Tag Archives: Historic Leith Church

The Thursday Outlook – Oct. 19 to 23, 2017

The Band That Kills Hate, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, is coming back to spread their vibe and their amazing music in our area, with a show on Sunday evening at Meaford Hall.  Along with killing hate and putting on a show that rocks the house, this is a band that represents the best in Canadian song writing.  Originally founded as a tribute to the late Willie P. Bennett, the band was conceived as a fun side project for the three artists (Tom Wilson, Colin Linden and Stephen Fearing) who all have their own careers, and two decades later they still bring that fun of an all-star jam to every show.  Throughout their career they have consistently made a point of shining the spotlight on Canadian songwriters and others from the wide world of music.  Touring with them recently is Tom Wilson’s son, Thompson Wilson, who dispels any hint of nepotism with engaging original songs performed solo on acoustic guitar.  Blackie and The Rodeo Kings is a band that every Canadian music fan should see and there’s no better venue for that than Meaford Hall.

Owen Sound based songwriter, Larry Jensen, whose original songs have spawned a tribute album by the leading lights of the local music scene, will be performing a special concert tonight at The Bleeding Carrot, starting at 7 pm.  This is an ideal small venue to be able to really enjoy the songs and stories he weaves.

Jacelyn Holmes, whose press touts her as a blend of Marilyn Monroe and Stevie Nicks, is at The Huron Club in Collingwood for the weekend.  Following her showcase performance at the 2017 Juno Awards she’s released a smoky blues single, “Fool”, and is working on an upcoming album.

The Thursday Outlook – Sept. 14 to 18, 2017

It’s the third Bring Your Own Vinyl night at The Red Door, hosted by Tom Thwaits Saturday starting at eight.  This is a fun night. Bring your favourite LP, tell the room why you want them to hear it, and Tom plays a cut on the turntable.  It makes for a great night of oral history as everyone has a tale about their favourite cut, and the music ranges through everybody’s personal taste.

The first night, Tom even brought along an LP by Sons of Ishmael, a high school band from Meaford that established an international cult following in the eighties with their “seriously intense”  hardcore punk.  So you never know what you’ll hear.

On Saturday afternoon, Sept. 17th, James Keelaghan will be hosting the final in Summerfolk’s Music Biz Tune Up Workshop from one to three at the Suite Spots in Owen Sound.  This series, which has run through the spring and summer, has provided aspiring musicians with career guidance ranging from how to book gigs to the many ways to earn income from your music.  For this final workshop the focus will be on how to use jamming to expand your contacts within the industry.  By connecting with other musicians on a musical level, at festivals or conferences, valuable contacts and alliances can be formed.  “Learn songs by different people so you can go in a number of directions and that increases your ability to connect with people”, James suggests.  For those unable to make it this Saturday, James will be offering a shortened version of the workshop next Saturday as well.

Ensemble of Talents Remembers Tom Thomson at Leith Church

Review by Bill Monahan of “The Woods Are Burning” presented at the Historical Leith Church on July 8, 2017.

On Saturday night at the Historic Leith Church the iconic Canadian artist Tom Thomson was remembered on the centenary of his disappearance with a special presentation of words and music entitled “The Woods Are Burning”.  It combined the talents of singer-songwriter David Sereda with poet Anne Michaels and a quartet of talented musicians in a show that hovered somewhere between musical theatre and séance evoking the spirit of the artist in a way that was exceptionally moving and inspirational.  Here in the unamplified acoustics of the church that the Thomson attended every Sunday, with every pew filled on this summer evening, the show was an exploration of the creative force, of the power of support from peers, of the mystery of Canada’s lakes and forests, and the nature of legacy.

Anne Michaels stood in the pulpit and told stories to bring us into Thomson’s world as it was a century ago, her narrative moving from historical artifact to poetic reflection.  David Sereda sat and often stood at the grand piano and in front of him was the quartet, with Keira McArthur on cello, Tyler Wagler on bass, Sandra Swannell on violin and Terry Young on mandolin.  The mood ebbed and flowed through the artist’s private thoughts as revealed by personal letters and quotes from associates and music that moved between being celebratory and elegiac.  Every one of the six contributors excelled in their portion of the presentation and as an ensemble they were transcendent.

Dramatist Joan Chandler provided an introduction to set the scene.  She reviewed the long genesis of this project (which will continue with a book and recording in the works).  When in 2002 the Tom Thomson Art Gallery asked her to produce “Colours in the Storm”, a musical about Tom, she declined, offering instead to do a workshop that would explore local stories and oral history about Tom, and really look at his paintings. That became the Brush workshop (2002) and led to collaborating with David Sereda on Songs in the Key of Tom, a concert in 2005 and then the full-length musical TOM in 2007. Toronto’s Poet Laureate Anne Michaels started her collaboration with David in 2016 with a Toronto version of “Woods Are Burning” last fall, which led to this night.  It was a warm summer night just like this one when Thomson left the camp with his friends to go off and spend the night alone on the other side of the lake, never to return.

She explained that the performance was in two parts with an intermission and that the spoken word and music would flow together, and so she asked us to hold our applause until the end of each act.  That instruction was difficult for the audience to follow as there were so many points when the emotion was so strong that the impulse to applaud was a reflex.  In the moment of silence that followed many songs a single clap was heard, from someone who caught themselves reacting naturally to the feelings evoked.

The music was sublime.  David Sereda’s voice has a wonderful evocative quality to it, made for this kind of church acoustics.  He reminded me of Josh Groban without the excessive mannerisms.  Equally evocative were the few solos by violinist Sandra Swannell, who plays with such pure emotion.  Both of these musicians are masters of tone, fitting in a tribute to Tom Thomson, who accomplished the same thing in the visual medium.  And the other players, contributing both vocally and instrumentally, maintained the highest standards of musicianship in the service of the work.

And that’s where there was a curious aspect to this performance.  Despite the fact that this was all about someone who worked in the visual arts, there was not a single example of his work on display.  That’s because this was not so much about the man’s work as it was about his obsessions.  Its exploration of how life and work interact for a creative artist would resonate with anyone who lives with that undeniable drive.  Thomson struggled with the need to find employment, with guilt about being left behind when the youth of his generation were called off to war, and with growing beyond the pursuits of youth without settling into the expected pattern of employment, marriage and family.

Parts of the narrative were particularly enlightening.  How he painted his canoe a special colour mixed from his palette so that it would fit perfectly into the nature around him, how he ran out into a violent storm to capture the essence of it in sketches.

The show said a lot about the importance of support for the creative artist.  When Thomson fell in with the other innovative painters who have become known at The Group of Seven it is what led him to the art of seeing that is the essence of his legacy.  He had a particularly close relationship with A. Y. Jackson and he valued the fact that they could go to paint from the same vantage point and each see it in his own way, a phenomenon that strengthened the bond between them.

David’s original songs captured moods that were alternately haunting and ebullient.  “One Fish At A Time” and “No One Lives Forever” were particularly effective.  During the intermission, the company assembled at Thomson’s grave to lead us in “Sun’s Evening Prayer (over Georgian Bay)”, a prayerful selection which also began the second act when we returned inside.

The cover tunes were also done with such skill that even songs which were chestnuts in Thomson’s time took on new life.  “L’il Liza Jane” was rollicking fun and “Hard Times” highlighted the great humanist skill of the 19th century songwriter, Stephen Foster.

By the end of the performance I was anxious to go and check out some on Tom Thomson’s work, which I expect was the intent of the evening.  And somehow the sounds that lingered in my imagination were fused with the colours of Thomson’s palette.

The Historical Leith Church is a very special venue that provides an exceptional acoustic setting for exceptional performances every summer, particularly in the area of classical music.  Next Saturday, July 15th, they will be presenting Duo Concertante, the celebrated piano and violin duo of Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves who have been praised for their “artistry, poetry, and impeccable technique”.

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The Thursday Outlook – July 6 to 9, 2017

The second annual Meaford Summer Concert Series starts this weekend, Friday at 7 in the Market Square in Meaford, featuring Tomi Swick and The Strummers’ Union, Scott Almond, and Eden Young.  It will be adding to the party atmosphere in downtown Meaford, where the Urban Slide is set up again this year on Nelson Street.  The Leeky Canoe is presenting Scott Almond after the concert in the Market Square on Friday and on Saturday will be bringing in The Drew Wright Trio.  The great music continues on Sunday evening at the Harbour Rotary Pavilion when Bored of Education performs as part of the Friends of the Library Series.

For something a little different tonight, you might want to check out the Story Slam at Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound.  Organized by Meaford’s Diana Young, this is a follow up to the first one which was a great hit.  The idea is that several people will tell short, true stories that are ten minutes long and judges will declare a winner.  The event also features music from Honeymoon Phase, Dave Hawkins, and Keray Wonch.

With the Peak To Shore Festival in full swing, there is a lot of music happening tonight everywhere.  At the main corner in Thornbury, it’s King Cuddy at Bruce Wine Bar and reggae from Too Nice at The Corner Cafe.  You can spend the evening at the Coca-Cola stage in Blue Mountain Village enjoying Karla Crawford and then Luke McMaster.  Or head around the bay in the opposite direction to see The Kreuger Band performing as part of the downtown Owen Sound Streetfest.

On Friday and Saturday night, make sure you stop by CROW Bar and Variety, the brand new venue in Collingwood, to show your support for one of this area’s most energetic and enthusiastic music promoters, Steven Vipond.  As part of the Peak To Shore festival, he is presenting Craig Smith on Friday and King Cuddy with Delta Days on Saturday.  CROW is where the Casbah used to be at 18 Huron Street.  A new venue like this is going to add an exciting new dimension to the area music scene and all it takes for it to succeed is a loyal audience.

At the Historic Leith Church on Saturday night there is a unique and intriguing appreciation of the life and work of Tom Thomson presented in poetry and song by David Sereda and one of Canada’s leading poets, Anne Michaels, supported by a quartet of some of Owen Sound’s finest musicians.

At Heartwood on Saturday night, The Lifers, consisting of sisters  Liv and Anita Cazzola, will treat listeners to the kind of vocal harmonies that can only come from siblings, on a triple bill with Oh Geronimo,  one of the top 25 National Finalists in the CBC Searchlight 2016 competition, and Meaford’s Greg Smith, master of unique short-story style songwriting and intricate guitar work.

If the weather is nice, there’s no better way to spend Sunday afternoon than chilling in Owen Sound’s beautiful Harrison Park listening to a selection of old-time music.

No matter where you go to hear music this weekend, you will be missing some really great music somewhere else, so peruse the listings at the right of this page and choose what suits you best, and for more details check out Monday’s post.

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