Tag Archives: Humber College

Thornbury Rotary Club Brings Who’s Who of Toronto Jazz to Marsh Street

The Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary Club has a special Christmas gift for local jazz fans this Saturday.  A group of some of the most celebrated jazz players in the country are presenting a special Christmas concert at The Marsh Street centre as a fundraiser for Beaver Valley Outreach.  Along with the concert there is a silent auction happening all week long and running through the night of the concert. (www.christmasjazz.ca).

These players have been coming together once a year since 1984 to celebrate Christmas with seasonal favourites done up in their own style.  Their names are familiar to jazz fans. Each of them has spent many years teaching students the art of jazz.

Pat LaBerbera has been on the faculty of Humber College, arguably Canada’s best music school, turning out generations of sax players, for many years.  After his studies at the Berkley College of Music, and work with luminaries like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and many others, he relocated to Toronto in 1974 and became one of the most influential musicians on the Toronto jazz scene.

Brian O’Kane has performed and recorded with artists such as Rob McConnell, Dave Brubeck, Barba Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Diana Krall and Paul Anka.  In addition to his jazz work, he has performed with has performed with the Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and True North Brass.

Young Bluegrass Wizards The Slocan Ramblers Play Meaford

A couple of things set The Slocan Ramblers, who will be at Meaford Hall this weekend, apart from other bluegrass bands.  One is that they don’t have a fiddle.  The four members play banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass.  Another is that while they are true to bluegrass roots, praised by Elmore magazine for “a piping hot brand of bluegrass that you just may think was cut fresh from a back porch in the Blue Ridge,” they are also known for their innovation and experimentation.

This Toronto band has gathered a slew of awards while touring around the world.  Now they have decided to introduce themselves to audiences in parts of Ontario they haven’t visited before.  While they are old hands at folk festivals and veterans of small clubs, the experience of a concert setting like Meaford Hall is new to them.  This January, it is one of three concert halls they’ll be playing, including the Midland Cultural Centre on Jan 14th and Guelph’s River Run Centre on Jan 27th.  Their experience in Toronto bars has taught them to play rough and hard, performing from passion rather than a slavish dedication to their sources, keeping it real.  They take songs from the likes of Woody Guthrie and Roy Acuff, add a Celtic flavour and some inspired originals, to create a tossed salad of traditional and new sounds.  It’s easy to imagine, with the great audiences always at The Opera House, how their legendary high energy show might reach new heights in this venue.

All four members of the band,  Adrian Gross on mandolin, Darryl Poulsen on guitar, Alastair Whitehead on bass and Frank Evans on three-finger and clawhammer banjo, are virtuosos, graduates of the music program at Humber College.  They took their name from the Slocan Valley in B.C. where Alastair worked summers.

The Slocan Ramblers’ latest release Coffee Creek was produced by Chris Coole, who thrilled local audiences just a month ago when he appeared in Owen Sound with his band The Foggy Hogtown Boys.  In his liner notes he commented “What really impressed me while we were working on this album, was that, while they can pull off the precision and virtuosity that is at the backbone of bluegrass, they understand the power of the fragile moment in music.”  They consciously avoid being too polished, despite their instrumental prowess, by reaching for vocal or instrumental experiments that deliberately push the envelope.  As part of their effort to avoid the carefully tailored Nashville sound, they recorded this album live off the floor so that their rough edges are on display along with their passion.

There is no shortage of bluegrass aficionados in our area and this show brings a welcome hint of summer to our bleak midwinter.

The performance at the Opera House at Meaford Hall on  Saturday January 21st (tickets $25) starts at 8 p.m.  This will be the last performance in The Opera House before it is closed to allow for balcony renovations through until the end of March.  In the meantime a series of six more intimate concerts have been planned to take place in the gallery, starting with Suzie Vinnick on Jan.28th.

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Shane Cloutier Plays the Leeky

Shane Cloutier is coming to the Leeky Canoe on Saturday night.  As a resident of Collingwood, he likes to come to Meaford to play and has played The Leeky often, enjoying the vibe of the local music fans.  That’s good news for Meaford because Shane Cloutier, and the pair of players that form his backup band, play at a level that would make you expect to find them at a much bigger venue with a high ticket price (there’s no cover at all at The Leeky and a bonus of food specials to boot!).  It is one of the many blessings of the Southern Georgian Bay area that there are musicians here who would rather stay home just because it is such a great place to be.  For Shane, operating a music school in Collingwood makes that possible.

When he plays with his band, bassist Johnny Roy and drummer Skip Wamsteeker, it’s a powerhouse sound, but Shane is such an accomplished performer that he holds the stage well as a solo act with an acoustic guitar.  As a professional musician working in a relatively small market, he knows that every avenue must be explored.

Originally from Orillia, Shane Cloutier studied music at Humber College in Toronto before settling in Collingwood.  He opened a music store and began to take on students while working on a music career.  He began working with Frank Marino, from Mahogany Rush, playing rhythm guitar for them on tour.  Marino has helped him with his recording career.  He put out an album called “Scars” in 2012 and worked hard to promote it, including showcases in LA.  It found a place in a movie soundtrack and his efforts brought him some international attention that included endorsement deals with Ibanez guitars.  In 2015 he formed another band called Bent Nails, with legendary drummer Jorn Andersen and Max Webster bass player Mike Tilka.   Again working with Frank Merino in Montreal, he created a new album with this combination.

Here is a beautiful original song from his debut album “Scars”

Getting ahead in the music business is not always a direct result of skill and talent.  It’s a process of climbing one mountain after another and hoping to reach the peak before a landslide brings you down.  The real musicians, the ones who will eventually prevail, are those that are willing to climb that mountain all over again.  Usually while they do they play small venues close to home and those lucky enough to be in their proximity get to see world class talent that the rest of the world just hasn’t yet caught up to.

That’s what’s in store for The Leeky Canoe fans on Saturday night.

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