Tag Archives: Michael O’Connell

The Barn Celebrates Sherry Snider

A delicious buffet was provided by staff and pot luck contributors

by Bill Monahan

On Sunday, March 25th, The Barn Co-op in Meaford held a special open mic to celebrate the spirit of Sherry Snider, who passed away suddenly last week in the prime of her life.  This was in addition to the popular open mic that runs every Sunday at The Barn from noon to two.  Organized by Jim and Mary Lang, this additional gathering allowed musicians and friends to remember Sherry, who was always present at every musical gathering at the Barn.  In addition to the live music a free buffet was offered upstairs, prepared by staff with contributions from those who attended.

It is always sad when a valued member of the community passes, but it was difficult to remain sad for long on this occasion because sharing the stage with every performer was a large photo portrait of Sherry, her characteristic joy beaming with an ear to ear grin that was familiar to everyone who knew her.  There were some in attendance who hadn’t known her by name but they recognized her face as the woman who was always positive and encouraging.  Those who did know her knew well what a special person she was.

Clark Little recites “High Flight”

Clark Little began the proceedings with an emotional recital of “High Flight” by John Magee.  The familiar poem begins with the lines “Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings,” and concludes with “I’ve trod the high unsurpassed sanctity of space, put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

The “laughter-silvered wings” seemed particularly appropriate in relation to Sherry whose sense of humour was always paramount.

The Thursday Outlook – August 10 to 14, 2017

The Travelling Thornburys are featured this Saturday night at The Leeky Canoe in Meaford.  This is a duo consisting of Jon Zaslow and Kevin Campbell.  They offer up some great harmonies and tunes that range from The Beatles to The Everly Brothers.  Jon as also an accomplished guitarist that has become a regular accompanist for Chris Scerri and has co-hosted many Thursday night jams with him at The Leeky.

At The Barn Coop on Saturday night, it’s a rare chance to see Culture Reject in concert.  This is part of a concert series put together at The Barn by Greg Smith, in which he pairs more established artists with up-and-comers.  Culture Reject, featuring Michael O’Connell and Karri North, is a band that has a unique and mesmerizing sound.  Michael evolved this band out of the popular band Black Cabbage, with which he toured for several years.  He now tours annually in Europe to a growing following there.  The opener for this concert is Jake Feeney, a young singer-songwriter who seems much more mature than he is.  Having been a songwriter since he was six or seven, Jake has a voice similar to John Maher and a beautiful style of guitar picking.  This is a show well worth checking out.

A Meaford Backyard Provides Idyllic Setting For Beautiful Music

There is a special backyard concert happening in Meaford this Friday, June 30th.  Everything about it seems to be uniquely suited to Meaford.  Admission is pay-what-you-can (with a suggested price of $10).  You’re encouraged to bring a chair or blanket and bring the kids along.  It takes place at 118 Algonquin Drive, starting at 7 pm and running until around midnight.

In this idyllic setting, don’t expect a heavy rock band.  Instead you can look forward to some beautiful, folk-flavoured music, intelligent and thoughtful lyrics and gentle performances that will fit in perfectly with the accompaniment of the robins and mourning doves as the sun goes down.

It’s a triple bill, with Bry Webb, Fiver and Jiants.

Bry Webb is best known as former front man for The Constantines, a band that was riding high with promise in 2005 when they were nominated for a Juno for Best Alternative Band.  He’s also programming director for CFRU-FM, campus radio at the University of Guelph.

One of his biggest fans is Feist, with whom he has recorded and toured.  In 2011, she told Exclaim!,  “His voice has an authority to it and I’ve always believed that he believes in what he’s singing. Plus, on a guitar level, I absolutely admire how unique and connected his playing is. I’d say he’s my favourite guitarist I’ve watched all these years.”  It was her encouragement that inspired him to record again after dissolving The Constantines in 2010, not because he was unhappy with the band but because he longed for a simpler lifestyle than that of a touring rock band.

How fitting that he is playing in a backyard in Meaford.  This area has many musicians who are highly respected around the world, including Michael O’Connell , Steve Dickinson and My Sweet Patootie, but who choose to live here because they place a high value on the beautiful and spiritually fulfilling lifestyle offered around the southern shores of Georgian Bay.

When you hear Bry Webb, accompanied on this occasion by lap steel guitarist Rich Burnett, you’ll understand Feist’s appreciation of his songs and honest style.

Fiver, the stage name of Simone Schmidt, is a unique artist who re-invents the traditional folk ballad, creating new songs in that style take a piercing look at history from today’s perspective.  This year she released ‘Audible Songs from Rockwood’ , a series of songs told from the perspective of women incarcerated Kingston’s Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane in the 19th century, based on her own research at the Ontario Archives.

The project is not something she took lightly, but, accompanied by extensive liner notes, it is a serious and important look at an aspect of Canada’s history which puts into perspective the legacy of the treatment of women that is still being dealt with today.

Like Bry Webb’s quiet music, the work of Fiver is something rare and special that will be well served by this setting.

And, so you don’t forget that summer has arrived, bringing with it all of the romance and memory potential that accompanies the sun and the water, members of Jiants will be here to sing an acoustic version of their poignant ode to summer romance, Paralyze, which is making a buzz for the band in Toronto.

Friday night sits on the threshold of Meaford’s Canada Day celebrations which will be marked by a plethora of free live music around town, provided by local musicians with a fair contingent of young talent.  What better way for a fan of live music to celebrate our wonderful country and our beautiful town than to start the weekend listening to moving folk music in a back yard on the west side of town, spend Saturday downtown with a full schedule of bands, and finish up on the east side of town for a concert of classic country music on Sunday on the little stage in Memorial Park?

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Local Performers Celebrate Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan turns seventy-five this week and his birthday is being celebrated by local musicians in two separate shows.  On Thursday at The Leeky Canoe Chris Scerri is dedicating his open mic night to Bob Dylan songs and on Saturday at Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound The Kreuger Band will be including a number of Dylan songs in their show.

Since he first surfaced in Greenwich Village as a Woody Guthrie imitator in 1961 Dylan has had an immense influence on the culture of the United States and his work has resonated around the world.  Last year he was the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  He has been a constant innovator.  In his early days in the folk clubs, when his peers were building their repertoires on songs of Appalachia and Harlem, Dylan began to create his own original songs in the folk song style, essentially creating what we know today as a “singer-songwriter”.  His simple and evocative song “Blowing In The Wind” became the prototype for hundreds of anti-war songs.  He created equally powerful songs in support of the integration movement of the sixties.  Influenced by French poetry and existential theatre, he explored dream-like stream of consciousness songs in a way that had never been done before and had a great influence on The Beatles. He enraged folk purists when he adopted a blues band to give his songs a new setting.  He shone the spotlight on individuals who became symbols of inequality, from Medgar Evers and Hattie Carroll to Hurricane Carter, who won his freedom as a result of the attention brought to his case by a Dylan song.  The anti-establishment activist group, The Weathermen, took their name from a line of one of his songs.  He explored Christianity, the Nashville sound, history and literature on a long meandering creative journey that continues today, proving that “he not busy being born is busy dying.”

“He is the common denominator for songwriters,” says Chris Scerri.  This time last year he had dedicated his Leeky jam to Dylan at the request of his daughter Kara, who shares the same birthday.  It was such a success that he decided to do it again this year.  He sent the word out to local singers who frequent his open mic nights and was surprised at the enthusiasm of the response.  While he will be sharing the night with co-host John Zaslow who will be accompanying Chris as well as doing a few of his own favourite Dylan songs, he also expects contributions from Craig Smith, Larry Jensen, Bill Monahan, Paul Armstrong, Michael O’Connell, Tom Thwaits, Laura Conning and others.

“It’s interesting that each musician has his own favourites,” says Chris, “I think the songs people have chosen, and the way they decide to do them, will reflect themselves.”  To sort it all out he has had to create a colour-coded spreadsheet.  He had asked each singer to indicate which Dylan songs they would like to perform and the results are all over the map, spanning the huge impressive catalogue that Dylan has created.  Chris says he may have to draw straws for a few songs that were chosen by several performers, including “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” and “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”.

It will be a busy and intriguing night and Chris adds, “I’ve got a couple of surprises I hope to make happen.”

Bryan Leckie, whose group The Kreuger Band will be in concert on Saturday night at Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound, is also acknowledging his debt to Bob Dylan with a number of Dylan songs to be “Kreugerized” as part of the show.  Being Kreugerized means to enjoy the embellishment of the superb harmonies provided by The Kreuger Girls and guitar accompaniment of Trevor Mackenzie, highlights of a very popular local band.  The show will mix such Dylan classics as “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat” with songs from the band’s recent release “Kreuger Motel”, a 3-CD set full of sparkling originals.

Bryan Leckie is certainly a die-hard Dylan fan, and a bubbling spring of anecdotes about Dylan songs and recordings.  He considers Dylan’s golden period to be the early electric phase encapsulated in the albums “Bringing It All Hack Home,”, “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde on Blonde.”

“I wanted to include “Sad-Eyed Lady of The Lowlands” in the set,” he says, “but the band wouldn’t go for it.”  Almost twelve minutes long, it would have eaten up a pretty big chunk of a set.

Although he didn’t realize it when he booked the gig, it happens that Saturday night is the anniversary of the famous Albert Hall concert in England when he was booed and heckled for singing with an electric band.  This for Dylan fans this heightens the significance of the celebration.

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