Tag Archives: Franny Wisp

The Thursday Outlook – June 22 to 25

It’s a good weekend for Meaford fans of the harmonica, or to be more exact, blues harp.  On Friday night Al Lerman, founding member of Fathead, will be at The Red Door Pub and Grille from 7 to 10. With a 45 year history as a bluesman, playing harmonica, sax and guitar, and a shelf full of Junos and Maple Blues Awards, he’s the real deal.  He’s been around long enough to have sat in with the likes of Muddy Waters, Sunnyland Slim, and Willie Dixon.  Just as any true blues fan wants to hear those same songs over and over, you’ll want to hear him again and again, so head over to The Harbour Street Fish Bar in Collingwood to catch him tonight and then come hear him again tomorrow in the more intimate setting of The Red Door.

And if you were at The Harbour Street Fish Bar last night you were able to hear another blues harp great, Jerome Godboo, performing with Tamica Herod.  If you missed them or you just can’t get enough, make a point of being at The Leeky Canoe on Saturday, where they’ll be accompanied by guitarist Dylan Burchell.

Speaking of performers worth hearing again and again, one of them is Johnny Cash.  Although he’s gone his legend lives on in the form of tribute shows and one of the most highly regarded is presented by Jim Yorfido, who has a show called Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Folsom tonight at Meaford Hall.  June Carter will be represented by Jim’s wife Pam Yorfido, who is also renowned for her tributes to Tammy Wynette.  With the two of them and Marie Bottrell, it’ll be kind of an all-star event reproducing the talents of Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton as well.

With summer underway, it’s time for outdoor festivals.  Collingwood has a full lineup of local artists at the Port Music Festival happening Saturday and Sunday at the Shipyards AmphitheatreBambalamb will be heading up an kid-friendly festival of percussion at St. George’s Parish Hall in Owen Sound on Saturday afternoon.  And there’s the big ticket festival on Friday and Saturday at Kelso Beach called Summertime Blues 2017 with blues greats like Buddy Guy, Colin James, Matt Anderson and The Trevor Mackenzie Band, along with rockers The Sheepdogs and Teenage Head, with Bahamas thrown in for good measure.

 

One of the best bargains for fans of original songwriters is a program that showcases a triple bill.  Greg Smith has put together a special showcase featuring young talents Taylor Holden, From Forest and Field, Page Ballagh for a mere $10 tonight at The Bleeding Carrot in Owen Sound and on Sunday afternoon a PWYC showcase at The Garafraxa Café in Durham brings Bill Monahan, Dave Hawkins and John Brownlow back together for a triple bill of upbeat originals.

Jazz fans will perk up to hear that John MacMurchy Trio will be performing  with jazz vocalist Jocelyn Barth Friday night at the L.E. Shore Library in Thornbury.

And for something completely different, in a category all its own, Franny Wisp will be joined by Dave Loopstra and Bambalamb Kidd, along with a very special guest by the name of Glacial Erratic, will be bringing tuneful comedy to The Shelagh Fox Gallery in Thornbury on Saturday evening.

And that’s not all.  Peruse the listings at the right and you’re sure to find something to suit your taste and budget in this best of all areas to spend your first weekend of the summer

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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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The Thursday Outlook – Feb. 23 to 26, 2017

A couple of outstanding female artists top the list of this weekend’s live music picks in Meaford, with Jenie Thai on Friday at The Red Door Grille and Franny Wisp at Meaford Hall on Saturday.

Jenie Thai offers up virtuoso piano playing, with a beautifully expressive and sensitive voice and evocative songs, to make up a very special package in this small venue.

And with the balcony renos at Meaford Hall still going on, it is presenting live music in a small venue as well with Franny Wisp and her Washboard.  A local phenomenon who combines spoken word, music and satire, it may be difficult at this point to get a ticket but it’s definitely worth checking out if you can.

And The Leeky Canoe will be rocking on Saturday with Rob Elder.  Don’t forget that the open mic has changed to Thursday nights with Chris Scerri, whose cohost this week will be Rich Fletcher, lead guitarist from Bored of Education.  On Saturday night Chris is going to be at Gustav’s in Collingwood.

Another option for this evening is the young singer-songwriter Austin McCarthy at The Huron Club.  Austin, who has been referred to as “an old soul” has been diligently building his career rung by rung with his gentle, introspective songs and hot blues licks.  He’s won over fans opening for Coldjack at The Gayety Theatre, and for Kim Mitchell at The Village at Blue, and he’s won the Collingwood Idol contest.

There are a couple of exciting shows happening on the weekend in Collingwood and Owen Sound.

On Saturday night The Johnny Max Band is having a CD release party at the Harbour Street Fish Bar in Collingwood.  This is their 7th album, which they call, fittingly, “Roadhouse Soul”.  With excellent players and the charismatic presence of Johnny Max, this band is pure joy.

And then on Sunday night, at the Historic Gayety Theatre in Collingwood, one of the best concerts to hit our region in a long time will be Blackie And the Rodeo Kings playing to a packed house.  Promoter Steve Vipond has been daily counting down the number of tickets left and as of yesterday only a handful remained.  This is the second date of a short tour by the band which they are kicking off the night before with a sold out concert at Massey Hall.  This is a concert that people will be talking about for a long time.

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Mix of Humour Music and Theatre With Franny Wisp and Her Washboard

Another in the Gallery Concert Series this Saturday brings Franny Wisp and Her Washboard to the intimate venue in the gallery of Meaford Hall.  Her show, a blend of theatre and music, takes a satiric and often self-deprecating look at our life and times.

Franny Wisp opened for singer-songwriter Steve Poltz not long ago at The Bruce Street Social Club, something she considered a great privilege.  “I think he’s just a genius,” she says.  That along with regular appearances at Bruce Wine Bar’s weekly open stage has built a local following for her unique performance style.

Franny Wisp is the alter ego of Fran Bouwman, an accomplished sculptor whose work has been displayed in the Meaford Hall gallery.  It is eye-catching and clever with a touch of humour.  Franny Wisp draws on other aspects of her talents.  The character of Franny Wisp, who accompanies herself on the washboard, draws on her past history in theatre.  The fact that she worked primarily in puppetry explains a lot.  That form of performance allowed her to use her skills as a sculptor and this character she inhabits as Franny allows Fran the artist to pull the strings.  Having also played in a jazz trio, music is a natural element in this incarnation.  And humour, always as she says, “my best medicine”, is the spark that brings the stories to life.

This act evolved partly as a catharsis when she found herself being single in her forties after a long term relationship ended.  It wasn’t what she had expected and she was struck by the way society “pressures us into feeling that we have to stay forever young.”  Acting out her self-doubts within an invented persona, mixing in music and humour, she not only found a release for her creative energies but she also found that it struck a chord with audiences.  She had expected that it would appeal primarily to women like herself in similar situations but found it has a cross-generational appeal.  “I tackle a lot of subject matter that touches on that universal embarrassment that people feel,” she says.

And, speaking of subject matter, her routines can be pretty frank about sexuality.  “I don’t think what I do is obscene but I do push the envelope,” she says. “I have shocked people, but it’s not my intention. Comedy is different than music.  Comedians usually push the envelope.  It’s trying to lighten up serious issues.”  She admits “it may be a bit crass,” but she has no intention of toning it down for the Meaford Hall audience, noting “That would almost be disrespectful to Meaford to say Meaford can’t handle what Toronto can.”

The success of Franny Wisp and Her Washboard has taken her by surprise and she’s planning her future.  “When I first started I was just hamming it up but the response was so incredible it’s inspired me to try to take it further.”

There will be an opening act in the form of banjo picker Dave Loopstra and percussionist Bambalamb Kid.  “Bam has been one of my biggest supporters,” she says, “and I’m very grateful.”  His larger than life sense of joy is sure to enhance the evening and remove any semblance of discomfort that could arise from Franny’s subject matter. And Dave Loopstra is another performer she thinks very highly of.  “I first saw Dave play at the open mic, His humour and his wit is just unbelievable. He takes really simple things in life and makes them funny.”

The timing of this show is perfect, set in the bleakest part of winter.  It’s a good bet that the audience will come away with a renewed appreciation of life’s little absurdities.

Franny Wisp & Her Washboard, with special guests Dave Loopstra and Bambalamb Kid, Sat Feb 25, 8pm in the Meaford Hall Gallery.

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