Summer Concert Series

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

Record Review: “Only The Moon” by Jenie Thai

“Only The Moon” by Jenie Thai reviewed by Bill Monahan

When a touring artist makes a debut CD they can go one of two ways:  they can try to reproduce as accurately as possible what they offer as a live performer so that when people buy the CD at a gig it will bring back memories of a good time; or they can, as Jenie Thai has done with “Only The Moon”, record music that can touch a listener in the privacy of their own headspace in a way that a performance in a noisy bar can’t accomplish.

Jenie Thai’s debut CD is emotional, moving and soulfully transcendent.  It might not be what you would expect from a performer who uses her keyboard chops and expressive voice to wake up a live audience and get them bopping to a selection of blues and R&B tunes, albeit done in her own signature style.

The tone is set with the first song, “The Lights Are Low”.  Like all the songs on the CD it is a beautifully engaging melody and has more than a hint of melancholy.  This CD is a testament to loneliness, and the effort to retain optimism through it.  She has a bewitching ability to create an evocative melody that sounds unlike anything else you’ve heard and creates the ideal setting for a voice that manages to soar without losing its inherent sadness.

To preview or download this album, click on the album cover

It’s always a mistake to assume that the emotions related in the songs of a singer-songwriter are autobiographical but it’s very tempting here, partially because of the consistency of emotions and partly because of the nature of the lyrics.  They are not glib.  At first they seem a little awkward, not always the meter or rhyme, or even metaphor that you might expect.  But with repeated hearings they seem ingenuous more than anything, the simple voice of a true heart.  But what a voice!  So vulnerable and innocent, it speaks to your own fears and doubts.

All Female Lineup At This Week’s Summer Concert in Meaford

The third in Meaford’s Summer Concert Series will take place this Friday, August 4th at the Market Square beside Meaford Hall.  It will be  a full night, and an all-female cast with an exciting lineup of local and visiting talent starting at 7 pm.  As always, the concert is free.

The headliner this week is the impressive pianist and singer Jenie Thai with her trio.  She visited Meaford last winter, playing a solo show to a full house at The Red Door.  She plays energetic  blues and boogie woogie and has a beautiful voice that can range from a raunchy shout to a soaring soprano.  Her original songs, which may find a place in the set, have a unique beauty all their own, full of longing and evocative melodies.

One of the opening acts will be Hunnay, featuring the vocal harmonies of Laura Somers and Karen A. Witt.  The other will be Amanda Dorey, whose authentic country voice is very popular among local fans.  Amanda will also be performing at The Leeky Canoe across the street when she is finished at the main concert stage.

Higher Funktion Filled The Heartwood Dance Floor on Friday Night

Review by Bill Monahan of Higher Funktion at Heartwood Hall on Friday, July 14, 2017

There was no better place to be on Friday night than Heartwood Concert Hall where Higher Funktion had the place hopping with funk and soul.   The six-piece band ran through a couple of sets that reproduced all the energy and excitement of some of the great summer hits of the sixties.

They began with some Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett and then moved on to The Outsiders’ “Time Won’t Let Me” while the horn section of Wayne McGrath, Ian Harper and Chris Palmer, and great lead vocals from Randy Martin started to get the blood moving.  And then when they moved on to Sly and The Family Stone’s rousing “Dance To The Music” the dance floor filled with bouncing bodies.

The Heartwood Concert Hall is an ideal venue for this type of show, and the best shows they have there feature high energy jumping bands that make you want to move.  It’s spacious yet warm and when it starts hopping the energy bounces off the walls.

Ragwax Brings Gypsy Jazz and More To Meaford Next Friday

When Meaford gathers next Friday, July 21, for the next in the summer concert series, the opening act for HigherFunktion will be a unique young performer who goes by the name of Ragwax.  He’s been in Meaford once before, playing at The Red Door, and while he’ll be doing just a few songs before the headliner takes the stage in the Market Square, people can catch him after the outdoor concert across the street  at The Leeky Canoe, where he will be entertaining for the remainder of the evening.

Ragwax brings a fresh voice to an old style of music that never ages, the early hot jazz that was popularized by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli  in the 1930’s at The Hot Club in Paris.  This “gypsy jazz” (Reinhardt was Romani) combined the jumping flavour of New Orleans filtered through Reinhardt’s gypsy style guitar work (think Gypsy Kings) with the big band swing music popularized by bands like Benny Goodman and interpreted by Stéphane Grappelli  on violin.  The resulting hybrid is exciting enough to get anyone jumping.  We have our own heroes of gypsy jazz in this area in The Huronia Hotstrings, who played a concert earlier this week in Collingwood.