People

Information about people making music in Meaford, their style, their backgrounds

The Best of The Best To Start the Meaford Summer Concert Series

Joey DiMarco has been the go-to drummer for decades for gigs and recordings, working from his home base in Burlington.  He teamed up with Gabor Szepesi, who’s been providing keyboards for recordings and TV shows as well as live gigs since the 70’s.  The pair decided to draw on talented friends from their many years in music to create a gigging band they called The Collective.  The quality of their friends means The Collective is always on the money with a world class groove.

The Collective will be kicking off the Meaford Summer Concert Series on Friday, July 13th.  The band is made up of the best players you’ll hear anywhere.  When Chris Scerri says they have played with the Who’s Who of rock and R & B, movies and pop music, he means names like Iron Butterfly, Better Midler, Jack Dekeyser, Greg Godovitz, Grant Smith & the Power, Long John Baldry, Daniel Lanois, Etta James, Sharon, Lois and Bram as a small random sampling.

Guitarist Danny Weis co-founded Iron Butterfly but quit after their first album to co-found Rhinoceros.  After an album and a tour with Lou Reed, he was tapped to provide the sound track music (and hit song) for Bette Midler’s movie The Rose.

Danny had been born into music, the son of Johnny Weis, the famous Western Swing guitarist who once played with the Spade Cooley band.

“I fondly remember the years I would go see my dad, Johnny Weis, play guitar, backing people from the Grand Ole Opry at Bostonia Ballroom in El Cajon,” says Danny on his website, “I was age 9 to 12, and I used to stand right in front of the stage and lean on it with my elbows. I wasn’t too tall then, I guess. I remember Johnny Cash playing right in front of me with my dad backing him on guitar with the band. [Cash] always remembered me and would stoop right in front of me, saying, ‘Folsom Prison?’ I said yes with joy.”

In 2005 Danny Weis released a beautiful jazz album called “Sweet Spot”, about as far from Iron Butterfly as you can get.  Like the other players in The Collective, his wide ranging musical taste and pedigree can take you in any direction.

A common thread among the players in The Collective is that most of them played at one time or another in a legendary blues band called Sweet Blindness.  Lead singer of The Collective, Donnie Meeker rotated as lead singer in Sweet Blindness with the late Bobbi Dupont.

“The Toronto sound was the original Bluenote,” Michael Williams told Cashbox magazine, “we always had a soul thing going on because we were so close to Buffalo and Detroit…The big time for Sweet Blindness was opening for Kool and the Gang.”

In addition to touring with Sweet Blindness, Donnie Meeker becomes “Downtown Donnie” when he does a Blues Brothers thing with his own blues brother “Dirty Bertie”.

Max Breadner opens the show

Bring a camp chair and something for the food bank in time for the show to start at 7 pm with Max Breadner.  Max is a notable young local talent who has progressed from performing to song writing.  He’s played the Meaford Summer Concert Series before, and last year he opened for John Brownlow at The Red Door.

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Meaford Summer Concert Series Back For Third Year

By Bill Monahan

The third annual Meaford Summer Concert Series kicks off on July 13th at the Market Square with the first of four free live concerts lined up for Friday nights in July and August. Once again the series will feature young local performers opening for more seasoned acts.

“The idea behind the whole series when we first started it was to bring people to the downtown core,” says Chris Scerri, who originated the series and has organized it again this year. The concerts are designed to bring “tourists, residents, even cottagers enjoy a free show and bring some business into downtown Meaford.”

Chris has put together a program that brings together some of the great musicians he has seen and worked with in the area.

“I try to have different styles of music through the summer,” he says.

As the series of You Tube videos below indicates, what these acts have in common is an ability to capture the soul of a song in their performance.

The series kicks off on July 13th with The Collective, a band of seasoned veterans led by legendary vocalist Donnie Meeker, With many stages and stadiums in their collective past, these players have recently built a local following performing regularly at The Harbour Street Fish Bar in Collingwood.

“They are a collection of amazing artists that have played with the who’s who of rock and roll and everything else in North America over the last few decades. They play a bunch of Motown stuff, a little bit of rock and roll and a little bit of blues but it’s kind of like the hits of a few decades ago. And they’re amazing players. They have a lot of energy.”

 

Energy is an important component when choosing the acts.

“I try to bring in bands that have energy so that people are up and dancing, jumping around rather than just listening. I think that an outdoor festival should have a lot of those kinds of things.”

For the July 27th show, Chris has brought Chuck Jackson and the All Stars for a night of blues.

“Chuck Jackson is the front man for the Downchild Blues Band but he’s also had a band called Chuck Jackson and the All Stars going for many, many years,” Chris says, adding “In Port Credit they have a matinee they play every Sunday at the Rock ‘n Docks which is full every week. Usually it’s Pat Carey from Downchild that plays sax with him and Tyler Yarema will sit in on keyboards. When they’re playing here this summer it will be Tyler on keys, Pat on sax and they’ll have a drummer and bass player with them as well.”

The opener on that night will be Sophie Wensley, a young local R & B singer.

The concert on August 3rd features the Allison Young Quintet.

“Alison Young is a swing jazz sax player that was part of our show at the Marsh Street last year for their 90th Anniversary,” says Chris, “and she’s also a great singer and so she has a band that she’s going to bring up and they’re going to be more of a swing band and that’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Opening for her will be singer-songwriter Miranda Journey from Wasaga Beach who has impressed local audiences as part of Auburn Falling, a duo in which she performed with James Stephens.

Sean Cotton has played as a solo performer a few times at The Leeky Canoe, but his show on August 24th includes The Muskoka Connection.

“He’s phenomenal on his own,” says Chris, “but he’s a rock and roll and country kind of a guy and with a full band he’s a great electric guitar player and singer. He lives in Muskoka right now and he’s made up a great network of great musicians from there. So he’s going to bring a group of them down to play with him.

“And he has ties to Meaford too,” Chris adds, “He has family in Meaford as well so he’s indirectly local.”

Opening for Sean Cotton, Emma Wright will be playing with a full band, which includes some of the area’s best musicians: John Hume on keyboards, Rob Elder on guitar, Jaret Koop on bass, and Mike Weir on drums.

As usual the concerts are free and you are being asked to bring a contribution for the food bank, along with a camp chair. “There are some picnic tables there on site but it’s suggested that you bring a camp chair,” says Chris, “They are more comfortable and it guarantees you a seat wherever you want to put it.”

The shows start at 7 pm, giving you the chance to catch dinner at one of the restaurants across the street or you can “call in for an order and go and pick it up between sets”.

Chris is asking local artisans to be on hand so that “people will be able to come in to the area there and look around and talk to these artisans and then the music will start around seven o’clock with the young musicians opening. They’ll do maybe a half hour, forty minute set and then the headline band will start just before eight o’clock and play until ten.”

Again this year, it is the support of local sponsors that makes the Summer Concert Series possible.

“The BIA is again our key sponsor along with the Meaford Culture Foundation and the Municipality of Meaford. The Rotary has come on board as a sponsor this year and Long and McQuade always helps us with PA. Bill at Valumart and Dave at New Orleans feed our musicians and our sound guys and Peak FM and Bayshore Broadcasting work with us too to get the word out. I’m working with RTO7 as well to do some social media advertising with us this year.”

Through this community effort, we can look forward to four more summer Friday nights of great live music to ring through the streets of downtown Meaford.

 

Farmer The Band Visits The Barn

This Saturday, June 23rd, catch an early show at The Barn in Meaford featuring Farmer The Band.  This duo plays original folk roots music with a multi-instrumental approach that they call a “two-person-one-man-band” to give a full sound without the aid of looping.  From Southern B.C., they are in the midst of a cross-Canada tour and have added a stop in Meaford primarily because they are intrigued at the idea of playing a venue called The Barn, given that they are called Farmer The Band.  In order to play here, they will be coming straight from an afternoon concert in Waterdown to be ready for a 7 p.m. start at The Barn.

The duo, consisting of husband and wife Glen and Lourine Koide, originally came together after meeting at an open mic.  They chose their unusual name because their mission is to bring communities together the way that farmers do.  Their music is greatly inspired by what they hear of CBC Radio Two, in particular Canadian musicians like Joel Plaskett, Danny Michel, Bahamas, Del Barber, and Amelia Curran. They call it “roots Canadiana”.

Although they started off with just voices and acoustic guitar, they wanted more of a full band sound and they have added instruments as they went along, until now you might hear the two of them playing as many of seven instruments at one time, including kick drum, snare, trumpet, tambourine, hi-hat and harmonica.  The only thing holding them back from adding more is the limitation of their four arms and legs.  Their cross country tours stop at small venues that allow them a direct connection with their audience.

Here are some snippets of their endless Canadian odyssey.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Signing Off

Well, I’m winding down this site.  I just don’t have the time to keep up with it.

I see that even though my posts have become less frequent a lot of people still check it out every day and I appreciate that.  I especially appreciate Gillian Gillian who regularly sends comments.  I was going to write up a retrospective guiding you to some of my favourite articles from the past two years (this is post #399) but I haven’t found the time to do that.  The site will still be up for a few more weeks but it will be static;  If you want to revisit some of the articles you can use the search engine.  They cover a lot of ground.

In the two years of writing this I’ve discovered that there is a great wealth of talent in our area.  I hope that you will continue to get out and support them.

If you like my writing you will still find an article of mine in The Meaford Independent once a week.

On Sunday evening July 15th I’ll be playing a concert for Friends of The Meaford Library down at the Rotary Pavilion in Meaford Harbour.  I do that every year and I enjoy the chance to fill an evening with my original songs and stories, so mark your calendar and come by to say hello.  I’m a compulsive story teller, so you’ll also catch me with a new tale to tell at Diana Young’s next Story Slam, happening at Crow Bar and Variety on July 10th (with special musical guest Michael O’Connell).  Hope to see you there.

See ya!