Summer Concert Series

The Summer Concert Series of free concerts happens Friday nights in the Market Square in downtown Meaford

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.

 

Tom Barlow Stars in Final Meaford Summer Concert

On Friday, Aug. 25th Tom Barlow will be headlining the final concert in this year’s Meaford Summer Concert Series.  This year’s series has been even more successful than last year’s and it is particularly fitting that Tom Barlow would headline the final show of the season.

Tom Barlow is a Canadian recording artist who has garnered four Juno Award nominations and has released three audio albums. His debut “Barlow” garnered three top ten radio hits and was nominated for two Juno Awards. His politically charged second album was also nominated for a Juno. Barlow has performed in virtually every corner of planet and writes and performs lyrically driven emotionally compelling rock and roll.

Last Monday Tom celebrated eleven years as host of the Monday night jam at The Shore Grille and Grotto in Port Credit.  For over a decade this open mic has been important to developing musicians.  At Tom Barlow’s jam night people can get up and play with the industry’s top musicians as their backing band, a band with a tight groove that can make them feel comfortable and allow them to showcase their talents.

“I love it!” he says, “That kind of mentorship and half butt-kicking that moves people from being terrible to okay, to good, to fantastic, to pro, and they go on to make gold records.  All this stuff kind of feeds itself. You have to get out and play.  It’s okay to be terrible at a jam night, that’s how you learn.  You go and you meet other musicians and you develop.”

When he started the weekly jam a decade ago he had no idea that it would become so important to so many emerging talents.  And he had no way of knowing that his Port Credit jam would become an important part of creating a live music scene three hours away in Meaford on a whole different Great Lake.

Friday’s Summer Concert Best Yet

Meaford’s local impresario, Chris Scerri has a real talent for putting together a musical variety show.  Often concerts that feature many acts are of a random nature, but he takes care to carefully structure shows which consistently add up to be greater than the sum of their parts.  That was certainly the case with last Friday’s Meaford Summer Concert, the third in this year’s series.

It was an all-female show, a theme designed to support My Friend’s House, a crisis centre for women that serves Meaford and Collingwood.  It’s more fitting, though, to refer to it as an all-exceptional-talent show.  A half dozen acts followed closely on each other and built through the evening.  It had been moved indoors to the Gallery in Meaford Hall because of the rain.  About seventy chairs in the main room were filled and probably 30 more people stood in the adjoining room where the bar had been opened for the occasion.  That was an ideal setup, allowing them to talk and enjoy a drink while people in the main room were completely absorbed in the show.

It began with Sequoia Koop, a diminutive 8-year-old singer that Chris discovered at an open stage.  She was typically a little kid, looking down most of the time, wandering away occasionally from the microphone, and distracted at one point by an itch on her back.  But her delivery of the songs she did never faltered and were beautifully delivered with emotion, and dynamics, not once losing her pitch.    It’s always the sign of a great singer when you notice the song more than the performance, and her rendition of Allessia Cara’s “Beautiful” brought out the true meaning of the song.

Eden Young followed with a short set that compensated for the technical difficulties that marred her set at the first concert of the season, and this time her beautiful singing voice came through clearly.