Tag Archives: Sandra Swanell

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.

‘Tis The Season, Fa-la-la-la-la

It’s that time of year again when choirs raise their voices in song and Christmas specials abound.  Live music takes on a special flavour this time of year.  Here’s a guide to some of what’s happening around our area.

Meaford’s longstanding Women’s Choir, The Goldenaires, presents their annual Christmas concert at the Meaford United Church on Sunday afternoon.  The choir is under the direction of Catherine Robertson and features special guests the Beaver Valley Concert Band, directed by Don Robertson.  The show starts at 2:30 pm and admission is by donation.

Tonight at The Historic Gayety Theatre, classical guitarist and five time Juno Award winner Liona Boyd presents “A Winter Fantasy”, featuring music from her 2014 Christmas album accompanied by guitarist and vocalist Andrew Dolson.   This is her third Christmas themed work.  The first one, entitiled “A Guitar For Christmas”, was the first classical album to go platinum in Canada, establishing her as Canada’s “First Lady of the Classical Guitar”.

“The Woods Are Burning” Celebrates Tom Thomson at His Birthplace

It was a hundred years ago this Saturday that Tom Thomson, one of Canada’s most important painters, disappeared into the wilderness.  A magical evening called “The Woods Are Burning” is planned at The Historic Leith Church, the church that Thomson and his family attended when he was growing up in Leith, to mark the occasion with a celebration of his life and work presented in poetry and song.  At the helm of this production is singer-songwriter David Sereda, and he has assembled some of the area’s most impressive musicians along with internationally celebrated poet Anne Michaels to create “a long kind of journey in two parts about the painter and the place.”

David Sereda has a long history in theatre, having worked as actor, musical director, composer and teacher through a long and distinguished career.  Originally from Edmonton, he now lives in Annan, not far from the Leith Church, but that is not his only connection with the story of Tom Thomson.  He still remembers when he was young how he was struck by seeing a painting called “The Fisherman”, one of the few Thomson paintings that has a human figure in it.  In 2002 he produced, with Joan Chandler, a musical based on Thomson’s life.  Although this current show includes a few songs written from that project, this is not a play.  “It’s more letting the songs tell the story,” he says, “we let the songs sing for themselves.  The way into his paintings is trying to imagine his thoughts.”  Some of them include excerpts from letters written or received by Thomson, and in addition to the original songs, the production will include some songs from Tom’s lifetime like Stephen Foster tunes and even some local songs.

Listen to, download and buy David Sereda’s music on iTunes by clicking on this album cover

To help him perform these songs, David has assembled a stellar group of musicians from the area, names familiar to local music fans.

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.