Tag Archives: Gracie

Grand Re-Opening Event at Meaford Hall

Meaford Hall will be overflowing with talent this weekend when they officially celebrate the Grand Re-Opening after the completion of the balcony renovations.  From Friday through to Sunday the hall will be resonating with high quality concerts.

Friday night, An Intimate Evening With Sean McCann, presented by Irish Mountain Music promises to be a moving and inspiring show featuring the former Great Big Sea founding member accompanied by Chris Murphy.  Having played and toured with Great Big Sea for twenty years, he lived to tell about it and has come out the other side with a fresh and optimistic approach to his music.  He almost drowned in The Great Big Sea, a party band “where every night is Friday night” and 90% of the songs are odes to drinking.  As great as that band was, Sean realized after many years that the predominating theme of the band was enabling him as an alcoholic.  He had to quit drinking to save his own life and, unfortunately, it meant he had to remove himself from the band.  In the process he confronted the demons from his own youth, reconnected with his family and started over, taking full control of his own life.  His songs still have that wonderful Celtic flavour of the big rock but now the celebration is about living a life fully awake to the possibilities.

Saturday night Chris Scerri and friends celebrate with Rockin’ the Hall Volume 2.  This show features the same amazing lineup of musicians that rocked the hall at Christmas, with Tyler Yarema, Gracie, Virgil Scott, Victoria Yeh and Emma Wright.  The difference this time is that instead of sticking to a theme as they did at Christmas each of these artists will be doing the kind of music that means the most to them.  “We’ll showcase what each of us as a performer loves to do best,” says Chris.  While each of them is capable of adding a unique charm to any style they take on, imagine how great they will sound when they follow their own hearts.  They will be backed up by a killer rhythm section featuring Manteca drummer Charlie Cooley, Chuck Jackson’s All Stars bassist Garth Vogan and Cameo Blues Band (and Mississauga Walk of Fame inductee) John Bride on guitar.  As if that’s not enough, the show will also feature as a special guest local guitar phenom Jayden Grahlman.  Volume One rocked the hall but this show, for sure, is going to ROCK THE HALL!!

This weekend is a true celebration of what Meaford Hall does best, bringing together unique and original talent that you would be unlikely to see outside of a large metropolis.

Anyone who is familiar with Tania Tagaq shakes their head in wonderment when they hear that this unique and in demand performer will be performing at Meaford Hall on Sunday night.  If you watched this year’s Juno Awards you saw her open the show with A Tribe Called Red.  She has won not only Juno Awards but the prestigious Polaris Music Prize which annually singles out the most innovative artist in Canada.  Tanya Tagaq is a throat singer from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuutiaq), Nunavut, Canada who has collaborated with Icelandic superstar Bjork and toured with the Kronos Quartet.  Robert Everett-Green in the Globe and Mail summed up her unique aural art form:  “Her fusion of song, Inuit throat singing, electronics and free improvisation feels beyond time and place, yet it’s also highly personal.”  If you miss her performance this time at Meaford Hall not only will you miss experiencing something in music that you’ll find nowhere else, but it is very unlikely that you will get a chance to see this extraordinary talent in Meaford again.  Having her here for this celebration is kind of like winning the lottery.

A Christmas Gift From Meaford Hall

Review by Bill Monahan of Rockin’ The Hall, Dec. 3, 2016

Photos by Marissa Dolotallas

There was a big party on Saturday night in Meaford, one that is likely to be long remembered, not only because it was a triple celebration but because it represents the dawning of a new era for our town.

The Meaford Hall & Culture Foundation arranged this Gala Concert at Meaford Hall as a fundraiser and to celebrate their 10th anniversary.  Foundation president Rod MacAlpine said that not only was the show a great success but the Silent Auction exceeded all expectations.

The Meaford Hall & Culture Foundation has contributed so much to our local culture in the past decade, with its community outreach and sponsorship of special programming. Under the inspired management of Susan Lake, Meaford Hall has become one of the most impressive concert halls in Southern Ontario.

The silent auction and gala performance has been a Christmas tradition throughout the history of the Meaford Hall & Culture Foundation.  In previous years they have brought in big ticket acts that would usually play much larger halls.  This year, inspired by Chris Scerri’s efforts to build a local music scene, they decided to take a different approach and they asked him to put together a musical variety show.  The result was an energetic and joyous celebration of Christmas, of Meaford Hall, and of the state of the local music scene.

The show had a very loose, casual but fun feel to it that made it seem more like a party than a performance, although every cast member brought something special to their part of the program.  The show consisted entirely of familiar Christmas songs but each came with a unique flavour.

Tyler Yarema is the latest addition to a long list of people (including Christopher Thomas,  Paul Osborne, Marilyn Morris, Patrick Delaney, Chris Scerri and many others) who have brought their talents to Meaford and after falling in love with the town have made significant contributions to our local culture.  Tyler put together this program of talents assembled by Chris Scerri and contributed the talents of his own band, to create a fun evening that made the audience feel a special part of it.

There was a real sense of dynamics to the show, surging at times with energy then laying back for more reflective moments.  The cast included stellar vocalists who moved around to take the lead or provide background harmonies, and a series of instrumental solos were like glittering diamonds in the mix.

Consistently inspired sax solos from Scott Neilson enhanced each song.  Drew Wright contributed a blistering lead guitar solo, Victoria Yeh provided moving and inspired violin solos and Tyler, in addition to setting the pace with some great percussive piano playing, cut loose with an outstanding solo break on “It’s a Marshmallow World”.

To use an old cliché, Emma Wright could sing the phone book and deeply move you.  Her emotive phrasing and perfect pitch is always evocative, no matter what she sings.   She did two Christmas standards and the audience loved it.  There were many other vocal highlights as well; in fact, to list them all would be to itemize the entire show.

Gracie charmed with every song she performed

Gracie charmed with every song she performed

Gracie, in addition to having a vocal talent that is capable of many styles, brings such joy and charm to her performances that all of her contributions were outstanding.  The most engaging was her entrance from the back of the hall at the beginning of the second set, with a cute and sexy rendition of the cute and sexy song, “Santa Baby”.  She brought the same quality to her duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” early in the show with Virgil Scott.

Chris Scerri’s Vision For Meaford Culminates In “Rockin’ the Hall”

This Saturday night’s show at Meaford Hall is, in addition to being a celebration of The Meaford Hall & Culture Foundation’s accomplishments through the past decade, a celebration of live music in Meaford and Chris Scerri’s vision.  Most of the cast is composed of people that he introduced to our town, or made our town more aware of.  There is the great honkytonk piano player Tyler Yarema as musical director, the veteran soul singer Virgil Scott, Canadian Idol finalist Drew Wright, virtuoso violinist Victoria Yeh, and fast rising vocal talents Gracie and Emma Wright.  And of course Chris himself.

In the past year Chris Scerri has had quite an impact on Meaford and the town has had an impact on him.  This weekend’s Rockin’ The Hall show is in many ways the culmination of his efforts over the past year.  The Meaford Hall & Culture Foundation puts on a show every year as a fundraiser in conjunction with their Silent Auction and this year they asked Chris to put it together for them.  Their association with Chris began with their sponsorship (with others) of the Meaford Summer Concert Series which was conceived and produced by him.  Like others who were involved, as sponsors, participants or audience, when they saw how that project evolved they were impressed with his organization and effort.

Like so many people in Meaford who have made big contributions to the town, Chris was inspired by his love of his new home to bring something special to it.  He has always been a music lover, particularly live music, and he had a vision that would enhance tourism and night life in the town.

"The Great Canadian Songbook" at Meaford Hall

“The Great Canadian Songbook” rocked Meaford Hall this spring, including locals Chris Scerri and Drew McIvor

His initial effort was to suggest to several musical friends from his former home in Port Credit that they put together a special show.  With talents like Tom Barlow, Johnny Max and Tyler Yarema on board, he sold them on the idea of bringing their show to the Opera House, knowing that not only would they love the venue, but the local audiences would love them.  The result, called “The Great Canadian Songbook” was a rousing success, creating a memorable evening for everyone who was there and, for a few of the participants, introducing them to the beauty of Meaford, which they have come to regard as a second home.

Tuesday Nights at The Leeky (photo by Marissa Dollotallis)

Tuesday Nights at The Leeky (photo by Marissa Dollotallis)

Next he wanted to start an open mic night at The Leeky Canoe.  The Leeky had been booking local bands for some time, rotating well-known local talents on Saturday nights.  Chris saw the open mic as an opportunity to bring some new talent to the fore.  He had the ingenious idea of bringing along a different co-host each week, which had the effect of creating a new vibe for each open mic night.  There has been a steady stream of great accompanists at his Tuesday night jams, attracting a good audience as well as a variety of talented performers.

Carrie Stoffers at Captains Corner caught the spirit and added an open mic night to her outside patio during the summer, along with Friday night concerts.

Here Come The Christmas Concerts

This week brings the beginning of December, which means Christmas is just a few weeks away.  For fans of live music, it means Christmas concerts.  There are three to note this coming week, each with its own flavour and each showcasing local talent.

The big Christmas show at Meaford Hall, put together by Chris Scerri, called “Rockin’ The Hall” happens this Saturday night.  It promises a high energy rock show under the direction of Tyler Yarema and featuring performers that have endeared themselves to local music fans this past year, including Gracie, Drew Wright, Virgil Scott, Victoria Yeh and the phenomenal Emma Wright.  It is part of the annual Christmas celebration of the Meaford Hall Cultural Foundation and will coincide with the silent auction which is already under way.  One of the by-products of the active local music scene this year has been the impromptu after show parties at The Leeky Canoe, where fans stream across the street from the hall after a concert to enjoy more live music in an intimate setting.  Chances are good that this will be the case this Saturday, when Luke Martin appears at the Leeky.

Trevor and Tara MacKenzie

Trevor and Tara McKenzie are part of Santa With Muscles show at Heartwood Hall

On Thursday Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound hosts one of many Christmas events this week with a concert they call “Santa With Muscles” (not to be confused with the Hulk Hogan movie), a collection of local performers focussed on Christmas classics that span from the 60’s to the 90’s.  The guest performers include Trevor and Tara MacKenzie and Pete Devlin along with many others.  Two days later they host the Great Canadian Fiddle Holiday Show on Sunday.

goldenaires_origOn Sunday afternoon, Meaford’s women’s choir, The Goldenaires, celebrates Christmas at the Meaford United Church with their semi-annual concert.  This will be the first Christmas concert with their new musical director Catherine Robertson.  It also features Pauline Dale on flute and the Classic Bronze Bells.  It is an afternoon concert starting at 2:30 on Sunday, so you can head over there after taking in the open mic brunch at The Barn, and still have time to catch the fiddlers in the evening at Heartwood.

the celtic tenors

The Celtic Tenors help Meaford Hall celebrate 10th Anniveresary

This week celebrates the 10th anniversary of the renovation and rebirth of Meaford Hall and, in addition to the Saturday night concert, there is a concert on Thursday featuring the Celtic Tenors.  This classic trio has been performing to acclaim around the world for fifteen years and has sold over a million albums.  In recent years they have augmented their traditional sounds with a more contemporary edge and that, along with their sparkling on stage performance makes theirs an exhilarating show.

If the Celtic Tenors whets your appetite for the Irish sound you can get a further taste of it on Saturday night at The Bruce Wine Bar with Ryan O’Reilly.  Although he and his band have evolved from street buskers in London, England, he has an Irish feel to his music.

There are lots of other live music opportunities this week as the holiday season moves into high gear, including a chance to see a couple of performers you might have missed earlier this year.  Owen Sound poet laureate Larry Jensen returns to the Leeky Canoe with his heartfelt original songs on Thursday, accompanied by Pete Devlin.  Extraordinary blues guitarist Sean Pinchin had to cancel his Leeky appearance a month or so ago due to a last minute family emergency, but he is back in the area this week with a Tuesday appearance at The Huron Club in Collingwood.

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