Meaford events

Meaford Summer Concert Series Features Sean Cotton

The Meaford Summer Concert Series wraps up on Friday, August 24th with a concert featuring Sean Cotton and the Muskoka Connection.  Sean has appeared in Meaford before as a solo one-man-band at The Leeky Canoe.  This time he brings his band with him.

Sean Cotton is a veteran musician who was born into the business, son of country singer Neil Cotton.  For many years he toured with Corin Raymond as a duo called The Undesirables built around original songs with lyrics by Raymond and music by Cotton.  After a decade touring as a sideman he relocated to Muskoka to put more emphasis on family time, but he didn’t give up music.  His interest in playing with others led to an involvement in the local scene that evolved into a collective called Tree Ring Records with a mission to promote the local music scene in Huntsville and surrounding areas.

He’s bringing many of his musical cohorts to Meaford, billed as The Muskoka Connection.  The full band will allow him to rock out in a way he’s unable to do as a solo.  He describes his music as having a 70’s, from the stylings of greats such as Bill Withers, Van Morrison and Waylon Jennings.

The free concert on Friday starts at 7 p.m. with the Emma Wright band, fresh from the Boots and Hearts festival, as opener.

Canadian and Japanese Music Presented In Meaford Concert

by Bill Monahan

On August 26th, Christ Church Anglican in Meaford is continuing its series of jazz and classical concerts with a special performance by Keiko Yoden-Kuepfer of Canadian and Japanese music on piano and organ.  The program will be divided into two thirty minute sets.  The first features the church’s pipe organ with music by Canadian composers, while the second set utilizes the new baby grand piano in performances of a variety of music by Japanese composers.

Since immigrating to Collingwood in 2006 Keiko Yoden-Kuepfer has become a very active member of the local musical community while at the same time acting as an important cultural link between Collingwood and its sister city of Katano, in Japan, where she was born.

Growing up in Katano, she began to study piano at age seven.  In high school she was trained as a concert organist and, after gaining a degree in music educations from Osaka International University, she taught at the University for eight years, and also worked as a pianist/interpreter for master classes in Austria, Germany and Japan.

In 1999, through the Group Study Exchange of Rotary International, she was able to visit Collingwood. The experience inspired her to emigrate to Canada and settle permanently in Collingwood, where she continued to study and teach.  Along with diplomas from the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Royal Canadian College of Organists, the received the Immigrant Artist of 2015 award at the Simcoe County Newcomer Recognition Awards.

Keiko is an ambassadress of Katano International Friendship Association, helping to deepen friendship between Katano and Collingwood.  She continues to serve as music director and organist of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Collingwood where she leads the chamber choir, instrumental ensemble and youth activities.  She has also performed piano concertos with the Huronia Symphony Orchestra and the Kitchener Chamber Orchestra.  She provides private lessons to students in Collingwood in piano, organ, double bass and voice.

Tickets for the recital are $20 for adults, $10 for students.  The show takes place at the church, 34 Boucher St. E. in Meaford, starting at 3 p.m. on August 26th.

Alison Young Quintet Coming To Meaford

Friday August 3rd brings the Alison Young Quintet to Meaford for the third show of the Meaford Summer Concert Series.  Each concert is under the open sky in the parking lot beside Meaford Hall.

Alison Young is a sax player, originally from Ottawa, who has become one of the most in-demand players in the Toronto jazz scene, performing regularly in venues like The Rex, The Jazz Bistro and The Reservoir Lounge, contributing to several albums and touring around the world with a variety of bands.

“That’s basically how I travel,” she says, “I’m lucky enough to work with a lot of groups that work in Europe. Last year it was Singapore and South America. It was great!”

After playing with R & B bands as a teen, before attending the music program at University of Toronto, her featured performances in the National Youth Jazz Ensemble at the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 2001 and 2002, inspired one critic to note:

“The stun is witnessing phrasing and technique indicating decades of practice and study, coming from a girl too young to have done any of that. She plays alto with an authority and command beyond her short years…performing with the facility and inventiveness of a much more mature musician.”

Downbeat magazine has noted her “endless creativity and flair”.  Last year she was chosen as one of the ‘Best 35 jazz Canadian Jazz Artists under 35’ by the CBC.   Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen writes “her melodic maturity rises above the music”, while the Whole Note Magazine says “Alison Young takes musical chances, and has something to say”.

She knew from a very young age that this was the life for her.

“In junior high I had a really great band teacher and she actually ran a stage band.  That was the first time I heard swing music and I was like: ‘What is this?  I need to do this!’  So I got my parents to rent me a saxophone and taught myself basically for the first little while and then never looked back.”

Praised even at a young age for the maturity and tone of her playing, she explains, “I played along with records and just kind of wanted to capture that full sound.  That’s always been important to me.”

Her initial jazz inspiration from listening to big bands blended with an appreciation of R & B picked up as a teenager.

“When I was seventeen and eighteen, my first gigs were playing in a soul cover band.  We played these little bars in Ottawa and in Hull and I thought this was so cool.

“I love that music.  When they hired me they said, ‘OK, just check out the movie, The Commitments.’  It was basically that repertoire so that got me into Aretha Franklin and Solomon Burke and all these R & B artists.

“A lot of the gigs I do in Toronto are R & B gigs.  When I play as a sideman with several bands, I do that kind of music and I also play a lot of jazz.  I play a lot of both and I’m still trying to figure out which one is my sound, or can they both be my sound?  And I think I’m heading in that direction: just do both.”

But the experience of a big band in full swing still lures her.

“I’ve been playing with the Jim Galloway Big Band in Toronto,” she says, “which is all older Basie charts and Ellington charts.  So it’s like going back to my roots because that’s the first jazz I listened to and I was so excited about it.”

Alison has been leading her own band in various formations since 2012, which has allowed her to compose and arrange for combinations from duo to septet.  Among her many recorded performances as a session player, her compositions, recorded with the Heillig Manoeuvre and Red Hot Ramble, have been featured on JazzFM and CBC2.  She has a debut album of mostly originals ready to release.

“A lot of my songs are straight ahead and in the hard bop vein, a little bit funky but with jazzy chord changes.  Melody is my priority when I compose.”  She admits to influences more along the Stevie Wonder vein and isn’t through growing yet:  “I think next I’m going to try to get some rock and roll into the sound, because we’ve got Eric St Laurent on guitar and he’s a real rocker.”

The quintet playing in Meaford will include St. Laurent’s  “eclectic and energetic” guitar; Saskatchewan’s “hard swinging” Jeff McLeod on piano and organ; Chris Banks on the bass; and Chris Wallace on drums.  The repertoire for a Meaford Friday night will be “party jazz, funk and soul.”

The same precocious talent that has accelerated Alison Young’s career is evident in the opening act, singer/songwriter Miranda Journey.

Bring a camp chair and a contribution for the food bank to catch the 7 p.m. start.

Chuck Jackson’s All Star Band Plays Meaford Summer Concert Series

By Bill Monahan

On Friday, July 27th, Chuck Jackson and The All Stars headline the second concert in the free Meaford Summer Concert Series, at Market Square in downtown Meaford (beside Meaford Hall).

Chuck Jackson, from his home base in Port Credit, has become familiar to fans of the blues in the Southern Georgian Bay area, where he has brought his talents to a number of different venues, with different band line-ups.  He is a highly respected blues singer and harmonica player, honoured in 2002 with a Blues With A Feeling Award from the Toronto Blues Society in recognition of his distinguished career.  He’s also won Maple Blues Awards in 1999 and 2007 for Male Vocalist of the Year.

Chuck Jackson with Donny Walsh of Downchild

Although he originally made his name as lead singer of the Cameo Blues Band, he joined the Downchild Blues Band in 1990, replacing their original vocalist Hock Walsh, and has been touring with the band ever since, along with contributing original songs to the band’s repertoire.  His All-Stars line-up usually includes Michael Fonfara and Pat Carey from Downchild as well.  He has often teamed up with Tyler Yarema, including a duo concert last year which packed the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood as a Chris Scerri Presents event.

In addition to his busy career as a performing musician, Chuck is the founder and director of Port Credit’s popular annual fall bluesfest, called the Southside Shuffle, which has been running for twenty years.  He relishes the opportunity through the festival to introduce some new acts to a devoted audience alongside the well-known headliners.  In an interview last year with Mississauga News, he pointed out the he had introduced Jimmy Bowskill to the festival when he was just eleven years old, and since then Bowskill has gone on to win Maple Blues Awards and has become a member of the Sheepdogs.

Chuck Jackson and Tyler Yarema

Chuck Jackson and Tyler Yarema

It’s expected that Tyler Yarema will join the All-Stars for the show in Meaford, which starts at 7 pm and runs rain or shine.

Opening for the band will be Sophie Wensley, a rising local talent with an engaging R & B style.