Tag Archives: Meaford Summer Concert Series

Alison Young Quintet Coming To Meaford

Friday August 3rd brings the Alison Young Quintet to Meaford for the third show of the Meaford Summer Concert Series.  Each concert is under the open sky in the parking lot beside Meaford Hall.

Alison Young is a sax player, originally from Ottawa, who has become one of the most in-demand players in the Toronto jazz scene, performing regularly in venues like The Rex, The Jazz Bistro and The Reservoir Lounge, contributing to several albums and touring around the world with a variety of bands.

“That’s basically how I travel,” she says, “I’m lucky enough to work with a lot of groups that work in Europe. Last year it was Singapore and South America. It was great!”

After playing with R & B bands as a teen, before attending the music program at University of Toronto, her featured performances in the National Youth Jazz Ensemble at the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 2001 and 2002, inspired one critic to note:

“The stun is witnessing phrasing and technique indicating decades of practice and study, coming from a girl too young to have done any of that. She plays alto with an authority and command beyond her short years…performing with the facility and inventiveness of a much more mature musician.”

Downbeat magazine has noted her “endless creativity and flair”.  Last year she was chosen as one of the ‘Best 35 jazz Canadian Jazz Artists under 35’ by the CBC.   Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen writes “her melodic maturity rises above the music”, while the Whole Note Magazine says “Alison Young takes musical chances, and has something to say”.

She knew from a very young age that this was the life for her.

“In junior high I had a really great band teacher and she actually ran a stage band.  That was the first time I heard swing music and I was like: ‘What is this?  I need to do this!’  So I got my parents to rent me a saxophone and taught myself basically for the first little while and then never looked back.”

Praised even at a young age for the maturity and tone of her playing, she explains, “I played along with records and just kind of wanted to capture that full sound.  That’s always been important to me.”

Her initial jazz inspiration from listening to big bands blended with an appreciation of R & B picked up as a teenager.

“When I was seventeen and eighteen, my first gigs were playing in a soul cover band.  We played these little bars in Ottawa and in Hull and I thought this was so cool.

“I love that music.  When they hired me they said, ‘OK, just check out the movie, The Commitments.’  It was basically that repertoire so that got me into Aretha Franklin and Solomon Burke and all these R & B artists.

“A lot of the gigs I do in Toronto are R & B gigs.  When I play as a sideman with several bands, I do that kind of music and I also play a lot of jazz.  I play a lot of both and I’m still trying to figure out which one is my sound, or can they both be my sound?  And I think I’m heading in that direction: just do both.”

But the experience of a big band in full swing still lures her.

“I’ve been playing with the Jim Galloway Big Band in Toronto,” she says, “which is all older Basie charts and Ellington charts.  So it’s like going back to my roots because that’s the first jazz I listened to and I was so excited about it.”

Alison has been leading her own band in various formations since 2012, which has allowed her to compose and arrange for combinations from duo to septet.  Among her many recorded performances as a session player, her compositions, recorded with the Heillig Manoeuvre and Red Hot Ramble, have been featured on JazzFM and CBC2.  She has a debut album of mostly originals ready to release.

“A lot of my songs are straight ahead and in the hard bop vein, a little bit funky but with jazzy chord changes.  Melody is my priority when I compose.”  She admits to influences more along the Stevie Wonder vein and isn’t through growing yet:  “I think next I’m going to try to get some rock and roll into the sound, because we’ve got Eric St Laurent on guitar and he’s a real rocker.”

The quintet playing in Meaford will include St. Laurent’s  “eclectic and energetic” guitar; Saskatchewan’s “hard swinging” Jeff McLeod on piano and organ; Chris Banks on the bass; and Chris Wallace on drums.  The repertoire for a Meaford Friday night will be “party jazz, funk and soul.”

The same precocious talent that has accelerated Alison Young’s career is evident in the opening act, singer/songwriter Miranda Journey.

Bring a camp chair and a contribution for the food bank to catch the 7 p.m. start.

The Best of The Best To Start the Meaford Summer Concert Series

Joey DiMarco has been the go-to drummer for decades for gigs and recordings, working from his home base in Burlington.  He teamed up with Gabor Szepesi, who’s been providing keyboards for recordings and TV shows as well as live gigs since the 70’s.  The pair decided to draw on talented friends from their many years in music to create a gigging band they called The Collective.  The quality of their friends means The Collective is always on the money with a world class groove.

The Collective will be kicking off the Meaford Summer Concert Series on Friday, July 13th.  The band is made up of the best players you’ll hear anywhere.  When Chris Scerri says they have played with the Who’s Who of rock and R & B, movies and pop music, he means names like Iron Butterfly, Better Midler, Jack Dekeyser, Greg Godovitz, Grant Smith & the Power, Long John Baldry, Daniel Lanois, Etta James, Sharon, Lois and Bram as a small random sampling.

Guitarist Danny Weis co-founded Iron Butterfly but quit after their first album to co-found Rhinoceros.  After an album and a tour with Lou Reed, he was tapped to provide the sound track music (and hit song) for Bette Midler’s movie The Rose.

Danny had been born into music, the son of Johnny Weis, the famous Western Swing guitarist who once played with the Spade Cooley band.

“I fondly remember the years I would go see my dad, Johnny Weis, play guitar, backing people from the Grand Ole Opry at Bostonia Ballroom in El Cajon,” says Danny on his website, “I was age 9 to 12, and I used to stand right in front of the stage and lean on it with my elbows. I wasn’t too tall then, I guess. I remember Johnny Cash playing right in front of me with my dad backing him on guitar with the band. [Cash] always remembered me and would stoop right in front of me, saying, ‘Folsom Prison?’ I said yes with joy.”

In 2005 Danny Weis released a beautiful jazz album called “Sweet Spot”, about as far from Iron Butterfly as you can get.  Like the other players in The Collective, his wide ranging musical taste and pedigree can take you in any direction.

A common thread among the players in The Collective is that most of them played at one time or another in a legendary blues band called Sweet Blindness.  Lead singer of The Collective, Donnie Meeker rotated as lead singer in Sweet Blindness with the late Bobbi Dupont.

“The Toronto sound was the original Bluenote,” Michael Williams told Cashbox magazine, “we always had a soul thing going on because we were so close to Buffalo and Detroit…The big time for Sweet Blindness was opening for Kool and the Gang.”

In addition to touring with Sweet Blindness, Donnie Meeker becomes “Downtown Donnie” when he does a Blues Brothers thing with his own blues brother “Dirty Bertie”.

Max Breadner opens the show

Bring a camp chair and something for the food bank in time for the show to start at 7 pm with Max Breadner.  Max is a notable young local talent who has progressed from performing to song writing.  He’s played the Meaford Summer Concert Series before, and last year he opened for John Brownlow at The Red Door.

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This Year’s Maplepalooza Benefits Beaver Valley Outreach

By Bill Monahan

The fifth annual Maplepalooza is coming up this weekend (Sat., Mar. 24, doors open at 6:30) at Kimberley Hall and for the second time Chris Scerri has been involved in planning and promotion.

The annual event, a true community celebration, was founded by Jonathan Robinson.  Originally a gathering of his friends to enjoy gathering maple syrup from the sugar bush on his property during the day, and live music in the evening, it has grown in significance each year and last year for the first time, he coupled it with a benefit for Meaford’s family of Syrian refugees.

Fittingly, since Kimberley is located at the bottom of the Beaver Valley, where the Beaver River runs through, the beneficiary of this year’s party is Beaver Valley Outreach, a community based organization of volunteers whose mandate it is to enrich the community by offering programs to meet the needs of the residents of the Beaver Valley.  Most of their programs are designed to assist young families, with both winter and summer day camps, a kid’s club, a breakfast club and pre-school.  They raise funds through donations and sales at their Treasure Shop, a second-hand store currently located on Bruce Steet in Thornbury.

“They’re moving out of a small office in Thornbury to where Piper’s used to be in Thornbury on Highway 26,” says Chris, “They’ve taken on some additional expenses and they do a great job and we’re trying to raise some money for them.”

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.