My Sweet Patootie Sizzles on a Desboro Saturday Night

Review by Bill Monahan of My Sweet Patootie at Desboro Music Hall, Sat., Apr. 21, 2017

The Desboro Music Hall kicked off their new concert season in fine style on Saturday night with My Sweet Patootie, and special guest Alicia Toner.

Alicia Toner came all the way from New Brunswick to open the concert, bringing along her husband and accompanist Matt Campbell.  The duo performed a number of original songs from Alicia’s upcoming CD, with Alicia on vocals and violin, accompanied by Matt’s guitar strumming.  Their music was sincere and simple with the emphasis on Alicia’s impressive voice.  Although they did an excellent cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery”, it was the original songs that stood out.  Alicia’s song writing has a literal aspect to it that is endearing.

As endearing as Alicia’s set was, when My Sweet Patootie took the stage the entertainment meter went into overdrive.  With their arsenal of instrumental virtuosity combined with alternating humour and sincerity and unflagging energy, they filled the hall with joy.  Drummer Paul Clifford, from nearby Walters Falls was a perfect fit for the unique Patootie magic.

There are moments in their show when they take on the persona of a carnival barkers complete with strings of hyperbolic adjectives delivered in a fast paced exclamations.  They take turns with these audience-baiting routines.  And then at other times they introduce their songs with quiet sincerity.  The mix is intoxicating.

Among the highlights of the just havin’ fun songs were the title tune from their new CD “Pandemonium”, a lament about “Bad Service” at a late night diner, where Sandra acted the part of a bored and inattentive waitress, and cover of a very old song called “Make Yourself A Happiness Pie” in which Terry channelled Dick Powell from his Busby Berkely era so accurately that it was a tribute rather than a parody.  The best of the humourous songs was “The Epic Tale of Doris and the Pig Latin Lover”, a slightly surreal tale of a broken home that evolved into a happy threesome, proving that “love is ickle-fay”.

As entertaining as their tightly constructed entertainment was, the mind-blowing aspects of the performance came from their musicianship.

To counterbalance the silly songs, there were some sincere moments, the highlight of which was the song that Terry said “Sandra wrote for me,” called “I Feel Your Love.”  It is a moving evocation of how, as
Sandra said in her introduction, a sense of loss and loneliness that you can see no way out of can be instantly dissipated when someone new comes into your life.

Paul Clifford came out from behind the drums to borrow Terry’s guitar for one song and it was a great one.  The three of them stomped in unison to create a driving beat while Paul sang “You Don’t Know My Mind”.They had the audience in the palms of their hands.  When Sandra said, “We have just one more song,” the audience moaned in disappointment until she explained that she meant just one more song before taking a break, and they would be back.

As entertaining as their tightly constructed entertainment was, the mind-blowing aspects of the performance came from their musicianship.  Sometimes a group will impress an audience because one member stands out as being an exceptional player.  In this case there are two very exceptional players (plus a very talented percussionist) who know how to give each other room to stretch.  Each of them had their jaw-dropping moments.  In Terry’s case it was his solo guitar arrangement of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (the You Tube video of which is up to 22,000 hits and counting).  He brought out the sweet beauty of the tune and then dressed it up with some upbeat ragtime fingerpicking that was awe-inspiring, and brought it back to end with the sentimentality that the song demands.  Sandra’s turn came in the encore when they did “Orange Blossom Special”.  Her violin solos in that song seemed to channel Paganini as she leaped around the stage and Terry bounced along with her.

This was the type of show that makes you happy that there are venues out there to bring us such stellar talents.  It left the audience happy to be alive and set the bar high for the rest of the concert series.

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One Response to My Sweet Patootie Sizzles on a Desboro Saturday Night

  1. Sulla And Jerry Weppler says:

    This show was just the best and Bill Monahan covered all aspects so very well? So pleased we could attend this one.

    Hope you have them again. So much talent and great selection of music as well.

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