantities from your local public library or may be purchased from your favourite local bookstore.
Read any or all of the Grey County Reads books and/or read each of the book synopses and celebrity installments posted on SouthGrey.ca starting January, 2019.
Grey County Reads is supported through advertising by these local businesses:
The Bicycle Café
Chapman's Ice Cream
The Colour Jar
ColourPix Graphic Design Services
Grey County Public Libraries
Grey Roots Museum and Archives
John Tamming Law
Larry Miller, MP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
Nature's Path Osteopathy and Alternative Healing
Owen Sound Transportation Company
The Restaurant - Leela's Villa Inn
Speaking Volumes Books and Audio
Bill Walker, MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
West Grey Chamber of Commerce