Tag Archives: Mark Reeves

My Sweet Patootie Kicks Off Desboro Music Hall’s Summer Season

This Saturday, Apr. 22nd, the Desboro Music Hall will be kicking off its second concert season with the international folk/jazz trio, My Sweet Patootie, a  show that Driftwood Magazine describes as “two parts exemplary musicianship, one part vaudeville comedy”.  The opening act will be Alicia Toner from Canada’s East Coast.

The Desboro Music Hall was created when brothers Phil and Joe Klages bought the historic Anglican church in town.  Ever since the community centre closed down there had been a gap in the local culture and Phil and Joe, music fans who grew up in Desboro, saw the church as an ideal venue for concerts and other community activities.  Their inaugural year was a great success, a mixture of local musicians as well as acts like Oh Susanna, Alfie Smith and Mark Reeves.  Their choice of featured acts reflects the affection local audiences feel for roots based music and they have the good taste to include only the best purveyors of the style.  It is the kind of concert series that you can attend knowing that it will be good because of the care with which it was put together.  This year’s series starts and ends with exemplary performers who also happen to be Meaford residents, starting with My Sweet Patootie, who reside in Meaford when they are not on tour, and ending in October with The Honey Brothers, featuring Meaford talents Drew McIvor and Jayden Grahlman, along with Jay Stiles.

My Sweet Patootie was formed as a duo in 2007 when the long-running Canadian roots band Tanglefoot disbanded after decades of touring.   The two halves of Tanglefoot took off in different directions.  One half teamed up with Meaford-based drummer and singer-songwriter Beaker Granger to form RPR (stands for Richie/Parrish/Richie) and put the emphasis on roots rock.  The Patootie half took off in an entirely different direction and, now after several years of touring and recording, they have evolved into a totally unique live act with recordings that have a sheen to them combining nostalgia with superlative musicianship.

If they were a very serious act the audience would be moved by their extraordinary musicianship.  If they were mediocre players, their energetic showmanship would easily carry the day.  When the two elements are combined they put on an irresistible show.

Both Terry Young and Sandra Swanell of My Sweet Patootie are classically trained, Terry in voice and Sandra in violin and viola.  Terry’s roots, though, go back to Canadiana folk and his fingerpicking guitar style was influenced by players like Bruce Cockburn.  Sandra was the principal violist of the Georgian Bay Symphony and fronted the Celtic art-rock band The Shards before joining Tanglefoot in 2005.  Despite her classical training her violin more often than not echoes the “hot jazz” of Stephane Grapelli.  Together they took their superlative instrumental chops and applied it to a hybrid of folk, Celtic and old jazz.  All of these elements can be heard in their performances and their recordings.  They mix evocative covers with their own originals which are simultaneously moving and whimsical.

Powerful Performance From Mark Reeves in the Meaford Hall Gallery

Review by Bill Monahan of Mark Reeves at Meaford Hall March 4, 2017

When I see somebody hang a harmonica holder around their neck my expectations are not very high.  I’ve always felt that it is almost impossible to get a real soulful sound out of a blues harp without cupping it in your hands.  Mark Reeves, on Saturday night at his Meaford Hall concert, showed how wrong I was. He opened with some uptempo strumming on his guitar (“I’ll just warm up a bit here,” he murmured) and when he blew into his harp I was transported back to the good old days at the Riverboat when Sonny Terry used to blow me away.  Mark Reeves amazed me with the sound of his harmonica, and the dynamics, from high sweet tones to wailing.  It was truly a beautiful sound.

And that was just a third of his musical arsenal.  He plays guitar with a finesse that is always moving around, from rhythmic strumming, to arpeggio runs, to dead stops, the most risky and effective thing that a solo performer can do with a guitar.  And his voice is such an emotional powerhouse, drenched in a blues sound, it grabs you from the first line.  He moans, then whispers, then throws his head back and and croons a high dreaming sigh.  He even throws in snippets of scat and on one song did a long beatbox solo that sounded just like intricate tap dancing.

You might expect that his virtuosity on all fronts would present a kind of academic and studied approach, but the opposite is true.  He plays with a joyful abandon entirely devoid of pretense, carried away by the emotion and the sound.

With chops like that Mark Reeves could sing nursery rhymes and get away with it (as he proved with a song later in the set), but his songs are so strong that a much lesser performer could pull them off.  They are mostly love songs that vacillate between pastoral romantic views of domestic bliss like “If I Had You” and the opposite, with I-don’t love-you songs like “Cement” and one night stands, like “V-dub”. But there are also songs reflecting on the passage of time and the inevitable wear and tear, “Takes a While To get Like This” and “A Long Way To Carry The Blues”, and a few that seem to be just for fun, like the song about his Elvis-obsessed “seventh wife” called “Priscilla”, complaining, among other things, about her wanting to name their son Lisa Marie.  And a song about losing the ability to care, called “Broken Me”, stands in a sad lonely place all by itself.  Every song takes you somewhere with its lyrics while the sound of the performance just carries you away.

It was surprising to me that the audience seemed to be so subdued and quiet.  I’ve become used to feeling the great waves of enthusiasm that come from Meaford Hall audiences and this performance deserved so much more than the polite applause it received.  Maybe it was just that this was the coldest night of the winter so far. Mark noticed it too.  “This is a Saturday night, right?” he said, “Not a Thursday?”  But it didn’t in any way dampen the power of his performance.  He ended his second set with a long powerhouse rave on the harmonica during which he removed it from its holder and added some of the effects that only hands can achieve, and then returned it, to let it soar while he played some equally impressive guitar.  At last the audience reacted with the hoots and whistles every song had deserved.

The Meaford Hall Gallery Concert Series has certainly been outstanding.  So many of the performers have been relatively unfamiliar names and, like Mark Reeves, when you experience their performances you wonder why they aren’t in a huge sold out concert hall.  I felt particularly lucky on Saturday night not only to have discovered such a talent, but to have been able to enjoy him in a very small intimate venue.  There are just two concerts left in the series before the music moves back to the Opera House.  I’ll be looking forward to each of them with high expectations set by what I’ve seen so far.

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Click on the album cover to hear Mark Reeves’ music:

The Thursday Outlook – Mar. 1 to 5, 2017

Tyler Yarema is co-hosting with Chris Scerri again this week at The Leeky Canoe, for tonight’s open stage.  He’s such a fine keyboard player, the joint is always jumping when he’s on board.  And fifteen minutes down the road you know that Dave Russell knows how to make the joint jump as well with his open stage at The Corner Café.

Gerry Markman

Friday night at The Red Door, Gerry Markman, journeyman guitarist, will be there, making up for the show he had to cancel three weeks ago due to scary weather.  The Red Door has become a great local place for music, with enthusiastic crowds out for a good time.  Last week they were blown away by the talents of Jenie Thai.  One of the convenient things about the shows at The Red Door is that they start early, at 7 p.m., and run to 10, so you can enjoy a great night out and still get home early.

If you want a chance to see the stars of tomorrow, make your way to the high school on Friday night.  It’s the Battle of The Bands, with thirteen acts competing, and judges that include local music luminaries like Tara Mackenzie, Rich Fletcher and Chris Scerri.  One of the acts in the contest is Cry For Ophelia, a band that impressed the crowd at last summer’s Concert Series and it’s rumoured that Max Breadner also has a band lined up to play.  It starts at 7 p.m. and the $5 admission charge will go to support the music program at the school.

Sohaya Smith

Sohaya Smith this weekend at Bruce Wine Bar

Sohayla Smith and The Smith Brothers will be playing at Bruce Wine Bar on Friday night before heading into Red Room Studios on Saturday to work on some new recordings.

And in Owen Sound at The Heartwood on Friday, RPR, which includes Meaford’s own Beaker Granger, will be rockin’ and folkin’ around with a bunch of great songs and stories.

Mark Reeves is holding court at the latest gallery concert at Meaford Hall on Saturday night.  And when that show finishes, head across the street to see Amanda Dorey at The Leeky Canoe, with her band Northern Country.

If you’re looking for a real nightclub experience, big city style with small town friendliness, The Harbour Street Fish Bar is the place to dance the night away.  It has a great vibe.  Last Saturday The Johnny Max Band tore the place up and packed the dance floor.  This Saturday it’s the amazing Cheryl Lescom, who has provided vocals for Ronny Hawkins and Long John Baldry as well as a stellar catalogue of performers from David Wilcox to Del Shannon.  When you consider that Long John Baldry once employed Rod Stewart and Elton John in his band, it’s quite an accolade when he says  “Cheryl Lescom has one of the best and biggest voices in Canada. I’ve had many great singers with me over the years and Cheryl is by far one of my favourites!”

No reason to sit home this weekend when the music is so hot it’ll be melting the ski hills.

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Mark Reeves This Saturday at Meaford Hall Gallery Series

Everybody talks about Mark Reeves stage presence.  “Mark is not only at ease performing, he owns the stage,” says Pierre Guerin, former artistic director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and past president of the North American Folk Alliance. “Even more impressive is the attention and care he pays to his craft as a songwriter.”

“I think that I write like a person that’s watching a movie and I try to describe that,” he told Mike Ruta of DurhamRegion.com., who added, “he clearly has a good time in the spotlight and wants the crowd to as well.”

These strengths come from many years of learning how to please an audience by busking in the streets where he learned that the first priority is to keep the audience entertained.  He mixes his songs with anecdotes and stories about the songs that he knows will engage the audience.  He appreciates a good audience and, knowing what the audiences are like at Meaford Hall, he is bound to be in his element when he plays there this Saturday, the fourth great little show in the Gallery Concert Series.

He has played this area before, several times at The Irish Mountain House Concerts, where artistic director Liz Scott describes him as “an Irish Mountain favourite, Mark Reeves fires up his sultry ballads and blistering blues, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats and breathless for more. He’s a one man show, the music right through him, and it sinks into our souls.”

He was the inspiration for brothers Phil and Joe Klages to initiate buy an Anglican church and convert it to the Desboro Music Hall.  When they finished last year’s concert series there with Mark and local phenomenon Jayden Grahlman, they said, “We thought it would be appropriate to end our season with the artist who started it all: Mark Reeves.”  Joe and Phil saw Mark’s concert at Greenbank back in 2015 and after talking with Mogens and Cathy, the folks who started Greenbank Folk Music Society, they thought, “Hey, we could do this” and thus began the dream of The Desboro Music Hall.  “So since Mark Reeves kind of helped start the beginnings of the idea, it’s fitting to have him come and close our first season at The Desboro Music Hall.”

Originally from Winnipeg, where a fertile music scene over the years has spawned artists as diverse as Neil Young and The Guess Who, he was accepted at a young age into the famous Berklee School of Music in Boston, but after two semesters, opted instead to get his education in the streets and the blues clubs.  Opening for everyone from Robert Cray and Blue Rodeo to Colin James and Jesse Winchester, he learned his performance skills and his reverence for his audience.

While he describes himself as “a roots artist” with echoes of blues, folk, gospel and other genres in the mix, it’s also been said that if Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett had a love child, Mark Reeves would be it.

The Meaford Hall Gallery Concert Series, arranged to continue to provide live music for local audiences while the Opera House is closed for renovations to the balcony, has been a pretty amazing set of performances so far, with each artist responding to the intimacy of the space and the warmth of the audience.  For many, it has provided an introduction to talents that they might otherwise have missed. That continues this Saturday with Mark Reeves.

Tickets are just $30, showtime is 8pm this Saturday March 4.  Sellouts are the norm for this series, so don’t wait to get your tickets.

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