Tag Archives: Chris Scerri

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.

 

My Sweet Patootie and Emma Wright Join Cast of The Last Waltz

Chris Scerri is lifting the veil on more local performers who will be guests at The Last Waltz.  Along with the band that plays The Band, there are many other performers to reference as part of that concert. In this tribute, all of the performers will be local stars.  This week Chris announces that Emma Wright, Sandra Swannell and Terry Young will be on the program.

Canadian Folk Music Award winners Sandra Swannell and Terry Young, who live in Woodford when they’re not on the road, are currently preparing their annual Harp and Holly Concert Series.  They will joining one of the world’s foremost Celtic harpists, Sharlene Wallace for a series of concerts featuring baroque Christmas songs.  This is a side project from their main gig as My Sweet Patootie, the roots and ragtime band that’s attracting attention in the U.K. from their regular touring there.  Their annual Harp and Holly concert was born out of a love for timeless music that evokes something about the Christmas season that live in the hearts of all of us.  They’ll be playing concerts during the Christmas season at three local venues in Owen Sound, Colpoy’s Bay and Sauble Beach, as well as in Guelph and Oakville.

Being part of The Last Waltz, Meaford Style, gives Sandra and Terry a chance to share music with their community here at home.

“A sense of community,” says Sandra, “That’s what Martin Scorsese captured between the musicians, both on stage and off in the epic film The Last Waltz.” 

Some of the Special Guests at The Last Waltz

Meaford’s version of The Last Waltz, slated for Meaford Hall on Sat, Nov. 25th, is fast approaching a sellout, as promoter Chris Scerri is announcing some of the special guests that will fill out the bill.

The Band itself will be well represented by local rock stars but one of the great aspects of the original performance was that it included a wide  variety of influential artists from the time, and these will also be reproduced by local artists.  Two of the artists just announced to represent some of these friends of The Band are Fran Bouwman and Tom Thwaits.

 

Tom Thwaits is well known as keyboard and accordion player for Bored of Education.  He’s recently added a sideline with a Bring Your Own Vinyl night the third Saturday of every month.  This popular gathering at The Red Door encourages people to bring along their favourite vinyl records, introduce them to the audience, and Tom spins them on his turntable.  For him The Last Waltz was not only a document of an era but an inspiration to the generations of musicians who have followed.

“The Last Waltz is, for me, the epitome of a particular time and place in the history of North American music,” he says, “so many disparate threads coalesced for one night in 1978, thankfully captured on film by none other than Martin Scorsese, that for generations to come it will serve as a starting point for hungry ears to understand a bygone era.”

Fran Bouwman has been making waves locally performing as Frannie Wisp, accompanying herself on washboard.  As the Frannie Wisp persona she explores, with her own humorous take on it, the trials of being a single middle-aged woman, part monologue, part songs.  Her frank approach to some taboo subjects adds spice to her act.  Fran is also an accomplished sculptor whose works are as thought-provoking in their own way as is her washboard act.  For The Last Waltz, she’ll be taking on a new persona as one of the stars featured in the movie.

“I first heard about The Last Waltz when I worked in the criminal ward at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, now known as CAMH,” she says, “Robert, who had been in and out of the Don Jail since he was a teen talked incessantly about The Band.  It was The Band that got him through his most difficult times.  He begged for me to take him to Sam the Record Man to buy The Last Waltz album. I agreed to sneak him off the property.  Although he had been wheelchair bound for months, he stood up, threw his cigarette to the curb and stepped onto the Queen Street streetcar.  Although we got caught for our petty crime, he said it was one of the best days of his life.  So that’s how I was introduced to The Last Waltz.  An incredible album with an incredible memory.”

If you review the list of performers included in The Last Waltz movie you’ll see that there are many other roles to fill.  Chris says they are lined up and rehearsals are “amazing”, but he will wait to feed us the details in the coming weeks.

Return to Front Page for today’s update

The Thursday Update – Oct. 12 to 16, 2017

Two new open stages are starting up in our area this weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, Amanda Dorey will be hosting an open stage at the Riverside Community Centre, and at Bridges Tavern in Thornbury, Josh Fletcher will be hosting an open stage on Friday starting at 8 pm.  These additions mean that aspiring performers and fans of the surprising grab bag that an open stage can be now have the opportunity to enjoy one every night of the week except Saturday and Monday.

In chronological order, the open stages nearby are The Barn Coop on Sunday at noon; Heartwood’s bi-monthly open mic Tuesday at 8; The granddaddy of all open jams at Ted’s Range Road Diner, and Bruce Wine Bar with Drew McIvor both on Wednesdays at 8; Chris Scerri at The Leeky Canoe Thursdays at nine; also on Thursdays, Dave Russell at The Corner Café and Craig Smith at CROW; Friday afternoon, at the Bleeding Carrot, Kelly Babcock hosts the open stage, and now on Friday evening there is Josh at Bridges and on Saturday afternoon Amanda at Riverside.   That adds up to a lot of free entertainment that mixes the best musicians in the area with undiscovered talents.