Tag Archives: Fran Bouwman

Meaford Musical Community Shines In “The Last Waltz”

Review by Bill Monahan
featured photo courtesy of Patti Kendall

On Saturday night at Meaford Hall, “The Last Waltz – Meaford Style” was a celebration of our musical community unlike anything that has been seen before.  A complete sellout more than a month in advance, the show featured a cavalcade of home grown talent that was equal to any visiting talent that has graced this great venue, and the audience loved it.

The template for the show was the famous Martin Scorcese film from 1978 that documented the last concert by The Band, with all of the performers who had been part of that celebration represented here by local talents.  It was actually the 41st anniversary of the original concert, which took place at Winterland in San Francisco on November 25, 1976.  The film set the bar high for a group of local performers who had little more than a month to practice.  They rose to the occasion. The band was tight, often indistinguishable from their model, and each performer who contributed tributes to the other performers did a stellar job.  The energy from the audience matched that coming from the stage.

Jaret Koop photo courtesy of John Scerri

A few of the vocalists stood out with their ability to mimic the originals to an uncanny extent.  Drew McIvor’s take on Doctor John’s (Mac  Rebennack) “Such A Night” had that New Orleans drawl down cold, and Jaret Koop perfectly captured Rick Danko’s anguished vocals on “The Shape I’m In”.

Fran Bouwmann photo courtesy of John Scerri

Fran Bouwman did a great take on Joni Mitchell’s “Coyote” (and even looked the part), and Tom Thwaits version of Neil Diamond’s “Dry Your Eyes” sounded like the real thing.  John Hume reproduced not only the vocal parts but the keyboards (that beautiful Hammond organ sound) with fidelity.

Sandra Swannell photo courtesy of John Scerri

Others added their own special talent to the songs that reflected what they bring to music.  Sandra Swannell’s violin solos on “Acadian Driftwood” and the encore “I Shall Be Released”, and Emma Wright’s vocals on “Evangeline” were spine-tingling standouts.  Chris Scerri’s vocals, of course, are 100% his.  He’s a belter and his style made new versions of the songs he covered.

 

My Sweet Patootie and Emma Wright Join Cast of The Last Waltz

Chris Scerri is lifting the veil on more local performers who will be guests at The Last Waltz.  Along with the band that plays The Band, there are many other performers to reference as part of that concert. In this tribute, all of the performers will be local stars.  This week Chris announces that Emma Wright, Sandra Swannell and Terry Young will be on the program.

Canadian Folk Music Award winners Sandra Swannell and Terry Young, who live in Woodford when they’re not on the road, are currently preparing their annual Harp and Holly Concert Series.  They will joining one of the world’s foremost Celtic harpists, Sharlene Wallace for a series of concerts featuring baroque Christmas songs.  This is a side project from their main gig as My Sweet Patootie, the roots and ragtime band that’s attracting attention in the U.K. from their regular touring there.  Their annual Harp and Holly concert was born out of a love for timeless music that evokes something about the Christmas season that live in the hearts of all of us.  They’ll be playing concerts during the Christmas season at three local venues in Owen Sound, Colpoy’s Bay and Sauble Beach, as well as in Guelph and Oakville.

Being part of The Last Waltz, Meaford Style, gives Sandra and Terry a chance to share music with their community here at home.

“A sense of community,” says Sandra, “That’s what Martin Scorsese captured between the musicians, both on stage and off in the epic film The Last Waltz.” 

Some of the Special Guests at The Last Waltz

Meaford’s version of The Last Waltz, slated for Meaford Hall on Sat, Nov. 25th, is fast approaching a sellout, as promoter Chris Scerri is announcing some of the special guests that will fill out the bill.

The Band itself will be well represented by local rock stars but one of the great aspects of the original performance was that it included a wide  variety of influential artists from the time, and these will also be reproduced by local artists.  Two of the artists just announced to represent some of these friends of The Band are Fran Bouwman and Tom Thwaits.

 

Tom Thwaits is well known as keyboard and accordion player for Bored of Education.  He’s recently added a sideline with a Bring Your Own Vinyl night the third Saturday of every month.  This popular gathering at The Red Door encourages people to bring along their favourite vinyl records, introduce them to the audience, and Tom spins them on his turntable.  For him The Last Waltz was not only a document of an era but an inspiration to the generations of musicians who have followed.

“The Last Waltz is, for me, the epitome of a particular time and place in the history of North American music,” he says, “so many disparate threads coalesced for one night in 1978, thankfully captured on film by none other than Martin Scorsese, that for generations to come it will serve as a starting point for hungry ears to understand a bygone era.”

Fran Bouwman has been making waves locally performing as Frannie Wisp, accompanying herself on washboard.  As the Frannie Wisp persona she explores, with her own humorous take on it, the trials of being a single middle-aged woman, part monologue, part songs.  Her frank approach to some taboo subjects adds spice to her act.  Fran is also an accomplished sculptor whose works are as thought-provoking in their own way as is her washboard act.  For The Last Waltz, she’ll be taking on a new persona as one of the stars featured in the movie.

“I first heard about The Last Waltz when I worked in the criminal ward at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, now known as CAMH,” she says, “Robert, who had been in and out of the Don Jail since he was a teen talked incessantly about The Band.  It was The Band that got him through his most difficult times.  He begged for me to take him to Sam the Record Man to buy The Last Waltz album. I agreed to sneak him off the property.  Although he had been wheelchair bound for months, he stood up, threw his cigarette to the curb and stepped onto the Queen Street streetcar.  Although we got caught for our petty crime, he said it was one of the best days of his life.  So that’s how I was introduced to The Last Waltz.  An incredible album with an incredible memory.”

If you review the list of performers included in The Last Waltz movie you’ll see that there are many other roles to fill.  Chris says they are lined up and rehearsals are “amazing”, but he will wait to feed us the details in the coming weeks.

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Young Talent Featured at GBCS Battle of The Bands

The Battle of The Bands at Georgian Bay Community School in Meaford on Friday night showcased the talents of local high school students and provided many of them with their first practical lesson in performance as musicians.  This was the best attended of any of the bi-annual events so far, with close to 200 people in attendance and it displayed a wide range of musical talents and styles.   Thirteen bands completed, each of which received generous ovations and helpful comments from the judges.

Mr. Delaney says hello to judges Drew McIvor, Fran Bouwman, Ryan Hewgill, Sylvee Kindree, and Chris Scerri

The judges were Chris Scerri, known for his promotion of live music in Meaford; Sylvie Kindree, member of The Kreuger Band; Ryan Hewgill, GBSS alumnus and multi-instrumentalist; Fran Bouwman, sculptor and creator of her alter-ego, Franny Wisp; and Drew McIvor, singer-songwriter.  Head of the music department, Mr. (Patrick) Delaney, acted as the amiable and charismatic Master of Ceremonies.  Another teacher, Mr. (Nick) Pretli, filled the role of bass player for many bands and even lent his name to the first band which kicked off the evening with a killer version of a Black Sabbath song.

Several students played in a number of different bands.  One of the busiest players of the evening was Max Woodburn.   He played drums for at least four bands with widely varying styles, in some cases without the opportunity of rehearsal.  Bassist Cam Toth did the same.  Each of them was acknowleged by the judges as the best in their field.  The other winners in the outstanding instrumentalist category were Thomas Hebbert who played keyboards for PJ and Marco, and Eden Young who impressed the judges with her acoustic guitar playing for the band C.E.M.RMichelle Wright won Top Vocalist honours for her impressive version of Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain”.  Although the judges could only choose one winner in each category they had special praise as well for Risa McEnaney’s drumming in C.E.M.R. and August Banks whose hair-flinging stage presence added oomph to a rocking band called simply Band.

The evening started out with a very impressive video montage set to the Rocky Theme.  It had been created by Somer Graham as part of a contest held in the Graphic Arts class.

Musical selections, all covers, ranged across a variety of styles from headbangers to a simple and charming ukulele duet from The Outcasts doing a Grace Van Der Waal song.  Three bands chose Adele songs to do, each in a distinctive style, including the only instrumental band of the evening featuring exchange student Pablo Pardavila on sax.

While the audience was enthusiastic about everything throughout the evening, the real purpose was to teach the students something about showmanship.  It was in these areas, rather than specific playing, where the judges offered helpful tips.  It was noted that some bands portrayed a real sense of being a band (“you looked like you just tumbled out of the van”), some were commended for dressing alike, and others were advised to make better use of the stage, or to invest themselves more in their delivery.  There were repeated admonitions to play the drums with more power, but it was pretty clear that the subdued drumming was more a result of the sound mix than the players.  The drum kit had been acoustically isolated behind Plexiglas panels to prevent leakage into the other microphones, but either it wasn’t sufficiently miked or it was mixed too low in the levels.  This was particularly evident in the heavy metal selections which are designed to draw much of their power from their ability to rattle your spine.

There were technical difficulties throughout the evening, from occasional feedback to singers whose lips moved but appeared to make no sound.  The lead guitarist for Edgy Metal Band played what looked like a pretty hot solo but it couldn’t be heard.  Jazz Band stopped the performance after several bars, with apologies, because the bass was completely missing in action.  A few minutes transpired before they got it going and then began the tune again.  Drew McIvor criticized them for that but Mr. Delaney reminded the audience that it was an Adele song, and she did exactly the same thing at the Grammy Awards.  And it should be noted that every band that suffered through the problems acted in a more professional manner than Mariah Carey did when she walked off mid-song during her New Year’s Rocking Eve performance.

Audience choice Trebellious

Two bands took top honours for the night.  A band that was originally billed as T.B.A. and changed their moniker to the much more interesting Trebellious won the audience choice award.  The judges awarded top prize to Cry For Ophelia, a band that has been together long enough to have developed a really unified sound and good musicianship.  In this band, Eden Young, who had already distinguished herself on guitar in an earlier band, showed her vocal skills fronting the band without an instrument.  This band knows how to work a stage and make the most of their material.  They had impressed audiences last summer as part of the Meaford Summer Concert Series in the town square.

Cry For Ophelia beat out a dozen other contenders to win the Battle of The Bands

Another band that had been part of that series but was not competing in this Battle of The Bands, was the Ted Brownlow Band.  They played three or four songs after the competing bands to entertain the audience while the judges were backstage ruminating.

It was a celebratory night for both the bands and the audience.  Aside from the performances themselves (which for the musicians probably whizzed by except when time stood still during technical glitches) the students learned about the camaraderie that comes from playing in a band.  It is in many ways analogous to a sports team, in which every member has a part to play in order to win.

Mr. Delaney acknowledged the contributions of countless people behind the scenes to making the night a success.  It is something that will long be remembered by everyone involved and, for some, it may have sparked an interest that will lead them toward a career.

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