Tag Archives: Great Big Sea

Clap For The Sinners Choir

This Saturday, CROW Bar and Variety in Collingwood is bringing The Sinners’ Choir to town.

The best bands are always those that evolve naturally from a shared love of the music they play.  That’s the case with this trio, in which players from three generations have come together to blend their talents.  They also blend their voices, with an easy harmony that falls sweetly on your ear.

Working as a full-time musician, as with any job, can wear on you.  The thing about musicians, though, is that more often than not when they take a break from their regular gig, their idea of relaxation is to get together with somebody else and play something different.  That’s how this band came together.  Their shared joy in what they do is so infectious that it has led to another regular gig for them.  Their private jam sessions became public with a longstanding residency at The Rex in Toronto.  As the public caught on to their sound, they found themselves having to set aside the occasional date at the Rex to take other offers, for which they are increasingly in demand.  And now they are bringing their sweet harmonies to the sweet air of Georgian Bay.

The most seasoned pro of the group is bass player Terry Wilkins, whose name will be familiar to any fan of 80’s Toronto rock and blues.  He was already established in Australia in the 60’s with a popular band called The Flying Circus.  When they tried their luck in San Francisco, a chance meeting with members of McKenna Mendelson Mainline brought them to Toronto.

Making Toronto his permanent home, Terry played bass with Rough Trade from 1978 to 1982 and did stints with Lighthouse and David Wilcox.  At the same time he played with a variety of visiting artists of wide-ranging styles, including Dr. John, Maria Muldaur and Levon Helm.  Consistently working through the decades, he has worked more recently with Freeman Dre and The Kitchen Party.

Drummer Adam Warner has a similar history of being an in demand player, except he started a couple of decades later.   He’s been around, playing at legendary clubs like The Cavern in Liverpool, CBGB’s in New York, and has played at a command concert for Paul Anka and birthday celebrations for the Queen of Holland.  As a writer and composer, he has released solo works, composed musical backdrops for David Suzuki, and performed or recorded with various members of The Barenaked Ladies,The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Sloan, Great Big Sea, Big Sugar, and Moist.

Guitarist Adam Beer Colacino was busy growing up while his bandmates were making their  international reputations.  He’s worked with Devin Cuddy, Whitney Rose and members of Downchild Blues Band.  He’s teamed up with blues guitarist Fraser Melvin and an 8-piece horn section in the The Melvin-Colacino Band.

The band takes turns on lead vocals, with the other two providing harmonies, as they mix it up with originals that reflect the wide-ranging experience and tastes of the players.  When a band loves playing together as much as these three obviously do, it is always a delight for the audience.

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The Thursday Outlook – Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2017

Live music fans have some tough choices to make on a very busy Thursday night tonight.

Meaford Hall presents Measha Brueggergosman tonight on a return visit.  This year she has released a memoir called “Something is AlwaysOn Fire”, reflecting on the ups and downs of her life in opera on the world stages.  Her work is not restricted to opera.  On stage she explores spirituals, gospel hymns and jazz standards, following her own personal path.  Earlier in the year she released “Songs of Freedom”, a collection of songs that, as she told Vision TV, “were born out of a time when my people were oppressed and needed to find a way not only to communicate with each other, but also to express themselves”.  Selections include Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Got Tell It On The Mountain, This Little Light Of Mine, He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands and, Amazing Grace.  With her four-piece band, she usually mixes in some jazz standards like My Funny Valentine. All of these elements will combine tonight to give the audience a sense of the things that are most meaningful to her.

 

Fans of local talent are excited about the CD release party tonight at Heartwood Hall in which Drew McIvor performs his new recording with a 10-piece band, with an opening set by Luke Martin.  Drew will have copies of “Through The Tangle of Trees” hot off the press for sale at the concert.

Piano man Tyler Yarema, who specializes in stride piano and boogie-woogie, will be joining Tamica Herod and The Harbour Street Band tonight at the Harbour Street Fish Bar for what is sure to be a rocking show.  Tyler will be back in Collingwood a week from tonight with a special concert at The Historic Gayety Theatre.  He and Chuck Jackson, lead vocalist for the Downchild Blues Band, play a lot of duo dates together and at next week’s concert they will be recording a live CD in a celebrative event that gathers a number of friends to join them.

This Saturday at The Gayety Theatre, rockabilly fans will be treated to a performance by Robert Gordon, voice of the rockabilly revival that engulfed England in the late 70’s.  Celebrated for his authentic sound, his debut album paired him with Link Wray, a guitarist who didn’t mimic the early rockers but actually was one.  Gordon’s repertoire spans early Elvis, Gene Vincent and others from that era who defined a new sound that disappeared all too quickly for some people.  His show in the town that hosts the world’s largest annual Elvis festival, should attract a cohort of discerning fans.

Being Alive With Sean McCann

Review by Bill Monahan of Sean McCann in concert at Meaford Hall, May 5, 2017

So the question is, when a pivotal member of one of Canada’s best known party bands, celebrated for its drinking songs, decides to get sober, leave the band and go out on his own, filled with an overwhelming enthusiasm for abstinence, what kind of concert can you expect?  On Friday night at Meaford Hall, Sean McCann, formerly of Great Big Sea, provided the definitive answer…Parteee!!

The concert, from the moment he came dancing out on stage to the encore when he and accompanist Chris Murphy walked singing through the audience, was an endless ode to the joy of being alive.

Well maybe not entirely.  The opening song, though stirring, was a grim sea tale in the true tradition of Newfoundland, where an ebullient life meets daily with the dangers and tragedies of the sea.  Sean walked across the stage, down the steps and stood on the floor in front of the stage, daring to open his concert without the benefit of amplification.  “Can you hear me?” he asked the hushed audience, “I’m going to start here.”  And he sang a cappella, “Safe Upon the Shore” the title song from Great Big Sea’s 2010 album, about a girl who asks the sea to return her sailor safely to her.  Seeing him floating on a spar washing in toward her, she “thought with bliss how she would kiss the lips she did adore” only to discover as he came closer that he was a corpse.

One thing’s for sure, Sean McCann has landed safe upon the shore after his painful parting from Great Big Sea and conquering his alcoholism.  The concert was a great big celebration of resilience and courage and most of all, the power of love.  And if that sounds all a little too sober, it was the opposite, with every song set in that alternatively rollicking and heartfelt style that characterizes the music of Newfoundland.  Throughout the concert he had the audience singing along.  And they were so into it, when he sang a line from the old chestnut “You Are My Sunshine” just as a little aside, the audience immediately and without urging sang the entire song.  This was indeed a communal celebration of life, the kind of thing that Meaford Hall (“built from love” he said) is built for.

Throughout the concert Sean repeated how happy he was to be here, saying it was a night he would long remember.

The music was wonderful.   Sean occasionally plays some delicate finger-picking but he usually revs up his acoustic guitar with fast strumming, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Murphy added beautiful textures to every song in a way that dressed them up very nicely.

The Thursday Outlook – May 4, 2017

If you’re planning on going to see Jamie Baxter at The Red Door in Meaford tomorrow night you’d better get there early.  Last time he played there the place was packed.  Not only does he rarely perform here in town but it is rare to see anyone who can play virtuoso level classical guitar like he does.  He starts at seven and it’s all over by ten so bring your friends and grab a table early.

Jon Zaslow is a quiet and unassuming singer-songwriter but he is an excellent guitarist and impressive songwriter and singer.  He’s part of a trio called The Travelling Thornburys.   He’ll be co-hosting the jam at The Leeky with Chris Scerri tonight.  Saturday night at The Leeky, Bored of Education, Meaford’s most popular party band, is playing their big catalogue of songs from several eras.  That will be a good place to keep up the energy after Chris Scerri and friends rev you up at Meaford Hall with Rockin’ the Hall, Volume 2.  This is the same bunch that blew the roof off the Opera House at Christmas and this time they’ll be each playing the music that means the most to them.

Rockin’ The Hall, Volume 2 is part of the Grand Reopening Event running from Friday through Sunday at Meaford Hall.  Friday night is An Intimate Evening With Sean McCann.  Since leaving Great Big Sea and setting his own course, Sean has applied his talents to music that is more personal and moving but still imbued with that distinctive Newfoundland flavour.  And then on Sunday you’re in for a very rare treat with the world renowned throat singer/electronics performer Tanya Tagaq.  When you’re at Meaford Hall, check out Adventure Canada, who are co-sponsoring the weekend and donating a trip to Sable Island to be auctioned off for the benefit of the Meaford Hall & Culture Foundation.  Place a bid, or just talk to them about their outstanding wilderness tours, contextualized by the presence of musicians, writers and others who accompany every expedition.

So much great music, so little time!

Why not make it a Jayden Grahlman weekend?  He’ll be a special guest at the Rockin’ The Hall show on Saturday, but you can catch him doing his own thing at Bruce Wine Bar on Friday.  Then on Sunday afternoon he will be augmenting a big band show with Great Lake Winds at Central Westside United Church in Owen Sound.  This is the annual spring concert of Great Lakes Winds, an ensemble of brass, woodwinds and percussion players of all ages specifically created with the goal of developing talent.

The development of choral talents is celebrated as well this weekend with Tara Mackenzie’s various choirs and her drum ensemble both tonight and tomorrow in a concert at The Harmony Centre called Songs From the Big Blue Marble.  These groups as well as the Great Lakes Winds welcome new participants.