Category Archives: Reviews

One More Lumdi Lai by Jon Zaslow

Reviewed by Bill Monahan

When you finish listening to the eight songs on Jon Zaslow’s CD, “One More Lundy Lai” the tune keeps playing in your head.  Which tune?  Well, that’s the thing.  There is a consistency to this CD that makes it hard to distinguish in retrospect one song from the other.  Along with the melodies and rhythms, there is a theme throughout of relentless disappointment and regret.

The title “One More Lumdi Lai” comes from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ first hit, “Mickey’s Monkey”.  With that as the leading and title track, you might expect an album of Motown flavoured dance music (the song was about a dance called “the monkey’, not about the primate).  Instead it is reminiscent of a decade later, post-Beatles, when album oriented radio was dominated by introspective singer-songwriters like Eric Anderson, Jackson Browne and David Wiffen.

Those were the days of mournful reflection set in beautiful studio arrangements.  Jon has excelled in setting his tunes within that genre.

  From the opening chord, through very tastefully balanced elements like slide guitar and saxophone, and impeccably subtle backing vocals, this album sounds beautiful.

Meaford Musical Community Shines In “The Last Waltz”

Review by Bill Monahan
featured photo courtesy of Patti Kendall

On Saturday night at Meaford Hall, “The Last Waltz – Meaford Style” was a celebration of our musical community unlike anything that has been seen before.  A complete sellout more than a month in advance, the show featured a cavalcade of home grown talent that was equal to any visiting talent that has graced this great venue, and the audience loved it.

The template for the show was the famous Martin Scorcese film from 1978 that documented the last concert by The Band, with all of the performers who had been part of that celebration represented here by local talents.  It was actually the 41st anniversary of the original concert, which took place at Winterland in San Francisco on November 25, 1976.  The film set the bar high for a group of local performers who had little more than a month to practice.  They rose to the occasion. The band was tight, often indistinguishable from their model, and each performer who contributed tributes to the other performers did a stellar job.  The energy from the audience matched that coming from the stage.

Jaret Koop photo courtesy of John Scerri

A few of the vocalists stood out with their ability to mimic the originals to an uncanny extent.  Drew McIvor’s take on Doctor John’s (Mac  Rebennack) “Such A Night” had that New Orleans drawl down cold, and Jaret Koop perfectly captured Rick Danko’s anguished vocals on “The Shape I’m In”.

Fran Bouwmann photo courtesy of John Scerri

Fran Bouwman did a great take on Joni Mitchell’s “Coyote” (and even looked the part), and Tom Thwaits version of Neil Diamond’s “Dry Your Eyes” sounded like the real thing.  John Hume reproduced not only the vocal parts but the keyboards (that beautiful Hammond organ sound) with fidelity.

Sandra Swannell photo courtesy of John Scerri

Others added their own special talent to the songs that reflected what they bring to music.  Sandra Swannell’s violin solos on “Acadian Driftwood” and the encore “I Shall Be Released”, and Emma Wright’s vocals on “Evangeline” were spine-tingling standouts.  Chris Scerri’s vocals, of course, are 100% his.  He’s a belter and his style made new versions of the songs he covered.

 

John Brownlow Previews The Summertime at The Red Door Tonight

John Brownlow’s homemade masterpiece, a 2-CD set called “The Summertime” is due out this fall, but he has some copies pressed and he will be offering them at a discount (!) to people who come tonight to see him at the Red Door Pub and Grille in Meaford. He is part of a three songwriter night again at the Red Door.  His first introduction a few months ago to Red Door audiences was as one third of a three-parter that included Bill Monahan and Dave Hawkins.  This time he shares the evening with young talents Greg Smith and Max Breadner.

If it seems strange to release an album called “The Summertime” as the season comes to an end, it’s actually a good fit.  This album through all its meandering narrative, sounds like the summertime.

John Brownlow, who makes his living as a screen writer, has an abundance of talent (if not of time) left over for other projects.  When he mixes his prodigious imagination with an appreciation of pop music that is part fan, part academic, he creates music that sounds like it was born in radio tubes.  He’s put together this collection of 29 songs that would be impressive for the quantity of output alone but in fact each song in the bunch stands up like a pop gem that, given the right push, would find a comfortable niche on many a radio playlist.

“I went into this with no real ambition to do anything with it,” he says, “I was a bit taken aback that people liked it as well as they did.”

Life is Grand For Bill Dickson

Bill Dickson’s smooth soothing vocals and classic folk rhythms carry his CD, “Isn’t Life Grand” along a dreamy road that’s full of wonder.  It makes no sense standing there wondering why, we’re all just a bunch of monkeys and isn’t life grand (when compared to the alternative)?

The album really is about how grand life is. In Bill Dickson’s world, there is a zest for life that makes even the painful some sort of celebration.  He sings about a long drunken night counting off the hours thinking about his wonder woman that can become every woman.  He follows the lure of the sea in a light shanty about “taking my life where the wind may blow”.  He’s created a classic campfire song in “This Moment” with the sage advice to “live in this moment.  Forget about the future, it may not be here and that’s a fact,” because “if you’re watered and fed and you had your poop that’s all that matters.”

Click on album cover to preview the tunes

There are a couple of femme fatales lurking in the songs: the shape-shifting wonder woman who’s kept him up wandering all night and the girl across the street who’s “gonna, oh my, I don’t want to say, but you can feel her rhythm from a thousand miles away.”  He can’t resist being pulled toward her but she would never be his, she likes choice too much.  The way he puts it, “She’s got feet and she’ll dance.”  As dangerous as they are, these women fill him with energy and the urge to dance his life away.

The urge to roam is evident in some songs.  In “No Matter Where We Roam,” after fibbing about having been someplace he wasn’t, he claims to have been to “Oilberta”, to “Vancouver, they speak Chinese there” and “to Chicago, I got the blues there,”  but  “no matter where we roam we’re all going home”.