Tag Archives: jazz

Patricia Wheeler Quartet Brings Jazz Concert to Meaford

Sunday afternoon, April 29, from 3 to 5, the first in a series of concerts at Meaford’s Christ Church Anglican features a performance from Patricia Wheeler’s Jazz Quartet.  With Patricia on sax and flute, the quartet features Mike Cado on guitar, Ben Riley on drums, and Ross MacIntyre on bass.

“I’ve known the other three musicians for a long, long time,” Patricia says, “and played with each of them in different situations, not only jazz but rock ‘n roll, hip hop, funk, pop, country and western.  They’re very versatile.”

Mike Cado is a faculty member at York University where he directs the York University Jazz Orchestra along with a 15-piece R&B band, Soul Collective.

Ben Riley, for fifteen years co-leader of the soul/R&B band Planet Earth, has been in demand as a touring and session drummer for over twenty years, playing with the cream of Canadian artists from Moe Koffman to Domenic Troiano.

Ross McIntyre is a legendary bassman who tours with Emilie-Claire Barlow, plays on hundreds of sessions and has worked with artists as diverse as Wynton Marsalis, Ed Robertson and Jim Cuddy.

Patricia is, in a sense, bringing these old friends to show them where the music began for her.

She grew up with good music always being played in the house.  She says her father was “a very good amateur pianist and accordion player.  My mom started her record collection back in the era of the 78’s and still has most of those discs, so I just grew up being surrounded by good music.  My dad taught ballroom dancing for many years and my mom often helped him with that. He was always sourcing out new recordings to teach with and so that kind of music was always being played.”

She was lucky enough to live in a town where music was taught at an early age.

“I was very fortunate to go to school in Meaford where band music started in Grade 7 at Meaford Elementary School.  We did half a year with orchestral string instruments, like violin, and then the other half with band instruments.  We did festivals, concerts. 

“The teacher was a man named Ron Knight, who was exceptional. For any of the students who really enjoyed it he would give us opportunities to just go to another room and practise.  And then we would feed into Georgian Bay Secondary School and Charlie Strimas took over. He ran the music program for many, many years.”

Tyler Yarema and Gracie Rock Market Square

Tyler Yarema
"The Great Canadian Songbook" at Meaford Hall

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

When Tyler Yarema and His Rhythm played at the Market Square to help us celebrate Canada Day 2016, he was clearly happy to be here.  “This is my new favourite place,” he told the audience, “Whenever I have a few days off I come to visit Meaford.”

About a month earlier there had been a big party in The Opera House at Meaford Hall.  It was a show called “The Great Canadian Songbook”.  A varied group of musicians from the Toronto area ran through two scintillating sets of Canadian classics that, by the end of the evening had the audience up and dancing.  Tyler Yarema, at the piano, was the heart of the performance and only member of the group to do a solo, with a heart rendering performance of Neil Young’s “Helpless”.  But it was the several interludes when Gracie came on stage that really warmed up the audience.  A young vibrant performer with a passionate delivery, she brought the audience to their feet.

Tyler and Gracie performing for Meaford Hall Foundation

Tyler and Gracie played jazz for wine-sipping schmoozers at Meaford Hall last fall

The two of them had been in Meaford before, providing light jazz for a Meaford Hall Foundation soiree last November.  When they returned to rock the Market Square on Canada Day the crowd gave them a warm welcome.

Tyler Yarema brought his piano talents originally from Thunder Bay to play the Toronto clubs with the likes of Jeff Healey, The Downchild Blues Band, and the late legendary Doug Riley.  He’s played, produced, arranged and sung on over 40 albums and won at least three awards for his piano playing, including NOW magazine’s piano player of the year in 2002.

Tyler Yarema at the keyboard

Tyler Yarema

His influences run into deep roots, from the rocking boogie-woogie of Willie (The Lion) Smith to the sophistication of Duke Ellington.



Gracie is making a name for herself, stretching her wings and expanding her talent.  Already she has a lot to show for it, and can make a song or style her own with passion and verve that hovers between Broadway and a smoky club.  Whether she is singing jazz or soul or rock and roll, she brings her special personality and an ebullient energy to the stage and audiences love it.

Their show was the kick-off event for the Meaford Summer Concert Series of Friday night concerts put together by Chris Scerri to bring the sound of live music to downtown Meaford and heat up the harbour right through July and August.  Every show of the series will include a local young talent and this one featured the remarkable vocalist Emma Wright.

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