Summer Concert Series

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

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.