A Night To Remember At The Gayety Theatre

Review by Bill Monahan of Tyler Yarema Chuck Jackson concert Oct. 5th, 2017

With their show last night at The Gayety Theatre in Collingwood, Tyler Yarema and Chuck Jackson wanted to record a live CD that would capture the excitement of their live shows when they perform as a duo.  They succeeded.  The theatre was filled with fans who showered them with an outpouring of love from start to finish.

It was clearly as exciting for the performers as it was for the audience.  They approached the show with the discipline required to assure that it resulted in a good recording but that didn’t stop them from pulling out all the stops to fill the room with energy.

“I’ve been performing for forty-seven years,” said Chuck, whose regular gig is as vocalist and harmonica player for the Downchild Blues Band, while taking a sip between songs, “ and this is the first time I’ve drunk water on stage.”  After a pause, he added, “And the last!”  He also said it’s the first time they have performed with a set list.  Each of them has such a wide-ranging repertoire and they’ve been playing with each other as a duo long enough that they usually can wing it on stage, following their whims.

Their set list ranged through a wide variety of covers designed to showcase their extensive repertoire, beginning with the 1928 Eddie Cantor hit, “Making Whoopee” and ending (in the encore) with the Beatles classic, “Let It Be”.  Chuck’s malleable vocals were tailored to each song.  Of course there were a few blues numbers that allowed him to do what he does best (“Caledonia”, “Seventh Sun”).  Although Tyler didn’t showcase the stride piano numbers that are his trademark, his keyboard solos on each song had a level of rapid-fire intensity that brought the audience to their feet on several occasions.  They also threw in some unlikely covers, like “Tallahachie Bridge” and a medley that included “You Are My Sunshine” and “When The Saints Go Marching In”.  The audience ate it up.

The full house included a bus load of fans from Port Credit that came specifically to be part of the show.  One of them waved a homemade sign that said “I screama for Yarema!”.  Chuck joked that he saw one of his geriatric fans in the audience carrying a sign that said, “I’m in traction for Chuck Jackson!”

Prior to the actual concert, there was a “cocktail reception” with Jenie Thai providing the ambient music.  Although it was her role to be in the background, it was a little sad to hear such a great artist drowned out by the conversational murmur of the crowd.  She got a chance to shine later, though, when, after the main recording was finished and there was an on-stage jam that included her, the evening’s host Virgil Scott, and promoter Chris Scerri.

One of the hallmarks of a Chris Scerri production (aside from high production values and excellent promotion) is community involvement, and this show was no exception, with a portion of all proceeds going to the Georgian Triangle Humane Society.  In addition, the show was sponsored by Adventure Canada.

It was significant that Tyler and Chuck chose this location to record their live CD.  In the past couple of years, a significant cohort of great musicians from the Port Credit area have increasingly found their way to our shores, mainly due to the promotional efforts of Chris Scerri, and there has been a growing love affair between these cultural immigrants and local audiences.  Chuck referred to it, saying, “We love Collingwood. We call this Mississauga North.”  (In Meaford, we call it Meaford East).

Not only did the audience go home with a great memory, but those who signed the email list will also receive a copy of the CD that was recorded.

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