Tag Archives: Massie Hall

Steve Dickinson’s Songs and Stories For A Saturday Night

Review of concert at Massie Hall, May 19, 2018, by Bill Monahan

This past Saturday, Massie Hall presented Steve Dickinson in concert as part of this year’s concert series.  Steve had been the first performer presented at Massie Hall thirteen years ago when a local group of volunteers had bought the historic school house to turn it into a community centre and Pete Miller initiated the tradition of summer concerts.  Last year Steve performed here as a kind of homecoming after several years of international adventures in the music business.  His return on Saturday night brought out an audience which included some die-hard fans who have all his albums.

Presenter Ralph Bergman introduced him as “a local legend”.  Despite a quiet humility, his talent lived up to that billing with engaging songs and a one-in-a-million voice.

After a few opening songs that reached far back into his past, including “Marlowe Lindsay”, an evocative look at mortality, Steve did a medley of Bob Segar songs.  It was fitting because his vocal similarity to Segar had taken him far afield, sharing the stage with bands like Boston and being included on a compilation album alongside legends that included Elton John and Rod Stewart.  The short Segar medley kicked it up a notch and the original songs that followed burned with intensity.

He introduced one song, “Summer Rain,” from his 2002 album called “Good Old Days”, saying, “I thought this was going to be a million seller.  Instead I had to get a bigger house to keep a million of them in my basement.”  It was ironic because the song really does sound like it should have been a huge hit, with all the touchstones of timeless classic rock.  Another irony is that Steve at one time played with members of Kid Rock’s band and “Summer Rain” sounds perfectly suited for that artist.

If it hasn’t become the radio staple that it deserves to be, you can still download and enjoy both the album and the song from iTunes, CD Baby or Spotify.  His music ages well and any of his albums if well worth an addition to your playlist.

Over the years Steve Dickinson has been backed up by the best.  When he started, some of the best local musicians played with him and since then he’s been backed by members of the bands of Bob Segar, Eric Clapton and Kid Rock.  He’s been produced by the talented Rick Hutt and co-written with artists like Dean McTaggart.  He’s had more than one ride of the roller coaster of music business success.

With all of this history lending a superstar legitimacy to his music he proved on Saturday night that he is, as Ralph Bergman quoted Trevor Mackenzie as saying, “a complete show all on his own.”  With just his voice, guitar and occasionally harmonica, he held the audience in his hands, hanging on every word even as he unravelled fairly lengthy anecdotes between songs.  And he was called back for an encore, for which he performed one of his airplay successes, “Ten Summers Past”.

And with that the concert was over all too soon.

Saturday night’s concert was one of a series of impressive shows lined up this summer at Massie Hall.  A small unassuming venue seemingly miles from anywhere, it is a real find for local music fans.

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Massie Hall Promises a Great Summer and Fall Lineup of Talent

by Bill Monahan

NOTE: Click on the album covers to sample music by that artist

Massie Hall, in the little hamlet of Massie just east of Chatsworth, has a full slate of talent lined up for the summer season.  The community centre in Massie provides a small venue for these concerts.  They set up folding tables and chairs, with a small stage at one end of the room.  There is no bar, but snacks and soft drinks are included in the ticket price.

It’s a little stage but it features big talents.  Once a month on Saturdays through the summer and fall (and one Friday) a series of high quality performers are scheduled to play.  Tickets for the concerts cost $20 each but with every show offering exceptional talent, the opportunity to get a discount by buying tickets for three or more shows at a time is worth considering.

The series kicks off on April 28th with Beggars Road, with a mix of traditional and Celtic sounds blending vocal melody with powerful instrumental texturing to an original repertoire of songs that celebrate the natural beauties of our region.  The band evolved from The Shards, a group originally brought together by Bob Robins to perform his original, traditional-flavoured songs.  They feature vocals from Larry Dickinson and Justine Maw-Farrar.

The following month, Larry’s brother, Steve Dickinson, returns to Massie Hall for a much-anticipated concert.  After several years following musical adventures abroad, recording and touring with members of Bob Segar’s  Silver Bullet Band, Steve returned home last year to re-group and consider his musical future.  His concert last summer at Massie Hall packed the room with an enthusiastic crowd that was blown away both by his powerful singing and his original songs.  He doesn’t play often in the area, so this is a show that is a must-see.

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.

The Thursday Outlook – Sept 7 to 11, 2017

The Red Door Pub in Meaford is the place to be on Friday night when John Brownlow will be previewing and selling advance copies (at a discount) of his new double CD called “The Summertime”.  He’s planning an official release party soon with a full band but on Friday he’ll be sharing the evening with a couple of our area’s coolest young performers, Greg Smith and Max Breadner.

“Iris” – 5 song EP from Greg Smith

Greg Smith’s EP “Lily” was produced by John at his Epping Studio.  “He’s a really unique songwriter,” John says, “He’s got an old head on young shoulders.”  Greg Smith writes songs that, taken collectively, tell a long form story and he delivers them with a complex rhythmic guitar and dramatic vocals.  The Red Door will be an ideal setting to be able to follow the tale he weaves.

Max Breadner has impressed local audiences since he was quite young and now that he is a teenager he is getting around more to open stages and is writing his own songs.  He is part of the upcoming youth talent wave in Meaford that includes performers like Emma Wright and John’s son Ted who has his own Ted Brownlow Band.  This small room is also a perfect setting for Max’s talents.

John Brownlow is highly regarded by local musicians not only for his writing and producing skills but for a series of videos he created called The Epping Sessions.

Rob Elder, the subject of one of those videos will be playing this Saturday at Massie Hall, another great little venue to be able to really enjoy the music.  It took just a single Sunday afternoon for Rob to create a multi-track recording of a song for his Epping Session, playing every instrument.  On Saturday night at Massie Hall he promises to bring “smooth acoustic ballads about girls and things, to his ‘jump out of your seats and dance’ multi-layered, live-looping.”