My Sweet Patootie Brings Christmas Home

Tonight’s Harp and Holly Concert at the Central Westside Church in Owen Sound is a standout among the many Christmas music offerings in this season because it is a program that features the talents of three exceptionally gifted virtuoso musicians.

 

My Sweet Patootie, built around the duo of Sandra Swanell and Terry Young, are Meaford’s best kept secret because they are always on the road, constantly touring the U.K. and U.S.  When they return to their home in Woodford, it is usually for a break, or to craft another of their sparkling albums in their home studio.  But Christmas is special and for several years now they have been coming home to present this special concert, which they describe as “an enchanted world of Christmas reverie with stirring arrangements of ancient carols, jubilant seasonal favourites and poignant storytelling”.  Consummate entertainers as a result of their incessant touring, the duo is joined by Canada’s most prolific and influential Celtic harpist Sharlene Wallace.  All three are award winning musicians, Sandra on violin and viol, along with vocals, and Terry on guitar and vocals.

The original Harp and Holly trio with Mabel Williamson

The tradition of this concert has been going for several years now.  Their original trio included harpist Mabel Williamson with whom they recorded a full length album called “Harp and Holly” in November of 2015.  When Mabel decided to retire from performing, Sandra and Terry were delighted to find the talents of Sharlene Wallace.

Winner of two international competitions, the Lyon & Healy International Pop & Jazz Lever Harp Competition (Tucson, Arizona) and the Concours d’Improvisation de Rencontres Internationales de Harpe Celtique (Dinan, France), Sharlene has created 7 independent CDs  which feature many of her own compositions inspired by her explorations in South American, Celtic, Classical and contemporary music and by her close connection with the Canadian landscape.  Sharlene tours internationally giving concerts, workshops, masterclasses and adjudications along with many festival appearances.  Her musicianship matches the high level set by the Patootie duo.

Terry Young and Sandra Swanell are building an international reputation as My Sweet Patootie

Terry and Sandra are former members of Tanglefoot, a legendary roots band that disbanded in 2009, giving rise to two new bands: My Sweet Patootie and RPR, also based in our area.  Since then My Sweet Patootie has completed six U.K. tours building a reputation among audiences and reviewers for their amazing musicianship, their great vocal harmonies and original songwriting and, not least, their engaging showmanship.  When not across the pond they continually circuit through the U.S. and Canada, playing festivals and special concerts.  Their show has been characterized as “two parts exemplary musicianship, one part vaudeville comedy”.

Over the course of their new career they have recorded four albums and refined a sound that has become a “sassy” mix of roots and ragtime.  Their early albums were recorded with some big names in the industry but when they moved to their home studio in an historical converted school in Woodford, their recordings began to take on an additional sheen as a result of applying their own musicianship directly to the project.  Playing to live audiences constantly, they have developed a level of showmanship that energizes fans wherever they play.  A typical comment is from Jim McLaughlin, Musicport Festival, Whitby UK: “Incredible professionalism and stunning musicianship plus great audience rapport and stagecraft equals a perfect festival band.”

Even though tonight’s Christmas show will be more sedate than their usual frivolity, you need to brighten up your day with a short bubbly sip of the Sweet Patootie magic.

The Holly and Harp concert plays tonight, Dec. 9th, from 7:30 to 9:30 at Central Westside United Church, 310 10th Street West in Owen Sound.  It is the first in a little tour of the show that they will be taking to Sauble Beach on Saturday night, and then to Guelph, Cambridge and Oakville next week.  So if you miss it tonight, you might consider taking a bit of a drive to catch them.  It’s cheaper than travelling to England.

 

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