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The Thursday Outlook – July 20 to 23, 2017

It’s a lively weekend in Meaford with some great music on offer.

The second show in the Meaford Summer Concert Series is going to be an exciting one with Higher Funktion bringing a high energy collection of soul and funk tunes to get you jumping, full of great horn riffs and chunky rhythms.  Opening for them, Ragwax is offering a taste of his unique take on hot club jazz, swing and even be-bop, which he’ll extend later in the evening across the street at The Leeky Canoe.

The youth performer on the bill is Sophie Wensley, who will be accompanied by Jayden Grahlman on guitar.  Chris Scerri discovered her beautiful voice one night at an open stage at Heartwood Hall and immediately asked her to be part of this series. Sophie’s parents have Gio and Fran’s Italian Eatery across the street at 78 Sykes Street (the window says “Butcher Shop”), an ideal spot for dinner before the show at the Market Square.  This new restaurant has been creating a buzz with their delicious locally sources food and exceptionally friendly service, so far scorring 100% with every Trip Advisor review.

Music Always Within Earshot This Week

The summer music season kicks off this week with the annual Peak To Shore music festival, with forty concerts squeezed into one week, spread through venues at Blue Mountain Village, Collingwood, Meaford and Thornbury.  This year it is better than ever thanks to the organizing efforts of Chris Scerri Presents.  There are some great headliners that include Irish Mythen at Meaford Hall on Wednesday, Sean McCann at Blue Mountain on Saturday and The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer at Blue Mountain on Friday.

If you are visiting the area and want a real taste of the local music scene which is vibrant here all year round, Peak To Shore gives you a chance to see some of the artists who perform consistently in the neighbourhood, rotating around the many great local venues.  They include Karla Crawford, Drew McIvor, Winnie Brave, Tamica Herod, Jason Redman, Craig Smith, Drew Wright, Winnie Brave,  Jayden Grahlman, and Bored of EducationBambalamb Kid will be spreading the joy of music with his uplifting enthusiasm that brings the audience into his drumming display a couple of times during the series.  Chris Scerri with his Summit Band begins a summer long residency at the Coca-Cola  stage in the Village at Blue on Sunday and he’ll be joining the wrap party at Blue on Sunday night which features the Ted’s Range Road BandTed’s Range Road Diner in Meaford is without doubt the most important influence on local music with their weekly Wednesday jams that have been responsible for developing a lot of the local talent for a quarter of a century.  It is a place every visitor to the area should visit, not only on Wednesdays for the rocking jams but any evening to check out the unique wild game cuisine.

Larry JensenPeak To Shore also brings in a couple of venues that you may not have been to before to enjoy live music.  The most highly anticipated is the soft opening of Crow Bar and Variety in Collingwood.  This is a brand new venue in the area created by Steven Vipond, whose love of original music has made Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury a favoured destination for fans and for touring artists alike.  Bridges Tavern in Thornbury is presenting live music again, this week featuring the celebrated local songwriter Larry Jensen as well as Jayden GrahlmanThe Corner Café in Thornbury is famous for the open stage on Thursdays hosted by Dave Russell and this week it is also featuring live music on Friday night.  The Northwinds Brewhouse in Collingwood is also featuring live music on Thursday with Winnie Brave.  There are also shows at The Simcoe Street Theatre, The Shipyards Amphitheatre, MJ Byrne’s Irish Pub, and The Leeky Canoe.

A variety of music genres are represented in the Peak To Shore series.  Blues is prevalent, starting with the local home of the blues, The Harbour Street Fish Bar, where Tamica Herod duets with Jerome Godboo, but also offering Grace at the Collingwood Museum, Jenie Thai and Al Lerman in separate shows at the Village at Blue.  A great reggae band, Too Nice, plays The Corner Café on Friday and there’s jazz from the William Sperandei Trio at Bayview Park on Saturday.

But Peak To Shore is not the only music happening this week.  Owen Sound will be running a street festival from Wednesday to Friday with music that includes Amanda Dorey, the Matrix Steel Drum band, and the excellent Kreuger Band.  Meaford Hall presents the first in its Terrace Thursdays with Franny Wisp and Her Washboard.  And the second annual Meaford Summer Concert Series begins on Friday night with Tomi Swick and The Strummers’ Union, Scott Almond and Eden Young.

There are two tributes to the famous Canadian painter Tom Thompson happening this week.  One will be on Friday with the Shipyard Kitchen Party at the Simcoe Street Theatre, with a Celtic flavour, and the other will be at the Historic Leith Church, Thompson’s birthplace, on Saturday, billed as a wake on the 100th anniversary of his death with David Sereda and Anne Michaels.

And it doesn’t end there, with concerts happening next weekend in Desboro and Durham.

This week the hills are truly alive with the sound of music.

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Jane Bunnett is Coming For the Weekend

Jane Bunnett’s extensive tour with Maqueque, which will take her through the U.S. to end the summer in B.C., kicks off this week in our area with a sold out show at Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound.  If you missed getting tickets you need not despair because she will be making two more stops before leaving the area.  On Saturday night they will be at the Marsh Street Centre in Clarksburg and on Sunday afternoon they’ll be in Durham at The Garafraxa Café.  What a treat that will be, in a cosy little venue with a great sound system and stage.

Maqueque is a  group of five young women instrumentalists and composers from Cuba.  Multiple Juno and Grammy nominee, Jane Bunnett has been associated with  Afro-Cuban jazz for decades, blazing her own trail of improvisation and innovation.  A member of the Order of Canada, she’s appeared at festivals around the world and two documentaries have been made about her work.  The opportunity to see her in a small venue like The Marsh Street Centre or The Garafraxa Café is a rare treat.

While Ry Cooder is widely credited with bringing authentic Cuban music to North America with The Buena Vista Social Club, Jane Bunnett actually blazed that trail more than a decade earlier, recording in Havana in 1988.

Listen to this while you read the rest.

Meaford Hall Has Got Your Summer Covered

concert seating at Meaford Hall

It won’t be long now until the Opera House at Meaford Hall is open again with the newly renovated balcony offering plush seating and great sight lines to patrons.  There will be a splash of special events to celebrate, including another variety show put together by Chris Scerri, another great singer-songwriter presented by talent spotter Liz Scott and the incredible and much in demand throat singer Tanya Tagaq and lots more.  But throughout the summer, in addition to the great original artists that will be coming to Meaford to play the Opera House, there are a few occasions when some classic artists and albums are recreated by skilled professional musicians, elite cover bands who specialize in reproducing the sound quality of the original recordings to create a sense of excitement in a live performance that you can no longer expect from the original artists, who have either passed on or are now limited to playing huge stadiums where the acoustics are execrable and you see more on the Jumbotron than you do on the distant stage.

Two of the shows are part of a long lineup of tribute concerts continually running all over North America produced by Classic Albums Live.  They are Elton John’s Greatest Hits on April 27th and  Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours on June 7th.

Craig Martin invented the concept of live reproductions of classic albums

Classic Albums Live is the brainchild of Craig Martin, a musician who had previously produced a series of boutique cabaret shows as well as composed music for television and film and who invented the concept of reproducing classic albums note for note way back in 2003.  He has been riding a wave of success with it ever since.  Just as classically trained musicians take great pains to reproduce the great compositions of symphonic composers, Classic Albums Live recreates the compositions of modern artists whose medium of composition was the recording studio. Through the years Classic Albums Live has provided employment for over 170 top notch professional musicians, including the Merry Clayton, who provided the glass-shattering backup vocals on The Rolling Stones’ recording of “Gimme Shelter”; Jerome Godboo legendary Toronto based harmonica player whose band played The Harbour Street Fish Bar not long ago; Richard Underhill, who founded The Shuffle Demons; and Maria del Mar, lead vocalist for 1980s goth rock band National Velvet.  From the stable of highly qualified professionals a different group is assembled for each album reproduction in order to provide “the greatest albums performed live without all the gimmickry and cheesy impersonations.”  When in Toronto, they will play at Massey Hall or Roy Thompson Hall.  When they visit Georgian Bay, their venue of choice is Meaford Hall.

“Getting work for all these musicians is the real joy of what I’m doing,” Martin told Kerry Doole of FYI Music.  He went on to say, “Let me tell you a funny story. I’m friends with a famous actor and recently we were backstage at Madison Square Gardens for Bruce Springsteen doing The River. Before he goes onstage he’s having a conversation with Elvis Costello and Jon Stewart and Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone, and Bruce says ‘the trend right now seems to be that people want to hear the entire album played from top to bottom. That’s how you make the hay.’ I’m standing there, the guy that started the trend. I so wanted to insert myself into that conversation, but I didn’t. I’m the low-key guy from Scarborough. That was quite a moment…”

For the reproduction of Rumours, it’s going to take a 10-piece band and six singers to duplicate the exact sound of the album because of overdubbed vocals and additional guitars added during the studio recording process.  Martin told The Barrie Examiner that it is his all-time favourite album, adding, “The sound really showcased great musicians, complex harmonies. I feel it picks up where the Beatles left off. It’s a personal album to the musicians as well. Fleetwood Mac bares their soul on this one.”

Jim and Pam Yorfido as Johnny and June Carter Cash

On June 22nd, the show “Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Folsom” celebrates the music and lives of Johnny Cash and June Carter featuring Jim Yorfido, widely considered amongst the top Johnny Cash tribute artists in the world.  For five years, Fort Erie based Yorfido toured as part of a show called The Sun Records Story, in which he played the part of the man in black.  His focus is also on the sound.  As he noted in an interview with The Fort Erie Times, the real focus is making sure the songs sound as similar as possible to Cash’s recordings. “He never did the same thing twice… I’m myself up there, the people love it and it works.”

June Carter is portrayed by Yorfido’s wife Pam, who also has a background portraying famous country singers.  She’s been particularly successful in her tribute to Tammy Wynette.  She took on the role of June Carter when Beamsville resident Bill Culp hired the real-life couple to star in his theatrical production of “Johnny and June: Together Again”.  For Pam, it was a natural fit.  “All I have to do is look into Jim’s eyes when I am singing and that love that June and Johnny had for one another, that special spark, becomes so easy to bring out on stage,” she told the St. Catherine Standard when the show was originally mounted back in 2010, “And you’re not going to get a better Johnny Cash than Jim.”

“You can check them out any time you like, but you’ll never want to leave.”

The band that calls themselves Hotel California has been reproducing the sound of The Eagles for three decades, since long before hell froze over.  In this case the original band never did have a big on stage presence.  It’s always been about the music, and this, the original Eagles cover band, has perfected the lead vocals with their soaring harmonies, and a detailed reproduction of the instrumental work.  They will be coming to Meaford Hall on July 22nd.

With these faithful reproductions of original stars, Meaford Hall will fill out a summer of great shows that already set the standard for live entertainment throughout the Southern Georgian Bay.

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