Tag Archives: Josh Findlayson

A Skydiggers Christmas Returns To Meaford Hall

This Thursday The Skydiggers bring their annual Christmas show to Meaford Hall.  This is part of a tour that actually started back in mid-November in Winnipeg.  The first part of the tour was to promote their latest album, “The Warmth of The Sun” and as we get closer to Christmas it has become a combination of songs from their album along with their Christmas favourites.

As Andy Maize told Exclaim! magazine, the new album “is a reflection of the live band, how good the players are, how quick they are, and we wanted to capture that energy and not overthink it.”  He added “I don’t think it was intentional, but I can hear a thread on these songs about reaching out, being honest with yourself and making a connection with people, in order to get to a better place. That’s definitely a goal for us, it always is.”

The original songs on the album were co-written, as always by The Skydiggers’ core members Andy Maize and Josh Findlayson. The title track was inspired by Gord Downie’s solo project “Secret Path”, which took a hard look at Canada’s national shame, the residential schools which wrenched indigenous children from their families right up until the 1990’s.  Josh Findlayson was particularly moved by the message of the album, and its accompanying graphic novel.  He was a close friend of Gord’s and played on most of the solo albums that he had released outside of The Tragically Hip.  He played in the live show of “Secret Path” last year, not long before Gord’s passing.

The Thursday Update – Oct. 12 to 16, 2017

Two new open stages are starting up in our area this weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, Amanda Dorey will be hosting an open stage at the Riverside Community Centre, and at Bridges Tavern in Thornbury, Josh Fletcher will be hosting an open stage on Friday starting at 8 pm.  These additions mean that aspiring performers and fans of the surprising grab bag that an open stage can be now have the opportunity to enjoy one every night of the week except Saturday and Monday.

In chronological order, the open stages nearby are The Barn Coop on Sunday at noon; Heartwood’s bi-monthly open mic Tuesday at 8; The granddaddy of all open jams at Ted’s Range Road Diner, and Bruce Wine Bar with Drew McIvor both on Wednesdays at 8; Chris Scerri at The Leeky Canoe Thursdays at nine; also on Thursdays, Dave Russell at The Corner Café and Craig Smith at CROW; Friday afternoon, at the Bleeding Carrot, Kelly Babcock hosts the open stage, and now on Friday evening there is Josh at Bridges and on Saturday afternoon Amanda at Riverside.   That adds up to a lot of free entertainment that mixes the best musicians in the area with undiscovered talents.

The Skydiggers’ Energy Warms A Wintry Night

Review by Bill Monahan of The Skydiggers at Meaford Hall Dec. 10, 2016

It was a wintry night when The Skydiggers stopped at Meaford Hall on Saturday.  That may have prevented a few from making the trip, so the audience was a little smaller than the full houses that the Opera House is getting used to lately.  But they brought a whole lot of energy to the room.  Vocal and mobile, they cheered every song, often spontaneously leaping to their feet and running into the aisles to dance.  From the opening bars of the first song Andy Maize had the audience in the palm of his hand.

They had said they were bringing their famous Horseshoe Tavern Christmas show on the road but since that longstanding tradition involved crowding the stage with friends from a quarter century career, it’s a little difficult to bring on the road.  But they did bring friends, and everybody caught the spirit.  The Skydiggers gave us a great show from end to end.

There was a solid band, with keyboards, drums and bass, accompanying singers Andy Maize and Jessy Bell Smith, and guitarist Josh Findlayson.  Their groove was locked in enough for Andy to execute some of his famous dance moves, ranging from leaping leprechaun to Chubby Checker, with some frenetic jazz hands thrown in for spice.  Michael Johnston, on keyboards, stretched out several times with some exciting solos.  Guitar leads were scarce, just hinted at when Josh briefly strapped on an electric guitar.  Mostly he played an acoustic, picking and strumming.

The most compelling aspect of The Skydiggers live show is the blend of voices.  Often everybody but the drummer was singing and it created a beautiful choral sound.  Andy Maize on lead vocals uses the full range of his voice to put across a variety of songs and when Jessy Bell Smith adds vocal harmonies things suddenly become ethereal.

She is the kind of vocalist that has you thinking as you listen “I wonder where she’s playing next.”  She’s been a member of The Skydiggers since 2013 when her version of one of their songs inspired them to release “She Comes In To The Room”, a collection of songs with female singers.  She has also released an album of her own recordings.  On stage she seems shy but relaxed.  When she takes the lead you are transported.  It’s one of those voices.

She did a version of “We Go Rambling On”, a song written by Peter Cash, one of the founding members of The Skydiggers.  She lost herself in the performance and so did the audience, which spontaneously leapt to their feet to give her an extended ovation afterward.  I think that’s what they call a show-stopper.

But the show was full of great renditions of wonderful songs.  “Remember Me” is a longing look at the years of Christmas parties at The Horseshoe.  Andy says it has become such a solid tradition, “I think they could have it without us”.  The audience disagreed and it sounded like several people promised to follow them to The Horseshoe for the big show next weekend.

Their version of The Tragically Hip’s “Are You Going Through Something?” was moving, and their take on Gene Clark’s “Eight Miles High” added some musical treats that weren’t there on the original Byrds version.

It was a show that was over too soon.  It was the kind of band you wanted to be able to listen to all night, and you got the feeling that they would be happy to play for you.  Maybe they’ll do that when they play two days next week at The Horseshoe.

Return to Front Page for today’s update