Summit On The Mountain On A Sunday Evening

Review of Summit in concert at The Village at Blue, Sunday Aug. 14, 2017

Featuring photos by Susan Vogan

Blue Mountain Village was still crowded on Sunday evening at the end of a perfect summer’s day and the band that calls itself Summit took the stage for their second set.  They took command immediately. As they played more and more of the flowing crowd gathered around the Coca-Cola stage to stay and listen.  Kids sat cross-legged on the ground in front of the stage and couples danced off to the side in the shadow of the speakers.

Tyler YaremaJohn Bride’s guitar solos acted like a crowd magnet with his classic pyrotechnics, playing behind his head and with his teeth.   Equally alluring was the lineup of the three main vocalists, Gracie, Virgil Scott and Chris Scerri.  On this beautiful summer night weaving casually through the little streets of the village, you couldn’t help but stop and notice when you passed this band in action.  They rock.

People have seen the members of Summit at Meaford Hall, in a series of concerts that have celebrated Canadian pop music, Rocking Christmas songs, and classic rhythm and blues.  The guiding musical architect for this collection of superplayers is Tyler Yarema, on keyboards and vocals.  Playing every Sunday night in the Blue Mountain Village this summer, the band has reached that climax chemistry when a group really gels.  It’s no wonder that people gather around when they play.

Although everything starts with Tyler, the rhythm section lays the foundation.

Charlie Cooley, on drums, as the heartbeat of Manteca, played the world’s top festivals: the North Sea Jazz in the Hague, the Playboy Jazz Festival at Hollywood Bowl, the 1992 World’s Fair in Spain, and the Montreal International Jazz Festival.  From downbeat to final flourish, he drives the band.

Garth Vogan was sitting in for Tom Griffiths on bass. Garth is half of Jokela and Vogan, a piano and bass duo with Ben Jokela known for playing an eclectic selection of jazz, latin, rock, pop and funky grooves.  Garth had no problem locking in with Summit’s tight groove being laid down by Tyler and Charlie.

As great as the band is, it is the front line of vocalists that make it exceptional and worthy of its name.  Virgil Scott earned a reputation long ago as a stirring soul vocalist and it’s clear that working with other singers is bringing out the best in him.  Gracie has been quickly gaining fans for her lead vocals but she is also an excellent backup singer, which sets off Virgil’s talents, and she is emerging as a songwriter.  Chris Scerri has developed into a powerful singer with chops approaching someone like David Clayton Thomas.  His solo turns are always outstanding.

Victoria Yeh sat in on a couple of songs, her violin adding another voice.

As the sun was fading over the mountain village, Summit began their second set with each of the vocalists, including Tyler, taking a turn at a verse of “The Weight”.  While it showcased the individual styles of these vocalists, it established the kind of groove that great bands are made of.  When they followed that with Delbert McClinton’s “Givin’ It Up For Your Love”, featuring Virgil’s lead vocals and the first big solo from Mr. Bride, the band was cooking.

Virgil’s cover of “Groovin’”, with perfect vocals from Gracie and Tyler, was a highlight.  As was “Hard To Handle” with Chris on lead vocals.  When great vocalists are backed by a great band, magic happens.

The band Summit can be found every Sunday night at the Coca-Cola stage in Blue Mountain Village (for free), right through Sunday, September 3rd.  It’s clear that the weekly gigs are honing a great band.  I can only imagine what they’ll sound like by the end of the summer.

Return to Front Page for today’s update

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *