My Sweet Patootie Kicks Off Desboro Music Hall’s Summer Season

This Saturday, Apr. 22nd, the Desboro Music Hall will be kicking off its second concert season with the international folk/jazz trio, My Sweet Patootie, a  show that Driftwood Magazine describes as “two parts exemplary musicianship, one part vaudeville comedy”.  The opening act will be Alicia Toner from Canada’s East Coast.

The Desboro Music Hall was created when brothers Phil and Joe Klages bought the historic Anglican church in town.  Ever since the community centre closed down there had been a gap in the local culture and Phil and Joe, music fans who grew up in Desboro, saw the church as an ideal venue for concerts and other community activities.  Their inaugural year was a great success, a mixture of local musicians as well as acts like Oh Susanna, Alfie Smith and Mark Reeves.  Their choice of featured acts reflects the affection local audiences feel for roots based music and they have the good taste to include only the best purveyors of the style.  It is the kind of concert series that you can attend knowing that it will be good because of the care with which it was put together.  This year’s series starts and ends with exemplary performers who also happen to be Meaford residents, starting with My Sweet Patootie, who reside in Meaford when they are not on tour, and ending in October with The Honey Brothers, featuring Meaford talents Drew McIvor and Jayden Grahlman, along with Jay Stiles.

My Sweet Patootie was formed as a duo in 2007 when the long-running Canadian roots band Tanglefoot disbanded after decades of touring.   The two halves of Tanglefoot took off in different directions.  One half teamed up with Meaford-based drummer and singer-songwriter Beaker Granger to form RPR (stands for Richie/Parrish/Richie) and put the emphasis on roots rock.  The Patootie half took off in an entirely different direction and, now after several years of touring and recording, they have evolved into a totally unique live act with recordings that have a sheen to them combining nostalgia with superlative musicianship.

If they were a very serious act the audience would be moved by their extraordinary musicianship.  If they were mediocre players, their energetic showmanship would easily carry the day.  When the two elements are combined they put on an irresistible show.

Both Terry Young and Sandra Swanell of My Sweet Patootie are classically trained, Terry in voice and Sandra in violin and viola.  Terry’s roots, though, go back to Canadiana folk and his fingerpicking guitar style was influenced by players like Bruce Cockburn.  Sandra was the principal violist of the Georgian Bay Symphony and fronted the Celtic art-rock band The Shards before joining Tanglefoot in 2005.  Despite her classical training her violin more often than not echoes the “hot jazz” of Stephane Grapelli.  Together they took their superlative instrumental chops and applied it to a hybrid of folk, Celtic and old jazz.  All of these elements can be heard in their performances and their recordings.  They mix evocative covers with their own originals which are simultaneously moving and whimsical.

If they were a very serious act the audience would be moved by their extraordinary musicianship.  If they were mediocre players, their energetic showmanship would easily carry the day.  When the two elements are combined they put on an irresistible show, one that has charmed U.K audiences increasingly every year when they make their annual summer tour of Britain.

“Originally we were a duo and were doing pretty well but then found it was hard to get into playing bigger venues,” Terry told interviewer Pete Austin, “ In particular, in America, we found they were not hiring smaller acts, anything less than a trio, so we had to think what a third person would do in the band.  With me and Sandra doing the vocals and with my guitar and Sandra’s fiddle the most obvious choice was a percussionist to fill out the sound, and it works.”

They hired two percussionists.  Welsh percussionist Anthony Thickett joins them for UK tours, and Canadian Paul Clifford has replaced their original drummer Bradford Nowak for the North American tours.  Paul in particular with a background that includes street busking and a stint as musical director for a vaudevillian theatre collective is a great fit, enhancing what is already an engaging style.

The opening act, Alicia Toner, is also classically trained and brings a variety of musical influences to her performances.  After playing in a Celtic roots band in her home province of New Brunswick, she emigrated to Toronto and became immersed in musical theatre, appearing in in over 30 productions across Canada and Europe.  For the last four years, she has been a staple of the Charlottetown Festival, lending her incredibly versatile voice to many featured vocalist roles and in 2014 she returned to the East Coast to live in Charlottetown and devote her talents primarily to her music.  She has completed her debut album “I Learned the Hard Way” to be released this June, 2017.

With two such stellar acts, the Desboro Music Hall’s summer concert season for this year is starting off by setting the bar high.  Tickets are only $20 advance or $25 at the door and you can get them by contacting Joe Klages at  (519) 377-2358

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Click on the album cover to check out the latest music from My Sweet Patootie:

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