I Just Had To Go

A review by Bill Monahan of Jenie Thai at The Red Door, Feb. 24, 2017

I just had to go to The Red Door Pub and Grille last night to see Jenie Thai.  I’d listened to a couple of audio tracks on her website and was immediately captivated.  That doesn’t happen to me often; I had to have her CD, “Only The Moon”, and hear her play live.

Things start early there, and, arriving around half past eight, we found a packed house, full of animated conversation.  It was between sets.  We were lucky enough to find seats next to friends so we could enjoy talking with them while we waited for the second set to begin.

When she took her place at the piano and started to play the room was still full of the noise of friends talking, but it was soon apparent that the audience was all hers.  Her second set was almost entirely made up of renditions of some classic blues, songs like Hey Bartender, Caledonia, Stormy Monday, with a few originals and a Tom Waits song thrown in.  She was belting out the songs at energetic tempos and playing some incredible piano solos, many of which brought cheers from the audience mid-song.  When she wrapped up around ten, the audience demanded an encore.

It was a great rollicking party, but it wasn’t what had brought me there.  The songs I’d heard from “Only The Moon” that had moved me so much, were quieter and wrapped in some very beautiful melodic phrases that highlighted the nuances of her vocal powers.  Maybe she had performed some of them in the first set, but it was understandable if she focused more on the upbeat numbers, with a room full of enthusiastic and talkative punters.

Having been smitten by songs like “The Lights Are Low” and “Your Sweet Lullaby”, I hadn’t realized how much her repertoire is rooted in the blues.  Perhaps if it had been a venue where the lights were low, like, say, a quiet piano bar, she would have been able to captivate the audience with songs like that.  But, as a polished entertainer, she knew how to give the room what suited it best.  And it was great.

So I bought the CD and went home to hear it in the quiet of my own house, with the lights down low.  What a beautiful piece of work it is!  And along with a couple of captivating melodies, oozing with emotion, there is a generous helping of blues melodies in her original work.  The CD captures both aspects of her talent.

I asked Chris Scerri, who books the talent at The Red Door, how he had discovered her, and he said she had contacted him, wanting to play here in Meaford.  How lucky we are!

I hope she comes back again and often.  In the meantime, I know that this CD is one of those recordings I’ll be listening to until I’ve internalized the songs so much that I can hear them in my head.

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One Response to I Just Had To Go

  1. Laurie Zwar says:

    What a great review! The music scene is alive and well in Meaford! What a treasure!
    Cheers!

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